Author Topic: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.  (Read 3737 times)

Offline x4000

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A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« on: January 28, 2014, 08:21:13 PM »
Just a few notes for our early alpha testers.  I have been testing plenty as well, and thinking about my experiences and kind of extrapolating outwards, and here are some of my thoughts (plus stuff again that was just already planned).  For the full list of plans, please see this: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15rzBesR85AbPUT78m_SaZDwmBvcZySLsaZw8c1ZR9fc/edit

1. The sound effects I simply haven't had time to get in there yet, so it's silent.  No worries there.

2. Visually you can't tell what mode ships are in very easily because of the graphics not really being completed there yet.

3. Selection-wise I am not completely sold that I'm going to keep it working the way that it does now, but we'll see.  In some cases the selection ring simply needs to be expanded.  I am not going to bother with that until I have the final sized and animated versions of the ships in there, though (which will be in the next two days).

4. The whole "I can win when I do nothing" aspect that sometimes happens, where the AI approaches you too much and whoever has superior forces wins by virtue of the automated AI, is something that will be going away.  I intend to have some "hotpoints" around the map, that are either things that you can capture or hold in order to get specific forms of advantages (an extra squadron of ships, a bonus for that battle for certain types of ships, whatever).  That way you have to really think spatially more, and figure out how you want to control the map.  That will also lead to a lot more variance in the battles in general, so it's something I'm excited about.

5. Doing "special abilities" for flagships is something I do want to experiment with if there is time, as I think that this will be a key thing toward winning serial battles like the pirate outposts.  We shall see.

6. In general, bear in mind that in the real game you will be often down a fleet level unless you are really keeping on top of things, and by the late game in particular you will be down squadrons in general.  So if you are winning fairly evenly in early matches in the combat practice, that's great, but you'll probably really get killed in the game with those margins.  That is something that #4 and #5 will also help address.

7. Overall there are a lot more AI behaviors, including overall fleet strategies, that will be coming in the next few days.  That plays into the personality of the races, too.  Right now things are a little more vanilla, so one race versus another is going to seem both more and less extremely different than they will by round 1 of the testing (next week).  More extreme in that their pilot bonuses come out more starkly without the accompanying behaviors, and less extreme in that they all act the same but have different bonuses.


And... I think that is about it for the moment.  I told you this was early and rough. ;)  But it was one of those things where we couldn't just keep having nobody but us look at it forever.  That's why we didn't go to a full round 0, though, but only did 6 of you.

Cheers,
Chris
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 09:58:03 PM »
Yes, complete acknowledgment that it's very early.  All of those records are just observations. It's hard to know what's intended and what is not, what your expectations are for different scenarios.
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Offline windgen

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2014, 02:06:09 AM »

It seems to me that large ships are a little over-powered currently, especially the Claymore.

My ideas for fixing this:

- Make the launch energy bars a nonlinear scale, so a 5-bar ship takes more than 5 times as long to launch as a 1-bar ship.

- Nerf (decrease) large ships' hit points

- Buff (increase) small ships' damage

- Nerf the number of large ships per squadron

I'm posting this to the forum instead of the bug tracker, because I'm not really sure how this plays with all the upcoming changes you mentioned in this thread.

Also, things may play out differently in the actual game.  I had the idea that you wanted most ship classes to remain somewhat useful for most of the game.  That is, I thought your philosophy in this game would be that smaller ships will be a backbone of your fleet in the early game, then bigger ships will start to take center stage in middle-late game, but small ships should still be useful right up until the end of the game in various roles (defensive screens, fast movement, overwhelming enemy flagships before they can launch heavy squadrons) or situations (some small ship classes may be usually ineffective late-game but become effective when used against certain enemy ships, races or tactics).

But if you want "build the biggest ships you can as fast as you can" to be the dominant fleet building strategy in the game...Right now I think it's a mistake to go in that direction, but you don't have to listen to me until the full game's released.

Offline Misery

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2014, 07:12:25 AM »
That bit about not issuing orders but still winning is definitely something that'll be good to get rid of.  The question is wether such a tactic will still work or not after that addition.   I notice that the AI, at least currently, doesnt seem to know what to do if the player just sits there, slowly creating this hideous lump of ships.

Part of it of course might be that the AI still is quite aggressive with it's squadrons in this situation when it might make more sense to hold back, but still.  Definitely an issue for now.

When I'm playing "properly", the AI seems to respond much better and put up a fight.

Though it also definitely showcases some racial balance issues;  I tried it against the Evuck and at the end had quite alot of ships once their flagship went down;  yet against the Thoraxians, I only had a couple of Claymores and a couple of Lancers.  A huge difference there.


Also I agree on the Claymores being too strong.  The idea of them being mostly only good against smaller things is a good one but currently they do about the same level of quick damage even to heavy ones.  There also though tends not to be all that many large ships VS small ones, is another issue, which seems more of a problem with the limited number of ship classes right now.  Both sides are simply more likely to have small ships being a major part of their fleet, with the heavy ones being kinda minor in comparison;  so the Claymore has LOTS of targets that it is supposed to be good against, and as such does too much damage to the fleet as a whole.

I dont think small ship damage needs to be increased aside from the interceptors though.  I'm usually using smaller ships to pop enemy Claymores and other things, and it's pretty effective.  Lancers/Cutters with support from a bunch of snipers can tear these guys down pretty fast.  Large ship numbers being nerfed also doesnt seem right.

Offline x4000

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2014, 01:35:15 PM »
A couple of notes:

- In terms of nonlinear scaling of timeframes for larger ships, that may be something we do.  For now I've made some other changes to the timing of all of them, to keep squadrons more spaced out in general.

- Regarding overall behaviors for the enemy fleets, there is a ton of that coming up soon, along with the framework for more of that to be added.  As noted, at the fleet level right now the only logic is "get the flagship as close to the enemy flagship as possible, and produce fleets in whatever queue order the player handed me."  The squadrons themselves have various forms of AI, but there's nothing else at the fleet level.  That's changing in the next version, so that we'll have proper AI at both levels.

- I should have made it clear, but didn't think to, that the races are not remotely meant to be balanced.  It's not like you get to play as them, to begin with.  The Thoraxians are meant to be much much harder than anyone else, while the Peltians are meant to be way more pathetic than everyone else.  The Andors are also pretty bad, while the Burlusts are also unusually good.  And then many of the other races are more in the middle.  There will be more variance in the future with the sub-pilot-types for the various races, and there will be some special more-difficult versions for some of the weaker races that will be able to become available by various in-campaign circumstances.
-- These racial strengths and weaknesses also play out in the combat between the races themselves, so Thoraxians eat Peltians alive, etc.  The differences in racial strengths, when put into the context of the main game, make a lot more sense.  You have to choose who to ally with and who to fight, and those choices can have some major consequences both to your own personal survival as well as to what happens to the solar system as a whole.  Right now in combat practice you're really seeing that out of context, so the fact that this is unbalanced seems like a bad thing; it's very much intended.
-- When it comes to "why would I ever pick pilot type X over Y," that is in some cases a fair point, but commission rates are lower for the worse pilots.  Which again is something that you don't have to consider in combat practice.

- Having said that, SHIP balance is intended to be good, although some of the racial special flagships probably will wind up being better than others.

- Another thing that will be coming up during the real game is that the fleet level of the AI will often be one higher than you.  Sometimes even higher than that.  Not always, but it will happen enough that you need to be able to win battles against forces that overmatch you.  Similarly, by the late game the AI will tend to have more squadrons, so you'll want to win before they get them all deployed, or else make use of the (coming up) caches of goodies to even the score.  Battlefield control is going to be one of those things that helps you equalize the situation through skill.
-- Additionally, AI ships are able to get upgrades that you cannot get based on technologies that they research.  You can help or hinder them in getting that sort of thing, though, so to some extent if they get massively powered up then that is your own fault.
-- All of the ships have random ranges of stats, and so they don't always work out exactly the way you would see in combat practice.  Some fighters are slower than others, depending on the race, for instance.  Your ships will match the starting race at first, and then whoever you steal later hull techs for.  Ultimately if you keep stealing hull techs (even ones that are duplicates of what you already have -- say, Burlust fighters when you already have fighters), then you can combine the stats of the ones that you've stolen, just keeping the best parts.  If you keep that up enough, you can have equal to the best underlying stats of all the ships of that type in the solar system... but you'll have made some people very angry along the way.
-- There are also places where you have serial fights, such as with pirate bases, and you need to be able to win 3 fights in a row with no replenishment of your forces in between.  Any of your non-flagship ships that are not completely dead get repaired between battle, but any ammunition expended by your flagship, any ships that were destroyed, and any hull health your flagship lost, are all carried between battles.  So those can prove to be challenging.
-- The enemies when you are fighting their main armies won't ever have pirate craft, so if you capture pirate craft from the pirates, you'll have some stat advantages there when you come into the battle.

The TLDR of all the above section is that basically a big part of winning a battle is preparing for it, and making sure that your forces are superior.  If you are able to walk over an enemy in a battle, then you've prepared well.  More often than not it will be a tough fight, and occasionally it will be unwinnable and you will have to simply retreat.  But generally these things would not be surprising to you in the context of the larger game, because you'd be seeing how things are progressing and part of your decision of "do I get into this fight or not" is based on evaluating that sort of thing.  It's much like in AI War: sometimes you take on a Mark IV planet early in the game, other times you are just slamming through a Mark I planet late in the game, satisfyingly and easily.  But there as here, those actions have larger-game consequences, so even if you slam through an easy battle that doesn't mean that was always actually in your best interest.

I also just want to say that I'm hugely grateful for all the feedback that is being given so far, and my notes are just to help provide some context so that you know what our actual goals are.  IE why the ships should be balanced but the races should not be, etc.

Thanks!
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Offline mrhanman

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2014, 02:53:28 PM »
I haven't played enough yet to comment on balance, but one thing I noticed pretty early was that I usually had almost no idea what ships I had selected.  Also, If I select my whole blob of ships, the flagship doesn't seem to get selected.  And to select the flagship, I have to click on a particular part of the ship.  Combine that with not really knowing if it's selected, and I usually have to redo the whole thing more than once.

Offline x4000

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 02:58:49 PM »
I haven't played enough yet to comment on balance, but one thing I noticed pretty early was that I usually had almost no idea what ships I had selected.  Also, If I select my whole blob of ships, the flagship doesn't seem to get selected.  And to select the flagship, I have to click on a particular part of the ship.  Combine that with not really knowing if it's selected, and I usually have to redo the whole thing more than once.

Yeah, there is an error with the selection rings not scaling up, and for the flagship not getting selected with the others, that's by design.  Holding Ctrl will let you select it plus everything else.  Usually you want it to not move with your fighters or whatever if you send them to attack.  You can also hit H to center on the flagship and select it.  The selection rings and the clickable radius both need to scale up at zoom, which is what isn't happening right now.
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Offline orzelek

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 06:44:42 PM »
I will be looking at how the combat changes - current state (as of video) doesn't really appeal to me. And if it's the thing you will do very often I'm not inclined to play.

It looks as slightly chaotic skirmish with stuff exploding faster then you can see what was there.
And from what I can see you are going into Starsector direction in terms of battle area stuff and it's the combat style I find very strange to play. It's kind of rts but it's not, it's kind of tactical (space wolves for example) but it's not. It's also not the spaz/drox style.

Offline tigersfan

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 07:58:13 PM »
I will be looking at how the combat changes - current state (as of video) doesn't really appeal to me. And if it's the thing you will do very often I'm not inclined to play.

It looks as slightly chaotic skirmish with stuff exploding faster then you can see what was there.
And from what I can see you are going into Starsector direction in terms of battle area stuff and it's the combat style I find very strange to play. It's kind of rts but it's not, it's kind of tactical (space wolves for example) but it's not. It's also not the spaz/drox style.

Couple things to note...

1.) You can slow it WAY down. In fact, we've already dropped the default speed. So, it doesn't have to be as fast as that video.

2.) You don't have to do combat ever. You do have to send your ships out to fight alot, but, if you want the battles to be auto-resolved, that is a possibility.

Offline x4000

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2014, 08:02:10 PM »
Yep, the default speed is now half of what it used to be.  Personally I like the faster pace, but then again I already know exactly what I'm doing most of the time.  But you can actually go down to 1/20th of the speed that is shown there, if that floats your boat.  It really craaaaaawls at that speed.  You can also go 4x faster, which is just an absolute blitz-fest that you can hardly see.
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Offline Professor Paul1290

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2014, 03:36:48 PM »
Are there plans for some kind of AOE, damage or otherwise, as an active ability?

It might just be me, but after playing several times I feel like having something like a "chaff/flare/smoke missile" or something like that which made attacking through an area temporarily difficult would change combat quite a bit, especially if it made engaging things under it more difficult without closing distance or moving around.
It would sort of act like temporary "terrain" that either you or the enemy would create and add a bit more maneuvering to asteroid/debris free space.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 03:46:23 PM by Professor Paul1290 »

Offline x4000

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2014, 04:16:49 PM »
It's a possibility, yeah -- Cyborg suggested skill shots, which I think are also interesting.  If that's not on mantis, can you add it?  I don't think we'll be able to get to that in round 0, but I suppose we'll see.
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Offline echo2361

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2014, 04:53:38 PM »
If skill shots/active abilities are added, I would like to see them have a auto-caste system. I like the idea of giving the player more input into the battle with things like that, but I'm not much of a twitch gamer. When I play strategy games, even real time ones, I don't like to feel handicapped by my reflexes. So I'm all for seeing active abilities as long as I can set them to auto-cast so the AI knows when to use them if I am either too distracted to see a good opportunity to use them or I'm just not fast enough to use them.

Offline x4000

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2014, 04:55:56 PM »
In that sort of case, we really ought not to have them -- that's a strong argument against them, for instance.
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Offline Professor Paul1290

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Re: A note on some stuff that is coming for combat.
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2014, 06:39:42 PM »
If there are active abilities, I think they should be potent, tactical, or indirect things you wouldn't fire so often that there would be a need for auto-cast.

A "chaff/flare/smoke missile" or other type of damage/accuracy/visibility reducing area effect would be the sort of thing that wouldn't have a direct enemy target nor would you have much reason to rapid-fire it, so I think that would work pretty well.

Some kind of big gun, artillery, or damaging AOE that has friendly fire potential and a long reload could sort of fall under this too. It's stuff you don't want that firing automatically, at most you might request multiple rounds to a spot.

I think active abilities are fine for things that you don't want being fired off and mixing with the swarms. Things that are big, slow, or specialized enough that they are treated separately from the squads.
I don't think normal units should have them as that would be micro-hell, I think they should probably be fired from the flagship or have their own dedicated unit so they don't get lost in the mess.

I guess to use an analogy, I feel that if it's the sort of thing that would in practice get direct orders for firing its weapon from above squad-level comms and maybe even directly from command, then it's OK.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 07:13:54 PM by Professor Paul1290 »