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IDProjectCategoryLast Update
0021279AI War 2[All Projects] SuggestionOct 4, 2019 7:28 pm
ReporterMatthewYCRAssigned Tox4000Bughunter 
Status closedResolutionno change required 
Product VersionBETA 0.866 Hotfix 
Fixed in Version 
Summary0021279: What Is metal?

This is a Direct response to this document

So I thought I'd straighten what my thoughts are on each resource of the game, especially metal in AI war.

The player has 3 main resources in the game, but each of those resources represents a different aspect of game, It's actually impossible to remove any of these resources without completely changing the entire premise of the game, removing any of these resources directly merely hands over control of that resource to another entirely different region of the game. I can give direct examples for each. But first, lets establish those 3 resources. 2 are straightforward, the last is a conglomeration.

Tech - This represents the player's access to all ships in the game, researching mark 2 increases your tech, getting a new flagship would come under tech, etc.

And what each of these resources represent

Metal - Time
Energy - Choice
Tech - Potential

So what IS metal. Well, metal represents how much "time" the player has stockpiled. Metal is used to repair and build ships. Consider the result of the player losing all his ships in an attack.

Now the AI is sending a wave after the attack.

The player at this point can rebuild his entire fleet... for all his metal. If the player didn't have a reserve of metal, he could still rebuild his fleet, it would take longer and might not make it in time.

Essentually you could also say that the metal the player has stockpiled, is essentually a backup fleet of troops waiting to be deployed.

So what happens if we removed metal?

The "Time" Aspect would not disappear, instead it would move the strain onto "build time". How long does it take me to get my fleet back? If the answer is that the AI would destroy you before you can rebuild your fleet. Then the strain moves directly onto the player's fleet. Forcing them to either

A. Retreat early, prevent losses from occuring so it takes less time to rebuild the fleet
B. Send less ships, as it lowers the rebuild time, since there's less ships to rebuild.

Remove Build time (ships now respawn instantly from the flagship), then the time aspect moves to "how long does it take for my flagship to fly back". You can keep doing this, until AI war no longer even looks like AI war anymore.

Point of the matter is. Metal isn't influenced by energy or tech, it's a resource that's fairly... base and unique. Its probably the resource that functions most like other RTS's, but unlike others, there's no confusion. (Wc3 Gold and Lumber are similar resources functionally)

My personal opinion on Metal is, it gives a lot of freedom to the player, well, at least in AI war 1.
~ As long as Metal is increasing, the player's position is not deteriorating, he's getting an advantage by the second, so sitting idly by, letting time pass, thinking about his next move.
   You don't get punished as long as metal is increasing.
~ If metal is maxed, then the AI's position is improving. The player is now officially burning resources and not doing anything. If he isn't doing anything AT THIS POINT, then he's
   wasting his time, letting the AI get better. There's always a reason to do nothing, until this happens, In this way, AI war 1 is kind to new players.
~ Mercenaries are a neutral grey zone - So expensive that player isn't really improving. AI progression increases by as much as the player normally gets out of this
   (don't forget, we're using AI war 1 logic here)

Whilst this is the main point, I thought i'd go over the others

I wanted to go over energy first, but I realised I couldn't do that without going over Tech First

What is Tech?

Tech Limits the actions the player can take to a cap. When one asks, is X possible, it normally depends on the player's tech. No matter how much time the player has, the player's starting force cannot beat the AI Home System. This is due to the clever limitations in the game. Metal can only get you so far.

In most games, 'Metal' would also double as 'potential'. As the largest possible army in most games purely depends on your resource production.

Not in AI war. In AI war, these 2 don't represent the same thing at all. Time is important, but when time required = infinity. you can't progress. A lot of the game's premise and actions are based on maxing out your potential, and using it effectively. "The game of chess" we all love. However, it always takes time to reach your potential if your game is an RTS. So in some way, shape or form, metal is always funding our potential.


So, Finally, What is Energy?

Energy is Choice. All decision related to energy are based upon what the player would rather have.

Does the player use mark 1 ships, or attempt a tower push to defeat the enemy, he can't afford both
Does the player compromise his defences to max out his potential (Eco Command)
Does the player sacrifice time itself to increase his potential (Energy converter)

It's all about what the player values most at any one time, its not generated over time, like metal, and its ever changing, sometimes you need defence, sometimes you need offence. Vastly different from Tech, which never goes backwards.

So I personally think the game benefits from all 3 things.

If Energy Is removed - Choice = Potential, removing reactive decision making
Tech - Now we have a generic RTS, don't we?
Metal - Went over it already. Its impossible to remove Time. Time and Space are the base of everything, aren't they?
TagsNo tags attached.



Jun 6, 2019 10:40 am

administrator   ~0051869

For me, these aren't the three main resources, of the game, though. Most of the time I forget metal and energy even exist until I run into a problem with them. The four main resources of the game, for me, are:

1. AI Progress
2. Territory
3. Fleets
4. Science

And there are some smaller other resources like hacking points, or other capturables. At core, AI War 1 and 2 have both always been territory capture games. The metal was just there because that's more or less how RTS games tend to work. There was a lot less to capture in AI War 1, because the engine could only support but so many units (among other reasons).

AI Progress is a resource that represents... in Chess terms, the tempo. That's a bit different from time. But it's also kind of your ultimate doom counter, so time is wrapped into there.

Territory represents a variety of things, but it's both a liability and an asset. The AI gets more places that it can reinforce strongly when you widen your territory, but also you get the chance to build more things that you could not before. However, it's also something you have to defend... but then again it's also something that you can use to draw attention away from other places you want to defend.

Fleets are new fairly recently, and their addition really kind of takes the place of metal, in my opinion. You pay AIP in order to get these instead of to get more metal, and once you have them they are a force of a certain caliber, and they have a recharge time of a certain amount. Yes the intent is 100% that players retreat sometimes, in order to stave off having to wait while a fleet rebuilds. The fact that players could just build up a big blob of ships and send it over and over again (fleetballing) in the first game was something we never could solve, and it was my biggest gripe with that game by far. That was one of the main reasons we started AI War 2 off so very differently a while back, and then are starting to edge in different directions again.

Energy as a resource was always about making it so that you would have to hold territory. But it turns out that people don't really like that, on average. And so it turned into a thing that made you have to make choices on what to use out of the subset of things you already paid for, if you didn't want to pay the "must have x much territory" tax. And so it really kind of became warped from its original intent.

It's interesting, because AI War 1 went through a lot of very distinct eras that all had their own feel and so on. In some ways, the favorite era of a lot of people, including myself, was the 3.x era. I've been trying to kind of get back to that, versus the 8.x era of that game. Back then, energy had not yet taken on some of the roles that it later would have, is I guess my point.


Jun 6, 2019 11:06 am

administrator   ~0051871

There's a new note in here, I've been convinced not to do this but have some thoughts:


Jun 6, 2019 11:17 am

reporter   ~0051872

That's fine. I've said all my thought's now.

I'll leave on a jest.

Chris invites 4 players start identical games of AI war.

Player 1: So I attacked the base nearby....
Chris: Good job. With that new base, you will have a strong economy
Player 2: Oh... I built a bunch of turrets though.
Chris: Good job, the AI loves to try and attack you when your guard is down, you'll be much more secure down
Player 3: Um... I couldn't decide what to do.. so I...
Chris: Ah i see. With that metal reserve, you will be able to react to the AI's moves better and counter anything he tries to throw at you, and compensate for your mistakes better.
Player 4, seeing all this, frustratingly tries to push it: Should I delete my command center then!
Chris: That would be a bad move, so we disabled that option
Player 4: AHH!!

(My point is, there's almost no bad moves at the start of AI war, in that way at least its very new player friendly)


Jun 6, 2019 1:24 pm

reporter   ~0051873

Oh the new note raises new questions. (mark 1 units).

Not sure if i have much to add, I'll think about it


Jun 6, 2019 3:03 pm

administrator   ~0051876

That gave me a chuckle, thanks for that. :)

When it came to the mark 1 units, I think it was actually a comment by you that sparked that thought. Or maybe it was another thread, it's been a big discussion, but I thought you raised the issue.


Jun 8, 2019 5:17 am

reporter   ~0051890

I wrote Everything Balance related. It includes Various things.

A lot of the problems are interlinked, so i had to present them all at once.

I'm aware you are probably aware of most these things, especially the statistics. But I don't know which parts you're unaware of, and you need the complete picture to change ANYTHING, so it's all there.


Jun 8, 2019 7:22 am

reporter   ~0051891

Oh, And here's my save file of winning D8. has a lot of tie-ins with the G-Doc

Interesting saves -
"At this point" - How far i got, purely off the back of A-Arcs. (see techs, and location of A-Arcs (Fleets 1,4,5)
"Final" The Final Save before winning the game, Nuclear-phobic turrets make up the main reason for beating the AI boss ship, whilst the existing damage was done by Arks. I admit i lost to it a couple of times, and loaded, it was a lot stronger than i expected ok! Eventually i realised i had so many sniper turrets that it was a better upgrade than upgrading the arcs. (It just takes the.. entire game... for that to happen) >.< (4,464,573 bytes)


Jun 8, 2019 8:24 am

reporter   ~0051892

Tech scaling used to be much worse - caps went 1.8x, 2.6x and so on, instead of the current 1.5x, 2x style. They also used to get better return above Mark 4. I don't remember why I have it all linear...but it's simple enough to change. Classic has a similar scaling to the current one (I had checked it a bit out of curiosity), but of course you can only really go up to Mark 3 purely with Knowledge, so you had to diversify no matter what, but here you can go much higher with Science.

 The cap scaling is really annoying with things like Frigates and Arks too...Frigates round up so they sometimes get more strength than they really should, and Arks...don't increase at all, which makes them weird and...unappealing to upgrade at a point.

When I did those changes originally (this was pre-fleets) I had upped the count of Mark 1 a bit as well. needs to stop being linear, have worse return higher up and Mark 1s just need to be better. There's probably a lot of changes required for that though...domino effect and all. I kinda like toying with the idea of not having cap increases with upgrades at all, and having it purely via Coordinators and Fleet Experience, but then you've kinda lost another bit of the game.

I had a forum topic on the exponential cap scaling, with the extra multipliers but not much came of it.

The player probably has too big a power spike with each Fleet. 20AIP for a bunch of high mark stuff is kinda nuts...especially since you can't lose any of it permanently. experiment might be worthwhile...then again, there's almost no response to those.


Jun 8, 2019 8:59 am

reporter   ~0051893

Yeah, I did say that I'd predict the player would get much stronger IF they get a bunch of high mark stuff. Hence my follow up comment of, the AI kinda needs to get stronger, later in the game to respond to this.

The player gets exponentially stronger, as opposed to the linear relationship in AI war 1.

As for follow up comments - Its probably because the game wasn't exactly fun yet >.>. I mean, i didn't care until i played again recently and went. "Oh these fleets are actually fun", I admit, i was skeptical. So now i care about balance.

When i played the first time (just before fleets I think?), i enjoyed it a bit until i realised the AI didnt scale with AIP yet (lol o.g. comment). at that point i started looking for ways to break the game. "Is there any protection against deep striking, etc" When it turned up negative, i lost interest in the game for a while, seemed like i could win very easily. And it wasn't much different from AIW1, which at the time, was strictly superior.


Jun 8, 2019 9:02 am

reporter   ~0051894

Do note that. With the current system, the player gets stronger. and then just... stops.. getting stronger. Nothing on the field increases their fleet strength. The only thing they can do is improve their best ship more... assuming it can get higher.

And hey. like I just said. "Yeah, i didn't care, but now I do, I don't know if I'm the average person who plays this game or not" Could be representitive, who knows.


Jun 8, 2019 9:52 am

reporter   ~0051895

AI war has always been a game of challenge to me, presenting difficulties that actually go up towards impossible. Want the true AI war impossible experience?. I challenge you to beat AI war 1 D8, Fallen Spire-5 (Spire victory only, since obviously, this isn't too hard if you destroy the AI instead). I mean, I beat SC2 on V-Hard, that shit's the hardest RTS game I know, and yeah, I play all of them on their hardest.

But yeah, i played The Fleets and lost to D8, with an assault frigate strat. which honestly, felt embarrassing, the AI can't even scale! But i couldn't get my fleets out because of the metal issue. So i felt forced to make This spreadsheet . And look at several things going on in the game (like how factories produce units, repair costs), to figure out what's going on.

It was quick to figure out that Arks were very overpowered. But the other thing I needed to know was what ships required what technology. Since if i grabbed a ship that didn't match my technology. It was completely useless, (hey I wanted to at least... try... to use them), I also needed to approximate how much of a unit was equal to another unit.

I mean, it's kinda annoying to have Arks list "3 assault frigates, 24 c-corvs", and not know how much that means. How good is an assault frigate compared to 24 c-corvs, who knows!, so most of the time, you grab stuff that actually doesn't help at all. (wrong tech) So it's a blind guessing game you're just going to lose unless you start taking notes.

(An assault frigate is worth about 40 corvs, i know that now!)

And yeah, the AI got dunked next time, since i knew that repairing the ark didn't get more expensive. Freeing up all my metal for... really anything, metal didn't really matter that game. I just threw MK1s at the enemy when my arks were away. because i didn't have anything better to do with my metal.


Jun 8, 2019 10:32 am

reporter   ~0051896

(I kinda just wanted to show how ridiculous those settings got because it makes me laugh looking at it, looking how absurd it got, compared to any other game, and yes, it was totally 100% necessary to do X, where X is any question you might have)

20190609002702_1.jpg (421,444 bytes)


Oct 4, 2019 7:28 pm

administrator   ~0053488

Lots of awesome thoughts in here, and it did lead to a variety of changes over time. At this point the design is pretty settled and people seem happy, though. Cheers, thanks!

Issue History

Date Modified Username Field Change
Jun 6, 2019 10:27 am MatthewYCR New Issue
Jun 6, 2019 10:36 am MatthewYCR Description Updated View Revisions
Jun 6, 2019 10:40 am x4000Bughunter Note Added: 0051869
Jun 6, 2019 11:06 am x4000Bughunter Note Added: 0051871
Jun 6, 2019 11:17 am MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051872
Jun 6, 2019 1:24 pm MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051873
Jun 6, 2019 3:03 pm x4000Bughunter Note Added: 0051876
Jun 8, 2019 5:17 am MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051890
Jun 8, 2019 7:22 am MatthewYCR File Added:
Jun 8, 2019 7:22 am MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051891
Jun 8, 2019 8:24 am RocketAssistedPuffin Note Added: 0051892
Jun 8, 2019 8:59 am MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051893
Jun 8, 2019 9:02 am MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051894
Jun 8, 2019 9:52 am MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051895
Jun 8, 2019 10:32 am MatthewYCR File Added: 20190609002702_1.jpg
Jun 8, 2019 10:32 am MatthewYCR Note Added: 0051896
Oct 4, 2019 7:28 pm x4000Bughunter Assigned To => x4000Bughunter
Oct 4, 2019 7:28 pm x4000Bughunter Status new => closed
Oct 4, 2019 7:28 pm x4000Bughunter Resolution open => no change required
Oct 4, 2019 7:28 pm x4000Bughunter Note Added: 0053488