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General Category => AI War Classic => Topic started by: Faulty Logic on March 31, 2013, 12:11:14 PM

Title: Swarmer ships
Post by: Faulty Logic on March 31, 2013, 12:11:14 PM
High-cap ships are underpowered at the moment because their damage decays faster than other ships, and secondary mechanics all favor low numbers of ships (transports, cloaking, eyes).

I think there are three reasonable options:
1} Rebalance them as normal-cap ships (the easy way out).
2} Buff their damage so initial cap-dps is higher than a non-swarmer cap.
3} Rebalance them with absolutely huge caps (3 to 5 times their current size) to take advantage of overkill.

I prefer option three, but there may be some options I haven't thought of.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: _K_ on March 31, 2013, 01:53:06 PM
Agreed. 2 is the option i find the best.

One of the reason swarmers aerent too good is the current individual HP vs individual damage per shot balance. The swarmers cant capitalise on overkill, as the overkill is minimal. There are very few ships that would suffer of overkill against swarmers, and its almost impossible to isolate these so they have nothing else to shoot.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 31, 2013, 02:44:18 PM
I prefer option 3, but my system memory doesn't. Option 2 is probably the best one if any.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Aklyon on March 31, 2013, 04:26:37 PM
I prefer option 3, but my system memory doesn't.
Agreed :)
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: TechSY730 on March 31, 2013, 06:00:07 PM
Until they can move to a version of Unity with a version of Mono with a sane GC, option 3 is a no go.
Thus, I would go for option 2.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Toranth on March 31, 2013, 07:25:14 PM
I think there are three reasonable options:
1} Rebalance them as normal-cap ships (the easy way out).
2} Buff their damage so initial cap-dps is higher than a non-swarmer cap.
3} Rebalance them with absolutely huge caps (3 to 5 times their current size) to take advantage of overkill.

Agreed. 2 is the option i find the best.

Thus, I would go for option 2.

Unfortunately, option 2 is already implemented.
The swarmers have 10-80% more Cap DPS than Fighters, and many of them have special abilities as well.  Cloaking, FF Immunity, etc.
I suppose you could ask for 100% DPS above fighters level damage, or maybe 10x multipliers? 

That's about what it'd take to make Swarmers have enough advantages to overcome the disadvantages.

Swarmers are, for example, about the only place that Armor matters.
Laser Gatlings have good DPS for a swarmer, 600/sec.  A Fighter I is 1020/sec.  The Gatling is 60% of the Fighter's DPS, and has almost 3x the cap.
Yet it takes 1301 Gatlings to kill a Fortress I, while only taking 415 Fighters.  That's because the swarmers all fire lots of weak shots, so Armor can actually matter.

Swarmers suffer worse DPS deterioration than lower cap ship types.

As mentioned, Swarmers cause the game engine to cry in pain when you've unlocked Mk I - Mk IV of one or two types of swarmer.

If you made Swarmers a high-alpha unit (10,000 damage, 15 sec reload) they might be more useful... but I dunno about that.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 31, 2013, 07:43:53 PM
What about just giving them a higher cap-health, so killing a cap of them takes long enough that they're getting in a total amount of damage comparable to the more-individually-durable stuff?


And even with a sane GC just inflating unit count is going to cause problems.  The GC can't collect what's actively being used.  Sanity would just make it take a bit longer before it started at least really bogging down due to frequent collection, if not crashing outright.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: TechSY730 on March 31, 2013, 07:45:17 PM
Quote from: Toranth
Unfortunately, option 2 is already implemented.
The swarmers have 10-80% more Cap DPS than Fighters...

It is? I don't remember that this was done, but I haven't checked over the stats.


Double the cap damage or 10x multipliers seems extreme. Most swarmer units aren't actually all that bad. UP, yes, but not terri-bad (though some of them might be terrible).

About the armor thing, the issue of armor is so up in the air at the moment that I am not really putting armor considerations that high up in my analysis.

Plus, there is value in the sheer utility of "clogging up" target lists, even if it is hard to put a quantitative value to it and it doesn't show very well in normal stats, damage done, and kill-death ratios.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: TechSY730 on March 31, 2013, 07:50:23 PM
What about just giving them a higher cap-health, so killing a cap of them takes long enough that they're getting in a total amount of damage comparable to the more-individually-durable stuff?

IIRC, this was the consensus the last time this topic came up.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Wingflier on March 31, 2013, 08:19:55 PM
Imo swarmers will never be good in the current balance. I wouldn't even consider Fighters swarmers by the technical definition, but if I just take some Riot MKIIs with me, or the new Saboteur bonus ship, or unlock higher level Siege Starships, or any other of dozens of options, I can just start a cascade effect which causes an infinite amount of "Swarming" ships to die within seconds.

This is why I play with Special Forces Guard Posts on difficulty 9+, and I can still take on thousands of small AI ships regularly without even accruing heavy losses. The biggest threat to me are bigger ships like Rams, Spire Maw, Spire Stealth Battleships, etc. Small ships really serve no purpose except to get evaporated, especially when I can just hide myself under a 10m health Champion shield 6 times in a row.

Ultimately to make smaller ships useful (especially for the AI), it will probably require an entire rebalance of the game. Ancient Shadows made it especially worse for them with the addition of new anti-swarm mechanics such as the Railclusters, Saboteurs, Champions, minor faction units, and more.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: TechSY730 on March 31, 2013, 08:27:35 PM
Imo swarmers will never be good in the current balance. I wouldn't even consider Fighters swarmers by the technical definition, but if I just take some Riot MKIIs with me, or the new Saboteur bonus ship, or unlock higher level Siege Starships, or any other of dozens of options, I can just start a cascade effect which causes an infinite amount of "Swarming" ships to die within seconds.

This is why I play with Special Forces Guard Posts on difficulty 9+, and I can still take on thousands of small AI ships regularly without even accruing heavy losses. The biggest threat to me are bigger ships like Rams, Spire Maw, Spire Stealth Battleships, etc. Small ships really serve no purpose except to get evaporated, especially when I can just hide myself under a 10m health Champion shield 6 times in a row.

Ultimately to make smaller ships useful (especially for the AI), it will probably require an entire rebalance of the game. Ancient Shadows made it especially worse for them with the addition of new anti-swarm mechanics such as the Railclusters, Saboteurs, Champions, minor faction units, and more.

I sort of hoping the armor rework (and maybe the multiplier value and hull type distribution rebalances near that time as well, hopefully) will be that rebalance.

There is something interesting here. HP has gotten really high, while ship caps have stayed mostly the same (due to memory constraints of the engine mostly). Maybe it's time to "dial back" the HP and damage inflation that has hit the game over the years, back to more of the AI War 3.0 orders of magnitude?
EDIT: I think the key is that HP has inflated faster than damage has, leaving swarmers "in the dust".
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Hearteater on March 31, 2013, 08:36:43 PM
We could trim non-Swarmer fleet ships down from caps of 96 to caps of 64, and keep the same cap health and cap dps.  Swarms end up larger by default.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Winge on March 31, 2013, 08:37:56 PM
I agree that it might be best to finish the armor rework before doing too much  to swarmers.  Armor numbers can be very high, which does terrible things to swarmer dps.  A balanced % reduction would do wonders to helping the swarmer type.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 31, 2013, 08:42:16 PM
Yea, I think the main impact armor has on the game is "make swarmers stink" ;)  For a while I thought the impact on high-rof was a good thing, but ultimately it isn't working.

I keep thinking through armor reworks, though, and I'm not really happy with any of the ideas thus far.  Just taking it out altogether is honestly the most appealing option, though that also requires other adjustments.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: TechSY730 on March 31, 2013, 08:50:23 PM
Yea, I think the main impact armor has on the game is "make swarmers stink" ;)  For a while I thought the impact on high-rof was a good thing, but ultimately it isn't working.

I keep thinking through armor reworks, though, and I'm not really happy with any of the ideas thus far.  Just taking it out altogether is honestly the most appealing option, though that also requires other adjustments.

I still think that some form of durability besides just HP is a good thing, and a per shot received damage reduction is a classic example of such an alternate durability for a reason.

It's just the current balance and/or system isn't in a good place right now.

But that can be a discussion for a another thread.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on April 01, 2013, 12:07:35 AM
I'm voting against a % damage reduction by default, unless that can be easily determined by a unit's stats in a couple seconds... just for the record.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: _K_ on April 01, 2013, 12:37:06 AM
Quote
The swarmers have 10-80% more Cap DPS than Fighters, and many of them have special abilities as well.

Yeah the problem is that we keep using the basic cap DPS instead of cap DPS against target with X armor. And every damn ship in this game has armor.

I dont know why people believe there are fundamental problems in the current armor mechanic. There arent. The problem is that every ship has it.

Armor is basically a value of "how strong swarmers are against this ship", and thats how it should be used. Not as an arbitrary value given to every unit that is kinda suposed to be tough.

Most fleet ships should not have any armor at all. Even some starships could have their armor reduced to 0. Then swarmers would have a niche, given their cap DPS is high enough.
The problem might be with targeting. Small high-cap ships have low armor and health but high DPS, so they are probably going to be very high in the enemy target list. What this means is that your swarmers are going to be focused, but they are ALSO going to run out of targets they are good against because everything is focusing those as well.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Toranth on April 01, 2013, 04:23:43 AM
Quote
The swarmers have 10-80% more Cap DPS than Fighters, and many of them have special abilities as well.

Yeah the problem is that we keep using the basic cap DPS instead of cap DPS against target with X armor. And every damn ship in this game has armor.

I dont know why people believe there are fundamental problems in the current armor mechanic. There arent. The problem is that every ship has it.

Armor is basically a value of "how strong swarmers are against this ship", and thats how it should be used. Not as an arbitrary value given to every unit that is kinda suposed to be tough.

Most fleet ships should not have any armor at all. Even some starships could have their armor reduced to 0. Then swarmers would have a niche, given their cap DPS is high enough.
The problem might be with targeting. Small high-cap ships have low armor and health but high DPS, so they are probably going to be very high in the enemy target list. What this means is that your swarmers are going to be focused, but they are ALSO going to run out of targets they are good against because everything is focusing those as well.
Only about 2/3 of fleetships have armor, and only 1/3 have armor values above 300.  So, there's not a LOT of armor out there... just enough to mess with low-damage, quick-firing units.
Reducing most units to zero armor completely destroys the Armor Polarizer, though. 
Some swarmers have Armor Piercing, though, which should help.  But somehow, it doesn't.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Kahuna on April 01, 2013, 06:15:35 AM
EDIT1: ARRRR the "?" = square root (http://www.mathatube.com/images/SqRoot_root_symbol-53.jpg). Apparently this forum doesn't support those fancy symbols

I keep thinking through armor reworks, though, and I'm not really happy with any of the ideas thus far.  Just taking it out altogether is honestly the most appealing option, though that also requires other adjustments.
Damage multiplier=1-1/(?Damage/Armor)/100
Damage done=Damage multiplier*Damage=(1-(1/(?Damage/Armor)/100))*Damage*NumberOfShots*HullBonus
Damage reduction=(1-Damage multiplier)*100=(1-(1-1/(?Damage/Armor)/100))*100
Armor=Armor-ArmorPenetration
If armor < 1 set armor 1
If Damage multiplier < 0,2 set Damage multiplier 0,2. Thus the maximum damage reduction is 80%.
If Damage multiplier > 1 set Damage multiplier 1. I don't think Damage Multiplier can ever go above 1 though.

Fighter
Damage: 4.080
Armor: 300

Missile Frigate
Damage: 9.800
Armor: 300
Multiplier vs Fighter: 6

MRLS
Damage: 8*3.280
Armor: 1.200
Multiplier vs Fighter: 2

Plasma Siege Starship
Damage: 720.000
Armor: 300

Eye Bot
Damage: 8.160
Armor: 0

Armored Golem
Damage: 5*1.000.000
Armor: 100.000

Stats taken from the AIW Wiki

Fighter vs 300 armor target
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?4080/300)/100=0,95
Damage done: (1-(1/(?4080/300)/100))*4080=3888
Fighter vs 600 armor target
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?4080/600)/100=0,90
Damage done: (1-(1/(?4080/600)/100))*4080=3697

Missile Frigate vs 300 armor target
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?9800/300)/100=0,97
Damage done: (1-(1/(?9800/300)/100))*9800=9503
Missile Frigate vs 600 armor target
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?9800/600)/100=0,94
Damage done: (1-(1/(?9800/600)/100))*9800=9206


MRLS vs Fighter
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?3280/300)/100=0,95
Damage done: (1-(1/(?3280/300)/100))*3280*8*2=49730

Plasma Siege Starship vs Eye Bot
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?720000/1)/100=0,999988..
Damage done: (1-(1/(?720000/1)/100))*720000=719992

Armored Golem vs Eye Bot
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?1000000/1)/100=0,99999
Damage done: (1-(1/(?1000000/1)/100))*1000000*5=4999950

Eye Bot vs Armored Golem
Damage multiplier: 1-1/(?8160/100000)/100=-10 --> 0,2 (If Damage multiplier < 0,2 set Damage multiplier 0,2)
Damage done: (1-(1/(?8160/100000)/100))*8160=crazy stuff so ---> 0,2*8160=1632

EDIT2: ok I attached the .txt file if it's easier to read. At least it has the square root sign.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Bognor on April 01, 2013, 08:43:04 AM
I tend to avoid swarmers for a totally different reason.  I like to scout extensively and early, and use knowledge of what's on the homeworlds to guide my choices about which higher marks to research, which ARSs to hack, and which fabricators to grab.  Here is what I conclude when I see the different possible brutal picks:
Most notably, all three of the brutal picks introduced in Ancient Shadows tend to favour low-cap ships.

      *     *     *

Unrelated to the above, I find it weird that Infiltrators and Laser Gatlings have armor piercing, as it seems contrary to what I thought was the whole point of armor: to make armored ships resistant to lots of small hits.  Compounding the problem, Infiltrators' descriptions describe them as firing "armor-piercing shots", yet their armor piercing is a tiny proportion of their base shot damage, so whether an opponent is armored is a minor factor in how they fare against Infiltrators (Infiltrators are strong against ships like Spire Stealth Battleships with Ultra-heavy hulls but zero armor).  I'd like to have a strong "tough ships resist little guys" mechanic, so I'd suggest eliminating armor piercing in Infiltrators and perhaps other high-cap ships.  I'd also increase armor piercing to 999,999 in Laser Gatlings, uniquely differentiating them as a swarmer that excels against strongly armored ships.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Kahuna on April 01, 2013, 09:55:26 AM
Buffing Swarmers (would also buff some "not so useful" stuff like MRLS turrets and ships

Infiltrators
Infiltrators are the only good/ok swarmers at the moment. If I remember correctly Keith "chose these new stats" himself (weren't suggested by players or something (buffing was suggested stats weren't)) so I'm going to compare other swarmers to kind of compare other swarmers to infiltrators.
Cap: 160
Cap health: 14.880.000
Cap dps: 138.666
Cap dps with bonus: 554.666

Laser Gatlings
Atm| Buffed
Cap: 272|
Cap health: 10.716.800|
Cap dps: 163.200| 231.200
Cap dps with bonus: 293.760| 416.160
I don't think their health needs to be buffed. Missile Frigates would 1 shot these anyway (without OP buffing).
Individual damage 600 to 850

Autocannons
Atm| Buffed
Cap: 196|
Cap health: 10.701.600| 12.661.600
Cap dps: 109.760| 158.760
Cap dps with bonus: 351.232| 476.280
Individual health from 54.600 to 64.600. Missile Frigates would no longer 1 shot Autocannons
Individual damage from 560 to 810
Damage multipliers from 3,2 to 3
Now Autocannons might be worth using. At least they would be scary in AI's hands!

Deflector Drones
Atm| Buffed
Cap: 196| 272
Cap health: 5.213.600| 9.955.200
Cap dps: 109.760| 148.240
Cap dps with bonus: 263.424| 355.776
Individual health from 26600 to 36600
Individual damage reduced from 5600 to 5450
AoE of the laser damage reduction tripled

Paper Planes.. I mean.. Anti-Armor
Atm| Buffed
Cap:196|
Cap health: 5.488.000| 11.524.800
Cap dps: 148.960|
Cap dps with bonus: 357.504|
Individual health from 28000 to 59800. Anti Armors will no longer be 1 shot by Missile Frigates if they're on full health.

Space Plane
These are supposed to be "glass cannons"? Well they're not.. not yet.
Atm| Buffed
Cap: 172|
Cap health: 5.022.400| 6.742.400
Cap dps: 136.836| 175.058
Cap dps with bonus: 437.874| 560.185
Individual health buffed from 29200 to 39200
Individual damage buffed from 7160 to 9160

Etherjet
"Don't sneeze at me plz!"
Atm| Buffed
Cap: 144|
Cap health: 4.896.000| 8.352.000
Cap dps: 117.120|
Cap dps with bonus: 468.480|
Individual health buffed from 34000

Tachyon Microfighter
These things are awesome. They just cost a bit too much imo.
Atm| Buffed
Cap:144|
Cap health: 14.400.000|
Cap dps: 113.280|
Cap dps with bonus: 679.680|
Individual Metal cost changed from 100 to 120
Individual Crystal cost changed from 400 to 320
Total cap cost changed from 72000 to 63360
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Hearteater on April 01, 2013, 10:11:00 AM
I dont know why people believe there are fundamental problems in the current armor mechanic. There arent. The problem is that every ship has it.
No, there are fundamental problem with the armor system, and they've been explained multiple times in multiple threads on it.  But the short version to catch you up on it has to do with different Mark ships:

A Mark I ships has half the health and damage of a Mark II.  This effectively means two Mark I ships equal a Mark II.  In a perfect world, the 2-on-1 ends with all three ships dying at the same time.  Once you add armor, this breaks.  Neither a fixed armor rating or scaling it with Mark works.  Armor piercing causes similar problems.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Kahuna on April 01, 2013, 10:46:13 AM
A Mark I ships has half the health and damage of a Mark II.  This effectively means two Mark I ships equal a Mark II.  In a perfect world, the 2-on-1 ends with all three ships dying at the same time.  Once you add armor, this breaks.  Neither a fixed armor rating or scaling it with Mark works.  Armor piercing causes similar problems.
EDIT: Why should they die at the same time? Who cares?
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Winge on April 01, 2013, 10:58:25 AM
@Kahuna
2 comments on the ships you listed:
I wouldn't buff Anti-armors quite that much.  Yes, they will be one-shot by Missile Frigates.  However, they have good range and decent speed.  As-is, Missile Frigates can't even catch them.

Space Planes are amazing--if microed.  They are not nearly as good in a fleetball, though.  They have a Radar Dampening range that is shorter than their attack range, which gives them free reign to attack stationary targets.  They are also fast enough to kite most enemy ships.  Once the Ion Cannons and Radar Dampening Immune ships are gone, Space Planes can clear an entire planet.  I've even used them to take out enemy AI Superforts with few, if any, losses (whatever AI ships spawned in the area before I could kite).

More on topic:  I agree with Hearteater that armor needs a rework.  I'm just not sure what form it should take.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Kahuna on April 01, 2013, 11:34:50 AM
@Kahuna
2 comments on the ships you listed:
I wouldn't buff Anti-armors quite that much.  Yes, they will be one-shot by Missile Frigates.  However, they have good range and decent speed.  As-is, Missile Frigates can't even catch them.

Space Planes are amazing--if microed.  They are not nearly as good in a fleetball, though.  They have a Radar Dampening range that is shorter than their attack range, which gives them free reign to attack stationary targets.  They are also fast enough to kite most enemy ships.  Once the Ion Cannons and Radar Dampening Immune ships are gone, Space Planes can clear an entire planet.  I've even used them to take out enemy AI Superforts with few, if any, losses (whatever AI ships spawned in the area before I could kite).
True
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Aeson on April 01, 2013, 12:48:13 PM
@Hearteater:
In the situation you described, the Mark II ship should destroy both Mark I ships even if it foolishly switched targets with every shot. If it instead focused on one ship at a time, then the Mark II ship should survive with about a quarter of its health remaining and the first Mark I ship would die when the Mark II ship hit ~50% health.

If the Mark II ship had twice as many shots with the same damage per shot as the Mark I instead of having twice the damage per shot and the same number of shots as the Mark I ship, then your scenario could be correct, if the Mark II ship fired half of its shots at one ship and half at the other with each volley.

For everything above, I've assumed that the ships have no armor (or sufficient armor penetration that armor doesn't matter), that the attack ranges are equal at Mark I and Mark II (or they have non-scaling radar dampening to force the engagement range), and that all ships fired at the same time.

If armor doesn't scale with mark level, then the Mark II ship with as many shots per volley as a single Mark I ship has will be favored by armor while the Mark II ship with as many shots per volley as two Mark I ships will not be favored relative to the Mark I ships. If armor does scale with mark level, both variations of the Mark II ship will be favored by armor, but the Mark II ship with twice the damage per shot as a Mark I ship will be more favored by armor than the Mark II ship with twice as many shots as the Mark I ship, assuming that armor represents a flat damage reduction as it currently does. If armor represents a percentage damage reduction, then both variations of the Mark II ship are equally favored with with mark-scaling armor while neither is favored by non-scaling armor (which is one reason why I don't like percentage armor - it doesn't distinguish between being attacked by housecat or a lion, yet if I'm wearing any kind of armor I'd expect to be essentially immune to the housecat, but not necessarily to the lion). There are other possible ways to deal with armor, but percentages and flat reductions are the easiest to work with for a quick example, and also (in my opinion) the most easily understood ways to deal with armor (if damage_dealt = damage*damage/(damage + armor), how much is armor worth? Higher armor numbers are obviously better, but how much better? And that's a relatively simple formula for damage reduction which is dependent on both armor and damage. Similarly, if damage_dealt = damage*X/(armor + 1), what is armor worth? Especially if you don't know what X is, how are you going to decide if the extra armor is worthwhile? Higher armor is still better, but how much better? With linear and percentage reductions you can at least say that if armor value B is twice armor value A, then armor value B is twice as good as armor value A against the same opponent).
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Winge on April 01, 2013, 01:06:35 PM
One standard formula that games like Warcraft and LoL use for armor is as follows:  damage reduction = armor / (armor + constant)

A few reduction examples:
armor = 0.25 * constant; reduction = 20%
armor = 0.33 * constant; reduction = 25%
armor = 0.50 * constant; reduction = 33%
armor = 0.75 * constant; reduction = 43%
armor = 1.00 * constant; reduction = 50%
armor = 2.00 * constant; reduction = 67%

The constant can be set as balance dictates.  This means that more armor eventually has less effect.  A max of 80% reduction could still be enforced (to draw a difference between standard attacks and extremely high armor piercing values).  Note that I am not saying that we have to use this mechanic, although it is my preference.  Starcraft I and II both use integer reduction on attacks (similar to AI War now), and I do not feel that armor is imbalanced in those games.  It is only unbalanced in this game because armor and armor piercing numbers haven't been a focus of balancing.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Hearteater on April 01, 2013, 01:27:36 PM
@Kahuna and possible Aeson (I can't tell where he was going with his post):
AIW is designed around a cap of Mark Is is equal to a half-cap of Mark IIs.  And this works...unless a ship type has armor.  Then it breaks, and it can break really bad.  As a result, each ship type has a different relative balance against EACH mark of every other ship type.  That's bad.  In fact, one thing AIW won't ever have is ship upgrades because it breaks the ability of players to evaluate ship performance.  Armor does the same thing.

In short, armor indirectly does something the developers have explicitly stated they don't want in the game.  That's why it is broken.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Kahuna on April 01, 2013, 01:51:50 PM
In short, armor indirectly does something the developers have explicitly stated they don't want in the game.  That's why it is broken.
Well then the only solution is to remove armor entirely. Boom! Problem solved!
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Wingflier on April 01, 2013, 02:00:10 PM
In short, armor indirectly does something the developers have explicitly stated they don't want in the game.  That's why it is broken.
Well then the only solution is to remove armor entirely. Boom! Problem solved!
It may not be quite that simple. There's controversy over whether the game's mechanics will be complex enough once armor is removed.

Personally, I think it will, but it will require a complete overhaul of basically every ship in the game. And each ship will have to have a much more FOCUSED role than before. You can't just say, well these are both swarmers, but one is good against armor, and one is good against light units. They're going to have to have something else to separate them than that, and with so many bonus ship types, finding meaningful distinctions between them all will be difficult.

Still, this is something that needed to be done anyway. The role overlap was already a problem, and having certain ships that are just blatantly better than others overall is an issue that already exists within the game.

What I would like to do, assuming we remove the armor mechanic entirely, is have an entire thread devoted to giving each bonus ship a role, as voted on by the community, in the wake of armor's disappearance.  This way we could get a nice consensus on what players would actually USE them for, instead of what would be good in theory (such as Spire Armor Rotters or Zenith Chameleons). I wouldn't even mind cutting down the amount of bonus ships by about 25% if the ones that were left were all extremely well-defined and useful, with little overlap. No reason to keep things around just for novelty's sake, but then again, I'm not a very sentimental person.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: TechSY730 on April 01, 2013, 02:15:14 PM
What I would like to do, assuming we remove the armor mechanic entirely, is have an entire thread devoted to giving each bonus ship a role, as voted on by the community, in the wake of armor's disappearance.  This way we could get a nice consensus on what players would actually USE them for, instead of what would be good in theory (such as Spire Armor Rotters or Zenith Chameleons). I wouldn't even mind cutting down the amount of bonus ships by about 25% if the ones that were left were all extremely well-defined and useful, with little overlap. No reason to keep things around just for novelty's sake, but then again, I'm not a very sentimental person.

Although simply removing bonus ships is an option (because the depth of the engine does not offer enough distinct roles and sets of tradeoffs to support the current number of ship types, which I am beginning to suspect would happen if armor in any form was removed), I'm not sure how difficult coding wise removing ships (or rather, removing any way to access or see them save for cheats and save-game editing), especially when it comes to save game compatibility. Plus, we don't have a precedent for removing fleet ships.


Personally, the best option I have seen so far is to make armor like armor piercing, limited distribution, aka, most ships don't have armor (and wont show an armor stat), and the ships that do have it become part of the "gimmick" of that ship. (This is in addition to modifying armor rotting and possibly armor piercing to give a slight bonus against ships with no armor)
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Hearteater on April 01, 2013, 02:39:01 PM
Still my preferred armor mechanic replacement:
Since there was a little veering into armor, and since a good armor system will have an effect on what the multipliers can look like, I'll throw out a quick system that would make it easy to have ships specializing in armor piercing be different from those that don't, while also being both simple to both understand and implement:

Rate unit's Armor as Mark I - Mark V (with some ships have no armor, effectively Mark 0).  Armor reduces all incoming damage by a percent as follows: Mark 0: -0%, Mark I: -20%, Mark II: -40%, Mark III: -60%, Mark IV: -80%, Mark V: -90%.

Armor Piercing is also rated from Mark I - Mark V (with some ships having no armor piercing, effectively Mark 0).  If the attacker has an equal or greater Mark Armor Piercing than the target's Armor, then the armor is completely ignored.  Otherwise the armor is fully effective.  This means you have distinct matchups between ships.  Mark V armor ships really want Mark V AP ships to counter them.

Armor Rotting reduces the Mark of Armor by one (and doesn't stack within a single ship type, but does stack between multiple ship types, so Acid Sprayers and Autocannons together could knock off 2 Marks of armor).  This gives those ships the powerful ability, but also makes it very clear intuitively.  Armor can't be reduced below Mark 0, so ships with no armor to start with aren't affected by armor rotting.

Lastly, Armor Boosting adds one Mark of armor, capping at Mark V.
This isn't without a possible downside.  Heavily armored ships that meet something with the appropriate Armor Piercing will get shredded.  It may be better to instead of having Armor Piercing ignore the armor completely, have it half the effectiveness.  Otherwise a Mark IV Armored ship which normally takes only 20% of all incoming damage will suddenly take x5 relative damage from its counter.  At "half armor effectiveness" you'd take only x3 relative damage (60% from the ship with Armor Piercing IV compared to 20% from everything else).
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 01, 2013, 02:44:11 PM
It may be better to instead of having Armor Piercing ignore the armor completely, have it half the effectiveness.
Real quick, but how does that vary from "ignores completely" + doubling the health of the armored types?
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Cinth on April 01, 2013, 02:51:31 PM
It may be better to instead of having Armor Piercing ignore the armor completely, have it half the effectiveness.
Real quick, but how does that vary from "ignores completely" + doubling the health of the armored types?
Wouldn't that be a buff against non AP ship types?
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 01, 2013, 02:54:49 PM
Wouldn't that be a buff against non AP ship types?
Probably, my mind is split in a lot of different directions right now ;)
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Cinth on April 01, 2013, 02:58:44 PM
Wouldn't that be a buff against non AP ship types?
Probably, my mind is split in a lot of different directions right now ;)

That's why I usually don't engage in these discussions :)  Lot's of reading and re-reading and re-re-reading for me lol.

Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Kahuna on April 01, 2013, 03:07:12 PM
Wouldn't that be a buff against non AP ship types?
Probably, my mind is split in a lot of different directions right now ;)
Split personality.. I knew it!
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Hearteater on April 01, 2013, 03:09:58 PM
It may be better to instead of having Armor Piercing ignore the armor completely, have it half the effectiveness.
Real quick, but how does that vary from "ignores completely" + doubling the health of the armored types?
I'm not entirely sure what you are asking :) .  But the "problem" is, in case I wasn't clear, that assuming Armor Piercing is a fairly rare bonus that Armored ships will have their health set to sane values for ships that don't have Armor Piercing.  As a result this would cause ships with Armored Piercing to do such a huge amount of damage (compared to those without) that that'd likely end up countering extremely hard.  You can't increase the health of the Armored ships to compensate because that also makes them vastly harder to kill for ships without Armor Piercing.

Another solution to this problem would be to make the Armor Marks much smaller reductions, like -10% per Mark (so Mark V is -50% damage).  Then it probably matters a lot less if Armor Piercing totally cancels Armor since at best you get x2 relative damage from Armor Piercing ships (in the case of Mark V Armor getting pierced).  You don't get the massive -80% that is possible now from the Armor system which may be a concern.  Modifying the health of units that are expecting to get -80% (Hardened Force Fields for example) should solve that problem.

Or you could throw in a "Damping Field" property that is an additive -X% incoming damage ignoring Armor Piercing.  So you could a Hardened Force Field with Armor III and Damping Field 30% which takes -60% damage unless the attacker has Armor Piercing III+ in which case it still takes -30% damage thanks to the Damping Field.  Very few units would have this propert (maybe Hardened Shields, probably H/Ks, Mothership, and maybe a few Golems).
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 01, 2013, 03:10:17 PM
Split personality.. I knew it!
Yea, one side likes to see players lose, and the other side likes to see players lose while having fun in the process, and the other side likes to see players lose while running into hilarious emergent/unintentional behavior in the process.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on April 01, 2013, 08:58:34 PM
Well implementing hilarious behavior's always a win, Keith.
Although you are the DM, so making us lose while also having fun is probably ideal.
...I can see why you like making us lose though, too.

Darn it. You got me doing it.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Wingflier on April 02, 2013, 10:08:28 AM
The problem I see with Swarmers is that many of them could use Area of Effect Immunity.

There are so many mechanics in the game that just garbage dump large numbers of small units, that even increasing their health would only mitigate the issue, not solve it.

Why, for example, do Frigates have AOE immunity? Frigates by definition are supposed to be long-range support units. They can avoid the battle with their high range. Wouldn't it make 10,000x more sense that those small swarmer units which have to be on top of their targets, and who are very susceptible to AOE have the immunity to it?

To me, Space Planes are pretty much the pinnacle of what a "Swarmer" should be. They have amazing damage and multipliers (Heavy, Structural, AND Polycrystal...that covers the most important targets in the game by far). They have Cloaking. They have Radar Dampening. They are Blazing Fast. They can remove key structures from the game extremely well, but also contribute well to a fight if microed correctly. They aren't just cannon fodder, because with their unique characteristics, they add a unique blend of bonuses to your army that it's hard to find elsewhere.

Most other "Swarmer" units do not fit into this category however, because they have no cloaking, and no radar dampening, and they rely on the "brute force" method to be useful. Yet they simply get evaporated by TONS of different types of AoE weapons, and have so little health that it never really works out in practice.  Swarmer units need some kind of epic survivability mechanisms like the Space Plane in order to be useful, otherwise they're just going to be an underpowered ship type.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Histidine on April 02, 2013, 10:47:44 AM
Yea, I think the main impact armor has on the game is "make swarmers stink" ;)
This is why I hold the position that tying armor damage reduction to damage-per-shot makes balance way harder than it needs to be.

On swarmers: Faulty Logic is correct, secondary mechanics all disfavor them.
We could just make a cap of them much stronger than a cap of non-swarmers to compensate, but I have an alternative idea: emphasize their Neinzul-ness. Make them dirt cheap to build/replace, not as effective as a cap of regular fleetships but way more expendable. Make them good for whatever the player might need cannon fodder for, basically.
This gives them a distinct role as a group, and makes the cap-strength imbalance less important.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: chemical_art on April 02, 2013, 10:50:30 AM

Most other "Swarmer" units do not fit into this category however, because they have no cloaking, and no radar dampening, and they rely on the "brute force" method to be useful. Yet they simply get evaporated by TONS of different types of AoE weapons, and have so little health that it never really works out in practice.  Swarmer units need some kind of epic survivability mechanisms like the Space Plane in order to be useful, otherwise they're just going to be an underpowered ship type.

I think part of the problem is that the roles that swarmers fulfill can be so by other units.

Swarmer units need roles that swarmers do best. Deflector drones are on the right track with that: With so many drones in your fleet, it is hard to remove them all so their protective aura lives on. A swarmer that paralysis for a short while would another potential example, or an infiltrator that needs to setup to fire like the Siege engines...but have cloaking boosters (OK, that would hurt but you get the idea)
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Wingflier on April 02, 2013, 10:54:25 AM
Or like if Raiders had more health and more damage, while also being immune to Ion Cannons and AoE damage, they would instantly become useful in a fleet.

Autocannon Minipods could also use some AoE Immunity, because they evaporate so fast it's comical.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: chemical_art on April 02, 2013, 11:00:44 AM
Emphasize their Neinzul-ness. Make them dirt cheap to build/replace, not as effective as a cap of regular fleetships but way more expendable. Make them good for whatever the player might need cannon fodder for, basically.
This gives them a distinct role as a group, and makes the cap-strength imbalance less important.

This could work. Currently, with unit costs you have neinzul - fleetships - starships - FS - Golem

Having swarmers straddle the line of neinzul and fleetships by being cheaper but vulnerable compared to most fleetship and low cap fleetships in particular could work.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: _K_ on April 02, 2013, 12:19:45 PM
Quote
The problem I see with Swarmers is that many of them could use Area of Effect Immunity.
Isnt that thing supposed to counter them? By the way, those AOE starships we have can deal damage to unlimited number of ships in the area, right? We probably want that nerfed.

Swarmers are also countered by multi-shot weapons though, and there are lots of those. There are generally lots of things that counter swarmers by dealing lots of damage to them, and then there are other things that counter swarmers by having lots of armor.

Meanwhile, swarmers only seriously counter... artillery golems?

So, since there are so many things that counter swarmers, how about we actually make swarmers generally counter everything else. I think we should give the "more cap HP + more DPS" thing a shot. Give some swarmers AOE immunity so they are only countered by multi-shot, leave some not immune to AOE and boost their HP to make them stronger against multi-shots.
I mean, if you set those values high enough, they will be useful, right? Why are we trying to invent crutch mechanics instead? Is it because they look balanced on paper? Well clearly thats the problem with paper, not with with the swarmers. Maybe Cap DPS + Cap Health do not determine ship's strength as tightly as you want to believe?
Quote
if Raiders.. immune to Ion Cannons...they would instantly become useful in a fleet.
That very specific part, no. If ion cannons cant target raiders, they will target something else. something probably more valuable.

Quote
Make them dirt cheap to build/replace, not as effective as a cap of regular fleetships but way more expendable.
Many swarmers already seem to be in that area. The problem is that every ship is pretty much expendable. Your capped fleet strength is what matters most, not the time it takes to rebuild it. I do love fighters for their great price, but if someone offered to make them 50% stronger and 100% more expensive, i would gladly accept.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: TechSY730 on April 02, 2013, 12:41:00 PM
The problem is that every ship is pretty much expendable. Your capped fleet strength is what matters most, not the time it takes to rebuild it.

This, this so much.

This is one of the biggest reasons why traditional RTS balance models don't work in AI war. In the current balance, once you get past the early game, the cost of individual (not ultra low cap) fleet ships doesn't matter, only cap costs. And even then, it is only when rebuilding do you care about their costs. (Note, I am talking about fleet ships only for this, starships and golems are expensive to care enough about individual costs quite late into the game)

Not sure if I would classify this as a problem with the current balance, or just something that is a unique "flavor" AI war has...

But it has been like this for as long as I could remember (again, once you are past the early game).
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: chemical_art on April 02, 2013, 12:46:33 PM
The problem is that every ship is pretty much expendable. Your capped fleet strength is what matters most, not the time it takes to rebuild it.

This, this so much.

This is one of the biggest reasons why traditional RTS balance models don't work in AI war. In the current balance, once you get past the early game, the cost of individual (not ultra low cap) fleet ships doesn't matter, only cap costs. And even then, it is only when rebuilding do you care about their costs. (Note, I am talking about fleet ships only for this, starships and golems are expensive to care enough about individual costs quite late into the game)

Not sure if I would classify this as a problem with the current balance, or just something that is a unique "flavor" AI war has...

But it has been like this for as long as I could remember (again, once you are past the early game).

I'm going to have to disagree.

When you are pushed to the limit (your economy that is) cost means everything. It's why I favor fighters out of the triangle for general use.

Units that I consider "siege breakers" are units that have cheaper then average cap costs, rebuild quickly, and are useful despite not living long. Units like autobombs and neinzul fulfill this role. Cap wise they are underwhelming, but their appeal is that because they are cheap and rebuild quickly, you can machine gun them into the fray to break blockades.

I cite my current game. It truely is meant to be a slog. I have lost 100 thousand units, mostly neinzul, in my efforts. Even a 5% increase in their cost and I would have died.

In every game I have lost, it was due to my economy not being able to replace losses. So for me, cost is everything.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: _K_ on April 02, 2013, 12:55:26 PM
Quote
In every game I have lost, it was due to my economy not being able to replace losses. So for me, cost is everything.
Well duh, if you could replace everything fast enough, you'd never be in trouble.

This is like HP regen vs Max HP argument in DOTA. To win in a direct confrontation, you need max HP. To outlast youropponent in a prolonged battle of attrition, you need HP regen.

If you could replace your ships faster, then you could have fought back. But if you had stronger fleet, would you end up in such bad situation in first place?
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 02, 2013, 12:57:23 PM
By the way, those AOE starships we have can deal damage to unlimited number of ships in the area, right?
No, that's not true.  The only "unlimited AOE" units in the game are warheads and martyrs.  Every other form of AOE has a maximum number of targets that can be affected by the blast.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: chemical_art on April 02, 2013, 01:01:28 PM


If you could replace your ships faster, then you could have fought back. But if you had stronger fleet, would you end up in such bad situation in first place?

If you are taking waves on low caps that are in the thousands, and exo waves with 10K+ FP, no amount of fleet strength will allow you to overcome it without significant losses.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: _K_ on April 02, 2013, 01:31:58 PM

If you are taking waves on low caps that are in the thousands, and exo waves with 10K+ FP, no amount of fleet strength will allow you to overcome it without significant losses.

Then a very large part of your total costs is stored in static defences, not in the fleet ships. Am i wrong? i'm asking because i actually might be
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: Hearteater on April 02, 2013, 01:39:42 PM
First, I don't think I want Swarmers stepping on the toes of Neinzul/Autobombs.  Maybe one could go that direction.  I think pushing them all into that role is redundant.

I'd prefer to see higher cap-DPS from Swarmers.  I like the idea of some being AOE immune with fairly normal cap-HP and others having high cap-HP, but I think the hull bonus system works against us here.  With multipliers against Swarmer, everything is going to be able to one-shot them unless their cap HP gets insane.  Maybe Swarmers should have almost no ships with a bonus to their hull type, since they are generally so low health anyway?
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: chemical_art on April 02, 2013, 01:43:15 PM

If you are taking waves on low caps that are in the thousands, and exo waves with 10K+ FP, no amount of fleet strength will allow you to overcome it without significant losses.

Then a very large part of your total costs is stored in static defences, not in the fleet ships. Am i wrong? i'm asking because i actually might be

No, because my cheap units are my defenses.

More accurately, my mix of nenzul units are made to die before the enemy breaches my defenses, but in the process of dying, completely disrupt as the neinzul pull of AoE attacks, paralysis, armor reduction, and reclamation. As long as the money to pump them out, any AI blob will die.
Title: Re: Swarmer ships
Post by: RCIX on April 04, 2013, 08:15:27 AM
We could just make a cap of them much stronger than a cap of non-swarmers to compensate, but I have an alternative idea: emphasize their Neinzul-ness. Make them dirt cheap to build/replace, not as effective as a cap of regular fleetships but way more expendable. Make them good for whatever the player might need cannon fodder for, basically.
This gives them a distinct role as a group, and makes the cap-strength imbalance less important.
I'm going to have to vote for this. Swarmers as a group can be a lot more useful if their value lies not in how powerful they are when grouped but the fact that you could feasibly set a couple of assisted factories to rally to a system you're killing without tanking your resources. That still leaves a couple of odd ones out, but that can be fixed with multiplier or numbers tweaks.