Author Topic: Let's bring up "passive" champions again  (Read 5631 times)

Offline RockyBst

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2014, 03:27:15 AM »
So, might the solution to suicide championing be giving them a massive salvage value when dying on an AI planet?

Offline Chthon

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2014, 03:33:22 AM »
So, might the solution to suicide championing be giving them a massive salvage value when dying on an AI planet?
Salvage is based on the cost of the unit.  Since the cost is used to determine how much it is to repair it, this would be a major nerf to them even in the nebulas as they would take forever to heal at a large starbase.

I just think that the AI should get some sort of emergency reserve it could deploy when champions come around.  Maybe a percentage of the strategic reserve just to harass them, or make the shadow destroyers they get part of a new reserve that automatically deploys in their presence, and allow them to ship rank up to the next hull or two later on.

Offline Toranth

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2014, 04:29:42 AM »
So, might the solution to suicide championing be giving them a massive salvage value when dying on an AI planet?
Salvage is based on the cost of the unit.  Since the cost is used to determine how much it is to repair it, this would be a major nerf to them even in the nebulas as they would take forever to heal at a large starbase.

I just think that the AI should get some sort of emergency reserve it could deploy when champions come around.  Maybe a percentage of the strategic reserve just to harass them, or make the shadow destroyers they get part of a new reserve that automatically deploys in their presence, and allow them to ship rank up to the next hull or two later on.
There's already the anti-Champion Dirty Tricks budget and AI Homeworld reinforcements.  It's just that at the moment, the only Dirty Trick the AI knows is "Buy a Nemesis Frigate and add it to the SF/Threatfleet".
This does make the Threatfleet massively more dangerous, as a group of 20+ Frigates can toast most normal game defenses without issue.  That's like 3-4 H/Ks worth of firepower.

Offline Chthon

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2014, 05:39:54 AM »
So, might the solution to suicide championing be giving them a massive salvage value when dying on an AI planet?
Salvage is based on the cost of the unit.  Since the cost is used to determine how much it is to repair it, this would be a major nerf to them even in the nebulas as they would take forever to heal at a large starbase.

I just think that the AI should get some sort of emergency reserve it could deploy when champions come around.  Maybe a percentage of the strategic reserve just to harass them, or make the shadow destroyers they get part of a new reserve that automatically deploys in their presence, and allow them to ship rank up to the next hull or two later on.
There's already the anti-Champion Dirty Tricks budget and AI Homeworld reinforcements.  It's just that at the moment, the only Dirty Trick the AI knows is "Buy a Nemesis Frigate and add it to the SF/Threatfleet".
This does make the Threatfleet massively more dangerous, as a group of 20+ Frigates can toast most normal game defenses without issue.  That's like 3-4 H/Ks worth of firepower.
That's precisely my point.  It's aimed not directly at the champions in question, but at everything else.  A proper counter should be aimed and fired directly at enemy champions.  Preferably when they are in AI territory.  Maybe more when over 2 hops out.

It's like retaliating by blindfolding yourself and firing a shotgun.  You rarely hit what you intend to, but you certainly hit everything else.  It pretty much makes any players picking champions punish other players who didn't, while giving them a large tactical advantage when spreading out.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 05:42:05 AM by Chthon »

Offline RockyBst

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2014, 02:24:56 PM »
I was thinking more custom logic to give the champion a disproportionate salvage value, but as the dirty tricks fund is already there let's go with that. I do prefer the idea of direct response anyway.

How would something like 'every minute a champion is on an AI planet, assuming dirty tricks budget allows, an AIP appropriate anti-companion ship is warps in and joins the threat fleet' suit you? Still allows raiding (in that one minute initial period), but discourages strikes too deep or too long.

Offline Chthon

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2014, 03:58:37 PM »
I was thinking more custom logic to give the champion a disproportionate salvage value, but as the dirty tricks fund is already there let's go with that. I do prefer the idea of direct response anyway.

How would something like 'every minute a champion is on an AI planet, assuming dirty tricks budget allows, an AIP appropriate anti-companion ship is warps in and joins the threat fleet' suit you? Still allows raiding (in that one minute initial period), but discourages strikes too deep or too long.
As I said, threat fleet threatens people with homeworlds.  If a player only has a champion, this is not a direct counter to him, it's like the AI says "If you don't leave me alone, I'm going to kill your friend over there."

I'm ok with there being some dirty tricks like that, but currently that is the only dirty trick it ever uses.  Most of it's responses need to be directly aggressing against the champions themselves.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2014, 04:03:53 PM »
In the past I've found that players don't enjoy situations where "you get cool toy X, and the AI gets cool toy Y as a direct counter right in its face".  Like when player golems used to trigger huge reinforcements on an AI planet they were on.   Golems were very seldom used back then.  That felt like a treadmill situation, and people seem to much prefer "get exos periodically thrown at my empire, in return for my having this big gun" to "the AI reinforces hugely as soon as I show up with this big gun".

I'm not 100% sure that would be the situation with champions, but I suspect it wouldn't be great.
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Offline Chthon

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2014, 05:05:00 PM »
In the past I've found that players don't enjoy situations where "you get cool toy X, and the AI gets cool toy Y as a direct counter right in its face".  Like when player golems used to trigger huge reinforcements on an AI planet they were on.   Golems were very seldom used back then.  That felt like a treadmill situation, and people seem to much prefer "get exos periodically thrown at my empire, in return for my having this big gun" to "the AI reinforces hugely as soon as I show up with this big gun".

I'm not 100% sure that would be the situation with champions, but I suspect it wouldn't be great.
What I am suggesting would be something that grows in proportion to time spent in AI territory and depth into AI territory, with a bonus for important systems.  Spend 5-10 minutes in their territory next door to your world and they will politely request you get out.  Try to deepstrike and shorten the response to 1 minute.  The longer you ignore their polite requests to leave, the more forceful they make their requests, until the champions either have to leave, or will die.  The response levels will drop quickly over time, but will not result in 0 response simply by destroying a command station.

My biggest beef is the challenge for destroying guardposts on a world with ONLY champions is very low compared to using fleet ships.  The biggest challenge for a champion comes not from the threat fleet, but from special forces, which barring the existence of certain ships inside, the champions can "Benny Hill" or turtle their way through.  Even if there are problematic ships in there, they can usually outrun the AI's special forces long enough to destroy all guard posts and command station, and be back in time to kill any AI response before they become an issue.

No, I think the AI's response should be more directed against stopping champions before the damage is dealt.  A growing chance of response, and attempt to push them back out.  I think the following dirty tricks should be added to make things more challenging in the normal game for champions:

Chance to replace reinforcement waves with ships that counter/harass champions well, chosen from currently unlocked ships.  Will give examples below.
As above, but if selected ship type has been corrupted, attempt to spend budget on core versions.  If it hasn't been corrupted instead make sure it spends it on at least the mark level of champion ships' highest level module.
(The above are reinforcements, and will not leave the planet and join the threat fleet unless normal conversion conditions apply)
AI makes specific purchases from the Trader to prevent champions from passing through/leaving etc.  Only valid if trader is in system.  Possibilities include sudden decision to place Black Hole Generators, Orbital Mass Drivers, Radar Jammers, and Super Fortresses.  (This will discourage champions from attacking when the trader is in the area.)
Retaliation wave:  Normal wave strength wave consisting of shadow vessels using normal wave destination logic, or directed at the system champions are located.  Will be announced as normal, but successive waves during a span of time where the champions have not reentered friendly territory will have shorter and shorter timers.  (20% for each wave)
Finally give the AI a chance to improve one of it's shadow vessels up to the next hull type, capping out at the player's shadow hull type.  This is per champion the players bring with them.

Furthermore, I think that nebulas have been around long enough for the AI to take notice of them.  I think it's high time the AI starts having some response to champions making contact with others isolated in said nebulas.  The AI has shadow vessels right?  (This should be restricted to games with 2 or more players however as it could be overwhelming for a single player)  Also threat of this should end the moment a mission is won/lost.  The AI never cries over spilled milk.

Responses will occur beginning and during missions in any nebulas connected directly to AI systems or their immediate borders.  Responses will begin at closest command station with a warp gate, and attempt to fly into the nebula, and then immediately target the closest friendly base and try to destroy it.  They will be announced with 30 seconds to 1 minute timers, will consist of half #of player champions in strength rounded down, be the same size as the player champions, and can be intercepted before they enter by normal fleets.  However this is more and more unlikely the deeper into AI territory you go to get to a mission unless you somehow have a standing fleet there able to survive there.  Note:  This behavior either should be disabled for Core AI worlds/Homeworlds or logic should prevent nebulas from spawning on those worlds.

Doing this part will discourage champion players from simply deep-striking wherever they can to perform all their missions quickly and gain massive amounts of power that the AI cannot combat until very late in the game.  Deep-striking now would provide severe risk that the players would not be able to finish a mission due to AI shadow reinforcements.

Here is a list of ship types that aggravate/annoy the heck out of champions:
Zombards
Sentinel Frigates
Bombers
Electric Bombers
Speed Boosters (in combination with other ships like Bombers)
Armor Rotters
Blade Spawners
Yng Tigers (not usually used in reinforcements, this is a special case)
Vampire Claws
Viral Shredders (really anything shield immune)
Raiders
Tackle Drone Launchers (Only with other ships and Only if drones are used by champions)
Gravity Rippers (and the other kind that slow down nearby ships)
Snipers

Plasma Siege Starships
Heavy Bomber Starships

Sniper guardians
Spider guardians
Enclave guardians
Disassembler guardians
Plasma guardians

Summary:  Give the AI tools that it can use to oust these invaders effectively.  Don't make them use the tools right away, instead make it more likely to use them the longer they stay in enemy territory or the deeper in their territory they go.  Give them a cool down ramp so that champions can't just duck out or destroy a command station to reset the aggression level.  Make the AI challenge a champion's ability to do wormhole missions in all but the safest locations, requiring assistance outside the wormhole to allow the mission to go without interference.  This way you place limits on what champions can do against the AI without simply directly countering them at every move.

Offline Toranth

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2014, 06:20:15 PM »
In the past I've found that players don't enjoy situations where "you get cool toy X, and the AI gets cool toy Y as a direct counter right in its face".  Like when player golems used to trigger huge reinforcements on an AI planet they were on.   Golems were very seldom used back then.  That felt like a treadmill situation, and people seem to much prefer "get exos periodically thrown at my empire, in return for my having this big gun" to "the AI reinforces hugely as soon as I show up with this big gun".

I'm not 100% sure that would be the situation with champions, but I suspect it wouldn't be great.
Well, the original anti-Champions counter was the additional multiplier to the AI.  That got a little unbalanced, and resulted in the current much-improved system.
Now, I started playing too late for the anti-Golem stuff, but I know that if bringing a Golem along resulted in the AI getting an instant equal-or-near-equal-strength counter to it, then I'd say why bother?  Something like an Exowave can be dealt with in other ways, leading to flexibility and efficiency: counter the counter with your strength, and use your Golem at the AI's weakness.
It's the immediate, direct counter bit that sounds bad to me.  And indirect effect, even if larger than it would be otherwise, matches my preferences too.
You could do the same thing for Champions, I suppose.  Get an Exowave with budget based on the number and hull-size.  Champions Easy and Champions Hard 4/10?


What I am suggesting would be something that grows in proportion to time spent in AI territory and depth into AI territory, with a bonus for important systems.  Spend 5-10 minutes in their territory next door to your world and they will politely request you get out.  Try to deepstrike and shorten the response to 1 minute.  The longer you ignore their polite requests to leave, the more forceful they make their requests, until the champions either have to leave, or will die.  The response levels will drop quickly over time, but will not result in 0 response simply by destroying a command station.

<snip suggestion list>

Summary:  Give the AI tools that it can use to oust these invaders effectively.  Don't make them use the tools right away, instead make it more likely to use them the longer they stay in enemy territory or the deeper in their territory they go.  Give them a cool down ramp so that champions can't just duck out or destroy a command station to reset the aggression level.  Make the AI challenge a champion's ability to do wormhole missions in all but the safest locations, requiring assistance outside the wormhole to allow the mission to go without interference.  This way you place limits on what champions can do against the AI without simply directly countering them at every move.

While I agree I'd like to see a more targeted response to the Champions, remember that the players with Homeworlds also get rewards - Modular Fortresses, Nebula ships, and a minor energy/resource bonus.  So there should be some negative to them as well, as they receive those rewards.

Some of your suggestions are interesting, but somewhat indirect.  They also all impact normal ships/players, and some of them could be almost game breaking (Dropping a SuperFortress?  Large waves?)
I also would strongly oppose getting the AI involved in the nebula, unless there is a major reworking of those scenarios.

I'd prefer to see something similar to the current Nemesis system.  Allow large hull types for the AI, but greatly reduce the number/strength allowed.  This could be the anti-normal player response.
For the directly Anti-Champion response,
Have a group of these that act similar to the Special Forces (never attack Human planets) but instead target Champions in AI space exclusively.
Have a building on the AI Homeworlds that spawns a slow moving missile that tracks Champions.  When it gets close enough, it detonates, doing an immense amount of damage (instant kill) - but only to Champions.  Higher mark versions could move faster, have a large radius, come with a gravity drain and a BHG effect - or even be cloaked.  Stealth boom!
Have a spawn of a bunch of small, fast moving units (Neinzul Shadowspawn?) appear that will rush to and harass Champion units where ever they go, even if they leave AI space.  But make them incapable of targetting anything other than Champions.
Have an H/K variant that acts similar: can only target Champions, but relentlessly tracks them through AI space.

All sorts of stuff that could be done, but I would hope to have it all be stuff that ONLY works against Champions.  That way we can still keep the two player modes mostly separate.  Mostly, because when your ally's Champion supporting your fleet suddenly does a runner because the missile appeared, your fleet still has to deal with the consequences.


All in all I like the Champions, and would love to see option "a) more of the same but with SPECIAL POWERS!" implemented.  But I understand that I'm in the minority there.

Offline Chthon

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2014, 06:50:28 PM »
My main issue is there is little to no feedback as to where you are biting off more than you can chew with a champion until it's too late.  This makes champion players over confident, and irritated at non-champion player's insistence on waiting, building defenses, and planning conquest.  As someone who plays with another person who insists on using champions almost to exclusion, I get to see this in extreme.

From the champion's perspective:
If I could burn 14 worlds right now and still not be hampered by the AIP myself, why should I not?  If those worlds are on the way to another nebula mission, even better.  I get stronger, and the homeworld players get stronger right?  I still can hold off what the AI throws at me.

From the homeworlder's perspective:
I have sixteen systems already because of overexpansion from the champions, and I'm too busy dealing with AI aggression to get defenses up quickly, and the champions want to kill more systems because they get no reward for helping with fleet ships beyond being able to kill more systems faster.  At this point, I need to figure out how I can stabilize my position, while keeping the champion player from taking too much for me to defend.

The issue here is the huge disparity between champions and normal fleet ships, the AI's response to champions and how it's used, and the fact that champions can scale up rather fast, while AI response does not.  This means that champion only players can affect the tactical game far more than other players, but have no real feedback from it.  Add to the fact that they gain experience only from guardposts and command stations outside of wormholes, and now they have incentive to just screw everyone else over.

Another idea I have now is for experience gain be removed from guardposts and command stations, and instead applied to shadow champion kills, with greater amounts given for larger hull size.  Then you can make the AI spawn shadow frigate strike forces periodically to seek out player champions based on the strength of fleet ships killed by a shadow champion.  Just remember though, Shadow champions are never a hard counter to player champions, as players have extra abilities and tactics at their disposal which give them an edge.

If you do this, the more champions stir up trouble in enemy territory, the more trouble comes to look for them in response.  They then have a choice, fight them here, and challenge them in glory, or retreat to friendly territory and fight them with help when they can.  A shrewd player might deliberately spawn more hunter fleets to gain more experience, but it shouldn't be done with no regards to safety or it could easily get out of hand.  Also this way it does affect both kinds of players, but since it's specifically targeted at the player champions, it shouldn't directly strike at the homeworlder.  That is unless there are so many that they don't see any reason not to enter friendly space to get at the shadow champions, they wipe, and respawn at the homeworld... drawing the fleets >:D  Then they are let known directly that they were the cause.

Edit: Also, as for the sudden superfortress, this can already happen, just as a natural course of events.  The AI can and will buy stuff from a trader while under attack, and superfortresses are on the list of valid items for the AI to buy.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2014, 06:55:29 PM »
I guess one problem in that case is that the champion player doesn't seem to see "because of what I did, my team's defenses were overrun and we lost" as the champion player's problem :)

Ultimately I think champion-only and champion+normal (including champs run by other normal or champion+normal players) will probably just need different responses.  The latter just wants to add new toys.  The former just wants that particular new toy.
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Offline Chthon

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2014, 07:08:36 PM »
I guess one problem in that case is that the champion player doesn't seem to see "because of what I did, my team's defenses were overrun and we lost" as the champion player's problem :)

Ultimately I think champion-only and champion+normal (including champs run by other normal or champion+normal players) will probably just need different responses.  The latter just wants to add new toys.  The former just wants that particular new toy.
Even if you have 2 players that have champion + normal, it usually devolves into one person uses the champions, while the other sees to the defenses in most cases, just because the gameplay between the two is so much different.  Champions can do so much more, but require special attention to be effective, while one player needs to make sure the defenses aren't getting overrun.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2014, 08:25:32 PM »
Right, I wasn't very clear.  I mean basically having a toggle between "has nebulae, gets against-the-champion responses" and "no nebulae, growth through normal game process, against-the-empire responses".  Or something like that.
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Offline tadrinth

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2014, 08:37:55 PM »
It seems like champion players should be focused on neutering systems, not taking them.  Maybe command stations shouldn't give XP, only guard posts, so the champ player is motivated solely to neuter systems while clearing a path to nebulas. 

Offline LintMan

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Re: Let's bring up "passive" champions again
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2014, 12:13:56 AM »

I'd prefer to see something similar to the current Nemesis system.  Allow large hull types for the AI, but greatly reduce the number/strength allowed.  This could be the anti-normal player response.
For the directly Anti-Champion response,
Have a group of these that act similar to the Special Forces (never attack Human planets) but instead target Champions in AI space exclusively.
Have a building on the AI Homeworlds that spawns a slow moving missile that tracks Champions.  When it gets close enough, it detonates, doing an immense amount of damage (instant kill) - but only to Champions.  Higher mark versions could move faster, have a large radius, come with a gravity drain and a BHG effect - or even be cloaked.  Stealth boom!
Have a spawn of a bunch of small, fast moving units (Neinzul Shadowspawn?) appear that will rush to and harass Champion units where ever they go, even if they leave AI space.  But make them incapable of targetting anything other than Champions.
Have an H/K variant that acts similar: can only target Champions, but relentlessly tracks them through AI space.

All sorts of stuff that could be done, but I would hope to have it all be stuff that ONLY works against Champions.  That way we can still keep the two player modes mostly separate.  Mostly, because when your ally's Champion supporting your fleet suddenly does a runner because the missile appeared, your fleet still has to deal with the consequences.

That sounds a good bit like something I suggested a year ago: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,12521.msg136399.html#msg136399

It needs to be kept in mind that not every player might have a champion.  Sending typical exo-waves against planets places the burden of defense mainly on command-station players rather than the champion players.  The champion players are what we're trying to balance here, so that's where the focus should be.

Some ideas:
...
* Champion Slayer: The AI creates one of these PER CHAMPION PLAYER after the 3rd, 6th and 9th nebula missions, entirely focused on making life hell for any champions that venture into AI territory.  It is extremely fast, with high health and devasting attack damage against champions.  The Slayer partly exists in the Shadow realm and so is invulnerable to non-champions, but it also is unable to damage non-Champions.  The Slayer is non-repairable, so a Champion can eventually take one down.   They also spread out, avoinding having more than one Slayer on any planet at any time (to avoid ganging up too badly).  Whenever the AI spots a Champion in its territory, it will send immediately send the nearest Slayer after it, which will track down and destroy the Champion wherever it goes (even back into player territory).  When the targetted Champion is killed, the Slayer retreats back to AI space until a Champion is again spotted.  This repeats until the Slayers are all dead.


I think something like that would add challenge specifically to the Champion player in an interesting and different sort of way.