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Arkantos

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Reply with quote  #1 
The details of biomech hostility are kind of nebulous right now, mainly because it has changed over multiple releases, and because not a lot of official information has been released about these changes.

At one point, biomechs were unable to tell a Terran from a Torgoth, and an attack by any sentient entity would make them hostile to all ships. It's been reported that this has changed, but I'm not clear about how it has changed: Do enemies just not attack biomechs anymore? Or do biomechs just only get mad at us humans for some reason? Or are they smart enough now that they only become hostile to the side that attacked them?

There's also the question of how to calm them again once they're enraged. It used to be that sending a certain message to a stage 4 biomech calmed them down. It seems now that biomechs have a "rage level" which goes to 4 when one is attacked, and which can be reduced by 1 each time that... something happens. What exactly that something is supposed to be is unclear. Comms has four options when communicating with a biomech: They can demand surrender, or send one of three "scramble signals." Scramble signals seem to cause biomechs to freeze in place (though they can still fire on you).

I did a little protocol hacking and discovered the packet that the server sends to clients when the biomechs "turn red." It contains a single numeric value: 4. I have experimented with injecting this packet manually in the updates sent to clients. For any value other than zero, the client renders the biomechs as red. But if you send a packet with a 0 value, they turn brown again. So it's clear that the client at least still supports the concept of biomechs being able to be soothed.

What have you observed?
ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #2 
First of all, Biomech behavior works only in Invasion modes, it doesn't work in scripts. Or it didn't when I last tested it. There may have been additional changes to the behavior since 2.5.1, but if so I haven't heard about it.

Here is my observations on the Biomechs after testing 2.5.1: https://artemis.forumchitchat.com/post/first-look-at-2-5-1-8351992?pid=1294325337

As you noted, Biomechs now "aggro" on the player and all of the player's bases when they are attacked BY THE PLAYER. Enemies attacking the Biomech don't appear to trigger this behavior. Previously, when a Biomech was attacked by an enemy ship, all Biomechs would turn aggressive and attack any ships in range, until "calmed down" by Comms sending the right Taunt to a Stage 4 Biomech in the area.

Now, in order to calm the Biomechs, Comms must send the right Taunt four times in a row. One of the Taunts will result in the response "Our lifeforms are not compatible", at which time one of the other two Taunts must be sent. The correct Taunts will result in a reply that says something about "75%" and then "50%" and so on. At 0% the enraged state will end. As I said, this is how it was working when I tested it, it may have changed.

This is obviously intended to give some challenge to the Infestation mission, as with enough Biomechs in the sector you have to be fast once the Biomechs have become enraged or they will destroy your bases. You can either try and aggro them all, and then take them out while they are still young and weak, or wait for a Stage 4 to evolve and then use it to manage the Biomech rage. In other game modes it is more of an annoyance than anything else, and you probably want to avoid killing Biomechs since they don't count towards ending the game anyway.

I will note that Thom made come comments about making the Biomech response more complex when he first started posting about the idea, involving Science in the procedure. For instance (although this wasn't what he actually suggested) Comms might contact a Stage 4 Biomech once they became enraged, and it would report back that "Frequency Alpha will calm a Biomech". Science would then send a beam or something with Frequency Alpha into an attacking Biomech and it would calm down and quit attacking. He decided not to implement giving Science any kind of interaction beam, though, and instead just implemented the "Taunt four times" method.

Thom may be planning on expanding on the process in Artemis 3.0.

I'll also note that at this time it appears that Biomechs ignore enemy ships if they are not enraged, and enemy ships ignore them. This may or may not be true. It's possible that if an enemy ship attacks a Biomech, it will aggro on them according to the normal rules, which is that the Biomech will defend itself and fire back, but stop attacking once the enemy ship moves out of range. However, I've never seen this behavior, so I don't know if it's possible to goad enemy ships and Biomechs into fighting each other.

Presumably, this means that Biomechs are able to recognize that the player ship is allied with the bases in the sector, and that an attack by a player ship means that all TSN units are now their "enemy". IIRC, when they are enraged they will attack enemy ships, as in my post linked to above I describe a Stage 3 that managed to single handedly wipe out a whole enemy squadron. However, enraging Biomechs to pit them against the enemy is a risky proposition, since they'll go after your bases, too.  

Here is the Artemis Wiki entry on the Stage 4 Biomech, which describes the process, but I think I've covered it pretty well here: http://artemiswiki.pbworks.com/w/page/99813681/BioMech%20Stage%204
ryleyra

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Posts: 2,960
Reply with quote  #3 
One other thing I will add is that Beacons were added to the game after the change in Biomech behavior, and it seems to me that a Beacons' ability to attract and repel monsters is exactly the same sort of thing Thom was talking about when he was saying that Science could have the ability to calm Biomechs.

If this isn't what he was planning for Artemis 3.0, I will suggest it. When the Biomechs become enraged, Comms can send a Taunt to a Stage 4 as a request for information. The Stage 4 will have to have a hint as to which Taunt will not work. If Comms chooses one of the two correct Taunts, the Stage 4 gives a frequency in its response.

Either Science or, more likely, Weapons then configure a Beacon with the proper frequency, and loads it in the tubes. On dropping the Beacon, all Biomechs in the area are calmed. Loading the wrong frequency will either enrage calm Biomechs, or prevent them from ever being calmed.

Likewise, if the wrong Taunt is given to the Stage 4, he gives his "our lifeforms are not compatible" speech and refuses to respond to the correct Taunts. As I said above, there will have to be some way of detecting which is the right Taunt, unlike the current implementation. Science would be the one to detect it, though, allowing them to be involved if Weapons is in charge of setting the frequency.

Also, I don't know when the Biomech Taunts were changed to "Scramble Signal". Back in 2.5 they were still Pi, "We are not your enemy" and "Please communicate with us". I guess it could have been changed in 2.6, since I thought it was a bit odd they didn't change in 2.5. Also, I'm assuming there is still no hint of the correct Taunt on Science.

ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #4 
Reading back over the old posts, I remembered something that is very important, to the point where I should go edit the wiki to include it. If you attempt to calm the BioMechs while they are in combat with ANYONE, it will not work. Basically, you have to Taunt all enemy ships off the BioMechs and then hit the Stage 4 with the Scramble Signal. This is probably why you're having trouble figuring out what works.

I still have not been able to find Thom's (or Mike's, if he was quoting him) post on his original idea, but as I said, I believe it was to get Comms to use one of the three Taunts to get the Scramble Signal, and then Science would send it as a "pulse".
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