Author Topic: [Resulted in doc changes] About range, radar dampening and sniper units  (Read 1954 times)

Offline Yavaun

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Lower ranges
From what I've been told, the goal is to move to smaller battlefields within each planet.  I'd expect ranges to be lower overall.
Lower ranges is part of what made supcom2 inferior to supcom 1 and it will have the same effect on AI war if you overdo it. In supcom2 you had those huge armies but your bots had so little range they could barely even fire from 3rd rank unless you'd literally crash your front row right into your enemy's front row (only a tiny bit exaggerated). In larger battles you would even proceed to march your formation half way through the enemy's as if your bots were armed with swords.
It just looks ridiculous to have so many units face hug eachother merely for the sake of bringing your last ranks into rage so they can finally open fire. It's looks gamey and disappointing and ruins any strategy behind unit placement and formation. I honestly hope you're not taking it that far unless you walk the extra mile to fully simulate dog fights... And even then, I'd be honstely disappointed if there were no long ranged units at all - not just because they present my prefered playstyle but because they add so much visually and strategically to the game.
I wanna say that forced close quarter fights are better suited for more pvp oriented and symmetrically balanced RTS.



No more sniper units

Quote
Sniper
These ultra-long-range units really destroy a lot of the battlefield mechanics and are OP to a crazy extent.
They cause the need to cower under forcefields and anti-sniper units all over the place on enemy planets, on the player side.
They cause the need for a lot of really strange things like releasing AI units as threat from guard posts.
Note that there’s nothing to stop you from adding ultra long ranges on ships yourself via modding, but we definitely don’t encourage it.
At best these units were something that would give you a small bit of attrition and thus warning-bell while you’re fighting them.

Quote
Some of these changes are rather substantial, but there are a few guidelines you can rest assured we are following with these:
We’re never doing something with the intent of “dumbing down” the game.
  • Ultra-long-range units are not crazy OP. They have  their down-side (ideally so) which are typically high cost, highly specialized damage type, low mobility and emphasized flimsiness when caught in direct engagement.
  • I have very rarely experienced the need to "cower" because the AI in classic would almost never use snipers to any meaningful extent. If anything, I would have wanted to see more of that (perhaps as part of a subcommander planet) to make countermeasures more viable.
  • Ultra-long-range units present a strategy for the player - one of many - that you SHOULD and HAVE TO use in order to out-trade the AI and thus overcome it's numbers advantage. This is not OP - it's the point of the game or at least one goal along the way to victory.
  • Snipers are AI Wars artillery. They're supposed to expand the battlefield and the strategies applied to it orthogonally. Artillery and it's countermeasures aren't a chore that is forced onto the player. It's the opposite, a chance, another possible route. Artillery units and structures, stationary and mobile countermeasures all of those are creates additional purposes a unit can have and thus diversity the game and provide additional depth. Removing it is infact streamlining in the sense of "dumbing down".


Radar Dampening

Consequently, in a game were long range units exist there need to be vanguard types of units which can effectively close the gaps and take out the artillery. Units with radardampening used to be one variant of this - at least when it comes to bombards, missle turrets, railpods and the like. This mechanic is just obsolete if you remove an entire branch of the game and since I hope you won't - there will have to be units with radar dampening or anything to replace them.

My2Cents.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 11:29:52 AM by x4000 »

Offline tadrinth

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2016, 08:11:59 AM »
Having just finished a game where I had NCCs, Speed Boosters, Sentinel Frigates, and Lightning Torpedo Frigates...

If the AI can't catch you, it can't hurt you.  If you have NCCs and Speed Boosters, the AI can't catch you, negating the flimsiness downside AND the high cost. 

And while snipers are specialized vs light hulls, Sentinel Frigates and Lightning Torpedo Frigates have no damage bonuses and are equally good against everything. 

Ergo I can see the logic in removing these. 

I do share some concerns about the strategic space shrinking a bit with the simplification of hull type bonuses down to the quadrangle and the removal of swallow, ship size mechanics, snipers, and radar dampening.  I'm willing to wait and see how it plays out.

Unfortunately, I don't think modding these back in will work very well, because it took a combination of counter-sniper coverage, sniper-shot immunity, and radar dampening in order to make snipers at all balanced, and none of those are coming back. 

Offline Yavaun

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2016, 08:21:07 AM »
Thanks for the reply. Good to have your opinion and I just want to point out that maybe:

1) The AI doesn't make good enough use of the mentioned vanguard types yet- or vanguard ships are not fast enough. However, most of that mobility comes from assault transports and speed boosters- not the artillery ships themselves. Maybe speed boosters need to be removed (mobile ones - not the limited space time manipulator high ways) or long range ships have to be immune to speed boosting.

2) Sentinels have comparably very low dps and torpodo frigates (and also tackle drone launchers) are definitely OP but not due to their range but due to the insane amount of damage they deal to everything.

None of these mean the whole system is beyond repair. I definitely agree that modding all the players back in which are necessary to restore the artillery game will be extremely difficult.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2016, 08:29:09 AM by Yavaun »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2016, 08:34:59 AM »
I can see the snipers coming back as slow and fragile units with long ranged and fast projectile weapons. They would be able to outrange most mobile units (fast ones would be paramount against them) and some immobile units (short range guard posts), forcing the AI to reply with fast units (see AI shipyards).
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Offline Tridus

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2016, 08:52:37 PM »
Unfortunately, I don't think modding these back in will work very well, because it took a combination of counter-sniper coverage, sniper-shot immunity, and radar dampening in order to make snipers at all balanced, and none of those are coming back.

Without the mechanics in the game, I don't see how XML only modding can add the units back. You'd need fancier modding to be able to mod the mechanics themselves in, then assign them to the units.

Offline kasnavada

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2016, 01:55:35 AM »
Unity games ain't that hard to decompile.
Understanding what's done, however...

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2016, 02:49:32 AM »
Unfortunately, I don't think modding these back in will work very well, because it took a combination of counter-sniper coverage, sniper-shot immunity, and radar dampening in order to make snipers at all balanced, and none of those are coming back.

Without the mechanics in the game, I don't see how XML only modding can add the units back. You'd need fancier modding to be able to mod the mechanics themselves in, then assign them to the units.
Snipers only had extra-long range and instantaneous bullet travel time. As long as these two stats are modable (and I can't imagine they won't), they can be recreated with XML files in AIW2.
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Offline Elestan

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2016, 12:45:07 AM »
Snipers shouldn't be a problem if properly balanced; you just can't give the same ship both range and speed.  Snipers should either be simply slow, or use the Ziege engine trick of having to remain stationary for a time before they can fire at their full range.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2016, 12:51:26 AM »
Sure. But I also think that the difference between infinite and "just" long range is huge in term of how the unit feels. Missile Guard Posts were interesting because their range was large but not infinite. Ion Cannons were frustrating because beside destroying them, there were no way to escape them.
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Offline Yavaun

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2016, 05:34:22 AM »
Ion Cannons were frustrating because beside destroying them, there were no way to escape them.

But every swarm, youngling, neinzul carrier drone and suicide-ship (killing them is a waste of time for Ion Cannons) as well as every ship with immunity to being insta-killed (so all starships) and assault transports or sniper ships of your own (Ion Cannons have no radar dampening and next to no HP) and finally raid ships, space plane and the champion vessel as your vanguard would all render ion cannons useless and counter them extremely well. Oh and did I forget to mention cloaking and teleporting?

See how many ships and abilities found their place around infinite range runits? This is part of what makes AI war so great. I mean Ion Cannons are probably the only reason left which justify the existence of eye bots for friggin sake!

Having a place and valuable strategy for all these units and access to snipers and ion cannons of my own on top of it is more than interesting to me.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 05:47:23 AM by Yavaun »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2016, 08:39:31 AM »
Good point.

I hope the new long-range units will keep fast and cloaked units interesting.

EDIT:
Looking at the new quadrangle...
Strike > Blitz > Archer > Strike

So fast and cloaked units must go into the strike group, to better profit from their ability to avoid the main fight and rush the long-ranged units behind. Then, the strike group shouldn't be that fast. I always viewed the standard fighter as a low-cost raider, but I realize I was wrong. It's more a brawler and it's speed should only be slightly higher than the bombers; it's role is more to intercept and stop an enemy fleet than to blaze past the battle and snip objectives. Okay. (And now I understand why MLRS and anto-armor are in the Strike class.)

Eh, the classes' names are really confusing (at least for me). I'll get back at figuring out what they are.

EDIT 2:
Wait, Raptors are in Strike and Anti-Armor are in Bomber... Gha! Stupid Pumpkin!
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 08:57:20 AM by Pumpkin »
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Offline x4000

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2016, 09:11:40 AM »
This is a thoughtful discussion, and I definitely appreciate that.

I will say, I think that there are a lot of other reasons for removing long-as-heck range stuff aside from interface simplicity and legibility, and clarity for players new and old in terms of ship roles, etc.  In the "needs a banana for scale thread," I discuss a variety of things relating to graphical clarity (need for certain levels of zoom in and out just to see things, versus the farthest zoom actually showing you things clearly) is a big deal.  Personally I think that the overall benefits of these things far outweigh the negatives.

In terms of things like your concerns over reduced ship roles in certain areas, or the cool things that ion cannons DID provide, I agree with you on pretty well all those points.  However, what I think may not have been clear yet (partly because I haven't figure all the bits out yet) is that my intent is not to just strip things away and leave it at that.  Obviously a variety of new mechanics have been added to the game already, but even more are coming, and many more can be invented.

My overall thought process goes like this:

1. Let's start with something that is sane from an interface standpoint and the amount-of-zoom and ship-traversal-time standpoint, and build up from there, rather than starting overly complicated and then layering on more complex stuff on top of that.

2. Based on having a simpler (but still quite involved) base layer, we actually get a lot of new flexibility and "mental budget" (in terms of what players can keep track of during an RTS) for other things that might more elegantly solve the same sorts of problems.

3. For instance, now that we have solar systems, I've been really thinking that the concept of "sniper" units might be better represented in some fashion of "strikes other planets in the same solar system" in some fashion, but perhaps can't hit their own planet at all.  I'm imagining the big ion cannons from Empire Strikes Back firing from the surface to hit the Star Destroyers to let the rebel troop transports by.  In AIW Classic those were also the inspiration, but instead we had those things basically hitting Tie Fighters at point blank range, and firing extremely fast in general, etc.

4. Overall what is the purpose and fun of a long-range unit on the AI side?  Just causing me to scramble around quickly while taking attrition is not fun.  Just making it so there's an extra step of "better bring a forcefield, and if you do you're fine, and if you don't then you're in for some tedium" is not only not fun, it's just a "player trivia gate" where you need to know XYZ thing and do XYZ prep in order to make something happen the exact same way each time, or else things still happen but happen more slowly.  To me this gives the illusion of strategic depth rather than actual strategic depth of any meaningful substance.

5. Given that, how can these be re-imagined with ideally new mechanics that don't fall prey to the above?  First of all, what is an ion-cannon FOR?  Presumably it's for hitting things that are super far away.  Why do I or the AI need to do that?  Best answer in my mind is that we're on a neighboring planet, versus just having arbitrary distances that then make the planets themselves inflated in size.  Well okay, if that's the case, then aren't we just back to the same sort of situation as before in terms of "attack it or take constant attrition?"  Maybe... but the mechanics of these could be a lot more interesting.  Maybe the ion cannons don't do damage at all, but instead just disable ships -- and only large ships.  Maybe they have a super slow firing rate, but they can actually disable FORCE FIELDS.  That could be frigging awesome.

In other words, with a simpler base that is also broader, a lot of new things can be built-up that wouldn't have been possible or sensible in AIW Classic.  It will be a different game for sure, and to some extent that's kind of the point, although obviously there's a fine line.  Right now I've been so focused on that broader base layer that I think it's easy to overlook the fact that I want to build up things like what I've described above.  It's not that I hate long-range stuff or ion cannons in a general sense, but I feel like their prior implementation was problematic and uninspired, and that something a lot less fiddly and a lot more creative and interesting can be done instead.

Can you imagine, for one thing, if the AI didn't just constantly fire the ion cannon?  But when it's ready to attack, it starts firing that at your most important stuff on that planet, just as its ships are pouring into your system?  Maybe you prepped enough that things are not going totally down the toilet, but maybe they are also surprising you in an epic way that requires the new kind of defense in depth that I hope you'll be building in this game in general.  That sort of situation is just freaking amazing to me, and the idea that having AI neighbors in the same solar system could be a scary thing (adding in choices on whether or not to take their planet for safety or to not to save the AIP) would be freaking cool.  Having ion cannons being something the AI can build on such planets in exchange for a lot of reinforcement points would up that intensity even more, since if they're planning a breach it would only make sense for them to invest in some things like that. 

And you'd have several ways to deal with that threat, too, which is strategically interesting: place your fleet ships and smaller stuff that the ion cannon can't hit on that planet, and build your forcefields and your true choke point one planet back, which makes for a whole new kind of choke point situation that you'd never have a reason to build in classic (whipping boys aside).  But having defensive frontlines that have to make use of small arms, so to speak, while your own big guns are a planet back, is pretty awesome.  Or you take the whole solar system and the issue is moot... but it's not like you can do that everywhere in the galaxy without sky-high AIP, so you'd better make those choices carefully.

You know, this is good enough to actually go on the document (pending whatever revisions obviously).

TLDR of the above: I very much hear your underlying complaint/argument, and even agree with most of your points, but I think that the old solutions were inferior and that we can do better.

I will likely drift out of this thread for a while now, but please don't let that stop discussion and I will return. :)
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Offline x4000

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Offline Draco18s

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Re: About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2016, 12:51:04 PM »
Updated design doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IdzU90psGas_3UFe23BLvsGQ8fclec49NmnbHfwkZ8w/edit#heading=h.w0q0b1l0b0u2

I had to load that page twice in order to read the new section. I think the doc has exceeded my available memory!

Offline x4000

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Re: [Resulted in doc changes] About range, radar dampening and sniper units
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2016, 03:33:48 PM »
Yeah, it's getting a bit excessive.
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