What's the next step Relic?

As the initial $h!t storm weakened, we need to talk about AI’s future in general.

I have not seen a game developer received such a severe backlash like this since the Battlefront 2 disaster.But the important thing is EA managed to turn it around.

First we need to address the elephant in the room which is without the “cheats” the general updates that have been made to the AI are quite minor and their contribution to the overall challenge is insignificant.

As you have no option left bu to revert “cheating” stuff:

  1. Are you going to postpone all of the AI stuff to a later date to add some more significant logic which’ll produce legit challenge ?

  2. Will we receive a clear roadmap about AI ?

  3. Will you communicate more and be transparent over controversial stuff like this ?

  4. If AI is not a priority and either you have budget or technical capacity problems or both to improve it further,please say so and stop wasting our times.


A lot of AIs cheat. Very few don’t. Apparently the AoE II: DE one doesn’t? But if so, that’s the first RTS game I’ve heard of that doesn’t (cheat).

SC2? Cheats.
Non-DE AoE? Cheats.
I could go on but I’m sticking to relevant examples.

We want better AI. The devs talked up an AI capable of machine learning. This isn’t that. But we can’t not do things for the AI just because it’s “cheating”, because that’s what happens in nearly every strategy game.


while 2x resource income is basically a cheat, for the most part it still means AI has to gather that up, it can be denied
og aoe2 ai had about 300 resources per minute added in at least late game, that was definitely worse kind of cheating, but it was made in 1999, gotta keep that in mind, aoe3 og ai had 40% handicap for insance, and DE variant has 30% at extreme, but is in every way better then og was, 2 DE ai meanwhile is a non cheat script, but also in a symetrical civ RTS, which does matter here, the moment unique mechanics are there for each civ it will decently complicate ai scripting, its not impossible, but its hard, also, for some players, no ai will ever be challenging enough, and thats fine imo


I think i’m misunderstood a bit.

I’m not talking about if an AI should cheat or not.I’m not particularly annoyed at cheating.I’ve been playing RTS games since 1998 and the best AI’s that’ve been widely considered as great were cheating as well.

Modern gamers won’t accept and refuse that reality.ML is a false advertisement that should have already been investigated by government.Anyone that especially lives in the EU were doing what instead if complaining.

The questions i raised were extrapolation of this current situation and it’s inevitable conclusion that could have detrimental effects.

Eh that seems a bit dramatic.

A few people are really blowing this out of proportion.

Almost every RTS has the AIs cheat. Including everyone’s beloved SC2 and AoE2.

Don’t get me wrong, theirs are still way better and the AoE4 one needs a lot of work. They cheat much more subtly and are just better overall.

I also think they should just make the cheating one a new difficulty above the previous hardest, mainly because the jump from hard to hardest is now huge.

Maybe you have not noticed, but almost every patch has had some AI improvements. This patch has a bunch of them that everyone has immediately ignored once they read the sentence about the 2x resources.

They said exactly what they were changing in the patch notes and they said why. Seems pretty transparent, although I don’t fully agree with their implementation.

Ok now that’s very dramatic. Go watch those interviews again. They never even said it had machine learning, more that they would like to do that in the future.

It actually still cheats, but only slightly. It always knows how many military units you currently have. Much more subtle.

Honestly though if they had just made the AoE4 hardest start cheating and not told anyone, most people would probably never even figure out that it was ha, they would have just thought all those other improvements made a huge difference.


it’s true but no one stops to think or few try to know how difficult an intelligence is even more so for an rts

not to mention that all the RTS I’ve played to date, all the AI are stupid, let’s say, always winning the same way, taking advantage of situations because they are scripted, among others

SC2 no matter how difficult the difficulty was, I always won the same way

I believe the handicap could be introduced separately, some said that the hard and hardest difficulty are the same, maybe that’s why they decided that way, but a separate handicap would be a better choice for those who want a challenge (that’s what they will be able to deliver in the moment, in the future the AI will probably be better)

and the AI of all games has always cheated, even if it’s the machine itself running, but few can understand what happens behind the curtains or think that the AI can see the units in the same way that we can or that it can see a location of the map at a time that we don’t even see

I remember playing a game, I don’t remember which one at the time, but I cleaned all the army of the enemy and collectors leaving only their main structure to see what they empty and guess what, they always produced workers regardless of the time they stayed there, now from where they took this feature is a mystery, right?

Anyway, this is hard work and takes time to get it right, I don’t know how they work or how many teams they have, but they keep working and notifying us, so we just let them know what we think, but not punish them for adding something they don’t like and their intention is to improve the game experience

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This forum isn’t the only place people talking about AOE4.Here are the examples:

Yes we had but when you compare the AI work between FE and Relic’s AI in the same timeframe (1.3y) the result is objectively undebatable.If you want to see minor improvements as major,go ahead!

No they didn’t.Modern gamer does not like cheating and they don’t care how and why.Period.Any average guy that is a little more committed to gaming overall knows this.If they want to go with old school methods with no backup plan,that is gonna create hell lotta controversy and the more they stay silent,the more customer is gonna get screwed.

You basically assume that everyone is just an ignorant fool. What’s gonna happen when AI starts to send units wave after wave beyond human capability.Look at the reddit topics i just wrote.There lies the answer.

Am i ?

From Adam Isgreen:
“We use machine learning in training the AI right now, but we want to take that even further. Down the road, not at launch, we’ll probably look into having a merciless AI that keeps learning the more people play against it, to the point that it’ll be unbeatable"

"The one with pikemen where they’d age up to Age Three, and then they’d run away? Basically it turned out there was a bug in the data that when you aged up to Age Three, the pikemen’s attack values dropped to a tenth of what they were supposed to be,” Isgreen recalled. “It accidentally got in there and the AI found out first, and the AI was like, ‘I’m out of here,’, and it’d turn around and run away with all its units. It’s because it knew it couldn’t win — it was like, well the values are this, I can’t win — so it’d run the entire army [away], and you’d be like, ‘What are you doing? You could have won that!'”

According to him they were already using Machine Learning already.But the advertised ML technique isn’t the type that creates forget about “Brutal AI” even a decent challenging AI yet.It is used to speed up the development and cutting costs. This value based Fight or Flight response technique is already being used in Paradox,2K,Total War and many indie titles.

Here is the empirical evidence and insight to how AI generally works which is coming from the head of AI department and has Machine Learning background of one of most complex RTS game in the market.

From Dr. Tim Gosling:

I come from a machine learning background and it is great to see that getting more attention. However, our ability to use machine learning is somewhat constrained by the dynamism of game development and the difference in objective, we don’t just want the AI to win, we want it to be fun. Fun is a bit nebulous so having a system learn how to do that is tricky, though there is research in this area! Still, all that said, I’m very much interested in machine learning as an area along with any other techniques for helping the AI play a better or more interesting game.

The conclusion is the Machine Learning technique that is currently used in any RTS/4X game is not currently capable of creating a challenging AI so the promoted “Merciless AI” by AOE 4 devs is “False Advertisement.” That’s it.


People would have easily figured it out when they saw the AI ageing up in 3 minutes.


Ah sorry I was thinking of the “unbeatable AI” they talked about.

Ok? So they probably have used machine learning then. Do you have any evidence they haven’t?

Machine learning is not some magic bullet that suddenly makes things great.

This is what I was referring to. “Down the road”.

There’s nothing in any of that that is “false advertising” as you say.

Yes that is absolutely dramatic. Investigated by the government? Really?

Please just stop arguing at this point as we are not gonna find common ground anyway and i don’t want this topic to lose its relevance.

yes relic, tell us how you want to make the ai even more unenjoyable! your last update was a pretty damn step into this direction.

give me back my beloved game please

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Water maps are important for me. Hopefully there will be more variations and better balances on the water. There’s still some polish work to do for that.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

If there is a personal problem, it is resolved in private. I am going to ask you (again) not to dirty legitimate criticism with disrespect.

I am not saying this to just one person.


Naval updates were more prominent in patch notes.While i see some improvement it’s not enough.

the s- storm stilll strong. they screwed up the ai even more and the current team that aoe 4 have seem more competent than coh 3 (which you can see the game bugged as aoe 4 beta) which makes it not very likely to improve.

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Yeah it seems to get bigger and bigger.With these severe backlashes, instead of a conservative approach nearly all devs tweak their AI values that correlate with the severity of the backlash which results in worse condition than before.

If i have to guess what will happen in near-mid future is a couple of things

I think 2x gathering stuff will be reverted in next month but it won’t just stop there.The early economy and raid stuff which creates the backbone for challenge will be rolled back.

Apart from having minor-bugfix updates here and there they won’t touch AI with a 10 foot pole from now on.

So our dreams of playing with a decently challenging AI is mostly died.

-The things i’ve written below is not about critising casual gamers.I’m also a casual gamer myself and my hardcore days are over as i’m an old fart-

-They underestimated the casual people and their skill level.
-The very low base difficulty scaled into 4 levels which is quite low for a AAA rts game.Even indie developers put at least 6-11 difficulty levels to serve all skill levels.
-As old Hardest diff. was equivalent of normal/hardish diff. in today’s rts gaming standards,people that should’ve been playing in lower difficulties found the other ones too easy and jumped directly to the hardest.

Because it was still to easy,they demanded upgraded challenge or added more AI to their game and as we can see them saying “i was able to beat 6 ai and i can’t handle even one now” which shows how bad the AI was and relic mistook them as hardcore players.

Maybe we need to petition for 3D remake of AOE 2 to Microsoft at this point.Situation is so desperate now.

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You mean season four PUP? Are there any naval updates in the PUP pack?

lots ot truth in your post.

i dont think we need a “new” aoe2 in 3d.

aoe4 is a good game. also the pup has so many good things in it. and its nice to see new stuff added to the game. but imo some stuff also feels recycled from mods: the new maps, also aviable as mods, nomad, playable since the workshop is released. its ok to build this in to the game aswell, but why we don´t get things we need? like adding multiple tuning-pacts. this would be a more important feature than recycle some maps from the mods.

but in my opinion, microsoft should take it away from relic and give forgotton empires more creative power over aoe 4.
i don´t wanna the bash the programmers working at relic - we all know the decisions are made from ceo´s and from the headquarter. look at coh3 - the feedback after the beta wasn´t good at all. there are people in control which nearly has no idea what gamers want. also other companies have this problem right now - take a look at ubisoft and the settler-fiasco.

so mircosoft should give the game to a team, which listens to fans, which is made out of fans and gamers. and a team who proved that it can be work respectfully and sucessfully with such a great franchise. and mircosoft has this team - forgotten empires.

i read in the anniversary forgotten empires did a bigger part for the game. and this update was so good.

the big fail of the new update is the ai - problem.
the part with the ai, would be that bad, if they did not remove parts of the game to replace them with such strident content.

yes the ai isnt perfect, but a cheating ai is also aviable as mod. what we need is a better ai which plays better. ai cheating we can mod for ourselfs anytime.

i dont see the situation desperate - but its like a whole step back into the time of the relase of aoe4. the time we missed communication, the time we saw some development missing the points of the fanbase. now we saw alot of good patches and content.
but one so important part of the game, changed drasticly, without testing, compulsive released to every fan gets a reaction that feels like a s–tstorm. there you can see how thin is the ice and the trust into relic to manage the game. many gamers who loving the game feeling betrayed and robbed. with better communication and also listen to what the gamers say, this would had been a good update.
imagine they would has listen to the feedback, release the ai as new ai, maybe with some handicap/buff options to choose from (like 2x gathering, 1,5x gathering…). nobody would be mad about it.
the only critc would be: the ai isn´t playing better at all - but thats a point we all know, and they don´t promised better ai, they promised us buffed ai. but this is only a “what if scenario” , for me the “i wish they did scenario”. and for the game and the community the “the way it should be scenario” and for the ceos the “regaining the trust of the fans scenario”.