Author Topic: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?  (Read 2494 times)

Offline x4000

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Basically my assertion is that this needs to happen, and I want to see if people agree. I am referring to the big forcefield bubbles. My reasoning: 

1. These are at least some drain on the CPU, how much is up to debate.

2. These are a huge and ongoing source of micro or frustration on the part of players thanks to needing to keep their stuff under it. There is likely no perfect solution to this, and anything we try likely causes more CPU load.

3. By their very nature, they tend to look bad or at best kinda funky. A bunch of big balls of forcefields all over the place can only look but so many ways.

4. They make everything else feel less powerful by their very existence. If the survivability of certain ships depends on shields, then that strikes me as a problem with that ship.

5. They just feel... antiquated, to me, personally. It takes away from the feeling of space naval battles from so much sci-fi lore. Neither Star Wars nor Star Trek have shields that protect other units, EXCEPT as a big MacGuffin in the case of the shield around the second Death Star. I just finished reading the Bobiverse books, and a while back I was reading The Lost Fleet, and it really strikes me how there are never giant shield bubbles there. Any sort of naval engagements never have that, either.

6. Just in a general sense, I really, really feel like we're borrowing trouble with shields in general, and I greatly regret having ever added them to the first game. I feel that these will continue to take up dev time that could be better spent in other areas of the game, making the entire experience more fun if they did not exist.

I know that these were a thing in the first game.  And we do already have them in the second game.  But part of good game design is knowing when to trim fat.  Can they go?  Will you be upset?

This discussion is also on kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcengames/ai-war-ii-0/posts/2138437

P.S.: Answers of "let people use them if they want to turn on an extra option" are not okay, because that would destroy balance and reintroduce all the other problems if we have that.  This is black and white, they are either in or out. :)
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Offline mithrandi

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2018, 01:01:12 PM »
Removing them sounds good to me; I never felt like I was getting much positive out of shield micro in AI War 1.

Offline x4000

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2018, 01:02:20 PM »
One down!  Hopefully some of the other diehards around here agree. :)
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2018, 01:03:30 PM »
What if we had it so shields blocked unit movement from everything (not just enemy ships)? So you could have a ship with shields, but it couldn't protect other ships. Then you could restrict it to only Rare units (so maybe a high level Spire ship could get a shield generator, or a Dire Guardian)

I would be okay with removing shields from mobile units and making shield generators much rarer. But it would be a bummer to remove them entirely.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2018, 01:07:29 PM by BadgerBadger »

Offline Otagan

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2018, 01:09:32 PM »
If you want them gone because they're a micro nightmare and kinda look ugly, that's reason enough for me. Do it.
...

Offline x4000

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2018, 01:15:08 PM »
If we want to have ships with shields, we can do that in a TLF-style way by having basically a bar that recharges on them over time, secondary to the health bar.  That's more like deflector shields in Star Wars, or like the shields on the enterprise in Star Trek.  They prevent hull damage for that particular ship, but get weakened over time.  They don't really have a visual component other than the second health bar that is just for shields, because they are, well, invisible. 

And the way they differ from health is that they recharge over time if they have not been shot lately, for free.  Health has to be repaired by something else, for metal.
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Offline zeusalmighty

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2018, 01:20:40 PM »
Oh boy, this is big. I can't imagine AI classic without them but I suppose I need to compartmentalize. They felt necessary in classic because so many capturables were utterly fragile and irreplaceable to boot. This mechanic worked for classic imo because it really forced you to TD in meaningful ways--I wonder if this would be lacking from AI 2

Insofar as these irreplaceable capturables don't have this liability in AI2 then I suppose shields don't seem necessary. The one strategy that was kinda interesting that will be lost because of this change is the ability to tactically control positioning. This is kinda cool and I wonder if there would be ways to accomplish this w/o shield. Still, I get the reasoning to get rid of them

TLDR: If it needs to be done let's do it sooner than later. RIP shields  :'(

Offline MondSemmel

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2018, 01:25:21 PM »
I have no strong opinions either way and I trust you to do what you think is best for the game.
Speaking only from experience with AI War 1, I do think forefields have some significant positive effects, but these could probably be compensated for in other ways. (That said, I'm mostly talking about static forcefields which can cover buildings / turrets; I don't think I particularly care about shield-bearing ships either way.)

For instance, and off the top of my head:
  • In terms of static system defense (e.g. at wormholes), if you remove static forefield / shield generators, then the weakest towers / turrets will be incredibly susceptible to focus-fire; the AI is really great at targetting such weaknesses. There must be *some* way to protect weak structures; having to constantly rebuild stuff could get remarkably tedious otherwise.
  • Same with your HQ: Surely there should be *some* way to protect your crucial infrastructure from e.g. suicide attacks?
  • Shields can regenerate naturally. Again, not strictly necessary, but this kind of thing rewards micro: a ship at 1% shield can fully recover to 100% shield at no cost to you, whereas a ship at 1% hp has to be repaired, which is an intentional act that costs resources.

And on the AI side, the one risk I can think of off the top of my head is that AI critical infrastructure must be protected in *some way*; if there are no forcefield generators / core shields / whatever they're called, the strategy component of the game could devolve into suicide missions and unsatisfying rushes.

...

Put more generally, you designed AI War I when it contained shields, and several game elements expect shields to exist; if shields were to be removed, this could have far-reaching consequences re: balance and game flow. If it's handled correctly, the consequences needn't be bad, though.

But none of these things strictly require shields specifically; e.g. any missile-based attacks could be shot down with missiles, or there could be ships or buildings with permanent e.g. EMP-style effects to slow or disrupt such suicide attacks. Etc.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2018, 01:29:22 PM by MondSemmel »

Offline mithrandi

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2018, 01:41:10 PM »
The easiest fix to "fragile structures need shields" is just to make them tanky on their own instead of fragile :)

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2018, 01:44:51 PM »
One voice : let them die.

Gravity turrets, tractor turrets, ship personal armor... I had enough to play with in AIWC. If AIW2 is at least as rich, I see only upsides to getting rid of bubble-shields.

Do what the game needs, be it add or subtract. You have my blessing.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2018, 02:12:57 PM »
Cool.  From the kickstarter thread, here's something:



Okay, so based on what people are saying, here's what I'm thinking at the moment:

1. We keep the big bubble shields as-is but JUST for a few enemy planets, maybe 3 at most, because beating them down is fun.  One per planet, max, and they are immobile.  You can't get them, and the AI can't build more.  They're just a "hey, that's neat" thing for rare occasions.

2. For ships that have "personal shields," that would work like in TLF: a shield health bar exists, and goes down when shot.  It prevents hull damage while existing.  When not shot for a while, it automatically regenerates, for free.

3. Shield starships and shield guardians would give personal shields to, say, the nearest 30 allied ships, regardless of distance, on the same planet.  So you can still adjust the battlefield substantially with them, but it's not a black and white on/off scenario anymore, and there's no real micro with it.  Any ship being granted personal shields from a shield starship/guardian in this manner would simply work like a ship that had personal shields from its own default nature.

4. We'll add "woirmhole blockers," which you or the AI can place near a wormhole in order to prevent exit through that wormhole.  It only prevents movement of enemies through the wormhole (not allies or neutrals), and it only prevents it one-directionally (the side the blocker ship is on, so it can be shot at).

5. And beyond that, we need to make sure that the battlefield has appropriate terrain simply in the form of enemy fleet composition variance.

Fin.

Thoughts?



This is also worth posting:

The terrain issue definitely exists with or without shields at the moment, and there are some changes in the near future which should help with those. Specifically regarding the way power generators work and how that affects turrets if a power generator goes out. So that should help.

But one of the very biggest things, to me, is that we need to get away from the fleet-ball mentality. It should be absolutely moronic to bring your bombers into a ball against a ball that has fighters in it, because those fighters just absolutely wreck your bombers. We recently upped the bonus against unlike-types from 300% to 900%, but it may need to go even higher, we'll see.

Part of this boils down to enemy composition needing to be more nuanced than it was in the first game (and -- sidebar -- at one point the first game worked like this, and fleet balls were less of a thing). You send in your fighters and your missile corvettes first, clear out certain forces there, and then send the bombers in, etc.

That sort of thing used to exist, and that doesn't require any sort of terrain. It just requires a clear and effective rock paper scissors mechanic. This is one of those things that I think we can focus on better with shields removed, to be honest. Right now there are some things that are "paper actually beats scissors and rock if it's under a shield, but otherwise it loses to rock a little and scissors a lot." Whut? ;)

We had this at one point, and lost it. At one point I'd never have thought of approaching a variety of positions with my bombers along because I'd just be out bombers without them accomplishing anything. Other places it was a matter of keeping my fighters away from the enemy missile frigates, and letting my bombers and missile frigates close in and wreck the enemy before I resumed chasing.

It's only when the enemy gets so homogeneous and swirled-together that the players have to resort to the same. We have to stop that, and then I think the shields piece is moot.

The nice part about what I'm describing above is that it's only the loosest form of micro, and it's not on/off. Keep your bombers generally back, but if the enemy gets off a couple of pot shots then it's not like the bombers are insta-toast. You're not trying to get bombers or any other ship type to within a few pixels of a certain position, in other words. You're working in broad strokes as to what you put where.
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Offline tadrinth

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2018, 02:20:14 PM »
They add a LOT of complexity and fiddlyness to AIWC:
* Human forcefields work differently than AI FF and mobile FF
* Flak turrets and milspec commands interact with them differently than normal
* You run out of FFs to cover all your capturables, which depending on the map can be really frustrating (esp with things like Dark Spire)
* Shieldbearers are a giant pain in AI hands, because they soak so much damage and negate all your bonuses against anything but FFs
* Zombards aren't coming back right? Because FFs were immune to them, which was interesting in human hands but caused incredibly annoying micro when the AI sent them in waves
* units that ignored FFs were vastly better in AI hands than human hands, in my experience... you just couldn't get enough of them to make much of a difference, but the AI could
* FFs were different sizes depending on mark, which was incredibly annoying to me, as I'd have to redo all my defenses around the new FF size when I upgraded. 
* Plasma siege ships are supposed to be good against them, but I usually just mob the FFs down with bombers instead... the AI gets more use out of them because the humans reliably put important stuff under FFs. 

The biggest thing they added was the decision of where to put your limited global supply of them, and the necessity of unlocking more FFs as you acquired more capturables to cover. If they're planetary capped now, there's not really any decision to be had.

So yeah, I think they can be mostly removed. Just increase the health of all the stuff the player usually put under them.

Offline etheric42

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2018, 02:55:45 PM »
I think there are some UI upgrades that could make mobile shields less fiddly.  Escort commands from your shield starship (or from the ships in the bubble) could keep them all together.  But what do shields do: they provide a large HP boost to glass cannons.  What are glass cannons in this game?  Squads.  Does naval air power cluster together and snipe IRL or in your common fiction?  No, they go out quickly and attack a long distance from the fleet.

What if squads work differently with mobile shields than starships do?  Starships sit under the shield and shell from massive range.  Squads can't fire from out from under the shield, but they can pass through the opponent's shields to knife-fight their starships?

Of course I never liked static shields in the first game.  Okay cleared everything non-shielded, time to have my fleet surround the shield and go pay attention to something else for awhile while I wait to finish it off.  I get the purpose was "go here last" unless you had something that went through shields, but that could be accomplished by making the forcefield invulnerable and then having unshielded generators around the map that had to be destroyed.  Maybe call them forcefields to differentiate form mobile shields?

Offline lessster

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2018, 03:11:40 PM »
If they appear to be a problem (CPU-wise) you should take them out, no question. I am confident you will find enough ways to make the game fun without the need of any unnecessarily CPU-consuming bubbles...

Offline Broken_Marrow

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Re: Poll: Would you be okay with us removing shields/forcefields?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2018, 03:19:58 PM »
Take them out, but please rebalance other things at the same time. I started a game last night, and would have had to grind my face against that first ai planet for hours, without a shield starship to keep at least some of my fighters alive.