Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

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yandonman
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Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#1 Post by yandonman » Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:40 am

Ideas for consideration for balancing and flavor.


Ship parts to buff robotic ships:

Robotic Interface parts
Lore: Robotic species typically suffer from a lack of creativity, however, if sufficiently networked together, efficiency gained by sheer computational power can often overcome this deficiency.
Cost: 40 PP

Robotic Interface: Shields (+1 to shield parts per each Robotic Interface present in ship design, if piloted by a Robotic species) - External
Robotic Interface: Weapons (+1 to weapon parts per each Robotic Interface present in ship design, if piloted by a Robotic species) - External
Robotic Interface: Engines (+1 to engine parts per each Robotic Interface present in ship design, if piloted by a Robotic species) - Internal
Robotic Interface: Processing Core (doubles the effects of Robotic Interfaces present in ship design) - Core
Robotic Interface: Construction Bays (reduces the cost of Robotic hulls by 2% per Robotic Interface: Construction Bays at a shipyard location (up to 80%) , if piloted by a Robotic species) - Internal

Robotic hulls double any Robotic Interface effects.





Ships to counter Fractal hulls and other large ships

Fighter Class Hull(s)
Lore: A class of very small, very fast craft often used to counter larger, less maneuverable ships.
Cost: 25 PP
* Has a chance of evading another ship's fire with the following % = max( 10% x <num external slots of opposing ship>, 90%)
* Weapons are half as effective (due to small hull size)
* Only has one or two external slots (internal slots unbounded)

Fighter Shield Modulator
Lore: Modulates the fighter's shields to allow the ship to pass through enemy shields, allowing direct firing access to their hull
Internal slot
Cost: 60 PP
* If the ship's shields are greater than or equal to the opposing ship's shields, ignore the opposing ship's shields for damage calculations.
* Only applicable to Fighter class hulls.



A counter to high armor ships:
(also, add flavor to one of the weapons)
Plasma Weapons
Lore: Plasma weapons are specifically designed to erode armor.
* If any damage reaches the hull, +1 to damage for each armor part present. Max 5

Level progression
I = +1 per armor, max 5
II = +2 per armor, max 5
III = +2 per armor, max 10
IV = +2 per armor, max 15
V = +3 per armor, max 15



Making Internal slots more useful/interesting

Cloaked Targeting Sensors:
Lore: Tie the cloaking system to the active sensor system, allowing for increased targeting accuracy while cloaked. This modification improves the effectiveness of ambush tactics using cloaking systems.
Cost: 40 PP
* Internal slot
* Decloaking in battle applies the difference between a cloaked ship's stealth and an opposing ship's detection to the decloaking ship's first shot.
* Requires a cloaking system to take effect.

(note: "decloaking in batter" happens today whenever a ship with higher stealth attacks, because attacking makes a ship visible regardless of its stealth rating)
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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:58 am

yandonman wrote:* Has a chance of evading another ship's fire...
...pass through enemy shields, allowing direct firing access to their hull...
...If any damage reaches the hull, +1 to damage for each armor part present...
I'm very opposed to adding complications to the battle mechanics such as these.

Limited interactions between parts in a design are probably OK, though.

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#3 Post by Dilvish » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:15 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
yandonman wrote:* Has a chance of evading another ship's fire...
...pass through enemy shields, allowing direct firing access to their hull...
...If any damage reaches the hull, +1 to damage for each armor part present...
I'm very opposed to adding complications to the battle mechanics such as these.
Why is that? These would take some new programming, sure, but it seems not so much to justify an absolute veto. Take for example the shield-bypassing weapon (which is otherwise weaker than a level/cost equivalent normal weapon)-- it's a pretty standard idea-- why would we be 'very opposed' to that?
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:45 pm

Dilvish wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:I'm very opposed to adding complications to the battle mechanics such as these.
Why is that?
It's not a programming problem. One aspect is that the battle mechanics are complicated enough as they are for the player to understand. Ships should have a single set of high-level stats that describe their performance in battle, not a set of if/else cases that determine how specific parts interact with specific other parts.

Also:
-Lots of weak weapons being more affected by shields than fewer large ones is already an aspect of designing and competing ships. Having "shield piercing" is unnecessary.
-Chance to miss is the same, on average, as reducing weapon strength. It's an unnecessary complication. Borderline cases of it taking one or two hits to destroy a ship due to different effects of damage reduction or missing are the same as the effect of shields, a bit more armour, or using a more powerful weapon.

Additionally, if more complications of battle mechanics are needed, there are probably better ways than limited-applicability details that depend on particular parts or interactions between part of particular types within the battle ("... such as these"). Instead, incorporating additional (or existing but unused) high-level ship stats is a better way to do this. The most obvious candidates, to me, would be ship speed and weapon ranges. The effects of various parts on these stats and how ships will function in battle is still summarized by the high-level statistics, and is not dependent on particular part interactions as special cases.

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#5 Post by yandonman » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:22 am

Limited interactions between parts in a design are probably OK, though.
Does this statement veto, not-veto or support the Robotic Interfaces?

The most obvious candidates, to me, would be ship speed and weapon ranges.
As much as vetos frustrate the hell out of me, I gave this idea an honest shot. Response in this new thread. It might actually accomplish what you're asking for, possibly something Dilvish was asking for (hull differentiation) and some of the things I've been wanting. Of course it's late and I wrote the idea up, so of course I'm going to like it. We'll see how it stands up in the morning...

Instead, incorporating additional (or existing but unused) high-level ship stats is a better way to do this.
The "Cloaked Targeting Sensors" piece follows these constraints. Stealth and detection strength are already high level ship stats (that are already displayed in the fleet summary panel) and are already affect combat (though, higher stealth is actually a disadvantage). Does your statement veto, not-veto or support the "Cloaking Targeting Sensors"?

Two additional points here:

1. Stealth is currently a minor disadvantage in combat. (possibly deserves it's own topic, but, whatever)
Ships fire randomly on what they can see. Cloaked ships are not visible until they fire. This focuses enemy fire on ships after they decloak, as other stealthy ships are still cloaked. The focused fire means that the stealthier ships will be picked off faster, as the less stealthy fleet will absorb more damage before individual ships are destroyed, due to the random distribution of fire on the larger available (ie. visible) ships to target.

2. The flushing out of your suggestion on attack range & speed naturally provide a "stealth ambush"which accomplishes most of what "Cloaked Targeting Sensors" was trying to do with the extra damage.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#6 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:47 pm

yandonman wrote:
Limited interactions between parts in a design are probably OK, though.
Does this statement veto, not-veto or support the Robotic Interfaces?
"not-veto" I suppose?
Does your statement veto, not-veto or support the "Cloaking Targeting Sensors"?
None of the above. I don't understand the proposal. What does "...applies the difference between a cloaked ship's stealth and an opposing ship's detection to the decloaking ship's first shot." mean?
Ships fire randomly on what they can see. Cloaked ships are not visible until they fire.
The mechanics could be adjusted so that ships of aggressive fleets are always visible, and ships that are in passive fleets and that aren't visible to any enemies never fire.
The flushing out of your suggestion on attack range & speed naturally provide a "stealth ambush"which accomplishes most of what "Cloaked Targeting Sensors" was trying to do with the extra damage.
Ah, OK, so it "applies" extra damage then? Don't really like the sound of that... But if you're suggest using stealth to interact with some aspects of speed / range mechanics during battle, that seems reasonable in general. Haven't looked at the specifics, though...

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#7 Post by Dilvish » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:11 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Ships fire randomly on what they can see. Cloaked ships are not visible until they fire.
The mechanics could be adjusted so that ships of aggressive fleets are always visible, and ships that are in passive fleets and that aren't visible to any enemies never fire.
I strongly agree with yandonman's concern about the current stealth-combat dynamics. I would like to propose a slight modification (or perhaps it's just a clarification) to Geoff's suggestion here -- that the ships of aggressive fleets are always visible while in combat, not necessarily visible on the galaxy map. So simply rather than de-cloaking once they fire, they de-cloak upon entering combat in aggressive stance.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#8 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:20 am

Dilvish wrote:...ships of aggressive fleets are always visible while in combat...
That's what I meant.

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#9 Post by yandonman » Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:53 am

Limited interactions..
"not-veto" I suppose?
You said limited interactions... I wasn't sure where the line was drawn. Good enough for now; thanks.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#10 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:29 am

yandonman wrote:You said limited interactions... I wasn't sure where the line was drawn. Good enough for now; thanks.
I suppose it wasn't very clear, but the main objection was to effects like a ship doing X damage unless its target in battle has Y part. Interactions of parts at the design stage, or through effects that test if a particular part in the same ship is present, and collectively produce high-level stats, are much less problematic, in my view.

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#11 Post by eleazar » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:43 pm

IMHO the idea of having different parts create special stat bonuses when combined with other parts/hulls/species is theoretically fine. The trick is presenting the information to the player so the bonuses are predictable and understandable. It isn't a super-challenging UI problem -- i've seen such things work in other contexts, but the presentation won't work without some effort put into it.

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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#12 Post by yandonman » Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:21 am

Here is the first version of the "Robotic Interface" idea from above, albeit slightly modified. My original intent was to make an intra-ship, design/build time interaction between parts that gave a buff to robotic ships, a synergy with robotic species and flavor to both. (however, I couldn't figure out how to count ship parts within a hull...)


What I ended up with was: A player's robotic ships can get a buff when their robotic crews are "networked together" (via a ship part) at the same location (robotic crews on non-robotic ships can be contribute to the networked buff, but their non-robotic ship will not gain the networked buff).

While I intend to do additional variations for weapons and engines, below is the shield version. Basically: Gains +1 shields per networked robotic crew at the same location. ('self' does not count)

Code: Select all

Part
    name = "ROBOTIC_INTERFACE_SHIELDS"
    description = "ROBOTIC_INTERFACE_SHIELDS_DESC"
    class = Shield
    capacity = 0
    mountableSlotTypes = [Internal]
    buildcost = 70 * [[FLEET_UPKEEP_MULTIPLICATOR]]
    buildtime = 1
    tags = "COMFORTABLE"
    location = OwnedBy TheEmpire Source.Owner
    effectsgroups =
        EffectsGroup
            scope = And [
                Source
                HasTag "ROBOTIC"
                Or [
                    DesignHasHull name = "SH_ROBOTIC"
                    DesignHasHull name = "SH_SELF_GRAVITATING"
                    DesignHasHull name = "SH_NANOROBOTIC"
                    DesignHasHull name = "SH_LOGISTICS_FACILITATOR"
                    DesignHasHull name = "SH_TITANIC"
                ]
            ]
            effects = SetMaxShield Value + Count condition = And [
                DesignHasPart 1 999 "ROBOTIC_INTERFACE_SHIELDS"
                HasTag "ROBOTIC"
                Not Source
                OwnedBy TheEmpire Source.Owner
                VisibleToEmpire Source.Owner
                WithinStarlaneJumps 0 Source
        ]
    icon = "icons/species/robotic-01.png"
Effects/Thoughts
  • Encourages robotic ships to group
  • Lower overall fleet speed, due to grouping
  • Low tech hulls will stick around higher tech hulls to protect investment
  • Trying to defend multiple locations (such as "doors" into their empire) will be less effective (fewer networked ships at same location = less networked buff)
  • Opponents should likely counter with multi-prong attacks, avoiding any "dreadnaught" fleets, and capturing undefended planets.
  • Robotic hulls are still expensive, which will keep the overall ship count (and networked benefits) down.
  • Weaker in smaller numbers. Potentially terrifying in large.
  • Dependency on a robotic species keeps this in check to some degree. A player must start with either Cray and Etty, research and build Exobots - or capture any of these - before being able to make use of this mechanic. (Current Native Robotic species cannot build ships.)
  • The "networking" mechanic is nicely (IMO) distinct from "organic growth"
  • Most Robotic hulls have only 1 internal slot, so the player has to choose between a shield or a networked shield (if choosing a shield). Standard shields have consistent performance, networked shields have variable performance: weaker early on, more powerful later.
  • A weapons, engine or other variation of the networked part could utilize the low internal slot counts for most robotic ships to add competition for that internal slot.
  • A couple of games of play testing and and it "feels" different: It's not the mad rush to Organics + Mu-ush (or Eaxaw). With Organics (w/ or w/o Mu-ush/Eaxaw) it's aggression, aggression, aggression - very "zerg". With the networked robotics, it felt defensive at first, followed by over power - kind of a "borg" feel. (also, it avoids Fractals)
  • The player is encourage, but not forced into this mechanic/play style.
  • Current iteration of the part is probably OP. Currently no cap, parts stack, and cost/build time are probably off. However, shield buff modifier (currently at 1) feels "right" (it's simple).
  • Some numbers: Death ray 4 = 30 dmg. Blackshield is 20 dmg reduction. To become invincible, one would need 31 networked ship at the same location. 21 ships would give equivalent shields as Blackshields.
  • I know the AI would need to be updated to play with networked robotics, but I'm not sure how much the AI would need to be updated to play against it.
Overall, I like it. With tweaks and balancing, I think it should go into the game. I would love feedback.

Examples:
(note: the Robotic hull graphic has been replaced with the Mark1.png graphic)
Pic 1: 5 ships: 4 Robotic hulls + 1 Gravictic. Note: they each have 4 shields, except for the Gravictic, which has 4 x 2 (it has the part twice)
Pic 2: 20 Robotic hulls: Note: They have 19 shields each.
Pic 3 & 4: A new Gravictic, fresh off the assembly line. Notice that while it has 2 networked shield parts, it has zero shields (because he's all alone).
Robo_Network_4x_and_19x.jpg
Robo_Network_4x_and_19x.jpg (66.75 KiB) Viewed 3128 times
Robo_Network_GravicticShip_NoShields.jpg
Robo_Network_GravicticShip_NoShields.jpg (47.87 KiB) Viewed 3128 times
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Last edited by yandonman on Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#13 Post by Dilvish » Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:48 pm

Gah! Yandonman, the post was very wide, extending off my screen, and I accidentally clicked the not-fully-visible 'edit' button rather than 'quote' button when making a reply. I didn't realize until after I clicked submit. I think I got it back into shape though, but please double check. Sorry about that.

My actual reply is:
yandonman wrote:Basically: Gains +1 shields per networked robotic crew at the same location. ('self' does not count) ...Some numbers: Death ray 4 = 30 dmg. Blackshield is 20 dmg reduction. To become invincible, one would need 31 networked ship at the same location. 21 ships would give equivalent shields as Blackshields. ...Overall, I like it. With tweaks and balancing, I think it should go into the game. I would love feedback.
The overall type of dynamic sounds fun, but when you menation "OP" I think you're spot on-- the "tweaking and balancing" need is pretty huge. As soon as any robotic species got this part it sounds like it would be pretty easy for them to build indestructible fleets. That '31 networked ships' is endgame, at earlier game stages it would take far fewer ships.

Any extra point of shielding is pretty significant. Rather than a linear scale, I'd suggest a log 2 scale (seems particularly fitting for a networking part). Assuming the order of Effect processing works out so that this actually adds to regular shields, then I'd think the first +1 should probably kick in at 4 networked ships present. The log scale would naturally apply a reasonable soft cap I think.
I know the AI would need to be updated to play with networked robotics, but I'm not sure how much the AI would need to be updated to play against it.
Any version of this seems significant enough that the AI will need at least some update so that it can take this into account when assessing fleet strength, or it's just always going to be significantly underestimating your fleets. I think that could be managed ok.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#14 Post by yandonman » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:10 am

Sorry about the obnoxiously wide post. Was trying to be too clever.

As soon as any robotic species got this part it sounds like it would be pretty easy for them to build indestructible fleets.
I realize that indestructible is something that must be avoided in game mechanics. I like the general logrithmic soft cap idea. I'm not sure that I agree with robotic ships being "easy" to build extremely powerful fleets. Robo hulls are expensive.

(@ turn 223 with 139 ships total)

Organic Hull:
Oreo III (No Shield): Plasma 4 x1, Diamond Armor x2 : Cost: 157 PP
Oreo III: Plasma 4 x1, Diamond Armor x2, Deflector Shield (shd=7): Cost: 325 PP

Robotic Hull:
Robo III: Plasma 4 x2, Diamond Armor x2: Networked Shields (same cost as shd=7): Cost 575 PP

Self Gravitating Hull:
Gravity (C-1): Plasma 4 x4, Diamond Armor x2, Networked Shields x2: Cost 1.23K PP
Robo_Network_ShipDesignComparisons.jpg
Robo_Network_ShipDesignComparisons.jpg (9.88 KiB) Viewed 3127 times


...so that this actually adds to regular shields...
I believe making this a separate stackinggroup will make that work... which I agree with.
...then I'd think the first +1 should probably kick in at 4 networked ships present.
I had considered making a shield tech on the design as a requirement with this interaction between the networked shields and shield parts, but Robotic hulls only have one internal slot. Any successful strat using this will require a decent investment in Robotic hull ships to get the numbers up. I'm not married to the idea that Robotic Interface parts need to be internal, but it "feels" right as internal slot parts. And, I don't think giving Robotic hulls an extra internal slot is the right thing to do.



What's your take on what an average player, a good player and an expert player's PP production every 25 turns up till turn 300 (using default game settings) should be?

Also, what do you think are the appropriate turns for an average/good/expert player to be fielding shields of 4, 7, 12 and 20?
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#15 Post by yandonman » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:25 am

log2(N), while definitely scoring geek cred, trails off too fast for my taste. I dorked around with some numbers and settled on log 1.2 (N). That actually boosted earlier shield values, so I capped that at N-1, and then further capped that at 25 (to prevent invincibility).

Here's what that looks like. N = number of ships in the same location. Does this feel about right?
Robo_Network_Numbers.jpg
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