Author Topic: Transport balance/cheesing.  (Read 231 times)

Offline x4000

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Transport balance/cheesing.
« on: August 03, 2019, 02:22:03 PM »
Quote from: WeaponMaster
I think transports will be a bit too cheesy in the near future, especially with all the buffs that they just got. Now that loading is done per fleet rather than per ship, maybe a way to reduce cheese is to have it so that after an unload command the fleet can't be ordered to load until after 5 seconds.

There's a specific change since the first game that makes transport cheese very attractive, ships continue reloading while they are inside a transport. You could do a hit and run in the first game by unloading, waiting 1 frame, then loading, but you couldn't endlessly repeat it to destroy things while taking very little counter attack.

Right now with how tanky transports and golems are, it's very attractive to let your transport's +1,000,000 hp absorb most of the AI's attacks and just unload every 10 seconds to fire off a volley.

I had kind of been braced for something along those lines.  I'm not sure what the ideal solution is, but I really was not a fan of how inconvenient transports became over the course of the first game's life.  As we fought cheese, they got slower in unloading, and various other things that I just felt like were irritating.  I'd like to avoid that here, but I can see where the cheese definitely would come into play.

On the subject of reload timers counting while loaded, that's something I feel like is important (not that you suggested changing that) because otherwise people have to be sure all their ships are in an ideal state before loading them, if they are using them properly and taking them on a long trip  and then unloading them.  Having some ships still in the middle of reloading their guns when they dismbark would  be a definite PITA.

As far as making transports more fragile goes, which you again didn't suggest but kind of alluded to, obviously that doesn't work with Arks and Golems as you noted, and even for regular transports its something that I feel like would mess with the flow of a lot of battles by not letting them keep getting reinforcements from factories if they get crippled too easily, etc.  So that tankiness is definitely good.

You didn't bring this up, but I'd already been thinking that the ability to move your ships really quickly (triple speed) from one part of the planet to another is super powerful and might lead to some interesting abuses.

This also has the possibility of "dodging" long-range incoming shots from enemies that fire from far away by popping your ships in and out of the transports repeatedly, causing them to get away from incoming fire and not take damage, then be right back out where they can return fire.

It was possible for people to do something similar with wormholes, although a lot more tedious since you have to move your view or at least go to the galaxy map.  Part of how we solved that was with a "just entered the planet, can't do anything for a moment" status on ships coming through wormholes.  It makes them sitting ducks for the very first little bit out of the wormhole, IIRC.  Though we've adjusted that so many times I can't remember what the exact current mechanics are, to be honest.  Since I'm not trying to cheese things, I don't tend to notice the exact stuff on them there.

Something along those lines, with a stun on ships that just got unloaded from transports, might be good.  Maybe the stun is longer if they were just put into the transport?  It's 10 seconds if they were just put in there, or down by 1 second for every 4 seconds they've been in the transport, perhaps?  That way there's no stun at all if you're moving between planets (and taking 40 seconds to do so, anyway), but if you're popping your ships in and out repeatedly they'll literally be paralyzed by it most of the time.

I guess letting them move would be ideal, but not go through wormholes and disabling all their systems including cloaking... or maybe just weapon systems?  I dunno.

Thoughts welcome!
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Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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Re: Transport balance/cheesing.
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2019, 02:55:07 PM »
From what I recall, in Classic units exiting normal Transports had to fully reload their weapon. Exiting from an Assault Transport was only half the time.
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Offline Diazo

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Re: Transport balance/cheesing.
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2019, 04:34:08 PM »
One thing to keep in mind is that the Transport is our only deepstrike unit, at the moment killing something that needs to die (Raid Engine) 3 systems out is load the fleet in the transport, move to target, unload fleet.

Killing units in the preceeding systems and getting any of the strikecraft back is optional.

(I am not missing another option here am I? Not everything can be hacked.)

For that reason I am not in favor of anything that nerfs the alpha strike after an unload, that also makes me not in favor of anything that makes the transport more fragile.

That leaves the messing with the reload timer, or delaying loading for X seconds after unload, among the options you noted.

A couple other things that are more complex to implement (and maybe not as practical) would be limiting loads/unloads per wormhole transit (you get 1 unload and 1 load after traversing a wormhole, max 1 of each) or once a load command is issued, the ship's weapon stops firing and it must load (and then unload) before another command can be issued. (How do you show any of this on the UI?)

One other thought I had (that I'm not sure I actually like) is that rather then units in the transports being ejected when the transport gets crippled, the units inside act as a damage sink (once the transports hull falls below 50%?) so quick load/unloading of the transport doesn't actually protect your ships and removing the ability for that exploit.

Overall this is one of those opinion things, at what point does the Quality of Life/Gameplay Improvements the transport give you go far enough they start to get into not-as-intended/exploit territory.

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Offline x4000

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Re: Transport balance/cheesing.
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2019, 04:52:44 PM »
RocketAssistedPuffin -- ah, good to know.  I couldn't remember what the difference was with Assault Transports in the final version.  That was mostly after Keith took over, and it went through many iterations.

Diazo -- I agree with you completely.  Do note that the last possible solution I mentioned is one that shouldn't impact deepstriking at all, because it likely takes more than 40 seconds (gametime) to get anywhere.  I was trying to avoid the specific things you brought up.

The idea of "can't unload until leave the planet and return" is intriguing and not that hard to code, although I think that some people may wind up getting caught in that if they are just having ships go to transports for storage for a while and then want to unload during a fight.

Ships getting ejected when the transport is crippled I think is a good thing, versus trying to put damage to the ships inside.  The math on the latter would get pretty complicated, mainly in terms of how to distribute very small amounts of damage evenly, etc.  And if transports don't protect ships inside them, I'm  not real keen on that.

I agree fully that we want to avoid as many things that impact playstyles as possible.
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Offline PokerChen

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Re: Transport balance/cheesing.
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2019, 12:19:49 AM »
Perhaps one can just disable to load function for longer, on the level of 15~30 seconds instead? The current 0.878 reload times are 17s for zappers, 12s for grenade launchers and devastators, and so on. So, committing to a raid engine strike also means committing to an engagement. A generous 30 seconds should be enough to let the AI strikecraft cross half-way around a gravity well.

I'm open to allowing or disallowing the transport to move during this time - I would think of it as diverting power. However, the arks and golems still have to be able to shoot at least (if not move). Not allowing transports to move after unloading offsets the cheese of 3x movement speed on load, and it gives a slower AI response fleet enough time to catch up and potentially cripple the transport.*

This cooldown might also decrease with fleet experience, giving players a way to work towards a small number of much more responsive raid fleets - as far as I have seen, the only shiptype that's affected by fleet level is the forcefield frigate. But probably not less than 12 seconds, although it's not trivial to get past mark-IV.

Quote
The idea of "can't unload until leave the planet and return" is intriguing and not that hard to code, although I think that some people may wind up getting caught in that if they are just having ships go to transports for storage for a while and then want to unload during a fight.

With the number of ships in a wormhole, I generally have to pack away my strikecraft so as to place turrets on a newly acquired planet.

*: bring some combat engineers.