Author Topic: Hull types and bonuses  (Read 416 times)

Offline TechSY730

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Hull types and bonuses
« on: September 08, 2016, 10:17:02 PM »
Right now, hull types seem to be sort of all over the place.

Some seem to represent to how heavily the ship is "lore-wise" armored and/or the ship's size (light, medium, heavy, etc.), even though the armor statistic and HP are sort of meant to conceptually represent that
Some seem to represent ship "role" or "archtype" (swarmer, structural, scout, etc.)
Some seem to represent armor "material" or "property" (polycrystal, composite, refractive, etc.)

This sort of "smearing" of what hull type is meant to represent leads to some weird imbalances in desirability of bonuses. Like, since things that are hull type "heavy" or "very heavy" tend to be, well, heavy, bonuses for them are highly valued.
This works the other way too, things that tend to get the "swarmer" and "very light" bonuses tend to be small and fragile (raid starship being a very notable exception), and thus bonuses against them less sought after as those things would usually die quickly anyways even without bonuses.

Futhermore, some of the hull types seem to be spread based on "role" even though it isn't clear on first glance that this is the case (polycrystal = bomber-like being the standout example), further skewing things

Also, it seems confusing conceptually to have hull types spread across a bunch of different "concepts".


Could this be addressed somehow; made more consistent (both in terms of conceptual role and in terms of desirability of bonuses)?
Perhaps the formalization of "ship size" as a user facing game mechanic could tie into this (and to a lesser extent, armor).

Personally, I would vie for the "hull material" interpretation; it would allow a spreading of hull types conceptually orthogonal to things such as "overall durability/size" and "role" (though some of them should still be divided on role, like "structural" or "command-grade"). However, I can understand that this would make balancing tricky.

EDIT: I now realize I am retreading some of the ground covered in https://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,18969.0.html
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 11:29:30 PM by TechSY730 »

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Hull types and bonuses
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2016, 01:30:14 AM »
To reiterate  my proposal from the other thread:

I would replace hull types with 'defense type', which is an abstract representation of how the ship avoids dying in combat. EG, 'light' means it has a little bit of armor and mostly relies on agility. 'Heavy' means it has lots of armor. 

Then, each ammo type would have fixed bonuses vs different defense types, each representing some intuition or story.  EG, Energy bombs are balls of plasma that vaporize armor, so they're 6x vs heavy. 

This would abstract away armor and armor penetration; armored hulls are valuable because most things don't have bonuses against them.  Armor penetrating ammo types DO have bonuses against armor.  They don't need separate numbers to represent that.

This does make HP somewhat of an abstraction; HP isn't how much damage you can shrug off, it's how hard you are to kill.  A fighter's HP comes mostly from it's ability to dodge; rather than having an evasion mechanic, you just give fighters a reasonable amount of HP and make homing missile deal bonus damage against the fighter's defense type. If you want armored things to be scary, give them lots of HP and damage, and make the things with bonuses against their defense types have less HP and damage. 

This has a number of advantages:
* As long as the ammo type/defense type interactions are intuitive, the system becomes a lot easier to remember
* Ammo and hull types can fulfill various scifi fantasy tropes, which makes it more fun and satisfying
* Any two ships can be easily compared to figure out which counters the other (useful for players and for autotarget logic)
* There are as few fiddly mechanics as possible; you don't need evasion, or armor, or armor piercing.  That means you don't have to invent those systems, balance them, or ask players to understand how they affect the simulation
* the degree to which ships hard-counter each other can be adjusted easily by tuning bonuses.  IE, if you want it to take 7 caps of fighters to take out 1 cap of missile frigates, you give homing missiles 6x vs light. 

Part of Wingflier's proposal was taking the very loose categories of ships that AI War Classic has, and organizing them into a strict fighter/bomber/frigate system.  Fighters always counter bombers; as long as you know where your ships and the opposing ships are in the triangle, you know exactly what will counter what.  You could certainly do this with my proposed system; just make sure all ammo types used by fighters have bonuses vs all defense types used by bombers, and never vice versa. I had ammo types give a general bonus against all the defenses in a category, but an extra bonus vs a particular defense type. IE, shells are 4x vs all assault craft defenses, but 8x vs polycrystal in particular.

Or, you could build a more complicated web of counters, with more categories or none, as long as you can come up with intuitive ammo/defense interactions to explain why the bonuses are there.  Just make sure that a ship never has bonuses against any ship that has bonuses back, so that all ships have a clear counter.

You'd probably have to briefly explain the different hull and ammo types to the player for best results.  For example, I hypothesize that Polycrystal is actually *heat resistant*, hence why the Flame Wave used by Fortresses doesn't do anything to it.  You could call that defense type 'polycrystal' or 'heat dissipating', and then declare that shell ammo is good at cracking the crystal, but missiles have a hard time locking on, or whatever.  Once a player HAS the story in their head, it's easy to remember it.

For example, it's now really obvious to me that a Raid Starship is ultra light because it survives by being really maneuverable and hard to hit.  Missiles and sniper shots are really hard to dodge, so they wreck it. 

The big downside is that you're trying to tell a bunch of little stories with all the hull and ammo types, and if you add too many it will be hard to have them all make sense at once and hard for people to remember them all.

Also, some people just really don't like abstraction, and prefer something much more simulationist (ie lots of fiddly mechanics).