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PCM.daily » Pro Cycling Manager 2020 » PCM 20: General
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Doesn't PCM have an energy management problem?
andrew7taylor
Lately I've been playing more PCM than I usually do b/c of quarantine.

Currently I'm playing Be a Pro with a barodeur. Currently he's lvl 25 and most of his skills are quite good (75-79ish), but his mountain and hill are only 72 and 73.

I just did the 2016 Tour de France, and the AI did so many puzzling things!

The Puzzles of Puy Mary

For example stage 5, which looks like this:
https://www.procy...ult/result

The AI didn't recognise that it wasn't a potential sprint stage nor a potential GC stage either so it didn't let the stage hunters win the stage. And do a tempo with the peloton so that domestiques would be used up only gradually.

Instead, it went crazy from the second climb (Cote de Puy-Saint Mary), and from then on whichever domestique pulled the peloton he went full gas. And by full gas, I mean the sprint animation with 95+ effort. It didn't matter if it was downhill, flat or uphill, they all sprinted all the time.

So even before the Puy Mary and its 15% gradients only around 20 riders remained in the peloton. And when De Gendt attacked the group, they all acted like he was a GC candidate and team leaders started pulling on the flat with the sprint animation again.

Even if De Gendt was a GC danger, why would climbers go full crazy on the flat, use up all of their energy, gift their slipstream to everybody else and lose minutes when they can't keep up on the wall after that?

Surviving the climbs with a fatty

Meanwhile, all I did was maintain position with 90 effort, and I managed to stay there. On the flat because I had a much better skill than the climbers, and on the climb because the climbers hadn't enough energy to do enough of a tempo to drop me, despite my measly 72 mountain.

So in the end, it wasn't the 20 best climbers who remained in the peloton. But the 10 guys who didn't pull with 100% effort on the flat. Guys like Pogacar, Roglic, so the usual suspects, but also me, Sagan, van Avermaet and De Gendt.

Bernal, Evenepoel, Alaphilippe, Dumoulin and Thomas all were dropped and conceded minutes on a stage where they should've never put their noses into the wind and should've finished in the peloton. Which in the end cost both Bernal and Evenepoel the Tour. They would've won it if not for this one stage.

Conclusion

It seems to me that generally the PCM AI is only concerned with the next 3 seconds and doesn't have a coherent strategy for the whole stage. So it uses energy in a very inefficient way. It became quite obvious that it needs a couple of tweaks to become a much better game.
 
andrew7taylor
But I don't want to only criticise the game like an a-hole. Criticism must be constructive, so I thought up a couple of solutions for this problem:

- In general, riders have no business using more than 90 effort anytime on any type of stage except in the very last kms.

IMO all riders' effort must be limited at 90. Above that it's impossible to control your effort. For example even world class cyclists can't do a consistent 800 watt effort. They can only do 500-600 watts consistently and accelerate aobve that and reach much more, but for only seconds. Apart from a couple of very select situations, 90+ effort uses up energy very quickly and inefficiently so it's even against the rider's best interests.

Attacking (95) and sprinting (100) should be off that scale and those levels of efforts should only be reachable by those specific commands. It doesn't make sense that currently relaying or using the dot at 99 would produce a different result than using the attack button, but it does.
Edited by andrew7taylor on 24-02-2021 21:27
 
andrew7taylor
- Have 4 categories of races instead of 3. Flat, hilly, mountain, but also classics. It doesn't necessarily need cobbles, but any combination of cobbles, small climbs and wind that breaks up the peloton so that it can't end in the bunch sprint is like that. Use different energy strategies for all of those.

- Flat races are almost good, but in the last ~60 kms, domestiques shouldn't use sprinting as pulling the peloton, but only gradually ramp it up to 90 effort in the last 10 kms.
Then they should hold that regardless of whether they'd pulled in the breakaway or not. Because the point of riding at speed at that point of the stage is discouraging attacks and getting your sprinter to the front of the race. (I think I heard that it's hard to win if you start your sprint from the middle of the peloton.)

- Currently classics type races work very weirdly. Riders pull way too hard on the flat and ease up on the obstacles, almost as if they wouldn't want to win and they'd want a sprint finish.
But that's against their best interests. What happens IRL is that from the midrace, the favourites' domestiques do a 80ish effort and go harder on the cobbles and climbs. Maybe +5 for cobbles and + the gradient of the climbs until that maximum 90 effort? That effort enables them to work for quite a while, and putting the hammer down on the climbs and cobbles also separates the strongmen from the weaklings.
Then in the endgame when only the team leaders remain, make them do 90 on the obstacles but only as much on the flat as it gets them to the finish and makes sense strategically. Don't go "Oh no! I've taken it easy on the Oude Kwaremont so the group is now a minute away! Let's sprint 5 kms on the flat, with a team leader in my slipstream!!!"

- Hilly races work a similar way. The strongest teams want to drop everybody else but their leaders. But you can't do that on the flats. You can only do that if you make the climbs hurt. The way these races are, 70ish effort on the flat + 2 for every %, max 90 sounds a hell of a lot better than sprinting all the time.

- Mountain stages are the same. Put down the effort on the climbs, take it easier on the flat. But because of how the mountain skill works (only below 85?), in a mountain stage no one should ever want to do a higher effort than that (except attacking). It doesn't make sense that domestiques pull on the flats by sprinting for kms, then they're too tired to pull on the mountain, and the leaders don't attack either.
 
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andrew7taylor
- I think Cyanide hates time trials, or someone who programmed them does. Because they all just do a random effort, regardless of terrain, regardless of energy, etc.

But they should want to take that all into consideration, like they would in a road stage. The point is to have a consistent effort all the way to the end, don't run out of energy and put down more effort on the climbs and less when descending.

My method is that (depending on how strong, how skilled in the TT my rider is and how long and difficult the stage is) I choose a baseline effort. Then I only watch the bottom left corner of the screen and add 1 effort for every % of climb and take away when descending.

I've won the Ponferrada WC ITT with the barodeur's 76 TT, 72 mountain and 75 resistance simply because of that. I only did 70 on the flat, so at the start of the climb I was 2 minutes behind, but I beat everybody on the climb by 3 minutes. I had no business winning the stripes with those skills, but for the AI.
 
Ripley
Quite the rant. Smile The TT problem and how to game it has been around forever. Being deep in a career playing fully on automatic, I both hate and appreciate how hard racing often is on flat sections which kills my pure climbers - it's an incentive to hire better climbers/stage racers, sadly, I can't afford them.

Anyway, that's how I get around the AI weaknesses these days, I just play on automatic and curse the game. Smile
i.imgur.com/6Km77FO.png

pcmdaily.com/files/Awards2019/team%20story.png
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/Awards2020/avatar.png
 
andrew7taylor
Career fully on automatic... That sounds a load of fun! I just hope you didn't buy the game at full price! :lol:

I've only tried out the last three editions, but the ludicrously ineffiecient usage of energy which enables you to win much more than your skills would give you a right to is a staple of all three.

Is there a way to contact Cyanide about this?
 
Ripley
I think it's fun, sure, just watchjng can be a bit boring, but it makes the rare wins sweeter. Anyway, bad AI plagues most video games, you'll have to work with what you got. For example, you could try:

- Switching to a harder difficulty level, with an editor you can go beyond extreme. Doesn't really fix AI flaws, but still makes it more difficult for you.

- Try what I did a couple of times, get all your 30 riders to take the top 30 in the WT rankings. To achieve that you'll have to discover every flaw and abuse it.

- Set your own limitations, like hiring only riders from one weak nation.

- Play on automatic or do a simulation-only run.
i.imgur.com/6Km77FO.png

pcmdaily.com/files/Awards2019/team%20story.png
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/Awards2020/avatar.png
 
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