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Discussion 28775 "Removes AI"

Discussion in 'Gameplay Changes' started by TheDorkLord, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. TheDorkLord

    TheDorkLord Bartender

    Here we go again!

    Took it upon myself to start this topic, as I believe it's a pretty big part of the game's design right now and it's also something that can and should generate a lot of long posts. I don't do a whole lot of coding but am reliably informed that silicon.dm code is a nightmare which has tendrils in far more than it should - I do not intend to discuss that but instead discuss this simple "patch-over" that stops anyone joining as AI. This does not touch borgs, which are a related, but different kettle of fish.

    I've heard lot of people don't like what the AI in its current role brings to the table. Complaints I feel are in three general areas. I will add examples of where I have seen this happen in rounds (all a while ago)

    1. Validhunting
    AI is a validhunty role by its nature. It has eyes over the whole ship, recieves the job description of whoever is speaking and can follow people by ID card. Its laws also compel it to protect the ship and everyone in it thus "laws to their logical conclusion" find valids.

    Examples (from a non-antag perspective) : the AI telling me someone's job was "agent", AI telling me someone's using a voice changer (because job did not match name), AI following players to tell me what they're doing (known traitor character e.g. "x is standing outside AI upload/telecoms"). Even if the AI is not telling people that it's doing this, it can watch invisibly until you commit a crime then rumble you to security silently. From an antag perspective, I'm forced to do more and more of my evil in maint where it cannot see (also avoids security watching cameras) due to the potential threat that I will not hear until sec rocks up at my door.

    2. AI trying to do your job.
    This is often more of an RP-problem than a mechanical one. AI is expected to know the vast majority of how the ship works, and can offer advice. Sometimes this is useful, but other times the AI will contradict and argue with you about what you're doing. At worst, it can be obstructive and an enforcer of "rules".

    Examples: AI disagreeing with CO about what access to grant person. AI disagreeing on alert procedure. AI disagreeing with engine setup as engineer over minor matters. AI demanding flight plans over the head of CSO/XO/CO/Pathfinder.

    I do not see AIs wrestling the controls from people (until they are marked valids in the AI player's mind, see 1.), but I do see argumentative AIs often. Borgs have similar problems, seems to come with the design.

    3. Powergaming.
    As AI, you have some considerable game-mechanical power. Can remotely operate any computer/door/switch and most machines either equal to, or in some cases beyond what crew can do. At worst, it's an omnipresent, all access friend or enemy to anyone on the ship. This is more subjective but a common complaint I have heard.

    Examples : AI locking a gunman in a room by bolting all the doors shut. AI draining atmos (!) from a room that bad guys are in to kill them (This is probably against the rules anyway, but is possible). Examples that are possible, but I have not seen are bolt/depowering doors to slow people down, ejecting supermatter

    However, the AI is a role that is integrated into a lot of the ship's systems by its original design. Removing the AI may remove some valuable functionality from the crew of the ship. I'll post a reply to my own thread later to list out some things I feel the AI is needed to do right now, and potential ideas for quick replacements that would need very few new features.

    It'd be very much appreciated if people could post about things that the AI can do now that can't be replaced by other crew members. Additionally, problems with poor AI play that seem common, and aren't easily fixed by moderators/admins would be appreciated.
     
  2. TheDorkLord

    TheDorkLord Bartender

    Here is a list of some things I find the AI often does, and potentially ways to get around not having one.

    "Doorknob duty - opening doors that people normally can't access"
    Potentially replaceable by guest passes, especially if extended in time or can be remotely locked after use? Would need a program for latter. Would also need slight relaxation of access in general to compensate. Potentially tie access to alert status? (No idea how hard this is to code, I hear some servers have it). Simplest solution is extend max length of guest pass up to 90 minutes, still might be cumbersome.

    "General door manipulation" - doors are currently a bit of a black box to a lot of players in how the wires work. Hacking in general is skill-gated (electrical engineering). Furthermore, even with master electrical skill, you won't know what the wires do instantly, ways to bypass the shocking are not immediately obvious (gloves are precious, might not get 'em). Traitors have the door hacking tool, which takes time but does the same thing well. The crew minus borgs may be powerless against the bolted and off door roadblock. AI can currently instantly change door settings. I don't have an immediate option in mind to replace this - perhaps a chief engineer device "a door debugger" that allows rapid access to all door controls they have access to.

    "Alerts" - AI gets where alerts occur instantly. So do alert consoles. Suggest spacing more alerts consoles around the ship, for relevant crew-members to see. Perhaps one on the bridge, etc. etc. Perhaps even alert monitors on the walls of hallways.

    "experienced player gives advice in role-appropriate way" - this is a double-edged sword of someone trying to do your job, but sometimes is useful to IC coach someone through something that is technical. I'd prefer senior roles to do this job, but sometimes interdepartment communication is difficult - not least because of a lack of players choosing to do so, or wanting CO/XO to be listening in. In many ways, the mechanics are already there. A possible if radical solution is to have more intercoms around which can listen and speak to more channels. Bridge especially should do with one for lowpop.

    "Seamless camera view" - the camera program as is requires a lot of clicking to get around, and a whole lot of looking. Partially this is just because the ship is huge. Also has access to all cameras - something sec and XO/CO have. The more valuable functions of these would be ways to tell "this camera is important" remotely - which I feel could be added by some sort of burglar alarm system for high security areas (e.g. telecoms, secure tech storage, E-arm). The AI already has "motion alarm" in its camera monitor, it may not be hard to move this to something security can set (?).

    "Borg Management" - again, the way borgs work right now is tied into a whole lot of stuff it shouldn't be. We could still keep the borg upload station where it is.

    "Locating people" - This is where the AI tends heavily towards validhunting. My concern is that yakety sax chases would become too useful against sec, especially dodging up and down decks. A method to allow sec to locate people (or even just "where the hell is that guy") might be tricky to code.

    "Bolting doors remotely" - Helps stop the yakety sax chases by locking down areas to prevent movement or escape. I rarely see this happening but where it does it often ruins antag/counter-antag play. To counteract this, perhaps security should have more options to lock down hallways (shutters). Potentially rethinking ways to turn on/off maint access? This is beyond the scope of this change.

    "NTNet Diagnostics" - current accessed by CO/XO, CE and AI. Only really used as counter to the e-mag based hacking. I rarely see this used, but where it is, it is extremely powerful both by and against antags. Spying on emails is also a thing, not that emails get much use right now. This is beyond the scope of the current changes - crew can deal with this.

    "Fixing APCs" - If AI is removed, grid-check event or electrical storms would be absolutely miserable, as this vast ship requires engineers to run around resetting every APC, including in areas they don't have access to. Potentially remove or nerf the effects of this without AI to help.

    "Resetting telecoms" - If telecoms is harmed, this does immense harm to the ship's ability to communicate, especially with a not very robust engineering team - who rarely interact with telecoms so never learn it. AI can help here, occasionally bugs creep in with channels.

    "Containment Virus" - again, says right in the event AI involvement is recommended. I recommend removing this event without AI. Can replace with other events later.

    This is absolutely not everything an AI is useful for, but a few of the mechanical things. I'd very much like to hear other opnions on what the AI does well and what it does poorly.
     
  3. GunnarRecall

    GunnarRecall Bartender

    It should be noted that the AI wiki essentially tells you to do some of the behavior elements of the community dislikes so much. Which is why I make no secret I often ignore the synth laws/wiki and deliberately give antags room to breathe. Just because I spot the antaggery 10 minutes into the round doesn't mean I will tell anyone. And just because the command staff have told me to find someone doesn't mean I won't give them a few moments longer to make their escape. This is a notion I've seen from perhaps one or two other people at most. Almost all of the rest of the discussion surrounds simple removal instead of a more bottom-up approach.
     
    lavillastrangiato and Wmeacham like this.
  4. Cheb Pomidorov

    Cheb Pomidorov Petty Officer First Class

    Playing the AI the way you want feels bad because everyone's shitting on you in OOC at round end, and in dchat.
    Playing the AI the way others want you to play feels bad because you're doing nothing. You don't even get ambient noise, it's just... quiet.

    I feel, though, that there's a demographic that the AI role targets, and that's people who want to Baystation12, but can't really invest themselves into the round that much and wish to do other things in the foreground whilst playing AI in the background. Just the way I'm seeing this, mind.
    I think the AI role can stay.
     
    Don_Piano and lavillastrangiato like this.
  5. The Great Skeeve

    The Great Skeeve Senior Enlisted Advisor

    As per last time this PR showed up I feel inclined to reiterate points why the AI was ultimately not removed:

    The AI's job is to act like an AI. It was never designed (on baystation in particular) with the purpose of calling out traitors and helping crew achieve the greatest possible outcome. In your example, the AI is doing this job poorly. Of course it isn't the "fun" way to play AI, but at the same time, it's far more enjoyable to have an AI that reports system monitoring and requires you to input specific commands then one that acts like a human with eyes everywhere. This is something the server administration should be trying to get players who play AI to improve upon.

    AI disagreeing, unless it directly violates the laws it has, is just something that shouldn't happen. This can be easily solved by adminhelping.

    This third point is once again, a roleplay issue. Mechanically, the AI is given freedom so that it can roleplay effectively. Of course it could be given a little bit a love coding wise, this is no grounds to be removing the AI. We could replace "AI" with virtually any job, we could say the quartermaster could be removed because anybody could do his job. Or an even more extreme example, why have security when half the station are combat experts anyways? They can just get guns! All this stems from RP issues and not mechanical ones.

    Previously, we have had a test where we had no AI. Reports were that there wasn't really a difference having an AI vs. having one. That could be an argument for removing it, but also not - it just proved that the AI is just another role. It's not bad. Unless somebody can explain a mechanical issue that necessitates the removal of the AI, there is no real reason to remove a wholly unique role that makes SS13 in general special, from something that could be fixed by simply adding more rules/additional monitoring for AI players.
     
  6. Wmeacham

    Wmeacham Bartender

    As someone who plays AI late at night when there is nobody on(not even admins) I think this is a Bad idea. I'm usually playing at 2 or 3 am and An AI is pretty much Essential when the ship only has 5 crew members spread across 3 departments.

    The way the AI role is meant to be played is that of an Assistant to the ship(in my opinion), When I'm playing I am ROLE PLAYING a super massive computer with an artificial intelligence, there is a pretty good chance that If i see you doing something bad I'll know, Does that mean that I've got to tell anyone, NO. unless you are doing something that Completely breaks one of the ACTIVE laws, Is when I'll say something, and even then its usually "This unit has logged an security event, Images recorded" that's it. If Security want's more information they have to pry it out of me. Giving the Antaag breathing room. All of the issues you've laid out here should be solved through Role play adjustment, Not removal. that's kind of like Killing the patent to kill the virus; Technically the problem is solved but now you have a dead body.

    Instead of removing the AI Maybe we should update the code, I don't think i should have access to the Release valves of canisters. I was recently playing on Aurora and the Doors are on a bolt timer system, The AI isn't able to Bolt Airlocks on green status, and it takes 5 seconds and alerts others around the airlock that the door is being unbolted.

    EDIT: To add to this, This PR from before sounded really nice and could help some of the points you brought up. Mabybe we should reopen this pr https://forums.baystation12.net/threads/ai-adjustments-24299.7388/#post-102305

    After the removal of access to maintenance drones I was fine with, but I don't think ill stay on baystation if this pr goes through
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  7. Noelysm

    Noelysm Assistant

    Hoping in to chime that I genuinely like the AI role- and I don't play it. A well-RPed AI is an absolute delight for the entire crew, and can add some extremely welcome humor and RP dynamics to comms. There's a handful of AIs that I'm always thrilled to see online and never disappoint me.

    It's also extremely helpful during lowpop. I like not having to know how to hack as BO just because no command is around to open all the Big Important Emergency Doors- hacking is skill gated both by mechanics and OOC knowledge, and it feels power gamey to constantly keep at the ready. Additionally, I know on MT it has saved multiple lives by helping give directions in the way only someone on dedicated cameras can- it's no secret that paramedics are often newer players who can use the extra pointers. It's not fun to die because the corpsman doesn't know where the SM is.
    I imagine the directions can also benefit non-paramedics, it's merely what I have experience with.

    More importantly in my mind, it's a gamemode that a number of players genuinely enjoy and play well. Remove some of the abilities that let it grief, sure, and by all means please crack down on players that validhunt with it- but I'd ask that not to take away something that does generally facilitate players having fun because a few players haven't eaten bans yet for ahelpable behavior.
    Having a variety and depth of jobs, roles, and mechanics is what helps differentiate ss13 from every other game. I would be a shame to pick away at that because a few people aren't on their best behavior.

    I'll gladly help write the updated wiki.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  8. lavillastrangiato

    lavillastrangiato Bartender

    I can understand the reasons why people don't like the AI; because it's easy to powergame, easy to ruin antagging (which Bay already has an issue with), and overall, it requires staff to think about the player behind it. Will this tactic make the round fun for most people? Is this a lore-friendly way to play a supercomputer? How emotional and crew-friendly should this player be playing AI?

    Much to think about. A lot of people have suggested whitelisting AI, and several staff have been quick to say they're not the only ones who have suggested whitelisting. It's a topic that has been rehashed a lot, so I hear - whitelist some roles, enforce a higher standard of play, rewrite the wiki. But I've never really been given a good explanation as to why we cannot whitelist roles that attract Struggle Players.

    Thus, I think the AI should stay, and be enforced to a higher standard of play.
     
    Wmeacham, GrazalThruka and Noelysm like this.