Author Topic: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal  (Read 3657 times)

Offline zharmad

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Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« on: February 10, 2012, 01:42:34 PM »
I've been considering the idea of making anti-cloaking measures more appealing to the player. IMO, it's optimal to add a cloaking guardian and/or an offensive cloaking starship to the AI's default list. This way, you can potentially meet cloaked defenses that are not restricted to the cowardly stealth guardpost - a trivial speed bump that only requires spotting the m/c rock that *is dubiously unguarded*.

Consider the following ship:

Cloaking guardian, available from difficulty 7 upwards.
- HP: 2,000,000 * Mark.
- Speed 76 (equal to fighter/bomber. That is, as average as possible or encode an exo-wave/hybrid mechanic and allow it to recruit followers).
- Refractive hull (thematic). Possibly neutron. Something nice for acid-sprayers.
- 0 armour. Placeholder for armour re-balancing. Perhaps 3,000 if it's proving too small.
- *Not* cloaked itself (do NOTforce de-cloaker combat).
- Cloaking superbooster x50 * Mark (6,000 range). Radar dampening (8,500 range, just so it doesn't get sniped by bombards, etc.)
- Attack 10,000x8 per 6 sec, shell type, 7,000 range (something to give it a little bit of oomph+first strike against a bombing run)
- Attack Bonuses: Basically close-combat+medium+polycrystal like the fighter to again softly discourage bomber runs. Please not light, that's tachyon microfighters. Not composite, which are decloakers in general that die quickly already.
- Standard guardian immunities, perhaps immune to sniper fire.

- Standard player counter: missile frigates (damage bonus like acid-sprayers, but that's a potential issue for another day), but must close to radar dampening range.

NB: A cloaking assault starship version, might have weaker attacks, smaller HP, smaller boost range but has armour. Contrast cloaker-starship-II + flagship statistics.

NB: There is a second anti-cloaking counter in Sentinel frigates. Consider increasing its tachyon emission ranges to emphasise its multiple utility nature (currently 1,000 * mark). Are these supposed to be better at decloaking than scout starships??? This is to compensate for their combat philosophy and retreat range of 15,000 that doesn't help combat use.

Suggestions? Philosophically, I'm more inclined towards reducing the number of player-only technologies that have been developed post AI-takeover of the galaxy. Thematically, the AI would prefer to develop militarised versions of the human cloaked-starship rather than keep them as "civil" non-combat vessels.

= = = =
Edit: Mantis-link http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view.php?id=5894
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 09:41:38 AM by zharmad »

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2012, 01:50:26 PM »
Maybe we can just let the AI always have SSB's.

*hides*
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Offline zharmad

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2012, 02:24:05 PM »
Maybe we can just let the AI always have SSB's.

*hides*

Eh. Stealth battle-ships are boring. Stealth battle-golems, on the other hand...  :D

Offline Hearteater

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2012, 02:25:10 PM »
I agree, the AI needs more cloaking, specifically on the defense really.  Things I'd go with are:

1) More mines, and not just around warp points, but around Guard Posts.  With this, the AI needs to actually repair its mine fields.  For placement consider drawing a straight line beween any two of guard posts, warp points and CS.  Select a random point on that line and create a wall of 3-7 mines in a line perpendicular to the original line.  That should make it fairly common for players to hit them, without being able to predict where they are located.  Having mines available as reinforcements might be a good idea if general placement of mines isn't viable.

2) Cloaked Attack Booster Drones, similar to Munitions Booster but at a lower value.  They have no attack themselves.  They move around a system to attempt to give all freed AI ships in their system an Attack Boost.  All Attack Booster Drones get freed when anything in their system is freed.  A system could have 0-3 of the appropriate Mark.  This could be a Guardian, but I think too many "Guardian" solutions for this problem dilutes the threat from non-cloaking guardians.

3) Cloaked Armor Booster Drones, same concept as above.  A system should probably rarely have both.

4) Make freed ships in a system with a Stealth Guard Post have a chance to wait under that Guard Post.  In addition, give Stealth Guard Posts a medium-sized Speed Boost x2 zone.  This would allow the hiding ships under it to charge out and engage much faster than expected.

5) Add a Cloaked version of the Tachyon Guardian, making it trickier to assassinate them.

6) Add a Stealth Raider Guardian, that acts like a Raider Guardian, but it has cloaking and it cloaks the enemy ships it pulls together to form a raid.

7) Add Cloaked Warp Gates.

8) Engineers really need to be a lot more effective for the AI to the point the player wants to clear them out sometimes.  At present they are ignorable.  Same as remains rebuilders (which should be fixing mines but don't appear to).

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2012, 02:32:50 PM »
Bear in mind that the AI used to have turrets.  Quite a few turrets, actually.  And mines.  Lots of mines in some cases.  This didn't help much with the game's memory needs :)  Their engineers and rebuilders are more there from that time than anything else, not sure that they do anything to justify their continued existence anymore.

But some interesting ideas here.



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Offline Hearteater

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2012, 02:45:42 PM »
Yeah, I figured mines might be a memory issue, which is why it being a reinforcement on alerted planets might help.  Just give the systems a cap on number of mines so we don't end up with 2000 in some system we leave alone too long.

If Engineers just were FRD and repaired (almost) everything in the system, that could be a decent threat and reason to keep them around.  And if mines got replaced quickly, Remains Rebuilders would actually have a point (as would Cleanup Drones to counter this).  I actually kind of like using Cleanup Drones as mine removers.  Just another little obstacle for players to overcome.  Small but noticeable things help give a few smaller objectives to players, in between some of the larger and more insane threats we need to deal with.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2012, 03:57:29 PM »
I'd rather not have tachyon detection become mandatory, because the current options to detect it on offense are difficult and poor.

Defense it isn't so bad with military stations, so AI's that do use them are ok.
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Offline Hearteater

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2012, 04:46:30 PM »
The goal would be to make it not required, but you'd get a benefit if you had it.  Plus, you always have Tachyon Drones, which are themselves cloaked, for free (no K-cost).

Offline HellishFiend

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2012, 04:55:56 PM »
I'm not sure why we'd want to make cloaking more "standard". Isnt that what the special AI types and higher difficulties are for? As it stands, I dont think we really need anything added to the 7/7 vanilla formula, and that is what comes to mind when I think of "standard".
Time to roll out another ball of death.

Offline Hearteater

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2012, 05:13:08 PM »
Because of this.  And keep in mind that not all of that needs to be showing up in difficulty 7 games, just like EMP guardians don't appear until 8.

Offline HellishFiend

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2012, 05:23:18 PM »
That's fine, but like I said, I think of 7/7 vanilla when I see the word "standard".  I think adding too much cloaking to the standard fare would just make the game more annoying. That would just mean a vanilla AI would be an unlock or two away from playing like a stealth AI type.

On a side note, EMP guardians can show up in 7/7.
Time to roll out another ball of death.

Offline Hearteater

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2012, 07:05:27 PM »
In this context, I Standard is more referring to across AI types and without dependence on bonus ship types and not 7/7 vanilla.  I don't believe it would be reasonable to make every ship type useful at every difficulty and in the hands of the AI at each difficulty.

Are you sure on the EMP Guardians at 7?  I've not seen one up to 7.6 because that doesn't it isn't possible.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2012, 07:09:15 PM »
Looking at the code, EMP Guardians (and warp gate guardians) are eligible for placement on diffs >= 7.  Self Destruct Guardians are eligible on diffs >= 8 .
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Offline Hearteater

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2012, 07:26:47 PM »
So they are then :) .  Man, Self-Destruct would be rough on 7.

Offline zharmad

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Re: Cloaking guardians: making cloaking more standard in AI arsenal
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2012, 03:07:24 AM »
I meet both regularly. I've been playing 7/7 lots, assuming that the overall game balance should be directed at this difficulty. I think EMP guardians are harder to notice because they don't cause EMP on death - only releases one when they enter a new system.

= = = =
Tachyon detection I'd agree should not become mandatory - and a good way to make it more "common" without requiring stealth detection is to prevent the *cause* of the cloaking from being cloaked itself (SC1-Arbiters being an archetype). Therefore, an example scheme would be to use a triangle ship to take down this "cause" more intelligently than "Select fleet ball -> attack-move".
At *worst* one can use starships, but biasing starship selection is almost equivalent to rail-roading players, and AFAIK the only strict rail-roading that currently exists @ 7/7 is building all three triangle ships, then unlocking whatever necessary techs to stop the AI from killing the player outright.

As many cloaking related ships are refractive-hulls and "weak" to missile frigates, I might therefore choose some form of bomber/fighter discouraging setup that actively encourages a player to pull back his fleet and snipe the offending ship before a full engagement. The HP/armour  of this craft should be enough such that the action takes two~three volleys at equal marks - i.e. enough of a speed-bump to notice, but not quite enough to be a major nuisance (that's what other installations are for).

What's a suitable ship-size that fulfils this purpose, and is always available? Guardians and starships. The example I raised in the OP wouldn't even take one full volley to go down. A full cap of missile frig-I attack is 9600*98*6 = 5,644,800 damage. On the turret-side, lasers (6000*3*2.4*turrets)/lightning(1600*up-to-5*8*turrets)/flak(24000*2.4*turrets) all have bonuses against refractive hulls. All that the example cloaking-guardian is designed to do is safeguard the rest of the fleet just enough for their alpha-strike.

That was my reasoning.