Hello, and welcome to the third and final Pro Cycling Manager 2018 devblog!
This week, we'll be talking about the Artificial Intelligence in Pro Cycling Manager, and how we have improved it for Pro Cycling Manager 2018. To start, we approached the AI system with two key goals in mind, as suggested by the community: Realism, and to make team leaders more aggressive.
With regards to realism, a fundamental part of a cycling race is a breakaway, and we endeavored to make the way that the AI approaches them more realistic. The characteristics of the race that can cause a breakaway to start are affected by multiple different factors. If the race is a classic - Escapes will be less numerous, with cyclists from small teams with few possibilites to win taking it more slowly. If it is a stage of a grand tour, such as le Tour de France, the amount of cyclists (and their quality) in the breakaway will depend on the profile of the stage, and how far through the tour the stage takes place.
During flat stages at the beginning of a grand tour, a rider's teammates will have the fresh energy needed to spend on catching the breakaway, and bringing their best sprinters to try and gain victory. As such, the cyclists in the breakaway will generally be less numerous, and be represented by cyclists in the small teams that have to take the desperate chance to win.
As stages move forwards, and the teams energy levels decrease, the possibility of the breakaway winning increases, with the consequence of more and better cyclists becoming interested in joining the early morning breakaways, especially with the more difficult stages having the possibility of having 30 cyclists or more taking part in them.
The riders taken part in the breakaway will now also react with more intelligence with a long-term tactic. They will give more freedom to cyclists in the breakaways with a large gap in the general rankings, or who are considered not dangerous to the leader's ambitions. That's not all, though, in the very last mountain stages, the most combative leaders, even those that may still be a significant way from the yellow jersey, will try all or nothing attacks to gain positions.
Leader Strategy and Winning Tactics
In this edition of Pro Cycling Manager 2018, we aim to make the behavior of leaders more logical and intelligent. Leaders that want to attack during the mountain stages will be more careful to plan their strategies, using their teammates to make selections in a group before moving to attack. Strong riders and team leaders will try to make the stage harder and more selective, as well as attack far from the finish line to surprise the other team leaders.
As a consequence of this, the evolution of races will be more difficult to predict, and players will need to adapt and discover, stage by stage, by the best tactic to win.
In addition to improving the AI for stage races, we know that there should be a different and specific set of behaviours for classics, and so now teams will face these with a different approach.
Cobble races have been revisited completely, with particular attention to the Paris-Roubaix. The difficulty of the cobble sectors has been increased to make it more similar to reality, and having excellent cobble specialists in your team will be even more important. While the best teams will try to keep the race under control, underdog riders will try to attack and surprise other cyclists from the very first cobble segments.
Any classic will have a forgone finale: In Sanremo, for example, while punchers may try and early attack from the Poggio, the best sprinters will be even more combative, using their teammates to close the gap or to follow attacks, at Wevelgem, the North races specialists will make the most to avoid a sprint final, attacking in the centre hard sections of the races, or by exploiting wind. Classic like San Sebastian or Lombardia can be solved either with attacks from the final hill, or a small group sprint.
Finally, cyclist speed will now completely adhere to reality in every stage profile and race situation. Now that the AI has been improved, intermediate sprints will be more competitive, as the AI is more combative as it tries to gain points.. Flat Time Trials have been improved by increasing the time gaps. What this meas is that we have made larger speed gaps between riders to improve the time gaps in Time-Trial. to bring them closer to reality. Being a time trial specialist will be instrumental in conquering le TDF!