Author Topic: New version .810 now out! (WeGo Turn-Based Combat! Combat Balance! Etc!)  (Read 2802 times)

Offline x4000

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Release notes: http://arcengames.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=The_Last_Federation_Alpha_Release_Notes#Alpha_Version_.810

Restart steam to force a quicker update if you like.

Good golly this one is huge, once again.  The effect on the combat side of the game obviously can't be understated.  It is freaking tense, I have to say. 

The overall net effect of the balance changes so far is that, on Normal difficulty, a battle that previously I would just skate through with no real mental energy now requires precision moves over about 45 turns, and I escape with about 15% of my hull intact. Yow. This may have swung too far in the difficult direction, we shall see. If so, it will be a matter of tuning player flagship health up most likely, as enemy attack powers seem like they are roughly in a good place when we're talking about the damage they can do to one another. The deployment rates are also scary enough that you see lots of enemy ships even with such a short number of turns, too, so that feels right to me. We shall see.

For information on the WeGo combat model, mainly why we decided to go in that direction, please see this thread: Seeecrit combat stuff coming!

The TLDR in general on this release:

1. The last of the currently-planned dispatch missions are now in place.

2. Keith has thus begun working on a ton of polish stuff, and we're going to be focusing on mantis a lot this week after ignoring it for the past week.

3. Combat is basically the same as before, with the exception that it is now turn-based.  That may sound utterly ludicrous, but if you have played the old version and play the new version, I think you'll see what I mean.

4. That said, the change to a turn-based model changes EVERYTHING from a tactical standpoint.  Opportunity costs are higher, you have more chances to either pull off clever things or screw up bigger, etc.  Paired with the revised balance, this leads to quite a bit of required strategizing.  And your allies are no longer hobbled old men, either. ;)

5. Battlefields are now more compact, but overall have the same amount of stuff in them except a bit fewer flagships (2 per flotilla instead of 3).  This makes the danger a lot more focused actually, and makes it so there is less "flying around in empty space a lot" time, which would be particularly annoying in a turn-based game.  You start in the thick of things, now, but you have time to react since it is turn-based.

Caveats:
I thought about delaying this until tomorrow so that I could do more testing, but decided it was better to get this into your hands sooner than later.  So There Will Be Bugs.  Specifically:

1. Cloaking probably works, but it's been revised and I didn't have a chance to test it.

2. Afterburner has been revised, but I know that doesn't work right yet.

3. All of the Operational abilities are still having their ships slaved to your attacks, and I don't intend for that to remain the case.

Quick Advice On Playing Combat:
1. Autofire is NOT for pansies, and it's not a cheat.  It's a very valuable tool when using the minigun on swarms of smaller enemy craft.  You waste valuable turns if you don't use this in those cases.

2. Turn OFF autofire when trying to make precision shots against lines of enemies.  You don't know that autofire will choose the precise right angle for you, and so you want to use your own judgement instead.

3. Note that your shots now destroy all enemy shots they touch, including missiles.  This is a huge change in your favor, but it's also super needed.  It's still really hard to stay alive.  Autofire is once again your enemy here.  Autofire only targets ships, not incoming shots.  So unless you can predict the autofire firing arc against enemy ships really well, and the shots that you also want to destroy are in that same firing line, it's really hard for them to get missles in particular.  It can be done, but it's like lining up a tricky pool shot.  It doens't take any execution skill, but it does take a sharp mind to know where to direct your ship to make that work.  So usually you tend to want to take out missles directly, as that is easier to mentally calculate (and sometimes there is literally no other line of fire on things like missiles).

4. If you want to sit still and attack, just hit Q to skip the movement order part.  If you're in autofire mode, though, that just makes you go straight into autofire while sitting still, so be careful.

5. If you want to cancel a movement order that you chose (when you have not yet confirmed your attack order), then just hit escape.


Enjoy!
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Offline Cyborg

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My bad, I just figured it out. Left click sets your heading, and the right-click aims the gun.


This is much easier to manage. Might need to tune the strength of the gun a little bit. I just lost the game before I even got out of the first mission (starting the game!). Otherwise, I'm not having any problems setting directions or aiming.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 11:03:39 PM by Cyborg »
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Offline Kregoth

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I'm not an alpha tester, but is this an asynchronous turn-based combat system? I was just thinking of posting something along trying that :)

Offline mrhanman

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I'm really liking the new combat so far!   8)

Offline Professor Paul1290

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The waypoint button may need to make a comeback so we can maneuver around debris and such.

Also, perhaps it might help to have a separate "lock-on" and "free-aim" firing modes so you can better hit moving targets while still being able to aim where you want for odd shots or hitting projectiles.
Maybe you could even have "cone-fire" that would be good for shooting at smaller and faster targets like fighters and projectiles, though I don't know if that would be a bit much.


As far as things not related to combat go, I ended up watching things fall apart while I was doing research and I didn't see a way to cancel the dispatch to try to fix things. There may need to be a way to suddenly cancel a dispatch mission in case something crazy happens that makes you want to drop it immediately.

Offline dersquatch

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First impressions with the new build:

-new combat is most definitely an improvement in my book, looking forward to seeing the balance come in

-the new move-and-shoot feels a little weird at the current pace. Don't really know how to explain, or what to suggest here.

-grav-beam actually looks pretty dangerous now!  :D

-do player flagships still have additional little auto-guns? If not, maybe something that could make a comeback with the new firing arc stuff.

-dispatch missions take a rather hefty chunk of your time, sometimes unrealistically so. Will these be tweaked at all, or is the cost supposed to be this high? It takes a weirdly inordinate amount of time to drop off a box full of space-tech and flee the scene.

-re: balance, some of existing missions don't really fit the new combat at all. Smuggling space-tech, killing spy probes, and some others have become pretty tedious and un-fun.

Solid new additions, and some pretty exciting stuff. Looking forward to the next couple patches even more now.  ;)

Offline kosmoface

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Oh man, I love WEGO-Systems. AGEOD got me totally addicted to this kind of turn based game. For me one of the best tactical systems. There's time to ponder & think and it's exciting to see what your enemy does, when you click "next turn".

The changes sound incredible. Going from Sidescrolling, to RTS, to (a sort of) SHMUP to turn based. I love getting insight in the developing process.

Offline Misery

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Allright, some stuff:

1.  New combat.... hmmmm.  This has potential, but I dont think it's there yet.  Right now, this is very easy.   The problem:  This is still essentially a shmup, at least to me, except for one very crucial difference:  No reaction speed whatsoever is needed.  So far, it's nearly impossible to lose.  The ability to fire through enemy shots just increases this.  I'm playing on Misery.  There's probably plenty of things that could change this, but I have few suggestions just yet. Likely I'll come up with some later though.   At the very least though, getting rid of the ability to break enemy shots would help alot (edit: having a specific weapon or two retain this ability isnt a bad idea though, such as the Mass Driver. Adds that much more importance to weapon selection.)  Currently, no enemy flagship can hurt me, even if I stand still, because I'm popping all of the shots that are actually aimed at me. I dont have to move. This however doesnt too much solve the problem of other things not being much of a threat.  Most directly-aimed attacks are easy to deal with.  In your typical shmup, this is true as well, but the twitch aspect adds challenge there anyway.   Perhaps a bit of slight random dispersal of shots (depending on the enemy type) could help here.  Or giving some enemies the ability to fire a 3-shot spread instead of JUST direct bullets would help.   A variety of patterns going in all sorts of directions at once creates a shifting battlefield, yet players should still be able to deal with it with the twitch aspect removed.  Consideration of positioning and targets would become more necessary.  Currently, constellations are by far the most interesting thing to deal with, though currently the missions that have them are broken (spawn issue). 

Increasing the range of "basic" shots (as in, not missiles, sniper shots, or lances) for enemies is a good idea too.  They dont need that shorter range at this point.

Actually, one other suggestion does occur to me, which is to rebalance the damage that enemy bullets can deal against players.   It'd be a tougher thing if the player cannot afford to make as many mistakes, but right now most enemy attacks do little damage. Missiles are sort of damaging, but they're the easiest ones to pop with weapons. Removing the ability to do that would add much to this particular enemy weapon as it'd force the player to constantly reconsider their position until they deal with whatever is firing them, or of course use an ability that allows them to do something about the missiles.   Snipers and the things with gravity lances right now are probably the most threatening, though still not overly tough to deal with.  They seem the most balanced right now.

I'll think up more suggestions as testing continues.  Again though, there is good potential here.  Balancing this well though is likely to be difficult.

2.  The controls for this are confusing.  Despite it being very easy normally, I still save before every one, because currently accidental actions are very frequent since the controls are just so strange.  At least in my case, anyway.  If I DO take a bunch of damage, this is always the reason for it.

3.  This is probably the big one:  There's just not much strategy to it.  The previous combat model worked because it required something from the player, this being twitch skill. This made up for the lack of strategy/tactics needed in it.  So far, this one doesnt require much of anything, and can get a bit tedious pretty quickly.  One way or another you're still the same one ship, with the same weapons, firing at the same enemies from before, in the same situations, except that the game essentially pauses every couple of seconds automatically. The actual necessary approach to each combat event has not changed even slightly.   The only thing that could change this right now is the presence of allies, and the need to do something in relation to them... the previous combat model lacked this entirely (in that it didn't matter much if you helped them or not), and this one does as well.  They dont add to the decision-making whatsoever.

If point number 1 stops being an issue, this might all change, as it'd be strategy VS whatever you're currently fighting, instead of strategy involving the entire battlefield.   I suspect this is the goal anyway?

4.  Many mission types need to be outright replaced with this combat model.

5. Solar map:  Currently an exploded mess.  I can only test so far, as a huge number of dispatch missions are utterly broken, taking so much time to do that the solar map situation becomes extremely warped in that time.  Even low cost (like 20 months) ones do this.  I did one that was technology research at that time cost, and the map just exploded with a zillion events that changed the entire situation.  Strategy with these is impossible right now.  Either the cost should be lowered alot for most of them, or the solar map itself needs to slow down. 

When balanced better though, this should be a superb system.  It is an impressive and interesting mechanic.  The extreme number of options available also helps ALOT. Cant say that there's nothing to pick from now!

6. Materials or whatever they're called are still kinda unclear as to what they do for each race.

7. It's kinda pointless to take an outpost right now, as the instant any race decides to pop it, it's gone.  There's nothing you can do once the raid group comes.

8. Technologies are researched a little too often.  I feel like I never need to deal with gifting techs to anyone, because they'll fart out 5 new ones within 2 minutes anyway.  Same with researching techs for them.

Most of the other points I made about the solar map last time remain true for this version.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2014, 07:36:09 AM by Misery »

Offline x4000

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Heya folks!

Glad you are enjoying it, in general.  For a first prototype of such a vastly new flow, this is what I would typically call a smashing success. ;)

And Misery, you are right that this is basically the "same old combat but with a turn-based aspect."  That was, in essence, kind of the idea. :)

THAT said, adding more depth onto that other combat is now possible given that there is actually time to think between each action phase.  Making this feel natural, and giving the player more options besides just "what and where do I shoot" is next on my list.

As far as the solar map goes, I think I said this at one point but maybe I did not; the whole thing is running way too fast now, and I know that.  It was fine prior to dispatch missions, more or less, but still faster than I had intended by a long shot.  Dispatch missions are done on the scale I had intended the solar map to play out on, but the solar map still plays out (at least) 3x faster than it is supposed to currently.  That is something we're looking at addressing today.  It's been on my list for well over a week, since before we even put in dispatch missions, however long that's been.  But, well, there's just been a lot of stuff going on.

Right now I think we are at a point where the broad shape of things is right.  There's a metric ton of tuning that needs to happen, and some major stuff in the very short term.  I still think that by next week we'll be into phase 1, for those who asked about that.  I plan to add in some more alpha testers probably tonight, we'll see.
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Offline Hyfrydle

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Just had my first go at the turn based combat model and it feels good if a little confusing. I kept flying into targets instead of aiming and shooting perhaps an icon for the target direction and also one for the movement direction would help.

With some more interface elements and interesting combat situations this looks like it will work well. The difficulty is hard to judge due to balance issues but I managed to survive the battle so I guess I did alright  :)

Also I started on the Peltian homeworld and the shot speeds on the flagship seemed really fast. The weapon that sprays in a cone was really hard to see.

Offline x4000

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Just had my first go at the turn based combat model and it feels good if a little confusing. I kept flying into targets instead of aiming and shooting perhaps an icon for the target direction and also one for the movement direction would help.

Yep, I've been working on that this morning actually -- I wanted to have those in last night, but ran out of time.  I'm trying to streamline a few things, too.

With some more interface elements and interesting combat situations this looks like it will work well. The difficulty is hard to judge due to balance issues but I managed to survive the battle so I guess I did alright  :)

Awesome!

Also I started on the Peltian homeworld and the shot speeds on the flagship seemed really fast. The weapon that sprays in a cone was really hard to see.

I have not tested all the weapons yet, but I think the changes I've already made in the next version should help a lot.  There were a number of issues with shots that fast, including them "passing over" enemy ships on lower framerates in particular.
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Offline alocritani

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Just had my first go at the turn based combat model and it feels good if a little confusing. I kept flying into targets instead of aiming and shooting perhaps an icon for the target direction and also one for the movement direction would help.

The same for me. Maybe using left click for moving and right click for aiming would help, so you can say "ok, i want to fire here" and move also.
At the moment you're forced to decide if and where to move and then forced to fire (anyway to avoid firing? it may be useful if you're escaping or moving to reach a specific place and you don't want to waste time in firing)

Offline x4000

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Just had my first go at the turn based combat model and it feels good if a little confusing. I kept flying into targets instead of aiming and shooting perhaps an icon for the target direction and also one for the movement direction would help.

The same for me. Maybe using left click for moving and right click for aiming would help, so you can say "ok, i want to fire here" and move also.
At the moment you're forced to decide if and where to move and then forced to fire (anyway to avoid firing? it may be useful if you're escaping or moving to reach a specific place and you don't want to waste time in firing)

Right now it lets you left or right click for each thing.  But the lack of GUI feedback makes it really confusing, I agree.  Last night it was worse when there was even less GUI, and when I had move to left click and attack to right-click.  Boy I could never keep my fingers straight!

I'm working on both interface elements to make it super obvious what you are doing when, and some options for not having to fire your guns every time.  And some autotargeting of specific ships, which I know people want.  After that, let's see how things feel and if more is required. :)
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Offline alocritani

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I want to report that pressing Q will stop ship during turn execution. In other words, you say "go there", then press Q and your ship immediately stops. While it can be useful to avoid incoming shots, I think it's not intended.

ps: I would report it to mantis but seems that version 0.810 is missing

Offline x4000

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Ah, thanks!  Definitely not intended, and I will fix it.  Also, thanks for the note on mantis, I just fixed that.  You don't need to report it now, though; I've got it on my list to do right now.
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