Author Topic: Third look at early game  (Read 1380 times)

Offline chemical_art

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Third look at early game
« on: March 26, 2018, 04:38:35 PM »
Made a third attempt today:

The good:
Was able to take first world within 15 minutes
Lack of shields did not break the game

The bad:
Game feels sluggish: The lack of friendly territory giving a speed boost can cause many ships to take 30-60 seconds to move from one world to another. This makes fleet moving a drag even in early game once you start getting a wave every five minutes.
Waves scale weird. I was getting eyebots and space planes. At 50 AIP they were sending waves of 1000 against them, then they'd promptly leave once my fleet arrived. This leads to the esclating threat that other players report as well.
AI makes no attempt to eliminate my controller. They will happily waltz right by to attack my fleet that is on the other side.
The lack of a bonus ship at starts makes the game feel samey and contributes to even the first planet taking longer then in the first game.
Vorticular cutlasses suffer from poor targeting and speed. Improving either of these things can compensate for the other.

The weird:
Got an UI bug where I could not select an owned planet that had no ships through the galaxy map, although manually moving to it via wormholes worked. Restarting the game fixed it on its own.
For the bonus ship blueprints, do you need to keep them or once you got the blueprint it is yours permanently?
I see references to people mentioning flagships (not the ark). I see I got a "MK V scout starship" that through context does this role. I understand it is done so the ark is not needed to move through worlds but its execution feels weird. I would rename it MK I Flagship, have it be built from the starship constructor (with blueprint already unlocked) and have it be small scale in terms of abilities. Later upgrades increase the passive cap, build speed/ repair, possible Area Defenses, etc.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 04:42:50 PM by chemical_art »
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Offline x4000

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2018, 04:44:39 PM »
Slick. :)

Random thoughts:

- I agree that friendly-territory speed boost would be nice, and it would play into our gravity plans well, it seems like.
- Waves scaling sounds like a bug, as does the AI not trying to get your controller.
- Vorticular cutlasses becoming faster sounds like a good idea to me.
- Lack of a bonus ship at start is just a current limitation of the lobby UI, that is coming.
- The UI bug you got will hopefully be auto-fixed by the fact that we're redoing the galaxy map in general.  But did it spit out any bugs into your PlayerData folder?
- The bonus ship stuff needs to be more clear in the interface; I'm not even sure on the answer to that, but I think it's "not unless you hack it."
- "Flagship" is basically the term for a "mark V starship."  But for the scout starship, I think that should be called Scout Flagship and just made markless.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2018, 05:07:41 PM »
Only bugs noted were two minor ones of ship killed already in dying list. They were spaced 30 minutes out and I only noticed the no planet selection was after the second one so if there was a correlation it was very weak.

I am hesitant to call the ship a scout starship because it would confuse players compared to its use in AIW 1. Scouting is strategic, not tactical, in AIW 2 (from what I have gathered) so having a scout starship would cause players to question if it is needed for the traditional role of scouting such as accurate threat counts, etc. Just really muddles the water. It is much more similar to the flagship line of AIW 1 in that it's value is boosting the fleet ball. Granted the mechanism is different but the idea is there. Having it be markless is fine, although I can see the value of it being its own starship line. MK 1 can produce fleetships and basic repair and decloaking. MK II increases repair beams and increased decloaking (plus giving a spare so the MK I can tend to planets). MK III can produce starships (if the UI allows it). Experimental IV's and V's provide missile defense, laser defense or something like that.

Looking forward to the speed changes, those are really big before I can play again. My advances were stalled after 3 planets because I was spending all my time redeploying. Speaking of waves if they do not already have it they need that mechanic were as the game goes on the wave intervals (and the correspending strength) increases. Every 5 minutes even at the 45 minute mark was annoying.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 05:10:19 PM by chemical_art »
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Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2018, 05:16:05 PM »
Proposal: Call it Supply Starship/Flagship. Because that's what it basically is.
A scout is a unit that is meant to investigate frontlines with little risk and gather information, I don't see the role would fit here unless you give it a cloaking aura (instead of shield).
Because it can build in enemy territory, it does not seem like a small, mostly unnoticed scout, more of a beachehad device.
So either Supply Starship or maybe you could call them Pioneer Starship (because it can build structures).

Offline zeusalmighty

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2018, 05:18:10 PM »
- "Flagship" is basically the term for a "mark V starship."  But for the scout starship, I think that should be called Scout Flagship and just made markless.


"Prototype Starship" sounds good to me; it's descriptive and suggests that it's the only one its class as well as being generally inferior to those that you find in the galaxy

Offline etheric42

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2018, 05:19:06 PM »
If I recall correctly, all flagships (and there should be a flagship for every line of starship) will have the ability to build and build structures.  What makes the scout flagship different is it isn't that strong offensively and uses a tachyon array to decloak enemy ships.

Maybe all scout starships (including the scout flagship) need to be renamed tachyon starships? 

edit: prototype flagship also works since there isn't a "scout" starship line that it is based off of.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 05:20:58 PM by etheric42 »

Offline x4000

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2018, 06:58:40 PM »
There's only one scout flagship that I'm aware of, so prototype flagship works for me.  I assume Keith will come comment, but that would handle it for me at least.

Good to know about the waves being too frequent, incidentally -- can you be a little more specific with that, though?  We went from having hardly any waves to now having too many, so whatever details you can provide about your experience are helpful.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2018, 08:57:49 PM »
I'll elaborate a bit. In the current early game state:

Right now it takes a ship 30 - 60 seconds to hop from world to world.

So to hop 4 worlds takes 2 minutes to 4 minutes.

Waves come every 5 minutes.

As a result I can't really attack anything because I am too busy moving to prepare for the next AI attack. I am given enough warning to get my forces there, it is just that I can't have time to actually do anything offensively as I twiddle my thumbs. Once the threat is removed the next wave is already coming and the cycle can repeat itself.  Shuffling the fleet ball to meet waves isn't exciting. So that aspect of the game needs to change. Make player ships move twice as fast and make the warnings half the length so as to allow a sense of player urgency.

Contrast with AIW 1 where you may get a 3 minute warning and your ships can get there in 30 seconds. That's not the issue, the issue is the wave is big because it's been 10 minutes since a wave last hit. So instead of having a constant probing attacks which keeps a player busy but nothing strategic happens on either side waves need to be much less frequent so both AI and player have time to make moves. AIW 1 had waves start at every 10 minutes and gradually got to the point that by mid game you may see one every 30 minutes.


« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 09:00:49 PM by chemical_art »
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2018, 09:05:13 PM »
Thanks for the feedback! :)

Quick question: are you not able to defeat the waves with static defenses (removing the need to bring your fleet back) ?
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Offline etheric42

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2018, 09:19:53 PM »
Since you only get one turret to start off with and there isn't much indication of how much science you should spend on turrets... and you can't refund other things to respec into turrets, I'd imagine it'd be easy to get yourself into a hole where you can't afford more turrets and can't afford to send the fleet away long enough to make some sweet sweet scibucks to buy turrets with.  Keith, is there any kind of discoverable strength that would make a planet "safe"?  Like "build this much turret power and you should be safe until AIP grows another 20-50 points"?  I'm wondering if maybe there should be some kind of "security warning" gauge....

Next time I get stuck in, I should probably try a "don't care if I lose some planets" playthrough.  Milk the scibucks and abandon planets you don't really care about and concentrate turrets on ones that have important structures (since turrets are back to galaxy caps).

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2018, 10:07:27 PM »
Thanks for the feedback! :)

Quick question: are you not able to defeat the waves with static defenses (removing the need to bring your fleet back) ?

As I eluded to earlier, at 50 AIP the AI was sending waves that a value of over 1000. Now they were space planes and were eyebots...so they were like paper. But that's too many for 15 turrets (1/5th of my turret budget) could allow.

Part of the challenge is that the power strength "combat ability"  of a turret is so disconnected from what other things are. To start with they have a cap of 20, when I was used to 100. Should a a turret be able to hold of 3 of what it is good at? 5? 10? 20? 100? I have no clue! Their caps are not the same as were fleetships so it is not apples to apples.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2018, 10:13:47 PM »
My off the cuff answer is to corroborate  chemical_art's turret woes with my experience. It feels very hard to be able to defend more than about 3 wormholes total once you hit 120 AIP, even if you have spend a couple K Science on turrets. I think turrets could use a buff (either tankiness, damage output or build cap).

Also, what would you say to a new structure under the "Defense" heading that unlocks 1 or 2 structures that would grant you bonus power on a planet? If even the Mark 1 of that structure cost Science then it wouldn't be broken, but it would really help the turtle playstyle.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2018, 10:15:03 PM »
https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/932682720125424237/1FF0DA085143C572FCDF71DB4C112F48C4D7D7EA/


I know a lot of it is UI stuff, but Just by going by numbers I have 75 turrets versus 1260 enemy units. It would *seem* that is a very lop sided advantage, but with the wonky turret caps and their scaling I'm not sure. It is weird all round because the build menu puts them out in groups of 5 (so you *only* get 20 turrets) but in the screen map it then displays the actual number of turrets. Also we are going back to total caps instead of planet caps. Now that I'm digesting it I see it.

Now that I see it, yeah, there is no way 75 turrets are going to handle that. They got that cool overall 3x unit per unit advantage, but that isn't enough.

Turret caps are wonky, actually, no, fleetship caps are wonky! I am rambling here just because I'm finally making sense of these numbers. Fighters have a 400 cap while needler turrets have a 100 cap? I mean I understand they have 3x the health and 2x the hp but...Wat? Frigates are more in line with their turret...sort of. Missile frigates have 120 cap to the missile turret 100...missile does 4x damage with 50% more health...yes turrets are all over the place, in no small part because the triangle ships are all out of alignment.

Anyway, I've entered the rabbit hole and now I'm crunching numbers. And things look funky.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 10:26:39 PM by chemical_art »
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Offline x4000

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2018, 10:30:05 AM »
Did we increase turret caps when we increased fleet caps?  Badger, could you look into this some?  This seems like your area, and Keith has a lot on his plate.  chemical_art really seems to be onto something, as usual.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Third look at early game
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2018, 11:01:07 AM »
Ok, thanks for the additional info.

There's some major ui-failing-to-be-clear going on here. To give you an idea of how bad it is:

1) Turrets have 20 squads per cap, 5 sub-squads per squad (for most turret types), and 1 visual-thing per sub-squad.

2) Fighters have 20 squads per cap, 4 sub-squads per squad, and 5 visual-things per sub-squad.

3) The mouseover tooltip for either shows the max-health and dps of a whole squad.

So you see 400 and 100, because that's what the sidebar says, but the stats are showing for 20 and 20. This makes it almost impossible for you to compare their actual stats.

Subsquad stats can be shown (they can fire and die individually), but the visual-things have no sim existence at all.


For what it's worth, "15" needler turrets (3 squads of needler turrets) are roughly equivalent to "180" fighters (9 squads of fighters) in terms of dps and total health, so 75 vs 1260 is actually not too bad if you're dealing with relatively "high cap" attackers. Where you'd get into problems is if the attackers had bonuses against your turrets or something like that.

But it makes sense that you can't tell any of that the way the numbers are now.


Another thing you probably don't realize: with the changes to the tech upgrade system, when you unlock (say) Mark 2 MLRS turrets your existing Mark 1s will be upgraded (over a short time) to Mark 2s. Also, you'll go from a galaxy-wide cap of 20 Mark 1 squds to a cap of 40 Mark 2 squads. Their power cost per squad does not change at all. So you get more firepower AND you can defend more planets.

I'm guessing that the UI did not succeed in communicating this concept to you at all :)


Another thing that's not really balance but you might find helpful: if you hold Ctrl while adjusting the game speed, it actually changes the "size" of a sim-frame instead of the "frequency" of sim-frames (like normal + and - do). You won't want very large frames during a fight, but it can greatly speed up watching a fleet move from planet to planet, or waiting on a refleet or for an incoming attack to spawn.


Keith, is there any kind of discoverable strength that would make a planet "safe"?
The strength of the last wave. Or for that matter the strength shown next to the wave counter (is that currently shown in the wave-timer's tooltip?). Generally speaking the AI doesn't press an attack with merely-equal strength, because human defenses have a way of extracting inordinate kill-to-loss ratios.


Also, what would you say to a new structure under the "Defense" heading that unlocks 1 or 2 structures that would grant you bonus power on a planet? If even the Mark 1 of that structure cost Science then it wouldn't be broken, but it would really help the turtle playstyle.
That would be ok, but I think we're still dealing with a lot of UI non-clarity and other issues. I don't want to paper-over with something that just jacks the numbers so high that it masks the problems.

I think the structures for "penalize metal/fuel output, increase power output" are still on the build menu. It seems that dedicated turtling would put those on a chokepoint planet. Is anyone doing that?


Other notes:

- Will rename that thing to Prototype Flagship

- Will have the wave time scale to 7.5 minutes at AIP 50, and 10 minutes at AIP 100, and stay around 10 minutes from there on out. Hopefully that will give you more wiggle room.

- Will increase overall ship speed by 20% or so and see if that has any negative impact. If you want to experiment you can change the distance_scale_ship_speed="167" line in GameData/Configuration/ExternalConstants/KDL_VanillaConstants.xml , and that will adjust everything's movement speed.

- Will increase turrets from roughly 3x the strength of mobile units to roughly 5x (but with most of the strength going towards hp rather than dps, except for the deliberately-fragile turret types). I'm guessing that will be excessive, but it's worth seeing what happens.
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