Rebalance default cost factors

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Oberlus
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Rebalance default cost factors

#1 Post by Oberlus » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:30 pm

This is for release v0.4.10, so a pressing matter.

The new nerfed resource outputs, with the same output at the very start but diminishing returns from techs/buildings (maximum output late game is roughly 33% for same planets, so 3x slower pace) means that game becomes slower as the game progresses (compared to before) and the Experimentors monsters become a PITA because they appear sooner with respect your research progress and you can build the army to cope with them much slower so they can easily overcome you except if you had an easy start, planned your research in advance and don't get the Experimentors outpost too soon.

A probable solution for both issues at the same time is to change default cost factor values in default/scripting/game_rules.focs.txt, as already tested in the first linked thread.

I think a conservative value for tech cost is 1.5, down from 2.0, i.e 25% cheaper. That should be the minimum decrease.
A cost of 1.0 feels like too much, research game becomes quite fast, 2x faster progress, with the corresponding exponential effect. That would be the maximum decrease.
Values in between have the undesired effect of getting ugly decimals in the techs costs, but that is a minor concern that could be solved later (and not for v0.4.10 release, probably no time for that).

There is another related issue about hulls being too cheap compared to ship parts, which in turns makes chaff strategies quite effective, that can be tackled at the same time.
Related threads:
viewtopic.php?f=28&t=11629&hilit=chaff
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=11597&p=100994&hilit=chaff#p100994
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=11679&hilit=chaff#p101984
And finally, the general idea of not encouraging lots of ships to not make turn processing sluggish:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:23 pm
Increasing costs of ships as more are produced is also intended to discourage players from producing lots of ships. There are or were major problems with effects evaluation slowing down turn processing and making the interface sluggish whenever effects updates ran. Keeping ship numbers low helps with this. Having fewer shups in general also makes the ones that are present more important and notable for players.
Recent addition of Arc Disruptor weapon helped against unarmored chaff but now we have tones of cheap hulls with one or two armor parts in the multiplayer games, and they are still rather effective, to the point of being silly to not spam some chaff to accompany your armed ships always, regardless of your enemy's fleet compositions, something like 2-4 chaff ships for every armed ship (probably more when you get access to big hulls).

Summing up, I suggest (and I've been playtesting):
  • 1.2 for techs.
  • 0.6 for buildings and parts.
  • 0.9 for hulls.
The extra cost for hulls (+50% with respect to parts) makes early expansion not that fast (still faster than before resource nerf) and chaff less cheap and less of a problem regarding swarms of ships slowing down turn processing.


Thoughts?

I'd like to make a PR with those values ASAP for inclusion into v0.4.10.

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LienRag
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#2 Post by LienRag » Sun Jun 21, 2020 2:14 pm

It looks to me like the joke of the guy who had one shorter leg on his table and tried to egalize it by shortening slightly the three other legs...

I tried your PR and it definitely has its interest but it will require a LOT of testing before finding the right equilibrium, I really do not think that it is ready for release.

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Oberlus
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#3 Post by Oberlus » Sun Jun 21, 2020 2:20 pm

Elaborate.

Edit: so in 45 minutes (assuming you started playing as soon as I posted this, there is no PR yet) you got a complete vision of the implications. But only had time to say a joke and some negative criticism without any arguments to back it up. Am I right?

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Oberlus
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#4 Post by Oberlus » Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:22 pm

Some base cost values (when having no ships, so no upkeep) with the suggested cost factors for quick reference:
Parts - Some hulls
Cannons Flak cannon 12 - Basic Small 9
Arc Disruptor 24 - Medium 18
Mass Driver 12 - Large 27
Laser 18 - Base 5,4
Plasma 24 - Asteroid Asteroid 18
Death Ray 36 - Small Ast. 5,4
Fighters Launch Bay 6 - Camouflage Ast. 14,4
Interceptor 6 - Small Camo. Ast. 8,1
Strike Fighter 9 - Mini-Asteroid 9
Bomber 12 - Heavy Ast. 36
Heavy Bomber 15 - Scattered Ast. 144
Armor Standard 2,4 - Energy Compres. Energy 4,5
Zortrium 3,6 - Energy Frig. 36
Diamond 4,8 - Fractal Energy 72
Xentronium 7,2 - Quantum Energy 54
Rock 3,6 - Solar 225
Crystal 4,8 - Bio Organic 12,6
Neutronium 9 - Static 16,2
Troops Basic 1,8 - Symbiotic 10,8
Advanced 3,6 - Protoplasmic 13,5
Detection Optical 1,2 - Bioadaptive 18,9
Active 1,8 - Sentient 54
Neutron 3 - Robotic Spatial Flux 9,9
Sensor 3,6 - Sp. Flux Bubble 15,3
Stealth Electromagnetic 1,2 - Robotic 36
Absortion 3 - Seff-Gravitating 54
Dimensional 9 - Titanic 162
Phasing 18 -
Fuel Tank 0,6 -
Ramscoop 6 -
Zero-point 24 -
Colonization Outpost 31,8 -
Colony/Cryonic 76,3 -
Engines Improved 9 -
N-Dimensional 15 -
Singularity 24 -
Trans-spatial 48 -

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LienRag
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#5 Post by LienRag » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:38 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 2:20 pm
Elaborate.

Edit: so in 45 minutes (assuming you started playing as soon as I posted this, there is no PR yet) you got a complete vision of the implications. But only had time to say a joke and some negative criticism without any arguments to back it up. Am I right?
No, I meant that I played the first nerf PR.
And from this test and your discussions of what you're trying to do I have a hint of what the implications might be, that's why I used the joke to convey it, as jokes are good to that intent.
It is indeed criticism, not negative one I think. You're trying to do the right thing, it seems to me that there are precautions missing in the way you do it.

It is true that I don't have specific arguments to back it up, apart from generic common sense and what I wrote when I play-tested it, so feel free to ignore it as you please.

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Oberlus
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#6 Post by Oberlus » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:03 pm

This thread is not about the nerf, which is already merged into master and pre-release, and which arguably managed to get the intended effect (i.e. reduce output spikes ane snowballing). You can go that thread to comment on that.
This is about adjusting Experimentors monsters to the new output graphs, and secondarily to reduce effectiveness of chaff.

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Oberlus
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#7 Post by Oberlus » Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:22 am

1.2 for techs.
0.6 for buildings and parts.
0.9 for hulls.
After two more (unfinished) games, the above values seem too small: 1.2 for techs means the early game is too fast, specially for good research species. That reduces the choices the players must make in the first 10 turns, because they can just get History Analyzer, Algorithmic Elegance and part of Robotic Prod. or Planetary Ecology simultaneously from start.
So I now I think better figures would be
  • 1.5 for techs.
  • 0.75 for buildings and parts.
  • 1.0 for hulls.
This gives more choices to make early game but can be a bit too hard to beat the Experimentors' monsters if not having a good start.

I'm considering adjusting the base starting turn of the Experimentors Outpost to 250 (instead of 200) and/or reducing the number of spawned monsters to 2 per trigger in the first waves, instead of 3. More wordy: currently, for each phase of monster pumping (Black Krakens, Bloated Juggernauts, Psionic Snowflakes, Cosmic Dragons), there is a sub-phase of spawning 3 monsters and another of spawning 2, except for the Cosmic Dragons that always spawns a single one. So I am suggesting making the first sub-phase to spawn 2 monsters, same as the second sub-phase.

Moreover, the modifier that delays Experimentors Outpost creation for galaxies bigger than 200 systems seems odd: the bigger the galaxy, the more planets the player can have when the monsters begin swarming the galaxy, which makes it easier for bigger galaxies. And so, I'm inclined to remove that requirement. However, a bigger galaxy can also imply that the outpost is further away from the player when it appears so that there can be more monsters roaming the galaxy when the player can get to their area. All this needs much more testing that what I am able to do these days.

Thoughts?

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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#8 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Jun 23, 2020 12:42 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:22 am
Thoughts?
Dunno. If the original nerf works as intended (slowing snowballing), probably a linear change in research scaling will not suffice.

Compared to the previous balance it speeds up the early techs and slows down the later techs. So if you make early tech balance right it could happen that later techs are much too expensive.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Vezzra
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#9 Post by Vezzra » Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:23 pm

Wouldn't it be sufficient/better for the 0.4.10 release to just adjust the parameters for the Experimentors? So that they appear at later turns and/or with less monsters. I'm a bit wary about tinkering with the default scaling factors, as that might need even more subsequent balancing adjustments. And that goes way beyond simple bugfixing, which is the only thing which should get into the release branch at this point.

The chaff issue is of course a problem, but maybe one we can live with with 0.4.10? I just want to avoid to get into a spiral, where adjustments/rebalancings make even more adjustments/rebalancings necessary before we are able to reach a point where things are reasonably balanced again. That could delay the release significantly.

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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#10 Post by Oberlus » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:21 pm

Vezzra wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:23 pm
Wouldn't it be sufficient/better for the 0.4.10 release to just adjust the parameters for the Experimentors? So that they appear at later turns and/or with less monsters. I'm a bit wary about tinkering with the default scaling factors, as that might need even more subsequent balancing adjustments. And that goes way beyond simple bugfixing, which is the only thing which should get into the release branch at this point.

The chaff issue is of course a problem, but maybe one we can live with with 0.4.10? I just want to avoid to get into a spiral, where adjustments/rebalancings make even more adjustments/rebalancings necessary before we are able to reach a point where things are reasonably balanced again. That could delay the release significantly.
Amen. I'll make a PR for Experimentors changes only.
Players can always adjust cost factors easily to accelerate or decelerate game progress.

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Vezzra
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Re: Rebalance default cost factors

#11 Post by Vezzra » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:36 am

Oberlus wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:21 pm
Amen. I'll make a PR for Experimentors changes only.
Players can always adjust cost factors easily to accelerate or decelerate game progress.
Thanks! :D

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