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bholland

An idea to improve SCS: Threat Generation

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So I have been playing this a lot and I noticed something interesting. My mages are always targeted by the AI. I don't know if that is intentional or not but it really makes it a rush against time before my mages are swamped with guys laying waste to them. It is even more infuriating as my mages are really not for offense. They are built to basically take down the defenses of other mages. Sure they are armed with MMM but they seem to get rushed when they do literally nothing but stand still and my tanks are hitting them for massive damage. I propose a sort of threat system for targeting where those with heaviest armor or seeming to deal the most damage to them (mages included) are targeted first. If no damage has been dealt yet then target the char with the heaviest armor or largest weapon etc.

 

Basically, I really want to avoid the state where I fall asleep and get woken up surrounded by creatures who all attack my defenseless mage. It might be realistic but it is really annoying since nothing at all can be done about it and I end up ctrl-R my mage on death. Basically it is really cheap. As a DM, I could do that too but my players would hate me. At the same time, I want the critters targeting the characters who can kill them the fastest. My F/T who deals out 20-25 damage every hit with 3 APR is always passed up for my mages who have MMM and at best (when they even hit) for 3 or 4 damage. Most of the time, my mages are busy running away and not even actively targeting anything.

 

I think there is a certain point though which mages can be fairly rushed and perhaps that is after casting (or starting to cast) a potentially offensive spell or somehow dealing more damage than my F/T backstabbing away. I don't know if you have thought about this at all or if there is a system in place. If you think isn't a terrible idea I could write up a bit more but I just wanted to throw the idea out there.

 

Again, as always, this is truly a fantastic mod. I don't think I would provide feedback or ask questions if it wasn't. I love the raw insane difficulty of some of the fights. It really does make it feel like my characters are the level they are from the low levels to the mids and the ultra powered highs.

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I think non-sentient beings attack the closest enemy and sentient beings attack the weakest party member first (those without armor). At least that has been my experience so far in BG1/BGT. So mirror image (or any clone spell), stoneskin, armor spells, and invisibility helps in mitigating that.

 

However, if I were going up against a party then I would attack the people who could disable you by waving their jazz hands and shouting alliterations at you because they can directly and indirectly harm you by buffing allies. You're pretty evenly matched going up toe to toe against a tank because they are limited in what they can do (have to be within melee range).

 

This actually sounds like something that can be considered (if it is doable) in the kit revisions mod. It would be nice to have tanks that specialized in generating threat. So you might want to share your ideas there.

 

Whether DavidW is willing to take kit revisions into consideration when updating SCS, or implementing this on his own, is another point entirely.

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There is a limit to what can be done in the Infinity Engine scripting system (keeping track of damage done would be fairly tricky, for instance). But more importantly, I'm not persuaded what you suggest is good strategy for intelligent opponents.

 

SCS's basic combat heuristic (at least for foes of human-level intelligence) is: incapacitate or kill as many party members as possible, as quickly as possible. That means that when doing physical damage, attacking lightly armoured opponents with low hit points tends to be a high priority, and as a consequence, if PC mages are not magically protected they are very likely to be targeted. As a bonus, mages tend to be quite high-level offensive threats. Of course, that might not be true in a particular case (say, mages optimised for antimagic in a nonmagical fight), but then, the enemy aren't going to know that. They assume that if you brought mages along, you did it because they're a real threat.

 

(There's a caveat to this: both because of pathing difficulties and as a sop to plausibility, meleeing SCS opponents choose the most vulnerable target from among foes in weapon range, and don't range further afield in search of foes.)

 

I don't have any interest in emulating a threat-based system. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with it (Dragon Age and SW:TOR are great games) but it introduces a basic asymmetry between the way the player fights and the way the AI fights. In particular, it's completely crazy as a player to prioritise the person with the best AC rather than the worst, but that's exactly what the AI ends up doing. SCS tries to make enemies fight as much as possible as if they're intelligent creatures working within the rule system.

 

As a practical matter I agree with onerous: if your mages get killed all the time you might want to invest more in their magical defences (or just keep them invisible if they're genuinely not going to contribute to the battle).

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Actually I find that I generally have my improve hasted 10 attack guys going after the unprotected fighters for 1-2 rounds first while my mages are taking down spell protections. I find this helps a lot more than going straight for their mages because I don't like to prebuffs PFMW in case it wears out before my mages get targeted. However, a good melee can take down all of a mage's stone skins in basically one round so it's a balance. A fighter will go down to two hasted fighters hitting him for a round though so it works out. Then again it partially works simply because I'm using a F/I and jaheira as my front line.

 

I think part of the issue is that melee are the real glass cannons of this game while mages are the actual tanks who don't go down. Therefore it's easier to just kill the melees first to avoid damage... Especially playing on insane where a random encounter rogue can backstab you for 100+.

Edited by kryptix

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There's nothing intrinsically wrong with it (Dragon Age and SW:TOR are great games) but it introduces a basic asymmetry between the way the player fights and the way the AI fights. In particular, it's completely crazy as a player to prioritise the person with the best AC rather than the worst, but that's exactly what the AI ends up doing. SCS tries to make enemies fight as much as possible as if they're intelligent creatures working within the rule system.
Just do keep in mind that >50% of times:

1) it is more entertaining to outsmart big stupid guys, than play a battle of wits against intelligent adversaries

2) games played for their entertainment value

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Sure. But ultimately that's SCS's design concept: "Take the enemies in the game, basically as given or with light modifications, and make them fight as intelligently as possible*" There may well be space in the BG2 mod ecosystem for a threat-style AI mod, but it would be a radically different thing rather than a plausible direction of travel for SCS.

 

For what it's worth, personally I'd rather win against intelligent adversaries than against big stupid guys. And ultimately SCS is a mod built around my own preferences for AI and then made publicly available.

 

*Well, "as intelligently as realistic", but in practice that's nearly always "as intelligently as possible".

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