I've been playing First Contact (not Eclipse of Nashira) for a few weeks now, and I can't seem to get the AI to like me.
Here's what I do:
-play on the easiest setting. -accept research/trade pacts, open borders, etc. when the AI asks for them. -offer gifts when I can afford it. -when someone praises me, I praise them back. -keep my units far, far away from anyone else's territory.
And here are the usual results:
-I can sometimes get someone to accept a non-aggression pact. They usually demand payment, and then they'll cancel it again 15-20 turns later. -I've never gotten anyone to accept an alliance, no matter how nice I am. -Eventually they start denouncing me and declaring war, when I've just been sitting here on my starting island minding my own business. -By the time I get to the Mechanization era, I'm at war with 3 or 4 people at the same time, I've lost half my cities, and then I just give up because I have no hope of surviving.
I usually play as Torga University, but I've experimented with the others as well and didn't see much difference. Is the AI supposed to be this war-mongery? Or am I doing something wrong?
I'd suppose you are building too few units. It's not that they don't like you, but they see you as an easy target at the same time which makes them attack. Also without my AI-patch, which is not available for the base game, the AIs are pretty-much one-trick-ponies. They neglect their economy in favour of churning out units. So it's all about not being their target and you shall win easily as they'll fall back hopelessly.
I thought the opposite -- that a large army makes you seem like a threat, so an AI would want to deal with you before you got out of control. So I was only building enough to fight off the occasional alien. Interesting that it actually works the other way.
I will give a little more detailed answer on how exactly it works in 1.6.0, as it has been changed quite significantly over how it worked before.
First thing to notice is that the relationship is only one of several things that are factored into whether an AI declares war or not. However, it is quite a significant factor and is also used for making decisions about whether it should sign pacts with you.
The strongest possible boost to your relationship is acquired by bowing to a tribute-request. Agreeing to other requests of the AI or suggesting things that the AI agrees to gives you a slight boost to your relationship. Also you will get a small improvement in relationship every turn when you don't look like you are a top-competitor for any victory-type. This improvement increases the closer the closest player gets to a victory.
Things that hurt your relationship are: Rejecting a tribute-request. This results in a significant relationship-loss. Conquering a city of a faction that they are in contact with. The relationship-loss will be higher the bigger the city is. So conquering someones capital can easily make you hated by everyone. Likewise to the small improvements when you are not a competitor for a victory, you will slowly lose relationship when you are. Disagreeing other deals only results in insignificant drops in relationship. Spying also has a chance to reduce your relationship.
So here's all the things that are factored into the decision wheter to go to war with you or anyone else: a) army-size - the bigger there's is compared to you the higher the likelyhood of a war b) relationship - the more an AI likes someone the lower the likelyhood of going to war c) aggression-value - the higher the AIs aggression-value the higher the likelyhood of a war d) distance - the closer they are to you the higher the likelyhood of a war e) key technologies - when the AI has at least one kind of artillery it is more likely to go to war, same goes for WMD-building-techs f) strong neighbours - when the AI has a strong neighbour it is less likely to go to war with someone else (fear of being backstabbed) g) occupied victim - when you are already at a war the AI is more likely to declare war on you and the faction you are at war with aswell h) being in a war already - the AI will try to avoid being dragged into another war, when it already is busy having a war with someone else
So with all this knowledge you should be able to stay out of unwanted wars for the most part.
Interresting! I am wondering how army-size is calculated: Just the size of the army or does the AI also look at the strength of the units you have? And how is a unit with a big gun put into relation to a unit with a strong armour?
One thing I liked a lot about Galactic Civilizations II is that the AI not only looked at the military power of other players, but also at their economic power. For example, if a potential opponent has a weak army but a very strong economy, it can only be defeated with a blitzkrieg. In a long war, an opponent with a strong economy will simply produce enough units for the AI player to loose that war. Also for a blitzkrieg strategy against an economic strong opponent, the military overweight of the AI has to be much higher than in a war where the economies match up. So in Galciv II, especially against the less agressive races, you could build long-lasting relationships by building a strong economy and signing treaties with them, without having to invest in large armies. They would not consider to attack you, because they knew they would pay a heavy price for a war against a economic power.
I don't know if the AI in Pandora has any information of the economic strength of its opponents, but if it has, this might be an opportunity for further AI improvement.
I haven't looked up how exactly the armysize is determined but I think it is something along the lines of adding up the production-cost of all military units while taking their health into account.
For example: 2 Basic Colonial-Troopers would be 2 x 8 = 16 armysize. 2 Basic Colonial-Troopers where one is at 0.7 Health would be: 1 x 8 + 1 x 8 x 0.35 = 10.8
Armor and Weapons all affect the production-cost and thus how strong the army is considered to be. I'm not sure if stuff like the imperiums bonus is factored in aswell.
Long wars are not really effective in Pandora. Thats why the AI will usually want to have a significant advantage in troops before starting one. Your point about considering the economic potential sounds interesting but I fear that would make it too easy to just concentrate on economics while neglecting your military completely. You really already don't have to invest much into your army when you are dealing with less aggressive factions. Especially when you are on good terms with them.
Yes, the AI has access to an estimate of someones economic power relative to their own. Just like you have aswell when looking at the diplomacy-overview. However, they don't use it to base their decision about war on. Instead it affects their behaviour when deciding whether they shall sign trade-treaties or not.
I think it would be better to judge the AIs behaviour and what they could be doing wrong based on gameplay examples. Assumptions drawn from this description are not that valueable. I've done a lot of testing and I feel the way the AI acts diplomatically is quite reasonable now and supports them well in trying to achieve victory in a manner fitting their faction-advantages.