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Incredibly Passive Sandbox AI

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Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 4, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I'm finding that even on "expert" the Sandbox AI is incredibly passive. If I'm foolish enough to leave a large area completely undefended, it may launch a quick raid or two, but it doesn't really seem able to mount successful sieges.

I'm currently running a test today while I'm at work. I'm leaving an Expert game running, with all AIs set to "aggressive". The 'player' has a single Aeudi city with two skirmish units in it. I'm betting that when I get home the game will be on day ~5000 or so, and the city will still be player controlled.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 5, 2015 at 2:30 am

Sure - enough -- AI has made no attempt at my city. 10 years in...

Level 4 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 5, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I'm finding that even on "expert" the Sandbox AI is incredibly passive. If I'm foolish enough to leave a large area completely undefended, it may launch a quick raid or two, but it doesn't really seem able to mount successful sieges.

I'm currently running a test today while I'm at work. I'm leaving an Expert game running, with all AIs set to "aggressive". The 'player' has a single Aeudi city with two skirmish units in it. I'm betting that when I get home the game will be on day ~5000 or so, and the city will still be player controlled.


I agree! Sandbox AI is too passive. I feel no challenge at all playing Sandbox!

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 5, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Based on the tests (running as Expert will all factions set to Aggressive!) results I would say there is effectively no sandbox AI implemented beyond the absolute most basic level of a bit of defensive raiding, and some mild defense of a given city. I can't help but feel the Hegemony III kickstarter would have gone better if H:R was released in a more complete state. I certainly didn't feel comfortable funding it (and I'm kickstarter crazy) considering that Rome still feels like early access, despite having been released almost a year ago. At least the formation controls are finally up to snuff in the new 2.2.2 beta.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 7, 2015 at 7:31 am

For kicks, I ran a similar test with Hegemony Gold. Greeks, Epirius, Expert. I ran it for about 4 hours, AI took some of the resources, but took no cities. So this isn't a regression in behavior. I really think this needs to be fixed, at least for Rome and III. It seems like a pretty big flaw.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: German-speaking part of Europe
Posted on March 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

AI isn't aggressive about expanding, especially in Gold where it is only recapturing its own cities, or undefended ones.

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 11, 2015 at 7:43 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Unlike in Gold where the AI was focused solely on the player, the AI in Rome treats all of the factions equally in order to encourage more AI vs AI combat and ideally a more robust sandbox. Unfortunately, in practice it didn't work quite as we hoped and we've found that as the game progresses and the player's faction usually outpaces the AI, the AI focuses its offense on the other weaker AIs and too often avoids attacking the player.

While we've made a number of improvements to Rome over the last year to improve this, it would require a significant amount of re-balancing and testing to get at the underlying problems and unfortunately we don't have the resources to take on that big a project at this point.

However, we have been taking that into account since we started the new game and Hegemony III has a whole new difficulty manager that controls how aggressive the AI is towards the player and tries to balance that based on the chosen difficulty setting.

All of that said, there is a chance that in any specific situation the AI is just getting held up by some unknown bug and if you want to send me a savegame (rob@longbowgames.com) I can see if there is something I can fix now.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 11, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Thanks Rob. I'm not really sure (it's hard to measure), but it seems like the AI does a significantly better job in modes other than the all-Gaul sandbox mode? One particular AI decision flaw I see is a tendency to leave farms and mines with insufficient workers. E.g. if there are 5 workers in a farm or mine, the AI never appears to think about increasing this number.

As a note, for Hegemony III, I wouldn't mind having some global or per-civ values that would operate as cheats for the AI, perhaps something like:

<CivFoo>
GoldBonus = // a flat bonus for the whole nation
PerCityGoldBonus = // a flat bonus that scales on number of cities
GoldMultiplier = // a multiplicative bonus
FoodBonus =
PerCityFoodBonus =
FoodMultiplier
WoodBonus =
PerCityWood Bonus =
WoodMultiplier =
RecruitmentRateMultiplier = // a multiplicative bonus to recruitment

I'm missing the ability to help our the lame duck AI in Rome.

Level 4 Human 3D Modeler
Alignment: Good
Location: USA
Posted on March 12, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Unlike in Gold where the AI was focused solely on the player, the AI in Rome treats all of the factions equally in order to encourage more AI vs AI combat and ideally a more robust sandbox. Unfortunately, in practice it didn't work quite as we hoped and we've found that as the game progresses and the player's faction usually outpaces the AI, the AI focuses its offense on the other weaker AIs and too often avoids attacking the player.

While we've made a number of improvements to Rome over the last year to improve this, it would require a significant amount of re-balancing and testing to get at the underlying problems and unfortunately we don't have the resources to take on that big a project at this point.

However, we have been taking that into account since we started the new game and Hegemony III has a whole new difficulty manager that controls how aggressive the AI is towards the player and tries to balance that based on the chosen difficulty setting.

All of that said, there is a chance that in any specific situation the AI is just getting held up by some unknown bug and if you want to send me a savegame (rob@longbowgames.com) I can see if there is something I can fix now.


New player here. Have had Rome for two days now. Loving it...graphics are low and still sorta laggy on my fairly powerful machine. Perhaps not as optimized as the game could be. And zooming around the map is quite 'stuttery.' Anyway, I think the AI so far is fairly good, as a new player.

I started as Rome (starting in Narbo with historical start) in All Gaul. The AI keeps attacking my frontlines in one spot. No biggy, free XP and almost have one legion up to 2500 XP so I can boost the squad size for a second time. NEED MOAR LEGION! As for a southern front, the enemy tried to sneak two units pass my lightly defended city. But then they fell into a pincer trap of my garrison and a unit from the south closing in on them. I'm not sure what they hoped to achieve though.

At a different front the enemy sallied forth and attacked my 4 squad army with 4 squads of their own, routing one of mine. I was stationed at a camp outside their city.

So, I'm sure once I become more seasoned I'll think the AI is easy, as with all games. But as a beginner, I think the AI is pretty good. Still, I look forward to improvements in Heg III

(I have all factions on random AI)


Quick edit at 19 hours into the game: AI could be a little more aggressive but I might've been fighting a Defensive AI, not sure. Still, those jerks put 13 units into their next city. Had to cut it off and let them starve. Ha!

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 14, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Hey Rob --

I've notiucied the same thing you've mentioned, which is that as you gain more cities, the AI gets less and less effective against you. Therefor I'm interested particularly in the following values. Can they be used to manipulate how the AI thinks about your cities, so that it doesn't 'consider' you additional cities, only those on / near its border?

<constfriendlycitydist>7.5</constfriendlycitydist>
<constfriendlycityweight>2.0</constfriendlycityweight>

<constenemycitydist>10.0</constenemycitydist>
<constenemycityweight>-5.0</constenemycityweight>

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Hey Rob --

I've notiucied the same thing you've mentioned, which is that as you gain more cities, the AI gets less and less effective against you. Therefor I'm interested particularly in the following values. Can they be used to manipulate how the AI thinks about your cities, so that it doesn't 'consider' you additional cities, only those on / near its border?

<constfriendlycitydist>7.5</constfriendlycitydist>
<constfriendlycityweight>2.0</constfriendlycityweight>

<constenemycitydist>10.0</constenemycitydist>
<constenemycityweight>-5.0</constenemycityweight>


Unfortunately the values that really control the high-level AI (when/where to launch attacks) aren't exposed for modding. The values you listed are used by the lower level AIs to indicate the influence of surrounding objects on a unit's movement planning e.g. how routed units avoid enemies. I'll try to get some more mod controls into the next update.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on March 16, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Hey Rob --

I've notiucied the same thing you've mentioned, which is that as you gain more cities, the AI gets less and less effective against you. Therefor I'm interested particularly in the following values. Can they be used to manipulate how the AI thinks about your cities, so that it doesn't 'consider' you additional cities, only those on / near its border?

<constfriendlycitydist>7.5</constfriendlycitydist>
<constfriendlycityweight>2.0</constfriendlycityweight>

<constenemycitydist>10.0</constenemycitydist>
<constenemycityweight>-5.0</constenemycityweight>


Unfortunately the values that really control the high-level AI (when/where to launch attacks) aren't exposed for modding. The values you listed are used by the lower level AIs to indicate the influence of surrounding objects on a unit's movement planning e.g. how routed units avoid enemies. I'll try to get some more mod controls into the next update.


Got it, thanks Rob.