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Author Topic: Civilians... those little buggers.  (Read 38457 times)

BigBonsai

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Civilians... those little buggers.
« on: January 16, 2008, 10:53:03 pm »
Now, I thought we could talk about those civilian nuts in a separate thread (kind of a continuation from here).

If the statement that was made in an earlier thread - that only those civ casualties count which occurred in abandoned or ignored missions - is correct, then why bother having civilians at all? Everybody who completes the missions can ignore the civilians, because they won't be counted anyways. The only thing that would make me want to save them is my morality. But after restarting a mission for the 10th time, morality gets lost...

With the current stupidity of these guys I hope the "civ body count policy" doesn't change, because saving them is nigh impossible. While I like a bit of naive stupidity in the world, these folks are a bit extreme - they run toward the gut-sucking aliens, hoping they will get a hug. But, of course - BOOM! ;D

As suggested in another thread, could some mechanic be implemented to make them at least run from the enemy instead of walking toward him? Or better - get close to one and give the civilian a command to exit to the dropship or or or...

Any ideas?

If the civs are supposed to be retarded, I'm fine with that. But it would be so much more fun if their IQ would exceed that of a bucket of sand. ;)

This game's fun! :) The characters tell their story without a word.


BiB
« Last Edit: January 16, 2008, 10:57:17 pm by BigBonsai »

Sectoid

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 07:21:30 pm »

As suggested in another thread, could some mechanic be implemented to make them at least run from the enemy instead of walking toward him? Or better - get close to one and give the civilian a command to exit to the dropship or or or...

Yeah. I know writing AI is tricky, but the civis should be smart enough to at least be able to run away from aliens and toward soldiers in their line of sight. Maybe they should also run away from gunfire/explosions.

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 07:43:12 pm »
Let's get one thing straight, though. Civilians should NOT be able to get themselves to safety, as seems to be what these comments seem to be trying to accomplish. Saving civilians is PHALANX' job, and it's not going to be possible for them to save all civilians on every mission almost per definition.

BigBonsai

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 11:59:57 pm »
Let's get one thing straight, though. Civilians should NOT be able to get themselves to safety, as seems to be what these comments seem to be trying to accomplish. Saving civilians is PHALANX' job, and it's not going to be possible for them to save all civilians on every mission almost per definition.
I agree in parts. A civilian should be able to flee for instance to the dropship and wait there. How/If the dropshop is protected is the players choice. PHALANX should be able to tell the civs where to go to. That's also part of the mission.

And why shouldn't a civilian be able to get himself to safety? To a certain extent he should be. At least, as already mentioned before, they should run into a safer direction and not aimlessly proving the total absence of their brains. When there is a safe spot - who wouldn't head there?


BiB

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2008, 12:05:48 am »
My point is that you kind of destroy the premise of a terror attack when you provide the civilians with the AI to evade the aliens. Of course, you could compensate that by making civilians slower than aliens, but even then if a civilian is smart enough to retreat inside PHALANX' area of control from the get-go, then the aliens will almost never be able to get that civilian. In other words, it'll be too easy to save him/her. Extrapolate this to all civilians on the map, and all PHALANX needs to do to save the civilians is stand around and wait for them to show up.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2008, 12:08:13 am by BTAxis »

Ruminant

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2008, 04:03:50 am »
What if soldiers could direct civilians to "safe areas", rather than the civilians running to those areas automatically?  A soldier could either "verbally" point a civilian in the right direction or else physically escort that civilian back to the safe area.  This would mostly preserve the nature of terror attacks while providing the player with better options that just watching them die or stunning them.

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2008, 01:08:43 pm »
Great ideas. Anyone up for coding it?

Form orderly queues, please...

SpaceWombat

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2008, 07:01:37 pm »
I think most "realistic" would be a variation between hiding in some corner, running into the open in panic and -most likely- running to the direction the soldiers come from because if that ugly alien freak is after you it would be rational to seek help from the human guys with the big guns who are after the alien thugs. Maybe this would add some dufficulty since you need to watch while fireing through the herd of civs running out of the buildings in your direction. That could be combined with the ability of giving orders to them if the civs are in range. Whether they obey or not depends on character and panic level.

Would give a challenge in tactics and as well would make the civilians more than obstacles. If you cannot do anything about them or they are just randomly stupid I consider them just nerds who stand in my way while i'm in a good shooting position. If they are really seeking my help and it is less depending on luck I feel more like it is my duty to actually shield them.  :)

Surrealistik

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2008, 12:21:53 am »
I feel Wombat's initial idea is the best, featuring the three AI types.

The first impels the civilian to panic and flee at random away from any spotted alien.

The second has the civilian actively attempt to hide, never ending his turn in any tile in an alien's LoS. The AI for this type can probably be derived from existing alien AI.

The third, the most rational and common, causes the civilian to run from spotted aliens, and as a higher priority, run towards PHALANX soldiers.

Even with these self-preservational AIs in place, it will still prove difficult to rescue many civilians, especially as so many typically end up being a signifigant distance from the dropship, are unarmoured and thus take full damage from all weaponry.

SpaceWombat

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2008, 02:12:56 am »
By the way I have a question regarding the AI dependence of aliens and civilians.
Right now I have the feeling that aliens always try to hunt down a civilian not taking into account what trouble this might bring them into considering tactical issues like the element of surprise.

For instance I had an alien on the roof and I wouldn't have noticed it until 3 turns in the future when I would have tried to place my sniper on that roof. That stupid alien gave a long range shoot with a plasma rifle on the civilian right next to my soldiers not hiting anything but a tree 5 tiles away.
That gave me the exact position to place a timed grenade for a one shot kill.

For a rational subject the tactical analysis would have prevented such stupidity as a no gain but all loss action and lead to a more stealthy sneaking-around-the-corner behaviour.


Is such kind of situation analysis part of the AI or planned in the future and furthermore can this be transfered to civ AI? If only one character setting like "hide" would be tagged to a civ on lets say a football field this might result in not finding a corner to hide an run around in circles which in a turn based game structure would be as bad as standing still and face the inevitable.  :'(

I have heard about a study on mass panics in sports arenas recently and it said that "the stupid crowd" seems to be rather smart when running away. The only obvious problem was that in mass panic many people are blocking each other. But we are just talking about 3-10 people scattered over the map. So I would consider their behaviour as rather smart and responsive to the actual situation of every single civ if that can be coded.  ;D

There is of course a need for trial and error of such a complex AI. It would definitely strengthen the excitement for tactical missions for the players. The less luck it takes to make a mission the better.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 01:03:43 pm by SpaceWombat »

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2008, 12:51:20 pm »
Nobody really understands the AI, I think. If there's someone who can make a better one, by all means.

Mustang

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2008, 04:32:26 pm »
Let's get one thing straight, though. Civilians should NOT be able to get themselves to safety, as seems to be what these comments seem to be trying to accomplish. Saving civilians is PHALANX' job, and it's not going to be possible for them to save all civilians on every mission almost per definition.

Sorry, but I completely disagree with this.  Civilians should at least be able to follow orders and get to secure ground.  I can understand the occasional hysterical civilian, but if this is the way you intend it, then let me jump on those idiots and cart their butts back to the drop ship.  As it is now, they will run from the areas I've secured and right into the enemy.  That doesn't make sense.  If I know my planet is going to be destroyed because 20-50 idiot civilians can't follow orders, I'm going to pop them in the arse and drag them to safety.  Since the AI does not support that, this limit just won't work.

SpaceWombat

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2008, 04:59:50 pm »
Right.
If it is indeed more or less based on luck whether you can save all or nearly all civilians the casualty maximum and the negative impact on funding, moral etc. must take this into account. Then civs are just an obstacle to deal with.
That would be no fun in my opinion.  :-\

Civilians are never save unless you finish the mission. There is no "hostage save zone" where they disappear when reached. But after you commenced your search & destroy mission there should be a much better chance for them to survive.
The 5 civs on the map do in no way represent all civilians attacked by the ufos. They are just who is left after the alien raid went on for a few hours when your troops finally arrive.
Protecting them with your soldiers lifes should be a gain and absolutely possible.
Aliens can attack them while they have successfully reached dropship/squad to seek shelter though! It does not affect your s&d mission objectives to have a herd of civs in one spot of the map.

I say let's make them a bit smarter and let them try to reach savety in form of a good hiding place or the player's squad. And we will see how that works and how it can be improved when it is implemented. I would say this is huge gain for the game while it is obviously also a huge task.  :)

Maybe I can find a way to contribute to that issue though i'm not a good coder right now.

Offline BlakeD

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2008, 10:10:08 pm »
First, I think the civ-limit mechanism is definately in need of refinement / rethinking.

BUT (You know it was coming) - humans, especially panicced, untrained civilians, are STUPID animals.  They DO run into danger.  They do stuff that is illogical.  When the nice big soldiers appear, unless the civilian has seen and knows it's aliens attacking, may very well think it's a military attack.  If they do recognize the soldiers as the "good guys" - and the good guys with the big protective guns are moving in the direction opposite of the "safe place" they've just been instructed to go to, they may not go there.  After all, who is there to protect them?  What makes THAT place safe?

Humans are stupid, illogical, panicy, ANIMALS.  I'd like to give us more credit than that, but honestly, I don't think history would support it.

SpaceWombat

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Re: Civilians... those little buggers.
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2008, 04:15:17 am »
While it is true that panic makes you run faster and think slower and humans are of course animals since they are neither plants nor funghi I think it is not true that our behaviour is unlogic or "stupid" while trying to get away from danger. If that would be the case no predator could predict and estimate what his prey will do next.
In fact the behaviour under stress and panic becomes mostly more simple but you do not put your second hand on a heat source while you realize the first one is melting on it!
And because humans are social/group animals -which is critical for our survival- they will stick to people of the same group (humans instead of aliens) and most of them will follow orders of someone who takes initiative on solving the problem.
That is reality according to my experience and knowledge.

That said I also want to mention that this behaviour does not necessarily mean it is the most tactical advanced decision to run straight to the soldiers! Maybe that brings you into the line of fire of the alien sniper on the roof and the optimal runaway strategy under given information might still lead into loss of civis in one concrete situation or another...
We are not talking about skynet super AI. We just want to simulate more common sense behaviour to make it more plausible as wells as provide a more tactical advanced gameplay.