An appeal to the botmakers

AI discussion, ideas, and SDK help.
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varoadstter
Luxer
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Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:22 am
Location: Raleigh, NC

An appeal to the botmakers

Post by varoadstter » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:30 pm

Hi guys,

So now that I've got some framework together I'm ready to dig in to the meat of bot creation. I'd like some feedback from those of you who have gone through the experience if you're willing to share. At first, I thought I'd head over to the General forum and look for strategy discussions in there - um, not a great idea. Apparently the human element playing the game is more concerned with posting the sordid tales of gameplay against others than discussing strategy ideas. Hence, I appeal to you (botmakers).

I have looked through the source code of the bots that come with the SDK and that looks helpful. I'm not really inclined to extend an existing bot, though, so at the end of the day I will be creating my entire library from scratch. If I need to playtest and idea, I may try it out on one of the existing bots but at the end of the day I want my bot to be built from the ground up completely clean. This isn't a knock by any means against the bots that are available. I'm really planning on taking my bot in its own direction.

So, I've also had a good read through the wiki and there doesn't appear to be a place that has a complete set of rules and rule variants that I can work from. If I have missed it, can someone point me in the right direction? I am completely familiar with the rules of standard Risk but have never played Castle Risk. I have also hear tell that there are other variations in rules that include negative continent bonuses and one way connections. Is there something that I can read through that completely explains those aspects? I just want to make sure that I don't build in any bad assumptions of the rules as I go forward.

Now, following that, I'm interested in hearing about strategy.

Clustering, Killing, Farming, etc. I would love to have a discussion of all elements of strategy down to the finest nuance if someone wishes to share. Understand that all of this will eventually make it's way into how my bots play. The more I understand proper gameplay, the better.

Any takers?

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varoadstter
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Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:22 am
Location: Raleigh, NC

Post by varoadstter » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:32 pm

Oh, additionally, is there any place that has a good description of specific maps? I don't mean a paragraph, I want to know how a certain map *really plays*. Particularly those that might help me analyze a particular aspect of the game rules. Thanks.

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Bertrand
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Post by Bertrand » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:37 am

The strategy wiki page is http://sillysoft.net/wiki/?Strategy

There are many threads about strategy in this forum (Robot House) and in the Lux Talk forum. You just have to be patient in looking for them - the search function is particularly useful. Some of the recent ones that I remember:

http://sillysoft.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12588
http://sillysoft.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12658

As for the rules, they are pretty well explained in the Wiki, but they are basically the same as Risk, with a few extensions: the ability to fortify as many countries as you want, various card progressions, and optionally increasing continent bonuses.

Castle Risk, and all the other maps, use exactly the same rules as the Classic map. The difference is in the number of countries, continents and their bonuses, and the way the countries are connected. Some mapmakers use two techniques to torment us poor AI makers:

Negative continent bonuses: avoid those continents since their bonuses are subtracted from your income. One example of that is the bridges in the Castle maps.

One way connections: country A is adjacent to country B (in AI terms B is in the adjoining list of A) but country B is NOT adjacent to country A. Those are painful to program for. You must never assume that if you can go from A to B, then you can move from B to A.

If you can navigate around the one-way connections (they can lead to infinite loops if improperly handled), then your AI should be playable on any map.

For a first version, I would concentrate on only one map, and the most popular settings: Classic map, 4-6-8-10-15 card progression and 0% (or 5%) continent bonus increase. That's what I did anyway. Your AI will still be usable on the other maps/settings, he just won't be very good on them. Once you have that working, then you can make your AI adapt his strategy to the other maps/settings.

Some AI functions are common to all maps/settings: the ability to conquer a continent, kill another player to steal his cards, defend a continent, sweep the board, pop a continent. High-level strategy is how you combine those basic abilities. What your AI needs to do is change his priorities depending on the size of map and the settings. For example, in Classic 4-6-8-10-15/0% killing players for cards is the only way to win, and income from continents is secondary. In the large Castle maps continent income is vital, and killing is secondary.

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