Author Topic: BETA AI War 2 v0.868 Released! "Fleet EXP Level-Ups and Starting Battlestations"  (Read 3487 times)

Offline x4000

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Release notes here.

Reminder: to play the beta, you MUST go into your Steam properties for the game, go under the Betas tab, and choose the "current_beta" option.  Otherwise you're going to be stuck on the pre-fleets version of the game.

If you don't know what I'm talking about regarding fleets, then reading this link is a really good thing to do or you are likely to be mighty confused.

So what's new in this build?  This is obviously an incremental one, headed towards the non-beta full release of 0.900 that we're aiming at in the next... weeks?  That timeframe is unclear, and will be based on testing feedback, which has been rolling in well so far; but there will be loads of incremental beta releases during this period.  Anyway, what's new:

  • Lots of big-deal stuff in this one, just like in the last one!  Feedback is really heavily desired on the fleet EXP level-up thresholds in particular.

  • So the most notable thing, potentially, is that now basically as your fleets fight and destroy enemies, they gain EXP for doing so and then eventually level up.  This has always been planned, and for things like engineers and command stations (and a few other things), it's actually the only way that those can level up; science techs don't directly support them.

  • This is an automated process (the leveling up), contrary to what I'd been thinking about for a while, since that's way less micromanagement for you.  But then what I'd been thinking of as alternative ways to spend EXP (for fleet customization purposes) will instead be "perk points" that you get on level up.  Rather like what happens in a variety of action games, Dying Light comes to mind.  Or Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc.  A bunch of others.

  • There are ten new quickstarts in here for you to enjoy, too -- thanks, Puffin!

  • The mark level colors are now completely revised, so that you can properly read the gradient of difficulty across the galaxy map when looking at it colors-wise.

  • The AI no longer gets so much salvage, so it no longer will have such crazy strong reprisal waves early in the game.

  • Your player homeworlds are now able to produce a lot more energy, which helps a variety of things early in the game in particular.

  • Energy costs for lower-mark units now goes down when they are in fleets with higher-mark ships, same as happens with metal as of the prior build.  This only applies to player ships, so the fact that this can make you suddenly more or less vulnerable to nucleophilic or other effects with those ships is just one of those things you have to manage on those ships you choose to leave outdated.  In some cases it's a real advantage, in others it makes them really vulnerable to specific ships like eyebots.

  • Drones now never cost you energy, as that was something that could really mess you up.  For the same reason they haven't been costing metal for quite some time.

  • Several other bugfixes are in place, and we also upgraded the version of unity and hopefully that will fix the glitchy icons in the sidebar.  If you see that glitch again, please let us know!

  • And then one of the other best things for last, you now start with a hand-designed battlestation defensive fleet (of your choosing from a selection of 5) on your home planet, just like you start with a hand-designed offensive fleet of your choosing from a different selection of 5.  This makes it so that you don't have to babysit your home planet at the start, you get one more bit of personality into your starting position from moment one, and also the very idea of battlestations (and the key role they serve) is introduced now from minute one even if you skip the (currently disabled) tutorials.

  • We're closing in on 0.900.  I need to get the fleet management screen v1 in place, and then we'll iterate on that from there later on.  Then it's just a matter of new tutorials, and I think we're where we need to be for this to come out of beta.  There's then still a lot to do to get to 1.0, including a lot of things on fleets and whatnot, but with those additions the current build is I think complete and contained enough that it's definitely not beta-quality anymore.


More to come soon.  Enjoy!

Problem With The Latest Build?

If you right-click the game in Steam and choose properties, then go to the Betas tab of the window that pops up, you'll see a variety of options.  You can always choose most_recent_stable from that build to get what is essentially one-build-back.  Or two builds back if the last build had a known problem, etc.  Essentially it's a way to keep yourself off the very bleeding edge of updates, if you so desire.

The Usual Reminders

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Enjoy!

Chris
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Offline BadgerBadger

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I think right now the Exp levels for fleet upgrades are too low. I hit level 2 after taking my first planet. Also, I reloaded an old game and went from "early-mid game" to "All my ships are Mark VII and I can just level the AI homeworlds"

Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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Seems to be after a quick test the Guard Posts giving about 1k points each.

EDIT: Badger told me where to find it. Yea the numbers are crazy!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 05:54:41 PM by RocketAssistedPuffin »
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Also I think experience should be split between all the flagships.

Right now if I have 4 flagships on a planet and a 1K exp unit dies, each flagship gets 1K exp. I think each should only get 250. If I have only 2 flagships, they should each get 500.

Also IMHO crippled flagships shouldn't be allowed to earn experience.

Offline TechSY730

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Also should there be a stipulation that a ship cannot go beyond N marks of the Mk. level unlocked by science? To limit the reward of farming EXP triggering things like raid engines, and getting super Mk. VII fleets while not spending a drop of science.

For example, if the Mk. of a fusion bomber you have is only puts the base Mk. of it at Mk 2, then fusion bombers in any of your fleets cannot exceed, say Mk. 4 or 5, regardless of how much EXP the fleet has gained. Up until you research Mk. 3, in which case they can go up to Mk. 5 or 6 (doing so right away if the fleet already had enough exp)

EDIT: Ideally, that value N would be moddable in XML
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 06:11:59 PM by TechSY730 »

Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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Normal Guardians should probably be removed from the really low divisor area, as they're common and easily replaced, and this would make the Royal AI type give you crazy amounts of experience all the time. Everything else there is either irreplaceable or much slower via Reconquest.

One concern I have is that Experience will make people sit back and wait for it to build up, like the old behaviour with Spire Civilian Leaders.

For reference:

int expToGain = ( entity.DataForMark.HullPoints / expDivisor );

int expDivisor = 2000;

if ( entity.DataForMark.Speed <= 0 )
expDivisor = 100;
(This is for structures)

                        case SpecialEntityType.AIDireGuardian:
                        case SpecialEntityType.AIGuardian:
                        case SpecialEntityType.AIKingCommandStation:
                        case SpecialEntityType.AIKingMobile:
                        case SpecialEntityType.BattlestationBasic:
                        case SpecialEntityType.BattlestationCitadel:
                        case SpecialEntityType.AICommandStationOriginal:
                        case SpecialEntityType.AICommandStationReconquest:
                        case SpecialEntityType.NormalHumanCommandStation:
                        case SpecialEntityType.GuardPost:
                        case SpecialEntityType.HumanHomeCommand:
                        case SpecialEntityType.LoneGolem:
                        case SpecialEntityType.MobileOfficerCombatFleetFlagship:
                        case SpecialEntityType.MobileStrikeCombatFleetFlagship:
                        case SpecialEntityType.MobileSupportFleetFlagship:
                        case SpecialEntityType.MobileLoneWolfFleetFlagship:
                        case SpecialEntityType.SpecialForcesSecretNinjaHideout:

                            expDivisor = 50;
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Offline x4000

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I think that if there's something that is farmable, we should make it so that it explicitly causes there to be no EXP gained, potentially.  So basically a raid engine is a big hassle and causes no EXP on its planet (sad panda) or from waves it generates or something.  That's hard when  those then go into threatfleet, so maybe it's a matter of it causes no EXP gains on that or adjacent planets, making it yet another reason to kill that thing asap.  For alarm posts, maybe it's just no exp on their own planets.

As far as being able to have a super-fleet without science, my goal is for people to be able to do that IF they happen to be playing for a long long time (one of those 100-hour gametime games), and they're not fleetballng too much, and they're not just farming.  There are some formula things that need to change that Badger and Puffin and I were emailing about, I'm fine if that's posted here too.
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Offline x4000

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Or, heck, I'll just crosspost it myself:

1. On increasing the divisors, this is something that I could see doing... but it makes me nervous.  The reason is that I'm concerned that a lot of smaller ships might round down to essentially nothing.  It may be that we need to have exp penalty multipliers for certain types of ships, as an alternative, or cap the EXP from any given ship at some amount. 

But, paired with that, increasing the thresholds for when you level up could also be in the cards.  I'd like to make sure that the divisors aren't so high that all the small ships round down to 1 or close, so that there's some differentiation in what you get from them.  And the really large ships probably shouldn't be giving as much as they do, and then it should just flat out take more EXP to gain or something.

I didn't do any real case studies with this, and the EXP generation code I wrote months ago, so I don't remember how much I took into account on there.  But that was the reasoning behind it.

2. In terms of splitting the EXP between flagships on a planet, I'm also not sure if I'm thrilled about that or not.  I could go either way, but here's my reasoning.

At the moment, whichever fleet's ship kills the target gets the EXP, whether its flagship is on the planet or not.  This is something I did on purpose, to hopefully reward players using effective ships against targets.  The more successful a fleet is, the more likely it is to be the thing that absorbs the EXP from the target.  So one easy way to eyeball which of your fleets is doing the best job is to look at which ones are getting more EXP, if you are fleetballing.

THAT said, for non-combat fleets, like the engineering-focused ones or the economic command station... how are they really supposed to get substantial EXP, ever, in that model?  So maybe the other fleets that are present on the planet should get some portion of it, but the majority goes to the ship's fleet that does the kill?

So if there are 6 fleets on a planet, and fleet 2 does the kill, then take the resulting EXP and give half of that to fleet 2, and divide the other half evenly among the other 5 fleets?  Thinking forward, maybe make that cross-player, so if we're in multiplayer and fleetballing that way, it's divided out to other players also.

3. Beyond that, if having a bunch of fleets all on one planet is generating equal EXP, even if it is divided out in whatever fashion, then the best strategy is still to fleetball.  I feel like we maybe just stumbled upon a really good case of where we can start putting in severe penalties for EXP gained when there are more than x fleets.  Basically something like for every fleet beyond the second one, it's multiplied by 90%, or something even more harsh.  If you have 10 fleets on there, we have it set up so that it's such a harsh multiplier that you're getting like 10% of the gains, spread among all of those 10 fleets as described in #2, and so it's clearly sapping your ability to level up.

This in fact argues for the divisor to stay high enough that even small ships are ideally giving maybe 20 EXP, and bigger ships are giving something that is still substantial but not SO out of bounds.  In FACT... I'm kind of thinking that maybe the amount of EXP granted should be something that we define explicitly rather than calculating.

4. On the subject of crippled flagships... bear in mind it's the fleet itself that is gaining the EXP, not the flagship itself.  So being crippled (or outright missing) isn't normally disqualifying of gaining EXP.  Missing in the sense of a planetary fleet whose command station is missing but the turrets still kicked butt after that.

BUT, maybe we should make it so that whatever portion would go to a fleet with a missing or crippled centerpiece still gets allocated to that fleet, but then doesn't actually get granted.  Or... maybe it doesn't get allocated to it unless its the killing fleet?  Otherwise it gets ignored for "fleets on this planet?"  But that actually could be abused, so I'd rather be more harsh.

-----------------------------------------------------------

5. Okay, so, having typed all this out, here's what I'm thinking maybe to do:

a. I'll make it so that all the EXP values for  ships are defined manually in xml, and we can just set them to the sorts of values we want.

b. Based on those numbers that then arrive, maybe someone doesn't mind running some basic projections (or tests) to see where we should put the level-up gates (as per my notes on the feel I'm looking for in the release notes, which we're not hitting).   Those xml values just get increased, then.

c. All human fleets on a planet, crippled or no, are allocated EXP starting from now on.  The killing fleet, if we know which one it is, gets 50%.  The rest get the other 50% divided among them.

d. The total EXP that is going to be divided out gets hit with a multiplier that we'll just hardcode for the number of fleets, and above something like 10 it's just 1% or something.  And since we're making these numbers by hand, I'm okay with these rounding down to zero sometimes.  "No soup for you!  Too many fleets!"

e. On the fleet tooltip, it can say what sort of penalty there is from having too many fleets concentrated there.  So it's something that advanced or intermediate players will see, quickly, but it's not something that everyone will be having shoved in their face constantly like we used to do with the "ark on an enemy planet and causing something bad" type warnings.

f. When fleets with crippled or missing centerpieces are supposed to be given EXP for whatever reason, it just throws it away instead.

And... I think that's it?  I can take care of all of that, although I'd love it if Puffin and/or others can work on item b.  But before I go making a bunch of changes, I wanted to run this by you both.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Making Raid Engine Waves not grant Exp is doable, but we'd need the ability to flag a given GameEntity_Squad to say "This unit grants 0 exp" (or an overrideExpGained field or something like that).

However, hostile Marauders are still an easily farmed source of exp, as are Macrophages.

Offline AnnoyingOrange

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I have to say, even with all the bugs and balance issues Fleet EXP is a lot of fun, and most units that were previously stuck at MK1 seem to be doing fine.
Great job devs!

Offline BadgerBadger

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The more I think about this, the more convinced I become that balancing exp is going to require a ton of rules and exceptions in order to not just be stupid OP for the player. It feels incredibly easy to farm Exp, and the power gain from levelling up your fleets is insane. I used to pay 9K science to level up my Ark alone (which is > 80AIP worth of science), and now I get it for free just from grinding? I am not really sure how to balance it.

AI Waves are basically suicide missions that are intended to be beatable by your defenses, so waves are a cheap and easy way of grinding exp. I just get the game into a state where I can comfortably defend my borders, leave all my fleets on the borders and bump the game speed to 10x. Come back in an hour and now all my fleets have levelled up a few times and I just crush the AI.

Or I take out a nearby mark 3 planet, then retreat, let the AI recapture it, and take it out again. Repeat, levelling up my fleet. Or as mentioned above, any of the minor factions are also a great source of Exp. Dyson Sphere? Marauders? Macrophages? Dark Spire? All can be readily farmed.

The game was if anything too easy before, and the levelling mechanic is a giant buff to the player.

Maybe levelling up the fleet needs to do something other than give the player higher mark ships?

Offline AnnoyingOrange

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How about locking higher fleet marks behind a fleet upgrade with a tech cost?
So for example you can get a fleet to mk3 on exp alone, but then you need to pay tech if you want it to be able to level up further, and pay some more tech if you want it to go past mk5: that way you have to choose to spend tech on high exp fleets or on research that will buff many fleets at once.

Offline RocketAssistedPuffin

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1. On increasing the divisors, this is something that I could see doing... but it makes me nervous.  The reason is that I'm concerned that a lot of smaller ships might round down to essentially nothing.  It may be that we need to have exp penalty multipliers for certain types of ships, as an alternative, or cap the EXP from any given ship at some amount. 

But, paired with that, increasing the thresholds for when you level up could also be in the cards.  I'd like to make sure that the divisors aren't so high that all the small ships round down to 1 or close, so that there's some differentiation in what you get from them.  And the really large ships probably shouldn't be giving as much as they do, and then it should just flat out take more EXP to gain or something.

int expToGain = ( entity.DataForMark.HullPoints / expDivisor );

int expDivisor = 2000;

To recap is what we currently have. Currently, with smaller ships, they already are fairly close to 0. A Space Plane has 600 hull at Mark 1, which would grant 0.3 EXP. Currently the toughest Strikecraft is the Sentinel Gunboat, with 4,900 hull at Mark 1, which would grant 2.45 EXP. The lowest hull that I can see is 400, which is 0.2 EXP, meaning to rank a Fleet up once it would take 20,000 of them dying to that Fleet alone.

That divisor is one I am fine with currently. It's the other values, for structures and special entities that I would change first. A Mark 1 Guard Post has 50,000 hull, with a divisor of 50 they grant 1,000 EXP each, and there are often enough of them on a planet to rank a starting Fleet up very quickly. I would definitely remove Guardians from the special entity list. Some of them have the same hull as Guard Posts, and they can be replaced with reinforcements.

2. In terms of splitting the EXP between flagships on a planet, I'm also not sure if I'm thrilled about that or not.  I could go either way, but here's my reasoning.

At the moment, whichever fleet's ship kills the target gets the EXP, whether its flagship is on the planet or not.  This is something I did on purpose, to hopefully reward players using effective ships against targets.  The more successful a fleet is, the more likely it is to be the thing that absorbs the EXP from the target.  So one easy way to eyeball which of your fleets is doing the best job is to look at which ones are getting more EXP, if you are fleetballing.

THAT said, for non-combat fleets, like the engineering-focused ones or the economic command station... how are they really supposed to get substantial EXP, ever, in that model?  So maybe the other fleets that are present on the planet should get some portion of it, but the majority goes to the ship's fleet that does the kill?

So if there are 6 fleets on a planet, and fleet 2 does the kill, then take the resulting EXP and give half of that to fleet 2, and divide the other half evenly among the other 5 fleets?  Thinking forward, maybe make that cross-player, so if we're in multiplayer and fleetballing that way, it's divided out to other players also.

 Using the method of "the Fleet that dealt the killing blow gets EXP" has a slightly odd interaction with certain units. Something such as MLRS units, which have a bonus against targets with low remaining hull health, are inherently far more likely to be dealing those killing blows, through the bonus and simply by being multi-shot and thus forced to spread out the damage. Thus, they would possibly soak up more EXP, even if another unit in another Fleet is doing most of the work.

Majority going to the Fleet that gets the kill is...I think an improvement, and indeed required for non-combatant Fleets to ever rank up.

3. Beyond that, if having a bunch of fleets all on one planet is generating equal EXP, even if it is divided out in whatever fashion, then the best strategy is still to fleetball.  I feel like we maybe just stumbled upon a really good case of where we can start putting in severe penalties for EXP gained when there are more than x fleets.  Basically something like for every fleet beyond the second one, it's multiplied by 90%, or something even more harsh.  If you have 10 fleets on there, we have it set up so that it's such a harsh multiplier that you're getting like 10% of the gains, spread among all of those 10 fleets as described in #2, and so it's clearly sapping your ability to level up.

This in fact argues for the divisor to stay high enough that even small ships are ideally giving maybe 20 EXP, and bigger ships are giving something that is still substantial but not SO out of bounds.  In FACT... I'm kind of thinking that maybe the amount of EXP granted should be something that we define explicitly rather than calculating.

With my current thoughts I'd agree on the penalties, though as noted above small ships are definitely not giving these values.

The rest of it seems okay I think. Regarding the penalty...maybe using very few Fleets could be shown as a bonus instead, just for perception reasons. I.e 3 Fleets would be 100% rate, but 1 is 150% or so?

Now regarding the other forum post:

I think that if there's something that is farmable, we should make it so that it explicitly causes there to be no EXP gained, potentially.  So basically a raid engine is a big hassle and causes no EXP on its planet (sad panda) or from waves it generates or something.  That's hard when  those then go into threatfleet, so maybe it's a matter of it causes no EXP gains on that or adjacent planets, making it yet another reason to kill that thing asap.  For alarm posts, maybe it's just no exp on their own planets.

I think this might require a lot of exceptions, to the point it'll be confusing as to how you get any reasonable amount:

1): Raid Engines
2): Level 3 Marauder Outposts
3): Dyson Sphere
4): Macrophages
5): AI Reinforcements (particularly Turtle)
6): Unit spawning Instigator base
7): Nanocaust as a whole (this is particularly easy to abuse in theory if you bring Parasites or similar along, since you can then constantly trade your units with the Nanocaust for more EXP).
8): Reconquests
9): Dark Spire
10): Hacking then canceling then restarting said Hack.

Now that EXP is a real thing that can be tried, discussed and changed, I have some concerns for it long-term. I'm not sure how it'll work without a new system like the Quests you have mentioned. There are so many ways to farm it that the optimal thing really is to do just that, and if exceptions are added then it's confusing. Doing things such as bypassing planets loses appeal, since you gain EXP from attacking it.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 10:57:12 AM by RocketAssistedPuffin »
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Offline x4000

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Okay, so a big part of what I'm hearing is that essentially we're rewarding the wrong behavior.  Killing lots of ships is the behavior we're rewarding for players, and that is inherently something that will always encourage players to look for ways to farm.  That's just the inherent nature of that mechanic, since that's what it is rewarding.

I'm thinking that we may need to scrap the entire current idea of EXP, since it simply goes against the ethos of the game.  BUT, keeping the idea of those sorts of power-ups for doing... something?  Basically I would like to keep EXP, I guess is how I'd best describe it, but I want to reward actual good behaviors that are in line with the ethos of the game, not things that will be farmable.

I don't have any good ideas at the moment on that that would be clear and actually be something that players could manage.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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What if Exp was only gained by killing AIP-generating structures (and Instigator bases)?