Large-Scale Real-Time Strategy (RTS) for the iPad & iPhone 

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A Fresh Lens on your own Game

Published on May 28, 2014 by

I’m currently working on another project and didn’t get to play Galactic Conflict in a while. A few days ago, I booted it up and started a skirmish Terran vs Pyros on Normal Difficulty. I got my ass kicked hard. I tried different maps, different strategies, playing defensively, attacking early, expanding early, a strikecraft-heavy build, rushing to advanced frigates, a corvette-fighter mix. Usually, I could hold off the enemy for some time but then eventually bent over. Normal AI just stomped me.

God, I feel like an utter noob. Man, I have created this game, I know it inside out, when I play-tested it (and I really play-tested it a lot) I could beat Hard AI in ~8 minutes (albeit not consistently). If you’ve ever played Galactic Conflict then you know that Hard AI is really a challenge. Now Normal AI gets the better of me. I played 5 more games until I could finally beat it, then lost another 5 in a row. Embarrassing!

Coming back to your own game when you’re no longer play-testing it and don’t do >1000 sessions a month gives you the chance to look at your game with a fresh lens. This is not possible during development when you are that much immersed that you lose all objectivity. I could always beat any mission and any skirmish up to Normal without breaking a sweat. Hard was always hard but that was supposed to be. Now I realize what a monster the AI is, even on Normal. The fact that it doesn’t come with hardcoded build orders that you can learn (and subsequently exploit) but actually thinks and adapts to your strategy like a real player makes it pretty much unpredictable. Fail to scout and get owned. Fail to get a good mix of units and get wiped out. This thing sure knows how to play the game.

I was also having troubles with the Pyros AI throwing a combo of mostly missile frigates and corvettes at me with a bit of fighters and bombers added to the mix, a combo I had a hard time countering. I wonder if Pyros corvettes need a slight nerf against fighters even though Flurry stats show a healthy distribution of ships (maybe huge capitals warships are a bit underrepresented in 1v1s at 2% but OTOH they cost a lot).

How are you guys doing against skirmish AI? Any particular units, matchups or combos that are giving you troubles?

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