Author Topic: BETA AI War 2 v0.868 Released! "Fleet EXP Level-Ups and Starting Battlestations"  (Read 2420 times)

Offline motai

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after the recent changes to deliberately leave level 1 ships to help keep them cheaper /chaff to help higher marks survive, the whole exp mechanic raising the mark levels of the ships feels wrong. I understand it is a easy quick modifier that adds power which is what we want. I think that it would work better to provide a ship cap multiplier rather than mark level. this would allow you to continue to force mark level 1 to make cheap fighter and leave research as your primary mark improvment choice.

 I am intrigued by adding ship types to the fleet as mark level progress and maybe levels 5 and up should have that. this would also add value to research into the flagship to trigger early the additional ship types. by delaying the effect it would lesson the exp farming incentive.

my 2 cents on ships being disabled not recieving their allocated exp is that the flagship is a command and control center and if it is disabled then it is more focused on staying alive than studying enemy action and learning tricks so i like that.

I would like to mention the concept fo the ai waves not being lead by a command unit is one of the biggest parts of exp in wave grinding being an issue. i think that there should be a "flagship" similair to our own that forms the nexus of waves. this unit is worth the exp if "destroyed" maybe even add a ai progress trigger if it retreats. concept in my head is that this ship would only grant exp on a player or neutral planet.  that it would have control conditions, i.e 75% fleet destroyed attempt retreat linked to if below 20% health self destruct to prevent salvage. if retreats to ai space it is "removed rather than destroyed so it leaves the record keeping. this would allow player actions in defense to destroy it while not leaving remnants unless wanted. extension option is that it is a warp point and so is using the ai network to warp in reinforcements that have a size linked to ai progress. this would allow them to be producing in a manner similar to a factory as part of the hunter fleet and trigger raids when the fleet is ready to attack. this would make the ai seem more intelligible able to be interfered with. this could also add a hacking project to subvert an ai command ship and add its fleet to yours.
lastly this would make it more visible and give you a metric to display to the player from the nonexistent scouts about the status of retaliatory and defensive wave strength. my experience so far is that the wave strength displayed is a horrible and garbage number to measure threat and defense by. but a metric saying 26 fleets on standby at 50% strength would give  a better indication.

i have noticed so far that attempting to use your ships without their flagship just doesn't work at all. i havent yet found a fleetship that isnt chaff in that regard. yes the retreat mechanics and their firepower make them do damage but even the level 1 staring planets will murder the ships in mass with no effect without a flagship to distract them. i like the organization the fleets add but the ships themselves seem very lackluster compared to the centerpieces of those fleets. i feel this integrates heavily into the metal issue and is more of a balance concern than metal as a resource concern. figates are very capable as the old starships they represent however in ai war 1 the fleet ships pulled 90% of the weight, right now they seem to do little more than prvide chaff to protect the guns on the flagship and starships. (my main experiences so far being mark 4 bomber and or mark 4 parasite ships being just murdered outright and only their flagship making more and doing all the damage having any effect,)

Offline x4000

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Okay, there are some very substantial changes to how fleets work that are now coming out in 0.870: https://wiki.arcengames.com/index.php?title=AI_War_2:_The_Arrival_of_Fleets#Fleet_EXP_V2

It takes the core of what I was digesting from here -- the most non-contentious stuff, anyway -- and pushes on with this in a certain direction.  Now, with that said, there are some questions that I note as being open in the wiki itself.  I repeat those here:

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Q1: Is it a problem that you can currently farm Raid Engines and SuperTerminals and Eyes for EXP, since they generate ships that have EXP?

If so, then we could make variants that are specific to those generation-sources, which don't give EXP and which are also faster.

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Q2: Are the thresholds for leveling up your units still too low?

If so, then what sort of numbers should we increase them to?

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Q3: Is leveling up all units in a fleet really what we want EXP to do?

The best alternative is probably to make it so that only the units that can't be leveled up any other way are able to level up via this. So things like command stations, for instance. And maybe that would start applying to Arks, rather than letting them be upgraded via science? This approach would lead to us having some things that are upgraded via battle experience, and others via science, which seems interesting.

Other alternatives like increasing ship caps or whatever are not something that interest Chris at least... not as the core mechanic for EXP, anyway. There is a "you get one perk point per level up" that will allow you to do that sort of thing in the future, anyway, so that's already coming and would be an ancillary boost anyhow. The core question of the moment is whether the mark level increase should apply to ships that can also be upgraded via science.

Note that those ships that can be upgraded via science can't generally get more than 4ish marks on their own, unless they're in multiple categories. And it's supposed to be prohibilively expensive to get all the way to mark 7 for a ship line without also augmenting it with EXP-based boosts to the fleet that its in.

Quote from: motai
after the recent changes to deliberately leave level 1 ships to help keep them cheaper /chaff to help higher marks survive, the whole exp mechanic raising the mark levels of the ships feels wrong.

This is an interesting point, but bear in mind the lower-mark stuff being cheaper and whatnot was meant to be a "consolation prize" sort of balance thing.  I never really felt like anyone would want to keep their fleets lower-mark from that.

THAT said, maybe the fleet management screen needs a "don't grant mark level bonuses to ship types X, Y, or Z" type of option.  I could see that sort of control being desirable for the edge cases where you intentionally want to keep some ship line as cheap chaff.  I'd keep the auto-leveling-up stuff the way it is, but make it so that when you turn those off the units drop back down -- or if you have it turned on in advance, then those units just never level up but the rest of the fleet does.

I think this is more of an edge case for certain kinds of advanced play, and I like the idea of supporting that and the interface nor the underlying code is hard.  And it's a nifty tool.  But for 95% of the cases, I think the auto level-up is what people want.

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Various ideas about increasing fleet caps alone.
Bear in mind that this could quickly stress out the engine and make things run slow if we're just throwing tons and tons of units at it.  I'm not a huge fan of that.

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Various thoughts about removing metal.
I just can't see that going over well with most of the playerbase.  Even if numerically that works out, the general consensus was that it's just "too different."  But in terms of ways to ease refleeting... sure, I could see us exploring THAT in a variety of ways.  Hopefully recent changes have made that happen in general.

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Various comments about the difficulty being too easy right now.
It may be that the AI needs to start out with a higher mark baseline, and/or possibly never uses mark 1 stuff at all.  The AI being higher-tech than you, and you having to use both science and EXP to play a game of catch-up, feels appropriate to the theme of the game.

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Various comments on swapping out one unit type for another in a fleet.
This is something I want to very much avoid.  Allowing people to just choose whatever unit types they want really undermines the whole "capture what you can that seems best, then work with what you have" ethos of the game.  That goes back all the way to the first game, too, although there were things like hacking ARSes that came late in the lifecycle of that game which let you re-roll things.  But the fleets here are so darn plentiful that you should be able to find things without needing to do any re-rolls.

And in general, for fleets pre capture, we've been discussing a possible re-roll hack here as well, although frankly I think even that's getting into dangerous territory.  Part of the point of the game is to get people to use things that they wouldn't normally, in unusual ways.

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Various comments about fleet ships being kind of useless and evaporating instantly.
I think that is this potentially a really big problem, and something that we need to adjust in terms of making the attack power and/or health of fleet ships higher in order to make them the main workhorse of the game again.  Or maybe the power of the big guys just needs to come down, I dunno.  Puffin, is this something you could look at potentially?  I'm out until Monday after this.

Basically I do like that combat is fast... but not that the little guys sometimes hardly have time to get a shot off or do anything meaningful before going away.  They are definitely supposed to be more able to inflict damage on the big guys, and last a bit longer on their own as well, so that they actually feel like they matter.
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Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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I think that is this potentially a really big problem, and something that we need to adjust in terms of making the attack power and/or health of fleet ships higher in order to make them the main workhorse of the game again.  Or maybe the power of the big guys just needs to come down, I dunno.  Puffin, is this something you could look at potentially?  I'm out until Monday after this.

Basically I do like that combat is fast... but not that the little guys sometimes hardly have time to get a shot off or do anything meaningful before going away.  They are definitely supposed to be more able to inflict damage on the big guys, and last a bit longer on their own as well, so that they actually feel like they matter.

Most likely no. I really don't feel like playing the game right now. I don't think I have really, since the curiosity of Fleets wore off. Any changes I do are mainly feedback based, and this one is kind of so global that...yeah.

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Offline AnnoyingOrange

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The best alternative is probably to make it so that only the units that can't be leveled up any other way are able to level up via this. So things like command stations, for instance. And maybe that would start applying to Arks, rather than letting them be upgraded via science? This approach would lead to us having some things that are upgraded via battle experience, and others via science, which seems interesting.

I certainly like the idea of Arks, Golems, and other "superweapon" units becoming more powerful as you use them: it doesn't seem like a bad idea even for command stations, as it allows for interesting strategies such as tanking a few waves with an Economic station to boost your economy, or with a Logistic station to have more forcefields, stuff like that.
On the other hand, why not let the player upgrade the units that currently can't be upgraded with science? That's a simple solution, lets players balance their science between firepower and utility instead of being railroaded into firepower, and skips the grinding currently needed to make your support units useful.

THAT said, maybe the fleet management screen needs a "don't grant mark level bonuses to ship types X, Y, or Z" type of option.  I could see that sort of control being desirable for the edge cases where you intentionally want to keep some ship line as cheap chaff.  I'd keep the auto-leveling-up stuff the way it is, but make it so that when you turn those off the units drop back down -- or if you have it turned on in advance, then those units just never level up but the rest of the fleet does.

As you said, the "lower level=cheaper" mechanic was meant as a consolation prize, not as an actual strategy to exploit and absolutely not as the most effective strategy.
I would suggest removing the entire cheapening mechanic, as it clearly is leading to weird results: perhaps bring back increasing cost with mark and upgradeable metal collectors, to create a simple science sink to slow down the player (must upgrade economy to handle high mark fleets) and a bandaid to make economy issues less of an annoyance.
This wouldn't be a problem in the first place had metal collectors never been made unupgradeable MK1s, that change alone reduced player metal income by half or more, or if the player could pause ship production on a fleet, as that means capturing a planet with a fleet in it will probably deplete your entire metal stockpile.

But the fleets here are so darn plentiful that you should be able to find things without needing to do any re-rolls.

The problem arises when you need a pen and the game offers you twenty varieties of houses, racecars, and aircraft carriers but not a single pen-like tool.
In AIWC, from the very start I can build a few engineers, set them to a control group, and move them around to do things like speeding up the construction of buildings or repairing a fleet behind enemy lines.
In AIW2, I can hope to find a mobile dock on a planet that's not too hard to capture, or missing that an engineering battlestation (with all the additional micromanaging required by those), I can't control it easily because the fleet management interface isn't finished, and only then I have any way to speed up building construction/reclamation or do repairs on planets I do not own.
This has been marginally improved with the choice of starting battlestation including one battlestation that can build engineers, but it's still kinda awful.

Battlestations in general are really painful to use, they require such an ungodly amount of micronanaging that I end up not taking planets just to avoid having to destroy and rebuild turrets; also, why do they even have special effects such as decloaking or slowdown? Just let me build a special structure that does the same job, gets rebuilt on the same spot if destroyed, and doesn't move on its own!
There's two main reasons why AIWC has per-planet turret caps, one is to avoid massive defense stacking and the other is to make it so the player doesn't have to waste time by routinely shifting a couple turrets from one planet to another: battlestations fail at both.

Offline x4000

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Most likely no. I really don't feel like playing the game right now. I don't think I have really, since the curiosity of Fleets wore off. Any changes I do are mainly feedback based, and this one is kind of so global that...yeah.

No problems whatsoever.  You've done a huge amount for this game, and I definitely don't expect you to go out on a limb there when you're not feeling it  in particular.

That actually has given me a good idea on a way to make the various classes of ship tweakable in general, anyway.  In terms of customizable in the lobby, anyway.
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Offline x4000

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I certainly like the idea of Arks, Golems, and other "superweapon" units becoming more powerful as you use them: it doesn't seem like a bad idea even for command stations, as it allows for interesting strategies such as tanking a few waves with an Economic station to boost your economy, or with a Logistic station to have more forcefields, stuff like that.

Sure, that makes good sense.

On the other hand, why not let the player upgrade the units that currently can't be upgraded with science? That's a simple solution, lets players balance their science between firepower and utility instead of being railroaded into firepower, and skips the grinding currently needed to make your support units useful.

I was originally worried about information overload on the other hand, but also I was worried about players just absolutely dumping a ton of science into "wishing for more wishes" early in the game, so to speak, and that becoming basically the only valid meta.

But in the way that things are evolving and the way that they have felt over the last while, I do think that it's getting to be a bit on the anemic side, tech-wise, so I'm cool with this.

As you said, the "lower level=cheaper" mechanic was meant as a consolation prize, not as an actual strategy to exploit and absolutely not as the most effective strategy.
I would suggest removing the entire cheapening mechanic, as it clearly is leading to weird results: perhaps bring back increasing cost with mark and upgradeable metal collectors, to create a simple science sink to slow down the player (must upgrade economy to handle high mark fleets) and a bandaid to make economy issues less of an annoyance.
This wouldn't be a problem in the first place had metal collectors never been made unupgradeable MK1s, that change alone reduced player metal income by half or more, or if the player could pause ship production on a fleet, as that means capturing a planet with a fleet in it will probably deplete your entire metal stockpile.

Well, the really core problem, compared to the first game, is that you only get the top mark units once you upgrade units of a type.  Ignoring the EXP-based fleet upgrades, anyway.  So rather than opening up a new and expensive option when you upgrade, it's actually making ALL your stuff more expensive that falls under that tech.  The implications for your economy if you weren't super careful was really catastrophic and often not foreseeable, and I don't think that any amount of economic upgrades will make it so that some people won't shoot their leg right on off just by doing a tech upgrade.

I'm not super worried about the lower level units being cheaper thing being something that people want to exploit in the meta, because frankly there's always something along those lines.  At the advanced level meta, there's always going to be something a bit funky that people are exploiting (mildly) in interesting ways that will lead to an arms race of sorts.  I mean, that happens in every game.

I'm cool with the meta having some things like that at the advanced level, BUT I want for the basic/new players to not be falling into traps based on the game design.  Such as happily upgrading a tech and then having a giant increase in metal expense that you just can't deal with (or, at best hurts bad).  So I don't see ever going back to having higher-tech stuff cost more, simply because it's so very new-player unfriendly, and will also bite experienced players, too.  It's just too big a trap.

Other things like the "cheaper based on other things you upgraded" mechanic are something that I could see being removed or replaced, since that's really only affecting the advanced meta for the most part.  But it encourages less micro (eh, keep building that chaff, it's cheap anyway), so I'm pretty happy with it at the moment.  I'm sure it will need to evolve or get companion mechanics or something in the future, but for now it seems ok.

But the fleets here are so darn plentiful that you should be able to find things without needing to do any re-rolls.

The problem arises when you need a pen and the game offers you twenty varieties of houses, racecars, and aircraft carriers but not a single pen-like tool.
In AIWC, from the very start I can build a few engineers, set them to a control group, and move them around to do things like speeding up the construction of buildings or repairing a fleet behind enemy lines.
In AIW2, I can hope to find a mobile dock on a planet that's not too hard to capture, or missing that an engineering battlestation (with all the additional micromanaging required by those), I can't control it easily because the fleet management interface isn't finished, and only then I have any way to speed up building construction/reclamation or do repairs on planets I do not own.
This has been marginally improved with the choice of starting battlestation including one battlestation that can build engineers, but it's still kinda awful.

Okay, I hear what you're saying, and that's definitely something that I would like to deal with in some fashion.  Anything where a majority of players are having to "do this thing at the very start, every game, or you have no hope in the meta" is bad.  So I guess one thing would be that maybe... we might need a new kind of "Support Fleet" that you start with?  And that would be various forms of mobile factories with engineers, or other related things?

That way you start out with a big engineering corps that you can move from planet to planet with ease, for example.  In general the starting state for players should be "the game did my homework for me already, so I can just go do stuff rather than manually using villagers to hunt turkeys for the first 10 minutes," etc.  Sick AOE2 reference. ;)

Battlestations in general are really painful to use, they require such an ungodly amount of micronanaging that I end up not taking planets just to avoid having to destroy and rebuild turrets; also, why do they even have special effects such as decloaking or slowdown? Just let me build a special structure that does the same job, gets rebuilt on the same spot if destroyed, and doesn't move on its own!
There's two main reasons why AIWC has per-planet turret caps, one is to avoid massive defense stacking and the other is to make it so the player doesn't have to waste time by routinely shifting a couple turrets from one planet to another: battlestations fail at both.

Okay, I hear you on this as well.  If you don't mind, can you elaborate a bit more on the micromanaging that you're experiencing, if there's anything beyond what you already just said?  It sounds like the amount of juggling you're having to do with battlestations as you take more territory is the big thing.

But are there also case where they are wandering off and fighting on their own, possibly because you put them into pursuit mode so that any ships that pop out  of them (sentry type stuff I guess) are also in pursuit mode?  I could make a flag for centerpieces in general that makes them ignore pursuit mode unless they're explicitly a combat type (officer, lone wolf).

It sounds like there are some behaviors that people are running into that are easy for  me to fix, but that are a real pain right now and I'm not fully aware of them because I'm not having time for lengthy play sessions because I'm currently moving house, trying to react to the feedback that I AM hearing, finish up features that are missing that I had planned, and so on.  So actually my biggest fear right now is that there are some annoying things that are happening, particularly in longer play sessions or with certain playstyles, that I'm simply not hearing about or aware of.  I'm totally up for tackling those, but I just need to know about them and ideally have a save where I can repro and then test it.

A lot of those things are very abstract and not really bugs, they're more the sort of things that people might just go "ugh, it's part of the new design," which is is only true insofar as I didn't think of the ramifications of X and thus didn't put in an added feature to deal with it.  The older designs (and the first game) were also filled with those sorts of things, and my feeling is that overall I have a much more tractable situation in terms of getting out quick fixes to solve those annoying issues now.  But not when I don't know they exist.  :D

Now, beyond that, the whole thing with battlestations being annoying to pack up and move between planets... yeah, I get that.  I think that SOME battlestations are needed, in order to make it so that we can have offensive beachheads.   But when it comes to the overall mechanic of them... having way fewer battlestations and instead adding a mechanic that adds "X number of turrets to all the command stations you have or will have" would I think be good.  Aka, kind of like Design Template Servers for turrets.

That sort of compromise might work out well in terms of keeping the positive side of battlestations -- I do think that they are cool, when used in an augmentation fashion -- but getting rid of the definite annoying things that happen with them when you have a bunch of them that you're trying to juggle.

I was trying to avoid having all the planets' defenses becoming too samey, but I get how that's become a logistical problem.  This strikes me as a good example of something that still can work great in the fleets scaffolding, but which simply needs a different design for the details.

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Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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Regarding Battlestations/Citadels:

I was trying to avoid having all the planets' defenses becoming too samey, but I get how that's become a logistical problem.  This strikes me as a good example of something that still can work great in the fleets scaffolding, but which simply needs a different design for the details.

Something that I have noticed is that defending my planets has very little thought to it. Deciding where to put a Battlestation to me only has the result of that planet having some defenses - the type of them doesn't matter, because of the new AI Ship Group system.

Currently, the AI has everything available to it. That means any attack wave it sends could be nearly anything. How do you plan for anything? There is no question of deciding to invest in Concussion Turrets, because the AI so happens to have unlocked many units weak to those. The result is, I simply build every Turret available. None of them are bad, and none of them are standout.

This has led, regarding Tech Upgrades, to me simply finding whatever affects the most units and doing that. In the end, the only notable thing to do with Battlestations is place them somewhere, and leave it there forever.

Often that place is a planet near my Homeworld, as I've found there is little incentive to hold anything beyond. With the very recent changes to Energy, and the lack of Mark increasing Metal Cost, things such as the Zenith Power Generator and Matter Converter have dropped off in value. I think the only thing I'd desire to hold are Coordinators, and because of the AI Ship Group issue above, I would pick one of the Strikecraft or Frigate ones depending on what I have the most of, rather than what'd be the most effective.
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Offline AnnoyingOrange

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First of all, I have to say I'm really liking the new changes: I'd like to hear what other players think of them, but for me they solve so many issues I didn't even know I had.

If you don't mind, can you elaborate a bit more on the micromanaging that you're experiencing, if there's anything beyond what you already just said?  It sounds like the amount of juggling you're having to do with battlestations as you take more territory is the big thing.

Sure! Keep in mind that you've already fixed most of those with the latest update, though.
Let's say I control three planets connected like this:

-A-B-C-

A and C are connected to AI planets, but B is not, so I want to put heavy defenses on A and C.
Battlestations can provide supply to planets one hop away, so I can keep all the battlestations I need on B and split their turrets between A and C.
That's where the micromanaging comes in: even if a battlestation on B can give supply to its turrets on A (and C), I cannot build those turrets without moving the battlestation to A (or C).
So I need to move the battlestation to A, build the turrets I want there, then move the battlestation to C (temporarily disabling the turrets I just built on A), build the rest of the turrets I want, then finally move the battlestation back to B.
This whole process has to be repeated every time I want to move turrets or build new ones, of course.
Another common scenario is creating a good turret mix, but that often requires moving around multiple battlestations between distant fronts: and that means I won't be able to use any of their turrets for the duration of the trip, which is incredibly risky, so usually I settle for stacking more battlestations and more turrets without a more complex strategy than "More firepower!".

But are there also case where they are wandering off and fighting on their own, possibly because you put them into pursuit mode so that any ships that pop out  of them (sentry type stuff I guess) are also in pursuit mode?  I could make a flag for centerpieces in general that makes them ignore pursuit mode unless they're explicitly a combat type (officer, lone wolf).

They're not in pursuit mode and as far as I can tell they're not fighting, they're being pushed around by swarms of enemy ships.
Same happens with citadels, and more in general movement can be kind of weird with lots of ships in a small space.
I wouldn't be opposed to the "ignore pursuit" flag, but fleet management controls should handle this in the long term to cover cases such as "I don't want to put my golem in pursuit mode because it will suicide on the sabot guardpost".

So actually my biggest fear right now is that there are some annoying things that are happening, particularly in longer play sessions or with certain playstyles, that I'm simply not hearing about or aware of.

Don't worry about it: of course you can't know about all the problems the game has, that's what Early Access is for, and even with all the bugs and annoyances your game is already better than most fully released titles.
Have you heard of "They are billions"? Popular real time strategy game that recently left early access? That game has some of the worst pathfiding I've ever seen, not even Empire Earth had units getting stuck on each other so much, and that's apparently considered acceptable nowadays given how many positive reviews they got.
And so many pther early access games out there mix old ideas with terrible performance, nothing more.
In any case I'll post a few random feedback at the bottom, hopefully some of it will be helpful.

I was trying to avoid having all the planets' defenses becoming too samey, but I get how that's become a logistical problem.

Global caps for some special structures could help too, but all differentiation options will have to deal with the issue Puffin pointed out:
Currently, the AI has everything available to it. That means any attack wave it sends could be nearly anything. How do you plan for anything?

I agree that the AIWC system needed to go, it was ridiculous in high AIP games and not too interesting at low AIP either, and the current situation is pretty much identical to AIWC at high AIP: there's no reason to plan, the fight will be between the AI's amorphous fleetball and your slightly less amorphous turret ball, most special effects or hull bonuses average out to insignificance while a few become nigh-mandatory (anti ultra-heavy to deal with carriers in AIWC, AoE damage and multishot to deal with swarms in AIW2).


Random (and not that well thought out) feedback below, feel free to skip and take with a grain of salt otherwise:

Spoiler for Hidden:
1 - In AIWC you have some major limits to your strenght: metal limits how fast you can build and how much you can build at once, planetary caps limit how much strenght you can stack up in one place, energy and galactic caps limit how much strenght you can have in total, and your willingness to increase AIP limits how much you can improve any of the above (via science, fabricators, and other capturables).
In AIW2 certain fleet mechanics double some of those limitations: you still have metal but your building speed is also limited by how quickly you can get a battlestation to the place where you want to build turrets or how quickly you can get a fleet with engineers to a building site, you still have energy but now many of your turrets are also split under several galactic caps and you can't stop building any of your ships, you still have AIP but now many capturables are simply giving larger caps of a few kinds of units...

2 - Battlestations are certainly more interesting than mobile builders for beachheads and do away with a lot of annoyances on that front, but beachheading is a lot weaker in AIW2: the gravity well is smaller so you have less time to build and more incoming damage, individual battlestations don't usually have enough different unit types to build a solid beachhead, you almost never can build a forcefield to protect the beachead or at least the builder units, and there's almost always multiple turrets if not even a guardpost covering your wormhole with their range.

3 - Speaking of range, range-related controls are a bit of a pain.
Shift-Z should show the range of all units, but it often doesn't, and when it does it's essentially impossible to tell apart the range of the dangerous guardpost you don't want to fight from the range of a random turret or ship (this was also a problem in AIWC, even if not as serious): being able to see the range of all units of a specific kind by holding Z and hovering over the icon in the unit tab would be nice for this.
There's no "show range at this position", which was z+a in AIWC, and it would bevery useful when positioning citadels and defensive fleets.

4 - Speaking of guardposts and turrets, they are often very hard to deal with and a MK7 fleet can take significant losses even on a MK4 planet.
Why? Because they recreate the "anti-bomber guardpost under a forcefield" conundrum on every single planet: the sheer number of turrets per guardpost higher level planets get make it so you're facing the equivalent of several stacked guardposts, and statistically those turrets will cover most possible attack bonuses, so no matter what you bring you'll be hit hard.
The way multiple guarposts and their turrets often cover each other isn't helping either.
I'm not sure if the issue is with the AI being able to rebuild turrets, or with the AI being given turrets at all, or with something else entirely, but as it stands guardposts don't feel right.

5 - The beam weapon on spire ships has insane damage vs swarms (I cleared 500-ish strenght with two MK7 spire ships and a lot of wormhole cheesing) but it's hard to even see it fire: giving it a fan-out effect like the heavy beam cannon mk4 in AIWC might solve this.

6 - AIWC had armor as a simple way to change weapon effectiveness across different ships, AIW2 has no way to do the same so it's hard to create a balance between "all small ships die immediately" and "big ships barely get scratched" in normal combat.
On the same note, multishot in AIW2 is functionally equivalent to a tesla shot with the same range and target limit, which is not intuitive at all, but bringing back AIWC's style multishot would be a disaster because of the lack of damage mitigation via armor.

7 - As it stands, AIP floor is essentially useless. Even at low difficulties there's not that much AIP reduction available, deepstrikes are much harder, and fleets encourage capturing more planets and incurring higher AIP.

8 - Telling apart cloaked units from non-cloaked units is impossible, and the new decloaking mechanic feels very inconsistent as different ships will shoot at different times thus decloak/recloak at different times.

Offline x4000

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Thanks for writing all that up!  And I'm really glad you're enjoying the latest update.

I'm working on a todo list here, which has a couple which are marked "consider" only: https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=21310

I'd definitely be interested in your thoughts on any of those you want to comment on.  I think I addressed all of the things you brought up.

I am a bit curious about this:

Quote
On the same note, multishot in AIW2 is functionally equivalent to a tesla shot with the same range and target limit, which is not intuitive at all, but bringing back AIWC's style multishot would be a disaster because of the lack of damage mitigation via armor.

I'm rusty on my memory of how these systems worked in the two games.  Can you give any added thoughts on these?  Is part of the reason you're saying multi-shot is equivalent is the fact that the multiple shots can only go to one target per shot, and not stack a bunch of shots onto a single target in AIW2 if they don't have enough targets to sink all their shots into?

I've waffled on that change, since I feel like those things can become really OP if they are able to just gun down an enemy with 40 shots to the face, but they aren't very good at crowd control if they don't have 40 shots that they can send out at all the smaller ships.  So that did wind up causing convergence with the lightning AOE effect, and/or grenades, which is a bummer.  But I'm not sure what to do on that.

Quote
Don't worry about it: of course you can't know about all the problems the game has, that's what Early Access is for, and even with all the bugs and annoyances your game is already better than most fully released titles.
Have you heard of "They are billions"? Popular real time strategy game that recently left early access? That game has some of the worst pathfiding I've ever seen, not even Empire Earth had units getting stuck on each other so much, and that's apparently considered acceptable nowadays given how many positive reviews they got.
And so many pther early access games out there mix old ideas with terrible performance, nothing more.

And I also really wanted to say thanks for this.  I was feeling super down last night and this morning after reading some of the threads in here, even though I felt like I had ideas immediately for how to tackle a lot of the things that people were complaining about.  But it was just disheartening that in a lot of quarters it felt like there was lack of confidence that I'd actually listen to folks and respond with appropriate mechanical changes.  That was super hard, and so your note was really a pick me up.

There were a couple of others that you mentioned that I logged for later:

Visual polish: telling apart cloaked units from non-cloaked units is impossible:https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=21325
Beam weapons from spire ships are hard to see?: https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=21324
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Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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I'm rusty on my memory of how these systems worked in the two games.  Can you give any added thoughts on these?  Is part of the reason you're saying multi-shot is equivalent is the fact that the multiple shots can only go to one target per shot, and not stack a bunch of shots onto a single target in AIW2 if they don't have enough targets to sink all their shots into?

I've waffled on that change, since I feel like those things can become really OP if they are able to just gun down an enemy with 40 shots to the face, but they aren't very good at crowd control if they don't have 40 shots that they can send out at all the smaller ships.  So that did wind up causing convergence with the lightning AOE effect, and/or grenades, which is a bummer.  But I'm not sure what to do on that.

I'd note only that the reason things like the Armored and Cursed Golems have those Sabot weapons is entirely to let them deal with big single targets, as it seemed really strange that a superweapon was unable to.

And I also really wanted to say thanks for this.  I was feeling super down last night and this morning after reading some of the threads in here, even though I felt like I had ideas immediately for how to tackle a lot of the things that people were complaining about.  But it was just disheartening that in a lot of quarters it felt like there was lack of confidence that I'd actually listen to folks and respond with appropriate mechanical changes.  That was super hard, and so your note was really a pick me up.

Sorry for contributing to that. I had an idea it might cause such a response...such things do to me.

You definitely do listen to folks, and are very calm and reasonable during it, when most people probably wouldn't be. It's very respectable for you to do that, even with all the life stress going on.

I definitely didn't intend any message of that, and again apologise.

I fully believe you'll be able to vastly improve all of the concerns people have raised, in a way that still fulfills your vision of the game. Hell, with short experiences in some of the other Arcen games I can tell they're very well designed, so I'm sure of it.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 03:26:45 PM by RocketAssistedPuffin »
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Offline Draco18s

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Moral support and positive thoughts from me too.

I know I've been criticizing a lot when it comes to specific mechanics, but I want you to know that AIW2 is a game that I want to love for years, so things that make me frustrated are things that I know need to be voiced so that the game can be great. It isn't "the game is bad and you should feel bad" but rather "this isn't doing it for me, lets see how we can fix it."

:)

Offline AnnoyingOrange

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I'm rusty on my memory of how these systems worked in the two games.  Can you give any added thoughts on these?  Is part of the reason you're saying multi-shot is equivalent is the fact that the multiple shots can only go to one target per shot, and not stack a bunch of shots onto a single target in AIW2 if they don't have enough targets to sink all their shots into?

I'm saying it's perfectly equivalent gameplay wise.
Let's imagine you have a tesla ship with these stats: its area of effect weapon will do 2000 damage per target, to up to 20 targets in range, in a range of 10000 from the ship itself, and its reload time is 2 seconds.
Now let's take a multishot ship with these stats: it has 20x2000 multishot, so it hits up to 20 target in range, each one of them for 2000 damage, its weapon range is 10000, and its reload time is 2 seconds.
Those two ships are functionally identical: not similar, 100% identical.
There is no situation in which one of the two would do more damage than the other, or even distribute the damage in a different way.

I don't think the AIWC multishot would work well without damage mitigation via armor, in most cases it would be identical to a single big shot with the combined damage of a whole salvo gameplay-wise while being worse performance-wise.
In theory, diminishing returns if multiple shots are fired on the same ship could change this, but I would expect it to be far too taxing on the CPU.
I'm not sure armor mitigation is a good idea to bring back either, it would require a ton of work and might very well not work out.

In any case, these are minor issues in my opinion: I mostly mention them to see if anyone has clever ideas about those.

Offline Lord Of Nothing

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I'm rusty on my memory of how these systems worked in the two games.  Can you give any added thoughts on these?  Is part of the reason you're saying multi-shot is equivalent is the fact that the multiple shots can only go to one target per shot, and not stack a bunch of shots onto a single target in AIW2 if they don't have enough targets to sink all their shots into?

I'm saying it's perfectly equivalent gameplay wise.
Let's imagine you have a tesla ship with these stats: its area of effect weapon will do 2000 damage per target, to up to 20 targets in range, in a range of 10000 from the ship itself, and its reload time is 2 seconds.
Now let's take a multishot ship with these stats: it has 20x2000 multishot, so it hits up to 20 target in range, each one of them for 2000 damage, its weapon range is 10000, and its reload time is 2 seconds.
Those two ships are functionally identical: not similar, 100% identical.
There is no situation in which one of the two would do more damage than the other, or even distribute the damage in a different way.

I don't think the AIWC multishot would work well without damage mitigation via armor, in most cases it would be identical to a single big shot with the combined damage of a whole salvo gameplay-wise while being worse performance-wise.
In theory, diminishing returns if multiple shots are fired on the same ship could change this, but I would expect it to be far too taxing on the CPU.
I'm not sure armor mitigation is a good idea to bring back either, it would require a ton of work and might very well not work out.

In any case, these are minor issues in my opinion: I mostly mention them to see if anyone has clever ideas about those.

I personally like the current multishot system, since I think it keeps design space open better. However, just to toss a few ideas for differentiating things:

Multishot is allowed to have up to 10% of it's shots hit the same target (So if a multishot 20 ship comes up against 20 ships, it hits each once. Against 15 ships, it hits them all once, and then the first five again. Against 10 ships it hits them all twice. Against 5 ships it still hits them all twice. (Having said that, 20% of all shots on one target might be better). Then multishot is a little more flexible but still keeps a distinct design space. If all the shots are still doing the same damage, it should be possible to keep that as having a very low performance hit, I would think?)

True tesla effects are quite rare and short range... I wonder if you could do something interesting with them. Maybe they hit for variable damage and a short variable paralysis hit? Say, if 1 ships is in range, they hit for maximum damage and paralysis. If 10 ships in range, they hit for their maximum damage and paralysis duration to all 10. If 50 ships in range, they hit 20% of their maximum damage and 20% paralysis duration? If more than 50 ships in range, hit the first 50 for the 20% values? Or perhaps have the minimum damage at 40%, so they are scaling up in terms of total damage dealt as we go from 10->50, even though per ships is going down?  My concern with slowly adjusting values like that is that there would inevitably be breakpoints in effectiveness as things scale.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2019, 08:50:31 AM by Lord Of Nothing »

Offline Draco18s

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Having read all of that I begin to wonder...
What if tesla effects had their damage scale up as there were more targets.

(Numbers arbitrary)

1 target: 0% damage
2 targets: 20% damage (to each)
10 targets: 100% damage (to each)
50 targets: 200% damage (to each)

The idea being that electricity requires that it conduct in order to actually hurt you. You can grip a high voltage wire all day....until you touch something else with a lower potential for the electricity to form a path through you. That's when it burns.

Offline x4000

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Thanks for all the kind words, everybody.  I'm just struggling lately in general, with so many emotionally-heavy things going on.  Some of them are very good things in my life, but it's still a lot of emotion.  Other things are hard and things I never thought I'd have to deal with, and I'm still grieving for a lot of things in general.

One of the big things I've been grieving is my financial independence.  AI War 2 doesn't remotely pay the bills yet, and that's very scary.   Arcen's income fell by half compared to even last year, which was already so bad that I had to lay off the last of my staff there.  So far the summer sale is going solidly "meh" at best, and while I wasn't counting on that income it sure would have been nice.  I'm hoping that the game makes a big splash in October with 1.0, and that I can follow it up with a great expansion in Q1 next year and then just keep working on stuff for a lot of years to come...

But if those things don't pan out, then I'm kind of hosed.  I'm personally basically close to $300k in the hole for making AI War 2, despite the kickstarter and all that, and the focus has always been on making sure it's a great game even if it takes a bunch of extra time.  But this has been such a winding road and nobody is ever fully happy, so it can really have me questioning if I even know what I'm doing and should be in this career.  I love this job, but it has cost me a lot in my life (after giving me a lot for a while), and I'm not confident that I can continue to exist doing this fulltime like I have for the last 10 years.  That terrifies me more than anything else right now, because there's not something else that I want to do instead.

Some of what I've been working on while I've been a bit absentee lately has been things that help reduce my expenses and make it more likely that I won't get pushed out.  I don't want AI War 2 to be my last game.  I know I can finish this one one way or the other, but I have no idea what the future looks like after that.  In the past I always had more safety nets, and expenses I could reduce, and if I had to staff I could lay off if it really came down to it.  And it did come down to it, and I lost everybody and everything, but then still the losses continue even beyond that.  I could set up a patreon or something, but I'm not sure there's enough support for that and right now I need to put all the energy I do have into the game itself.  So I guess that's a backup plan for later.

And the reality is that if I'm able to work on interesting programming and/or design problems for some other developer, I could be happy, too.  And so there are probably a number of options I could exercise without being pushed completely out of the industry.  But... I'm really not ready to lose my independence on top of everything else.  A lot of times it feels like my entire life has been steadily stripped away over the last four years, and I just can't let that continue if there's anything I can do about it.

The truth is there's a lot of good things that have also come about in the last half year that would never have happened if I hadn't lost my old life, so I am grateful for that and most of the time try to stay optimistic in general.  But sometimes that facade cracks a bit, and when people say things that reinforce some of my own insecurities (that I don't know what I'm doing, mainly, or that I'll never be able to make the majority of people happy), then that is particularly sapping.

Some of that was probably TMI, but it's just kind of an honest look at where my mind is at right now.  Most days I'm okay, because I just compartmentalize that stuff away.  But sometimes it comes out, particularly when I feel like I'm being dogpiled all at once by a lot of criticism from a lot of people, or when people threaten to leave the game or community because they don't agree with some short-term changes.  I've been... abandoned a lot.  And while nobody owes me anything, and I do want to hear about things like "my playstyle doesn't feel valid anymore, and that makes me very unhappy" or "there are some specific issues that are so annoying that they're making me not want to play," I'd appreciate it if that's paired with "maybe you'll have an idea on how to fix that"  or "I have some thoughts on how to fix that" or "maybe we should discuss alternatives to that" so that I know it's meant to be... building something that you want, not me accidentally alienating someone and them walking out because of that.




Alienating a huge part of the playerbase is definitely something that is on my mind a lot when making so many large changes, but personally I was really hating the game back in April because there was too much tedium and not enough large and interesting decisions.  So I tried to hit the tedium first, and mostly succeeded with that, but accidentally introduced some new forms of tedium.  And then the very latest stuff with "Fleets V3" is aimed at adding more interesting decisions.  The midgame was always barren in AIWC, and that's just not ok there or here.  So I hope to have a flood of more ideas either from myself or you guys on things to capture and do in the midgame and onwards, new hacks to use on the AI, and things like that.  There should definitely be more peaks and valleys in the middle of the game, rather than one long plateau.

I think that there has been some attitude of "well, we never solved that plateau in AIWC, so it probably won't be solved here either," but I think it comes down to being willing to change mechanics (like the new waves stuff) or add extra things to do (like the fleet hubs) that create more of a chance for back and forth in the game.

And then beyond that, the other piece is that we really need to figure out something about refleeting so there aren't these points where you're waiting around for things to rebuild.  Because making you wait for things is stupid on a ton of levels.  I want you to be playing the whole time.  Not just sitting in endless combat, but there should be something engaging your brain in interesting ways the entire time.

<joke>Maybe in order to refleet, you have to play a quick game of Pipe Dream, and when that's done the fleet is back.</joke>

But in seriousness, the problem with refleeting is that it is automated (which is good if it's quick), but slow (which is fine if you have something else to do).  If there was a way to accelerate refleeting by... doing something... that would be potentially very interesting.  Aka, maybe there's some sort of "mission" that some of your big centerpieces can go on by themselves, and if you win that mission boom your fleet is back.  Maybe that costs 1 AIP.

Maybe refleeting in general somehow costs AIP instead of time.  Maybe it's something radical like fleet ships can't be rebuilt over time, and factories go away, but after your full cohort of ships is dead, the AIP goes up by 1 and you get your fleet back as soon as metal allows.  Or something.  That has a whole lot of problems with it, but you get the idea: basically it's trading wall-clock time for instead giving the AI a permanent tiny boost in place of that.

I'd rather have games be 3 hours shorter on average, with you not waiting around for stuff to happen anymore, but instead there being an ever-increasing sense of brinkmanship and danger, where things get more and more tense.  I was never trying to pad out this game or the original game in terms of campaign lengths, and there's no reason to do so (they're plenty long even if you chop 3 hours off).  I want you to be doing interesting things, and have lots of interesting goals all the way through.

A big barrier for new players is also the aimlessness that can crop up in the midgame.  They see ways they can get stronger, but what's really the best path to hurt the enemy?  Having a lot more things that are ways to hurt the enemy should help reduce that sort of feeling, I think.  I remember we lost RCIX from the community back in 2012 or something along those lines, after him being active and instrumental with the game for years, because he just always felt aimless in the middle of AIWC.  It wasn't netflix time -- though I'm sure that didn't help -- it was that he didn't have a sense of what was best to do next in order to advance his agenda against the AI, and so kind of left in analysis paralysis.  After 2-3 years of being super involved in the game, he suddenly revealed to me he'd never actually finished one, and he enjoyed helping with design and feedback via mantis and the forums more than actually playing the game.  And then he was gone.  That always stung quite a bit.  And that's not the only person where something like that happened.

I really hate finding out in a belated fashion that people have been feeling unhappy about something, and they kind of only tell me as a parting message.  If netflix time exists (and I know it does), it must be killed.  If mechanics that alienate you exist, then they must be either revised, made optional, or something along those lines.  I just need people to trust... me, I guess.  That I have your interests in mind at all times, and I'm not off on some crazy vision quest of my own.  The game is inherently sandboxy, and I am trying to some extent to make it all things to all people, which will always be fraught.  But there are enough common themes that I think we can agree upon:

1. If something requires a lot of micro, then that's going to annoy most people.
2. If something requires a lot of waiting around (netflix time), that's bad also.
3. If something requires you to do something you actively don't want to do (play Pipe Dream to refleet?), then that's also bad and/or should be optional.
4. If something makes the meta of the game too simple, then that's definitely bad.
5. If something makes it so that the skill floor is too high for basic play, then you might not feel that's bad, but I absolutely do.
6. If something makes you do the same action over and over again in every game or in a single game, that's bad and boring.

All this fleets rework stuff came about because I was seeing too many things hitting items 1, 4, 5, and 6 popping up, over and over.  To the point that it was making ME not want to play the game and kind of hate it, and so I knew some major changes had to happen.  It had been a long time of hearing complaints from a wide variety of people on related topics to one another, so I kind of compiled those ideas into the fleets stuff and went from there.  But the first implementation of fleets was definitely not something I expected to be the Perfect Final Answer that would get no changes.



I'm a big fan of the tesla changes that Draco18s proposes, and so I've added that to my todo list: https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=21334

For the armor stuff, I agree with AnnoyingOrange that that should be at the very least shelved for now as it might introduce a ton of problems.  It's something we could look at post-1.0, as part of an expansion period or something.



Wow that's a lot of text.  Sorry for the long ramble, but I wanted to thank you all again for your support as well as just make my state of mind and personal position a little more clear.
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