Some interesting results after heavy tweaking

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Eightball Maniac
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Some interesting results after heavy tweaking

Postby Eightball Maniac » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:14 am

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For several years now I've been tweaking EFS, aiming for a more interesting single player game. The last couple test runs have seen the galaxy come to life more than I've personally seen before. Since the forum has been rather quiet lately, I thought I'd share a bit.

A few notes on the patch:

1. The whole patch is based on a heavily modified Nova. I use the excellent modded exe from Hyperion that allows the Symbiots to build new units. Many ideas came from this forum during my research, particularly from Grimly's testing threads and the extensive email conversation we had (many thanks!). Inspiration has also come from Hyperion, Reality, Subversion, and several other places I can't even remember; been working on this for quite some time!

2. The galaxy map is the original historical scenario with a few tweaks. Each House starts off with their homeworld, a colony on a neighboring planet, and small landing parties on at least one other. So, Li Halan has Kish and Rampart, Hazat has Aragon and Vera Cruz, Decados has Severus and Cadavus, Hawkwood has Delphi and Ravenna, and al-Malik has Istakhr and Aylon.

3. The Ministries are all worth having now, as each has a homeworld capable of replacing lost units, if the tech is available. Stigmata has Stigmata, of course, but also an outpost on Chernobog. The Imperial Eye has Nowhere as their homeworld (also note that Nowhere has a jump route to De Moley now), as well as their traditional forts on the House homeworlds. The Imperial Fleet gets Tethys as their homeworld, along with more starting ships. Both the Eye and Fleet have small outposts on Byzantium II, as before.

4. The Church is in control of the church on each homeworld (both House and Ministry), and usually a monastery for the purpose of building Inquisitors and a few other units. I find this makes things more interesting, as it increases the chance of the Church going to war with others. Sadly, the AI doesn't understand how to remove the Church monasteries when at war.

5. The League has a much improved economy on Leagueheim, allowing it to better refill Agoras. They also have a larger fleet to work with, and a small landing force on Midian (frequently resulting in war when Li Halan decides to take the planet). Before the League goes to war, I always see a cruiser or destroyer escorting the freighters restocking Agoras. Never seen that before, so it does use the additional fleet assets.

6. The Symbiots are much tougher. They start with more ships and have a large force on Stigmata, though perhaps a bit too large; Stigmata usually falls within 30-40 years of the game start. Still tweaking that, though it does mean the Symbiots are a much greater threat to the rest of the Known Worlds.

7. The Vau are basically the same as in stock EFS, though they now have a small force of Symbiots to deal with. Despite their best efforts, the Vau seem to always lose. The Symbiots seem to like capturing their units, though I haven't seen any taken to other planets so far.

8. Many units have been tweaked in various ways, and a few new units have been added alongside. Sea-faring ships have been tweaked so the AI uses them (apart from the Naval Transport), though this means ships are often inching across deserts and subs make buildings immune to capture until killed by gunships (anti-sub units in Nova) or other ships, but that's the price to pay I guess. The sub thing is a huge exploit, though. I need to look into fixing that.

9. The tech tree is changed a bit, mainly to allow the new units to be researched. All techs take longer to research. I felt that it was just too easy to get to the best units. This change does seem to effect the AI, though. They apparently don't build enough labs to support the increased tech cost (if I understand the system correctly), as I find some Houses keep losing techs that I gave them. Either that or they just lose labs to enemies. Something else to look into.

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With those thoughts in mind, a few screenshots:

State of the Known Worlds in 5140
(If anyone knows a better way of getting a shot of the all the Known Worlds, let me know...)

Stigmata, lost long ago

The war on Istakhr is going badly for the al-Malik

I'm playing as Hawkwood, for the record.

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The Symbiots have been happily infesting everything they can find. Stigmata fell long ago, but the Garrison outpost on Chernobog is still alive (only because of the subs the AI builds; the Symbiots have no way of destroying them). Nowhere, the Eye homeworld, has also fallen.

Istakhr is nearly lost, though al-Malik has numerous naval units still around. Aylon hasn't been touched, but is probably next on the list.

De Moley, Cadiz, Vau, Madoc, and Artemis are firmly in Symbiot control, though I am holding the palace on Artemis for the moment.

Bannockburn was a warzone from the start of the game. In addition to some potent rebel forces, al-Malik, Decados, and Hawkwood all have a stack of troops on the planet, including a couple engineers. After Stigmata falls, the Symbiots invade the planet in force. Massively. The rebels and AI House troops fight hard, but can't hold out against the hordes.
In the current game I heavily fortified the southwest part of the continent and managed to hold it (usually my units die in a glorious last stand), eventually pushing the Symbiots back, especially when I finally broke their superiority in orbit with a fleet of destroyers. I now control the planet, though the Symbiots like to test my fleet strength quite frequently.

Many other worlds are also infested, though nowhere as badly.

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As for the houses, there's been a variety of activity over the years, though it's a bit more quiet at the moment.

al-Malik has troops on several worlds (despite losing Istakhr), particularly Malignatius, Shaprut, and their starting colony on Aylon. Earlier in the game they were in control of Leminkainen, but I invaded when they declared war and took it away.

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Decados is still alive despite being surrounded by Symbiots. Severus and Cadavus are untouched, possibly because of the large Decados fleet stationed there. They were active on Cadiz until the Symbiots decided to move in, which ended the Decados occupation in short order. Interestingly, they've been sending many ground units to Artemis to fight Symbiots, though I have no idea why. They must know something I don't...

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Li Halan, as you can see on the map linked above, have gone crazy. They control more planets than anyone else (damn them!), and outstrip everyone else in both cities and units, even without control of the Imperial Fleet (only Ministry left with a homeworld).

In addition to the planets they control, I've seen Li Halan units on Criticorum (contesting the rebel stronghold there), Shaprut (contesting the al-Malik claim), Midian (which resulted in war with the League), Gwynneth (contesting both Hawkwood and Symbiot), and even Ravenna (they DARE invade a Hawkwood colony?!), and probably several other planets I'm unaware of.

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The Hazat seem to have gone back and forth through the game. Early on they were interested in Pyre, but lost it to Li Halan. They claimed Pentateuch and heavily reinforced it before declaring war on me, but lost it during the war (after heavy Hawkwood losses...). Other than that, I am uncertain of where they have units. Currently, they're the only faction not at war with me besides the League.

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Hawkwood activities aren't quite as interesting since a human controls them, though I may as well offer a summary.

Delphi is cleared of all other units but those of the Eye. While the AI loves to use it against me, I don't really want to remove the Eye, since they've already lost Nowhere and their forts on all other homeworlds but Severus.

Ravenna is fairly quiet apart from Li Halan attacks, and was the primary source of food and energy for Delphi until the recent industrial increase.

Leminkainen is still trying to deal with the damned subs al-Malik built before they lost their cities. Every time I think I've killed them all, one of my coastal cities is attacked.

Pentateuch is now Delphi's primary food source and where all troops sent to Artemis are produced. Hazat still maintains a mine, mainly because I missed it before we agreed to peace.

Bannockburn is still trying to hunt down Symbiots on the surface, though all cities are in Hawkwood control. The only planet in Hawkwood space that is fully self-sufficient.

Gwynneth has only a small outpost, currently building up to attack the Symbiots and Li Halan troops on the main continent. Symbiot ships attack the local fleet frequently, either launching from the surface or moving in from Criticorum.

Artemis is so horribly infested with Symbiots that any troops I land are destroyed before reinforcements can even get there. But Decados was interested in the world for a reason, and I'll be damned if I let the Symbiots stop me from discovering that reason.

Current Hawkwood plans are to continue the battles on Artemis and Gwynneth, though I am seriously considering an invasion of Stigmata, since the Garrison is unable to build up on Chernobog.

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The Church is at war with everyone as far as I know, and have lost most or all units on the House worlds, except for the monasteries the AI Houses can't remove. They have a fleet over Sutek, but I haven't seen them elsewhere for decades.

However, Holy Terra may well be attacked by the Symbiots if they can muster enough ships on Artemis to keep me from landing reinforcements.

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The League is pretty quiet. They war with Li Halan on Midian, though I think they only have the starting units they had there and whatever they can build locally. Symbiot fleets frequently face the guns of a League fleet over Madoc, but I haven't seen any offensives against the Symbiot ground forces (though it is a water planet).

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I think that covers the current game. I'm extremely pleased with the results so far. I've never seen the House AI land troops elsewhere with their own troops (instead of Ministry units, but they like those too) with any regularity, or build so many ships to engage their enemies. EFS is far more entertaining when the galaxy is actually alive.

I hope you folks enjoyed reading this. I sure enjoyed typing it up! Not sure how often I'll post updates, but we'll see.
Last edited by Eightball Maniac on Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:05 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby cy387_lk » Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:56 am

Modified files please!
Wanna try it right away! :D

Just a few questions:
- Any non-vanilla units?
- Have you modified the tech tree?
- Do you think it would be playable with Matt's exe and his last Hyp version?
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Re: Some interesting results after some heavy tweaking

Postby Camouflage » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:12 am

Eightball Maniac wrote:6. The Symbiots are much tougher. They start with more ships and have a large force on Stigmata, though perhaps a bit too large; Stigmata usually falls within 30-40 years of the game start. Still tweaking that, though it does mean the Symbiots are a much greater threat to the rest of the Known Worlds.


Which isn't too far off. IIRC Stigmata was about to fall to the Symbiots until Alexius showed up with heavy Hawkwood and Muster reinforcements to save the day.

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Postby Eightball Maniac » Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:52 am

cy387_lk wrote:Modified files please!
Wanna try it right away! :D

Note that this is still a work in progress, but I can still send them over if you like. I haven't finished modifying the tech tree yet, so some existing entries are either outdated or missing entirely. Slowly getting this fixed.

Also, I've just made a new batch of changes to both the units and the map (though I still have the old version), along with getting some new flcs for some of the units. Still testing how the new changes effect the game, but they did increase the time before the Symbiots take down Stigmata to 50 or so turns, which is closer to what I wanted in the first place. Should still be possible to save the planet with the right tactics and a bit of luck.

Still too early to see how other changes go, but it's barely past 5000.

- Any non-vanilla units?

There's a handful of new units, as follows:

Flagship - Basically a more powerful Cadiz Dreadnaught. Each House starts with one, as do some of the other factions. They're intended to protect homeworlds and such, but there's nothing stopping anyone from using them for other purposes. Cannot be replaced if lost.

Patrol Frigate - Better spotting ability than any other ship, improving chances of revealing unseen ships. Still need to test how well it spots Stealth Raiders. Otherwise, it is slightly better than a regular frigate, but is more expensive and takes a bit longer to build.

Hover Transport - Meant to move units around on planets without ready access to landers. Has weak combat capability, but is unlikely to survive a serious battle. AI doesn't use it, even for combat; possibly because it is in the lander section of unit.dat (for the icon). I might move it to another section and see if they use it for combat at least.

Psychic Coven - A weaker Warlock unit, basically, but is buildable once the right tech is available. Also weaker than the Dervish, but has slightly better armor and weak AA ability.

Knight - A far more potent officer unit. More heavily armored with better close combat ability.

Mercenary Company - Similar to the Muster unit from Reality. A better infantry unit, meant to add some extra combat ability before powered armor is available. Effective against most units, with more armor than other early infantry. Available from the start of the game. Recruited from space ports for two gems, but carries a heavy maintenance fee per turn. Recently faced some serious tweaking to make them less powerful, but they may be too weak now. Still tweaking.

Royal Guard - A tough unit with heavy firepower, meant for protecting nobles and scepters. Just a few of these can fend off most attacks, but will suffer without support when facing tougher opponents like Symbiot hordes. Can be built in any palace, but takes 10 turns to produce, has only 2 movement points, and cannot be transported.

Shield Bearer - Meant for standing in front of nobles and soaking up enormous amounts of enemy firepower, but also carries extreme firepower of its own. Currently not used other than to make fights for rebel palaces harder on certain worlds. Cannot be built. I also feel they're too similar to the Royal Guard, so I may remove them eventually.

There's a couple other new units, but I won't bother mentioning them since they're going to be removed before long.

Also note that most of the existing units have been modified in various ways, either to make them more useful or to better balance them.

- Have you modified the tech tree?

Yes, but not extensively. Most changes were to include new units or improve descriptions for old ones. All tech is more costly in terms of research points, however. I felt that technology advanced far too quickly before, rendering early units useless before long and reducing the value of newly researched items.

The new problem is that the AI will pay much more for techs they don't have, though this can be offset by either refusing their offers or reducing tax/not skimming tithe/increasing unit pay. These solutions do change gameplay though, since units and cities will have higher morale. On the other hand, the costs really do rack up later on with a large military. Still tweaking.

- Do you think it would be playable with Matt's exe and his last Hyp version?

I made changes to the Symbiots with Matt's exe in mind, and I highly recommend using it. Otherwise the Symbiots are nowhere near as dangerous to the galaxy.

As for Hyperion, the modified dat files and such aren't compatible for obvious reasons. The scenario, however, could be altered to allow for compatibility; I'd just need to remove any units I added. Hyperion does make extensive changes, so it's possible that some oddities might exist in the scenario.

Camouflage wrote:Which isn't too far off. IIRC Stigmata was about to fall to the Symbiots until Alexius showed up with heavy Hawkwood and Muster reinforcements to save the day.

I'm not sure on the specifics, but I think you're right. However, I felt the Symbiots had an easy battle if they could take Stigmata in only 30-40 turns. That barely offered any time for someone to get control of Stigmata, especially if no one was elected for the first couple elections. With some new tweaks, the Symbiots take closer to 50 or 60 turns before taking over. I feel this is about right, as it gives Stigmata commanders a somewhat better chance of fighting back, especially if a player gains control.

The Symbiots in general are far more potent than they are regularly, though. I've increased armor for most or all of their units, meaning they take more before dropping. New units they build rout too easily if they take enough damage without dying, though. I make up for this by not capturing their units, or just disbanding any I capture. I think of it as chasing them down and finishing the battle, since you get no resources from disbanding them. Plus, they can easily replace those losses...

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Postby Lord Austere » Tue May 12, 2009 8:16 pm

I would also like the chance to try your modified file. If you send it I might be able to share my experiences on it with you in case interesting things start showing up.

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Postby siekster » Wed May 13, 2009 1:49 am

Lord Austere wrote:I would also like the chance to try your modified file. If you send it I might be able to share my experiences on it with you in case interesting things start showing up.


+1. Count me in on that!

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Postby Eightball Maniac » Tue May 19, 2009 12:06 am

Sent you both an email with the tweaks.

Anyone else interested in trying the mod can just send me a PM with their email address and I'll send it as soon as I can.

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Postby siekster » Tue May 19, 2009 10:09 pm

Got it!! Thanks!! As soon as I get some serious playing time, I'll let you know how it goes. I did get a chance to fire it up before I went to bed last night, and it looks great!

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Postby Makinus2 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:06 pm

Post the files somewhere so others can try them....

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Postby UnFleshedOne » Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:29 am

I'd love to try it out too. Didn't play for quite a while :)
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Postby Isoule » Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:21 am

I'd love to try this. If you're still around my e-mail is Isoulle@hotmail.com

PS: I'm curious about details on your patch. IE, you said modified Nova. Is it just Nova with the changes you listed or are those the only changes. Curious about things like fixing the units stats (A huge problem with the base game) and other things Nova did....

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Postby Kellen » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:37 am

Just got back into playing, any chance this particular patch/mod from Eightball Maniac is around for download anywhere? After this much time, I'm having trouble tracking down the old mods I used to use, but this one sounds really interesting. If anyone's got it, please PM me or point me towards where it's hosted, I'd appreciate it.

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Postby LeperColony » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:53 am

Of course I can't be sure, but I don't think any of the modders are still active on the boards.

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Postby Eightball Maniac » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:00 pm

Ask and ye shall receive.

Dead link removed. Check first post.
Last edited by Eightball Maniac on Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Kellen » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:37 am

Awesome, thanks man, you rock. Nice to know other folks are still haunting around here and playing.


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