Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

Creation, discussion, and balancing of game content such as techs, buildings, ship parts.

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MatGB
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#61 Post by MatGB » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:15 pm

That....

Would be a major rewrite of pretty much everything, the knock on for AI coding and similar would be similarly big. Not saying it's a bad idea mind, just that it'd be a much bigger project.

I need to tidy up a few text file entries for my robotic parts patch, which I've been putting off for no real reason, it does duplicate some of the stuff you've done subsequently elsewhere but that's not a major problem, we both agreed independently that tidying up and reordering the ship hulls techs was needed.

The agreed plan was a series of incremental changes to the current structure, for the simple reason that a) it would have less impact per change and b) it wouldn't require Dilvish to completely rewrite the AI code given his limited availability and I think we can all agree that making the game unplayable by breaking the AI would be a bad thing even if the basic idea was good.

My current plan is to go through each hull type and reasses the costs to bring them more into line, that's fairly straightforward number crunching that a) I'm good at and b) doesn't actively break anything, it merely makes some strategies more or less optimal.

While that's happening, others have been working on parts and other flavour ideas. One thing I definitely want to do is make every hull in teh game either a valid choice to play with or removed, and I'd much rather see the former than the latter. I also, personally, see no problem in adding more hull types over time, as long as it's not too much clutter, but it would be good to rationalise the tech tree a bit as we go—but a tech tree change by necessity requires an AI rewrite, that's something to avoid if unnecessary so I'm putting that off until I'm happy that the current hull lines are roughly on a par with each other in terms of cost/benefit and relative power.

Definitely like the idea of expanding core slot usage, but that's a longer term project for me as it'd need too much, I'd like to get the costs readdressed before 0.4.4, but more radical rewrites such as Ta'Lon's would need serious work after 0.4.4 I think.

(BTW, never written the name before, taken from Farscape perchance? Rewatching from the beginning on Netscape at the moment, it stands up a LOT better than most other shows of its era I think).
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#62 Post by Chriss » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:05 pm

Ta'Lon, I might mix your two proposals... Let's see.

The first part of your post, the cores - so then we'd have say 3-5 hulls of different sizes (base structure, number of slots) and the core(s?) define what (current) hulltype it ends up to be - energy, asteroid, organic? Hm... you would end up with the same hulls (you just use the cores to define which is what). How to decide which hull design to show? This would require code changes. I think that's not needed.

Also, this way the only difference between a medium organic and a medium asteroid / robotic / whatever would be some base stats, like different speed, fuel, structure, stealth, detection. All of that can also be changed by ship parts. I'd like a medium sized organic hull to have just about nothing in common with a medium sized asteroid hull. I think the current hull design is better suited for that.

What I do like though: More ship parts to change stats, and more flexibility with weapons in slots. But instead of adding flex slots I thought to add fighter / bomber bays and missiles - which are internal slot "weapons". I also thought of something like an analysis lab which boosts sensor range (think scanning facility for ships), or some refinery parts (similar to the new ramscoop). With more parts like that, I don't know if one needs flex slots. We could just add parts for the various slots that do the job, or make more parts usable in two or more slots.

But I'd like to concentrate on hulls first. I'd also like to come at this from a different angle: what hull types does the game need? What do I as a player need? Heck, maybe we could start with 5 hulls and then see if the Playtesters come up with ship designs that can't be done with the current hulls, but which would add value to the gameplay.

And before we discuss details again I think we should have a clear understanding of "What is a x hull line all about?". So I'll try to give that a shot:

Organics are pretty well developed I think, apart from shrinking the number of hulls down. These are living things. They grow. They regenerate. The only thing I don't see in organics is speed. Why should these be among the fastest hulls? I'd like to bring Organics down to a medium speed of about 50. Then I'd add the growth to fuel capacity and a bit to regeneration, maybe speed, stealth and detection, too. What I also don't immediately see in organics is size. So maybe stop with a 7 slot hull or so. Maybe favor external slots a bit, due to the whole internal organs take root dilemma.

Asteroids are large rocks that are caved out to put in equipment. Cheap, but rock is not nearly as sturdy as modern alloys. So you need lots and lots of rock to compensate for that. Still cheap, but heavy. What I absolutely do not see in an asteroid hull is mobility, both speed and fuel capacity wise. I'd like to cripple both. Speed of about 20, Fuel capacity 1 at most. If that works, zero - so you can only use them in your supply zone. I'd upgrade stealth a bit though - and add maybe half the stealth bonus even without an asteroid field (but not while moving). Size is no biggie for those hulls though. I'd tentatively favor internal slots here, as external slots do not profit from all that rock armour.

Basic Hulls is something I'd tend to put the robotic hulls in, too. These are normal spaceships like humanity builds them now. Purpose build technical constructions using the best materials for the job. Rather costly. Good but not superb peed (about 75 maybe), good fuel capacity, good structure, no stealth. More variety in slot layouts and stats. I'd like to add a "freighter type", which heavily favors internal slots. This one can be used for civilian troop carriers, colony ships and the like. With Missiles or Fighters, this could be either a long-range torpedo cruiser or a carrier. All those do not need the highest structure, but can get more structure using according ship parts.

Energy Hulls, I haven't really looked at very much. Their defining characteristic seems to be speed, negative stealth while moving, and speed. ;) I don't know If I buy all that "hiding in a star" stuff... that seems to be a bit too far-fetched. Do we really need that, gameplay wise? I mean there's lots of stars in lot's of systems. So basically an energy hull is undetectable while stationary in a system with a star. At the least, I'd set detection range to 0 then. (I mean - the ship's in a star. How's it going to see anything on any sensor?) And maybe code this to only occur when the fleet is in passive mode? Reduce speed the first turn (needs to get out of star first, may be hard to reach)? I don't know, there should be a downside, too, and a real purpose.

About the AI: I'd say some Basic Hull should be used for what the AI is currently using basic Organics for. It might not be too much of a change, if the design is similar, and only the name changes. One could think about "deprecating" hulls, and adding a few more, too. I dunno. Yes, it's a big change, but I don't see how the current amount of hulls can be made into distinct worth-to-use hulls without some big changes... I mean - currently, It looks like a more or less wild gathering of ideas and stuff that works. There's no plan that covers all hulls.
Last edited by Chriss on Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#63 Post by MatGB » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:19 pm

Chriss wrote: About the AI: I'd say some Basic Hull should be used for what the AI is currently using basic Organics for. It might not be too much of a change, if the design is similar, and only the name changes.
That's in my current plan, currently the organic hull (which we've agreed is too cheap) is 7 pp, whereas the medium hull is 25 pp, if you're making more than one colony ship or outpost from a system it makes sense to build an incubator there just for cheapness, and that's way before fleet upkeep modifiers are applied, which makes the cost differential even worse (50 ships makes it 10 pp vs 40 give or take).

The patch I'm submitting for review very soon slightly reduces the base cost of the medium hull a bit, and the next project is to completely revies the organic line, bringing up the costs of the undercosted ships a bit, even if it were 10 vs 20 it'd make the cost differential smaller and thus making it less necessary to go for organics.

Basically, I think there's general agreement that you should be effectively encouraged to use organic hulls as the base unit even if you go down a different route for warships, but it wasn't my highest priority, which was to make the horrifically overpriced hulls less game breakingly bad (I cringe when a new player proudly says "I'm finally fielding my Self Gravitating Hulls" or similar, on the current costs base trying to build those things is an almost guaranteed loos against a halfway not awful AI).

Re your analysis of hulls, I think we're coming from a differing angle but I see your point. For Organics, as a specific, I see them as the Rush hull type, cheap, fragile, fast, they fall over a lot, and die easily, but can be replaced easily. I currently use them to xerg rush opponents, and that speed boost is good.

There does need to be a discussion about overall ship hull speeds for balance though, but I'd be loath to see ships reduced to slower than the horrif base hulls.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#64 Post by Chriss » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:35 pm

Hm... I think I get your point about speed. I just thought about how it might be to play with slower hulls in larger maps. So maybe my speeds should be higher in general - but I think the proportions should be somewhere along the lines of my proposal. One could also add more techs that speed up travel between own colonies...

Zerg-Rush is a nice picture, and obviously appeals to organics. But that's a gameplay-tactic, not necessarily an organics-must-be-this thing. And I'm not sure if organics need to be almost as fast as energy hulls for that? But yeah, I thought about some "swarm bonus" that at least one organic hull could have (or gain by tech) similar to those robotic shields. It does come naturally.

Why is there a "general agreement" that organics should be the preferred way to go? I mean yeah, I've been using organics in FO for years, but mostly cause I thought "Hey, organics, that's a cool idea" and the lack of another appealing hull. I didn't really compare much though, and haven't played all that much. I do miss normal, usable "tech hulls" though, something like the basic hulls should IMHO represent. And I miss structure in hulls as a player - there's too much options, nothing that intuitively says e.g. "You're looking for some battleship that can punch and be punched? pick me!", "Wanna punch em hard? here!" and so on.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#65 Post by MatGB » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:42 pm

The general agreement isn't that they should be there from a design perspective, it's that in the current cost/benefit analysis, not using organics for your base worker hull is essentially hurting yourself too much. That's not the way it should be, or will be (hopefully), but is a reflection of the current position.

I would, BTW, be open tor educing organic line speeds down a bit, but not too much, however I want to try to get the current state of play into balance first without too much change unless there's something very obviou to fix (the very obviou problem is the sheer OTTness of energy line hulls and I'm still torn on what to do there, Quantum hulls should not be the cheapest base hull you can deploy given their stats).

I didn't mean, and don't want to imply, that organics should be better than all others. But currently, they pretty much are better than anything that doesn't require specific geographic features, and even then they hold their own well against asteroids—I think Heavy Asteroid hulls are far too cheap and easy to get, but I can't fix that problem without first making organics less good, as else there's nothing to counter them that the AI can easily use, etc.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#66 Post by Chriss » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:51 pm

Okay, got it. I agree. ;)
I'm simply trying to apply more of an abstract, top to bottom approach, so I wasn't really thinking about the current gameplay reality...

Balance patch first is probably a good idea anyway. What are you thinking about? x cost per slot or something? Might be a good start.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#67 Post by MatGB » Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:08 pm

I tried working out a formula for it but there are so many variables on top, speed, structure, internal slots, special abilities, research costs, building costs, location requirements, etc that I gave up.

Besides which, my tabletop gaming design background and training tells me, very strongly, that formulaic approaches are always problematic as there's always an edge case and some way to game the system.

So instead I'm going on instinct, multiple iterations, lots of testing and what feels right, with the full expectation that a) I'll get lots of feedback and b) it'll take multiple passes and will never be 100% "right". One of the things I learnt in balancing stuff for CCGs was that if you release something overpowered you're stuck with it, but there's always a way to balance it off by creating a rock for the scisors to blunt on, etc. We're never fully stuck with overpowered strategies as we can always tweak numbers somewhere, but I'd love to see several different valid strategies with one being powerful but with an obvious foil.

For example, currently organics are OTT generally, but some of the AI heavy asteroid designs can effectively block them in many circumstances, so on balance I think they're reasonably on a par with each other. It's just that all other options simply aren't as good.

And Fractal Hulls are simply way too powerful as are if you can field them, I've swept the map using them crewed by Bad Pilot exobots more than once, an that was before turn 150 on a 400ish system map, I camped out a massive flotilla by the Experimentor homeworld then got bored hitting end turn and started a new game. It should not be possible to completely clear a large map that early simply by fielding a small number of OTT hulls, but three fractals on turn 100 pretty much guarantees victory, that's bad (and dull and boring once you've figured out how to do it).
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#68 Post by MatGB » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:47 pm

I've finally finished the patch, decided to submit what I've tested now rather than expand it, thread specifically for the patch:
Patch: Robotic hulls rebalancing

It's an incremental step, reducing the costs of the ludicrously expensive down to merely expensive, and the basic hulltypes down to costly but actually viable.

I had hoped to do something with energy line hulls in the first patch, but I'm still stuck on what to do with them as they're really OTT if you can field them, which makes them to an extent even worse, if a player has a colonisable blue star or black hole and knows what they're doing they've basically won. Simply increasing their costs by a factor of 5 or even more won't really change that as the real cost of them is the parts, it may be needed to reduce slots and/or structure, they're already expensive to research and I wouldn't want to make them much harder to get, just less game breakingly powerful.

Ideas? Quantum hull is currently 7.5 pp for 7 external, 3 internal slots and 100 structure, that's only half a pp more than an organic hull, fractal is 20 pp, but has 14 external slots and 80 base structure— 50/50 armour/guns makes 2 or 3 able to take on entire fleets fairly easily.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#69 Post by Ta'Lon » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:52 pm

Mat,

I looked over tha AI .txt code, and from what I can tell, the AI has certain hull designs it looks for in it's AI choices. I think that those designs could be preserved with the same names, while just noting the changes in the designs on the shiplist (i.e. just adding the relevant core slots to those designs).

My impression was that the AI doesn't necessarily actually design hulls, it just takes the existing hull designs on the shiplist and adds the best parts (i.e. most powerful weapon, best shield, etc.). I could be wrong on this though...

A Robotic Mk 1 could still have the same mix of parts & stats, it would just use a slightly different mix of parts, and perhaps a slightly different actual hull that can still produce 4 external slots and 1 internal (Essentially a 'Very Large' Hull with 3 external, 1 internal, and 1 flex slot, plus a robotic core that imparts the robotic stats for speed, hull strength, fuel, etc., or some such).

Chriss,

Regarding this statement:
Also, this way the only difference between a medium organic and a medium asteroid / robotic / whatever would be some base stats, like different speed, fuel, structure, stealth, detection. All of that can also be changed by ship parts. I'd like a medium sized organic hull to have just about nothing in common with a medium sized asteroid hull. I think the current hull design is better suited for that.
I actually AM handling those stats via a ship part, the Core Slot. Example:
Organic Core: +90 to Starlane Speed, (+)2 Fuel, +0.2 Fuel/Turn, +10 Detection, Repair 2 Structure/Turn, 33% Max Hull Size, Grow at 0.2/Turn (max +5).
Robotic Core: +75 to Starlane Speed, (+)3Fuel, Repair 2 Structure/Turn, +20% to Infrastructure.

As an example, most Organic line ships have 100 Starlane Speed, while Asteroid ships have 60. Energy Ships have 120. Very easily handled via cores.

And so on and so forth. All of the stats that each hull line has can thus be incorporated into a single part, the core. As each hull will have a core slot (except the Colony Base Hull, which is intended to not move strategically so it doesn't need a core), the core can impart the initial flavor.

And at the point that Robotic Hulls gain 100% repair between turns instead of just +2/turn (currently the NanoRobotic Hull), you could just tack the 100% repair ability onto the Robotic Core. This would have the side effect of givinging all older Robotic Core designs the 100% repair ability, but I actually like that. It's an easy way to do a minor 'Robotic Hull upgrade' without needing a new game mechanic (i.e. refits).

Similarly, the next tech(s) after Organic Hulls Tech could add an additional +10 to Starlane Speed, to all ships with Organic Cores (to bump starlane speed from 90 to 100), which would upgrade the older Organic Hulls to 100 as a 'benefit'.


The only major difference that gets a little more tricky is the mix of internal and external slots. Hence my idea of 'Flex Slots', to help reduce hull clutter a bit. BTW, the Flex Slot would be illustrated by a simple Square, as a Square can contain both the Internal and the External 'overlay'.


What would be cool is if the underlying 'ship graphic' could automatically change to the relevant illustration when you choose your core part (i.e. the Small Basic Hull graphic changes to a Small Asteroid Hull when you pick the Asteroid Core, or a Small Organic Hull when you select the Organic Core, etc.). Not sure how this would be handled coding wise though, I'm not a coding guy...


MatGB (again, and others of course)

One anomoly on the current hull table I'm seeing is that most hull lines have a 'set' starlane Speed. Asteroid 60, Robotic 80 (yes the first one is 75), Organic 100 (yes the first one is 90), Energy 120. The only place this is different is in the base hulls, which have:
75 Starlane/50 Tactical for Small hulls
60 Starlane/50 Tactical for Medium hulls
40 Starlane/50 Tactical for Large (Standard) hulls

This is also the only hull branch that has a set tactical speed for all of it's hulls, while the other branches vary wildy, with the larger hulls generally being MUCH slower tactically. This seems to me like the two stats were transposed for Basic Hulls, based on the methodology of the rest of the hull table.

I would suggest switching the two stats (for uniformity) for the basic hulls EXCEPT I like the idea of smaller hulls going a little faster in the starlanes. The fact that small Scouts do 75 is actually kind of nice, as they can arrive 'ahead of the fleet' of Mk 1's to scout out a system (assuming the starlane is longer), if both depart on the same turn (of course, the rest of your fleet would be 'committed' at that point but you may be able to do a quick turnaround if things look bad, depending on how much extra movement you have left when you arrive). I do think that the combat speeds of the basic hulls need to be changed though (i.e. same as current starlane speeds, to reflect the methodology of the rest of the table).

I do think that the idea of smaller hulls being a little faster in starlanes, while larger hulls being slower (not drastically slower though) has some merit. This gives smaller hulls, which are generally less survivable in combat, an extra purpose (i.e. they are faster strategically, so they are well suited to scouting/probing). This concept, IMHO, could be applied across the board, say...

Small Hulls: +10/20/etc. Starlane Speeds
Medium Hulls: +5/10/etc. Starlane Speeds
Large (Standard) Hulls: Baseline Starline Speed
Very Large Hulls: -10 to Starlane Speed
Humongous Hulls: -20 to Starlane Speed (shouldn't drop off too much, otherwise Huge hulls get nerfed excessively).

Also, while this isn't well implemented on the hull table currently (asteroid hulls sorta kinda does this and energy hulls almost does this with one exception, i.e. the -15 to Quantum versus the 0 for Fractal, Quantum being the smaller hull in this case ). I very much like the idea of size playing into Stealth factor, i.e.

Small: +10 Stealth
Medium: +5 Stealth
Large: Baseline
Very Large: -10 Stealth
Humongous: - 20 (or more) to Stealth.

This would make the smaller hulls a little harder to spot strategically, and at more extreme ranges you may 'see' the larger hulls but not the smaller hulls, as your sensor rating drops off. Makes for an intersting strategic planning wrinkle I think...

Making size mean more than just extra hull slots and structure I think is a good concept to incorporate into FO, and it can be done quite easily.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#70 Post by Chriss » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:43 pm

Ta'Lon wrote:What would be cool is if the underlying 'ship graphic' could automatically change to the relevant illustration when you choose your core part (i.e. the Small Basic Hull graphic changes to a Small Asteroid Hull when you pick the Asteroid Core, or a Small Organic Hull when you select the Organic Core, etc.). Not sure how this would be handled coding wise though, I'm not a coding guy...
But that would require a code change by the programmers, while the current system can handle the same thing with existing code. So why change it? Yes, you can design cores which effectively transform a generic hull to an asteroid or organic or whatever hull by adding the according core which changes the stats. Doesn't mean it should be done. As you said, it also means that they all have the same slot layout. For me, that is to restrictive, as I explained, Organics for example are predestined to have fewer internal slots, while Asteroids are predestined to have more. The total number is not necessarily the same, so while flex-slots may help here, it does not really solve the issue of reduced flexibility. It also requires another code-change I guess. So why do it? You're current core proposal restricts what can be done design-wise with text files, but creates programming work. I don't really see the benefit yet.

About the starlane speed changes: IMHO, a ship that travels a starlane always travels it all the way. Even if you order it to turn arround, it will do so after it has arrived. So having a scout arrive one turn earlier will simply tell you that your ships may be destroyed the next turn - but it does not really give you the option to stop them if they're already on their way. From a physics standpoint, smaller ships also don't have to be faster (in starlanes and all arround) - they're more maneuverable for sure, but that does not mean their top speed is all that different. Of course, in relativistic flight, there is no top speed. I've yet only seen one game which implements this, though, some Babylon 5 Fan Game (I've found her or so).

Anyway, I think that starlanespeed and battle speed can differ, with battle speed (or maneuverability) be higher for smaller ships. Starlane speed not so much. But as long as battle speed does not do anything, we don't have to think about it much I guess.
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Re: Ship and ship parts balancing and flavor ideas

#71 Post by Ta'Lon » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:57 am

Chriss,

I've seen a number of times on the map where ships simply bypass/zip past systems on their way to destinations. This is where the advance scout comes into play. You can actually change the routing of ships while they are enroute, so rather than just stop in that system (and waste movement points), you click on your destination, to maximize your movement/minimize the time to your final destination..

However, the scout is set to 'land' in the transit system/starless nexus and scout the surroundings, while the fleet behind them has routing orders beyond that system already, so a 'stop' for the main fleet isn't planned. The scout, when it lands, may see an enemy fleet on the approach, or see ships that have arrived at the main fleet's intended destination. At that point, simply clicking on the main fleet's icon while it is enroute on the starlane and selecting a different destination can avert potential disaster. You can even simply just right click click your origin, and you'll effect an immediate turnaround once you 'land' in the system, thus reducing the time it takes you go get back home.

OR, you have a fleet of fast response vessels at the ready in adjacent systems, that can be timed to arrive at the same time as the 'slower' main fleet already in transit.

I've even sent scout ships ahead of colony ships en route to new systems, which may end up several systems ahead of the colony ship once a couple of transits have been effected, even though they departed from the 'shipyard/base system' simultaneously.

Where sensors don't work while you are transiting starlanes, a lot of what you can learn happens once you've finished transit.

This has encouraged me to build scout ships in groups rather than individually, with a pool of scouts at the ready to zip out at a moment's notice from my core systems when losses occur or if I need to see if the starlanes are still safe.

Small hulls disappear rapidly in combat, due to how combat is currently handled, so anything that can be done to make them a little more attractive, without throwing off game balance, I think is a good thing.


AS FOR your other point, the one where the hulls need to be fully differentiated, I disagree. Having to go down multiple hull paths just to get that one 'perfect' design for each function seems artificial to me. There is no reason that the Robotic line can't have a ship that is uniquely suited to scouting. We could make a 'robotic scout hull', with the faster starlane speed of Robotic designs, but that just adds clutter/more hulls to scroll through. Simply applying robotic characteristics to a small hull accomplishes the same thing, with much less clutter. In fact, the Compressed Energy Hull is identical in 'slot count' to the Small hull, so simply modifying the base stats gets you the same result, WITHOUT a new hull type. There are a number of other examples of this on the hull table.

The 'artwork' idea I mentioned I did offer with the caveat that it would require additional programming. But KEEP IN MIND that FO is still very much in Beta mode, so just because we don't have something right this second, doesn't mean that it couldn't be provided for eventually. The point is that it is better to work this stuff out BEFORE the 3D/interactive combat module hits the table, rather than after. If a more uniform hull structure is an eventual goal, better to start down that path now, than later once the current structure is hardcoded into the combat structure, thus wasting programming efforts to convert things after the fact.

In the meantime, my concept works NOW, can be integrated into the AI easily (if I understand AI ship design correctly), and in fact I probably can make it all happen on my end. The only thing I might need is someone to add a Square/Flex slot to the back end, so I can add it to some hulls. Not a priority for me at the moment, and I'd like the collective to actually be able to try out this new approach for themselves before making any such request, rather than just doing an armchair analysis.

There is a big push to 'prune' things at the moment, because the tech tree is too extensive (I don't necessarily agree, but this has been pointed out to me). A lot of the techs at the moment exist soley to allow a certain hull line to do one cool thing/make that one ship, when that could be handled much more cleanly and with less techs by generalizing the hull designs a bit.

And I certainly don't want just 8-9 hull types for the whole game. But no one has been able to explain to me adequately WHY, for instance, you couldn't have an organic hull with more external slots, or a bigger organic hull in general. Sure, you can cap things off at the high end if you want to give one path UBER hulls (that'd be the Solar hull at the moment, which outlclasses every other hull in the game by a wide margin). But that doesn't mean that You coudn't have Organic Battleships as well. The bonuses Organic gives aren't currently significant enough to justify nerfing that hull line so drastically by cutting off larger hulls. Energy is faster, and has better hulls, Asteroid is Tougher, and has more weapons, Robotic has a greater number of weapons/external slots, and is nearly as fast, not to mention that nice easter egg at the end (Logisitics Facilitator)...

Incidentally, the current Sentient Hull artwork looks like it belongs on the Production Hulls branch, not the Organic branch. But that's an artistic issue, not a game balance one. I think that hull would make an awesome Robotic hull of some type.

The only thing Organic does well is see things, but a bunch of scout hulls and well placed observatories can work around that quite easily. But of course, Organics do make good scouts, and hence if you want good scouts you really should go with an organic hull. Hence, you end up with multiple base hull types, which kind of defeats the purpose of trying to encourage the development of multiple hull branches for a player to follow I.E. "I have my Rocks over there for heavy combat, my Robotic ships for my Rapid Response Force, my Energy Hulls for rapid response/troop transports, and of course those Organic scouts" Essentially, they will pick the one design they are shooting for, end tech advancement there, and then move to the next branch, because the current branch doesn't have a hull that is close enough for what they need at that point. Which is why you currently have a lot of Robotics serving alongside Rock hulls alongside Organic hulls.

There NEEDS to be some 'close enough for government work' hulls in each branch. Note that the Asteroid Branch does this quite nicely, covering almost all of the bases except rapid response. But with the hulls you have, rapid response can be worked around.


The current approach pretty much FORCES players down multiple hull paths, which I think defeats the purpose of having multiple hull paths in the first place. You might as well have one big hull branch line, because in practice that is what the game is asking you to do. Thus, you need more techs, which gets back to that 'to prune or not to prune' question...

This can be solved with just adding more hulls, of course, but that jumps the hull count to 40+ (7 hull sizes, plus a utility, scout, and stealth hull). 50+ if the 'Basic Hull Line' is enhanced as well. There's a reason to provide a '5th' branch - think Star Trek/individual-centric cultures that shy away from Robotics for whatever reason.

This may not seem as significant now, but when species design finally gets some more love, and a design feature is added to allow players to design their own species using some sort of point system, well that's where having four or more (I'm actually thinking of five at the moment, with some sub branches) hull branches comes into play. I.E. your Robotic Species gets discounts on Robotic Hulls. Your Lithic Species gets discounts on Asteroid Hulls. etc. etc. etc. Or your Lithic species is 'weird' and prefers flying around in organic hulls instead (purchases a 'discount' on organic hulls during race design).

When I finally get the finer points on my concept worked out, I'll share it for the collective's perusal. At the moment, I need to look over Mat's changes after Big Bang... Since I'm not a 'decider' here, it won't hurt anyone to at least take a gander at a different way of doing things... and of course you are free to share your suggestions/designs as well.

Big Bang is on...
Conquering the galaxy, one planet at a time...

Any artwork that I submit for use in the graphics forum is submitted under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License.

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