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 Post subject: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:20 pm 
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Brief preliminary explanations: I'm opening this thread here in the Top Priority Game Design forum because we have an open PR on github that introduces Fighters and Carriers. That means we have a quite important and siginificant extension to the combat system at our hands, already a basic implementation of a basic Fighter and Carriers game mechanic framework, and also already a bit of design discussions going on within the PR (which isn't really the place for that, such discussions belong here on the forum). I think this justifies giving the design discussion on that new mechanic sufficient importance and priority to open a thread here. Geoff, if you object, we can move this thread to the Other Game Design forum.

Ok, lets move to the subject at hand. I'll just quote all the relevant statements made on the PR's discussion on github, please continue all design relevant discussions here:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Adds fighters to combat, and three part types to support them. Fighters are launched during battles and attack on subsequent rounds. Any attack will destroy a fighter, regardless of weapon strength. Fighter weapon strength is determined by the best fighter weapon on a ship, and may be zero to have fighters just be decoys in battle. Number of fighters launched per combat round is determined by fighter bay capacity. Total number of fighters that can be launched depends on hangar capacity. Surviving fighters are recovered at end of battles, destroyed fighters are replaced by resupply of their ship. Requires additional parts and extensive balancing and AI adjustments, but is a hopefully distinctive mechanic for weapons.
MatGB wrote:
Question, at strength 2 the fighters are useless against shields unless I'm reading the code wrong. Is it the intent to have them bypass shields or are we looking at tech/species trait increases on them? Because if they don't bypass shields they're obsolete almost immediately in fleet combat.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
There can be various different fighter weapons, including some stronger than 2, which would be more useful against shields. In general, I'd expect fighters to be less useful against shielded opponents than ship weapons, but it depends on the balancing of additional parts.
MatGB wrote:
True, I'm looking at various rock/paper/scissor approaches to ship design, having fighters able to get passed shields before shooting, but always having relatively low damage stats compared to weapons, adds an interesting twist that could reduce the "always use shields" approach most players currently seem to take a bit.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:20 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Fighters are launched during battles and attack on subsequent rounds.
Sounds reasonable, but I suspect that too low numbers of fighters launched by a single fighter bay component combined with the currently only three rounds of combat won't work well together. Either the fighter bays have the capacity to launch sufficient numbers of fighters, or we'll have to up the number of combat rounds (personally I tend more toward the latter, if we keep that hangar/fighter bay approach).
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Any attack will destroy a fighter, regardless of weapon strength.
Interesting approach, simple and straightforward. I have to admit, I like it. Get the number of fighters balanced rightly, this means that it's not a viable strategy anymore to just put the biggest and best guns on your ship designs, because a bigger gun is more expensive, but not one bit more effective against fighters than the most basic mass driver.

I'd even go so far as to balance things in a way that trying to countering fighters only with "normal" ship based weapons won't be a viable option. We could reintroduce the "rate of fire" weapon stat, which would just mean how many shots at different targets a single weapon part can fire (basically a weapon part multiplier). Then differentiate weapon parts: high damage/low ROF -> more effective against fewer, but larger targets (ships and planets), but less effective against more, but smaller targets (fighters). Low damage/high ROF would work the other way round. Without fighters it didn't really make enough sense to keep the ROF stat, but with fighters around, we should reconsider that.
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Fighter weapon strength is determined by the best fighter weapon on a ship, and may be zero to have fighters just be decoys in battle. Number of fighters launched per combat round is determined by fighter bay capacity. Total number of fighters that can be launched depends on hangar capacity.
That's the part I've to admit I don't like, specifically the way fighter weapon strength is determined by a dedicated, specialized "fighter weapon" ship part. That strikes me as ackward and odd.

Originally I thought the best solution would be to just have fighter bays, and have all stats (total number of fighters, fighters that can be launched per combat round, and fighter type, which would determine the fighters weapon strength) be determined by it. Thinking more about it I can see that this will probably result in an unreasonable high number of different fighter bay ship parts, as each combination of those stats we want to have would require an extra part.

Furthermore, separating fighter bays (external part) and fighter hangar (internal part) certainly introduces interestings choices for the player. You can decide between all possible combinations of total fighter capacity and how fast you are able to deploy the fighters in combat (with pros and cons for probably several very different combinations). And we finally have another internal part, one that even stacks, making internal slots siginificantly more important. So I guess I prefer keeping that.

But I still want to suggest to incorporate the fighter weapon ship part into the hangar part. Meaning, the hangar part also determines the type of fighter, and thereby the fighters weapon strength. So we would have a hangar part for mass driver fighters, another one for laser fighters, and so on. The fighter weapon strength could be increased by refinement techs exactly the same way direct fire weapons can be improved now. The refinement tech (e.g. "Mass Driver Fighter 2") would "upgrade" the hangar by increasing a "fighter weapon strength" paired part meter, that gets set to max whenever your carrier is within supply (meaning, it gets a shipment of the most up-to-date fighters this type of hangar can handle). This way you can also put different fighter types on a carrier, I wouldn't want to sacrifice that option.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:10 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
Question, at strength 2 the fighters are useless against shields unless I'm reading the code wrong. Is it the intent to have them bypass shields or are we looking at tech/species trait increases on them? Because if they don't bypass shields they're obsolete almost immediately in fleet combat.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
There can be various different fighter weapons, including some stronger than 2, which would be more useful against shields. In general, I'd expect fighters to be less useful against shielded opponents than ship weapons, but it depends on the balancing of additional parts.
I don't see how we can possibly balance fighter weapon strengths just right, so that they aren't too overpowered and also not so weak as to be rendered obsolete too quickly. I think there are only two ways to reasonably deal with the problem fighters vs. shields. The first would be Mats suggestion:
MatGB wrote:
True, I'm looking at various rock/paper/scissor approaches to ship design, having fighters able to get passed shields before shooting, but always having relatively low damage stats compared to weapons, adds an interesting twist that could reduce the "always use shields" approach most players currently seem to take a bit.
That would definitely offer the players some interesting choices, and significantly change the importance and use of shields (and therefore of course require another major rebalancing of their cost and stats).

We would bascially have two major weapon systems: capital ship based direct fire weapons and fighters. Shields would be very effective against the first, but useless against the second. The question is, which defensive mechanic we want to provide against fighters, that would be bad against an enemy equipped primarily with direct fire weapons. My low damage/high ROF direct fire weapons I suggested in my post above would be one option. Another one, IMO more interesting but also more complicated would be to introduce two very distinct types of fighters: interceptors and bombers (that would be what the original idea eons ago has been). Interceptors would be useless against ships and planets, but highly effective against bombers. Bombers could get past ship shields before delivering their payload, so be highly effective against ships and planets, but helpless against interceptors. However, you can also use interceptors against enemy interceptors, thus using them as a means to provide cover for your bombers.

That approach needs refinement, but I really like the basic idea.

The second way to deal with the fighters/bombers against shields problem would be to change how the shield mechanic works. Instead of applying shield strength against every single shot, which means that basically shots fired against a target don't stack against its shields, change exactly that: let shots stack. Specifically, all shots delivered simultaniously against a ship are added together and the ships shield strength would be substracted only once from all those hits, instead of from each of them. What "simultaniously" means in that context needs to be determined of course, it could be all shots delivered by the same ship/bomber squadron (this would require the introduction of squadrons, which is why I don't think that's a good idea, too complicated) in the same combat round. Or it could be all hits a ships suffers in one combat round. Basically that would make shield strength sort of another layer of armor which gets "fully repaired" each combat round. This would be the most reasonable solution IMO.

Of course, that would require a lot of other changes: combat resolution would have to be more granular, meaning, more combat rounds, but less damage dealt per round (that is, weapon strength must go down) so we end up with roughly the same damage totals per combat as now, just spread over more rounds (otherwise, if we stay with a very low number of combat rounds, the distinction between shields and armor suffers too much IMO). Shields that are stronger than an enemies weapons wouldn't be impregnable anymore the way they are now, as they could be overcome by sufficient numbers. On the other hand, because of that shield parts could stack, making internal slots again more important (heavily shielded carriers with lots of hangar bays? Sorry, nope. More shields mean less fighter capacity and vice versa :D). Fighters/bombers could overcome shields just by sufficient numbers. A major rebalancing of the entire weapons/armor/shields thing, costs and stats would be necessary, as well as all the required AI adjustments, which I guess will be extensive.

The interceptor/bomber idea can of course be used with that second option too.

Personally I lean more toward the second option (reworking shields mechanics), as that's something I'd wanted to suggest anyway at some point. It just offers more possibilities and options than the current setup, giving more flexibility on how you want to use shields without the problem that shielded ships might become invincible.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:17 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
Sounds reasonable, but I suspect that too low numbers of fighters launched by a single fighter bay component combined with the currently only three rounds of combat won't work well together. Either the fighter bays have the capacity to launch sufficient numbers of fighters, or we'll have to up the number of combat rounds (personally I tend more toward the latter, if we keep that hangar/fighter bay approach).

Agree with this, I've played a game through using fighters to about turn 150 and have launched some Gravity hull ships with them, they are, by this stage, fairly useless just because I've got Mu Ursh and plasma weapons, but they are cool.

I think, on balance, I like the idea of an extra round or two of combat, the current three works OK for ship to ship but isn't as good for fighters and I like the idea that they're not engaged on turn one.

Also, the ability to have a CAP for defensive purposes if you're defending a position and the carrier hasn't moved might be worth looking into (ie a single launch worth of fighters per carrier is in flight already at the start of combat), it'd make defensive more powerful but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Quote:
I'd even go so far as to balance things in a way that trying to countering fighters only with "normal" ship based weapons won't be a viable option. We could reintroduce the "rate of fire" weapon stat, which would just mean how many shots at different targets a single weapon part can fire (basically a weapon part multiplier). Then differentiate weapon parts: high damage/low ROF -> more effective against fewer, but larger targets (ships and planets), but less effective against more, but smaller targets (fighters). Low damage/high ROF would work the other way round. Without fighters it didn't really make enough sense to keep the ROF stat, but with fighters around, we should reconsider that.

Good call, I like this idea and yes, it would definitely be a good plan to have something of this nature. Perhaps even a mass driver refinement, replace one of the current tiers with a ROF increase so MDs can be Point Defence guns into the mid/late game.
Quote:
That's the part I've to admit I don't like, specifically the way fighter weapon strength is determined by a dedicated, specialized "fighter weapon" ship part. That strikes me as ackward and odd … But I still want to suggest to incorporate the fighter weapon ship part into the hangar part.

Agreed, and I'm also finding it hard to build valid designs with the need for an additional part. Combining them makes the most sense to me, as it is I think the three different parts makes them underpowered even in the very early game, you can't fit armour slots on so your ships just fall over.

To also highlight an issue quoted above
Quote:
True, I'm looking at various rock/paper/scissor approaches to ship design, having fighters able to get passed shields before shooting, but always having relatively low damage stats compared to weapons, adds an interesting twist that could reduce the "always use shields" approach most players currently seem to take a bit.

Given shields are (nromally) ubiquitous, you're going to need to have fighters able to do something against shielded enemies all the way into the end game else they're effectively useless in fleet combat (which is, basically, combat). Which means you're going to have to have fighters doing 16+ damage per shot in order to threaten blackshielded ships.

That's possibly going to end up being very powerful, especially against planets and older designs. Alternatively, let them bypass shields but keep the stats much lower.

MY balancing instincts say the latter is best but either is fine, just be aware of the balancing need to ensure fighters aren't obsolete in the end game (and therefore not going to be used much from the mid game onwards regardless).


Edit: the simultaneous fire idea has merit I think, came in as I typed the above

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:26 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
you're going to need to have fighters able to do something against shielded enemies all the way into the end game else they're effectively useless in fleet combat (which is, basically, combat).
Exactly. Absolutely agree.
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Which means you're going to have to have fighters doing 16+ damage per shot in order to threaten blackshielded ships.
Which is, as you stated, extremly powerful, IMO absolutely overpowered. After all, the point of fighters is having high numbers of small, very vulnerable crafts. If each one of those has exorbitant firepower too, this will throw things out of balance.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:17 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
I'd even go so far as to balance things in a way that trying to countering fighters only with "normal" ship based weapons won't be a viable option. We could reintroduce the "rate of fire" weapon stat, which would just mean how many shots at different targets a single weapon part can fire (basically a weapon part multiplier). Then differentiate weapon parts: high damage/low ROF -> more effective against fewer, but larger targets (ships and planets), but less effective against more, but smaller targets (fighters). Low damage/high ROF would work the other way round. Without fighters it didn't really make enough sense to keep the ROF stat, but with fighters around, we should reconsider that.


This could lead to point defence specific weapons, such as a gatling laser. Maybe researching some of the weapon refinements could increase the ROF instead of increasing the damage.

This could also lead to missiles/torpedoes, fighters that only get one attack.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:18 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
Which means you're going to have to have fighters doing 16+ damage per shot in order to threaten blackshielded ships.

Which would be one less then laser4 - that doesn't seam right.
MatGB wrote:
That's possibly going to end up being very powerful, especially against planets and older designs. Alternatively, let them bypass shields but keep the stats much lower.

MY balancing instincts say the latter is best but either is fine, just be aware of the balancing need to ensure fighters aren't obsolete in the end game (and therefore not going to be used much from the mid game onwards regardless).


Same instincts here :)

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:18 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
I don't see how we can possibly balance fighter weapon strengths just right, so that they aren't too overpowered and also not so weak as to be rendered obsolete too quickly.


There is actually a very simple solution assuming we use different hangars to determine the weapon strength: Fighter hangars with high enough weapon damage to penetrate shields (let's call them bombers) have very low capacity (say, 1-2). Hangars with lower weapon strength have much higher capacity.

Now considering the low capacity, the use of an external part (i.e. using a capital weapon less), the fact that they can be shot down and that they only attack at most 2 times starting at combat round 2, need to be refueled etc. we can easily give them even higher damage than the standard weapons (say factor of 2 or so) which makes them highly effective versus shielded opponents.
Keeping in mind that internal slots become more frequent in the later game and a single bay may cover multiple bomber hangars, the ratio may or may not change in later stages of the game.

The second type of fighters would be spammable (i.e. have high hangar capacity) but have low damage which can not penetrate shields. They have their use both by covering bombers and ships and to shoot down enemy bombers (+their cover) as well.

Assuming we have another screw which is the cost of the parts, that mechanics seem perfectly fine from a balance point of view to me. Now, if it is enough to make for interesting decisions when going for ship designs (bombers or fighters or capital weapons? Ratio of them in a fleet?) is another matter. But I would think that would be a good starting point.

Obviously, capital weapons would still play an important role in providing a steady source of damage, particularly damage in round 1.

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:56 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
I'd even go so far as to balance things in a way that trying to countering fighters only with "normal" ship based weapons won't be a viable option. We could reintroduce the "rate of fire" weapon stat, which would just mean how many shots at different targets a single weapon part can fire (basically a weapon part multiplier). Then differentiate weapon parts: high damage/low ROF -> more effective against fewer, but larger targets (ships and planets), but less effective against more, but smaller targets (fighters). Low damage/high ROF would work the other way round.
This way some weapons could be defensive (more effective against fighters) without adding more weapon types.
I recommend that weak weapons (mass driver or laser) should have a high rate of fire and the other weapons a low rate of fire. This way you have to use weapons with lower damage to protect your fleet against fighters. Using only death-rays will make your fleet vulnerable to fighters.

Vezzra wrote:
Furthermore, separating fighter bays (external part) and fighter hangar (internal part) certainly introduces interestings choices for the player. You can decide between all possible combinations of total fighter capacity and how fast you are able to deploy the fighters in combat (with pros and cons for probably several very different combinations). And we finally have another internal part, one that even stacks, making internal slots siginificantly more important. So I guess I prefer keeping that.
This makes sense to me. I like the idea that you need an external slot as well as (at least) one internal slot in order to use fighters.

AndrewW wrote:
This could also lead to missiles/torpedoes, fighters that only get one attack.
Right, missiles can be treated the same way as fighters: first the missiles are deployed, then they can be destroyed and only the remaining missiles can attack enemy ships. After attacking they will be destroyed. I suggest that missiles don't need an additional internal part, just an external part. This could be the advantage of missiles over fighters. I also think missiles should ignore shields (even if we decide that fighters don't do).

Morlic wrote:
There is actually a very simple solution assuming we use different hangars to determine the weapon strength: Fighter hangars with high enough weapon damage to penetrate shields (let's call them bombers) have very low capacity (say, 1-2). Hangars with lower weapon strength have much higher capacity.
IMO this alternative is more difficult to balance. The problem is that bombers can be destroyed very easy so you have to use many fighters as well to reduce the rate at wich your bombers are destroyed, but on the other hand fighters can be used to destroy bombers.


btw I made many small shoot'em ups or something similar, well I haven't finished any of them but I started making some.
I made many fighter models wich can be used to create icons.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:29 am 
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I intentionally made fighter weapons a separate part from hangars because:
-It keeps all fighters on a given ship the same. If different hangar parts have different weapons strengths, then the various fighters from a ship are different, and there's a bunch of extra stats to keep track of for the player and for the game (ie. which hangar did a fighter come from, instead of which ship).
-Having just one stat per part means only one meter - the capacity - determines the strength or function of the part. This means the standard combination of capacity meter and max capacity meter (eg. for upgrades or replenishment by resupply) works the same.

I do not want to add in extra point-defense specific weapon part (mechanics) with multiple shots per round.
-Already fighters are killed by any shot, even from a damage=1 weapon, which makes for an (hopefully / in my opinion) interesting mechanic where there's no benefit to using upgraded weapons on a ship to defend against fighters. Instead, you'd need lots of external parts with the cheapest weapon available to defend against fighters. As such, countering fighters with the max damage weapons available should already not be cost-efficient (after suitable cost balancing).
-As above, I don't want to add more stats to any individual part, besides the capacity.

Making fighter weapons pierce ship shields seems reasonable to me. I suppose they could also bypass planet shields as well, and target the defense meter first.

Regarding adding extra combat rounds, this hopefully isn't necessary. As of now, if a hangar launches 1 fighter per combat round, and the fighter isn't destroyed, it will shoot 3 times during the combat (2x for the fighter launched in round 1, and 1x for the fighter launched in round 2). This is the same as if it was a normal ship weapon firing once per combat round.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:57 pm 
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Morlic wrote:
There is actually a very simple solution assuming we use different hangars to determine the weapon strength: Fighter hangars with high enough weapon damage to penetrate shields (let's call them bombers) have very low capacity (say, 1-2). Hangars with lower weapon strength have much higher capacity.
Hm, that idea sounds intriguing. It might achieve the interceptor/bomber distinction without actually have to hardcode that in the C++ code, but moving it entirely into the content scripts. And we would not have to give fighters a hardcoded shield piercing ability. That means less extra coding and special case handling on the C++ side.

I'm not 100% sure if that approach will really work in the end, but I'd really like to give it a try. And if it works, that would be quite an elegant solution.

Of course, this approach can only work if we drop the extra "fighter weapon" ship part. Both stats, fighter storage capacity and fighter weapon strength, need to be tied together and therefore determined by the hangar part. Otherwise you can combine each available fighter weapon with each available hangar part, which effectively makes your approach impossible.
Quote:
Now, if it is enough to make for interesting decisions when going for ship designs (bombers or fighters or capital weapons? Ratio of them in a fleet?) is another matter. But I would think that would be a good starting point.
Yep, agreed. And if something doesn't work out well enough, we could always extend the basic framework accordingly.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:26 pm 
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Unnamed wrote:
Morlic wrote:
There is actually a very simple solution assuming we use different hangars to determine the weapon strength: Fighter hangars with high enough weapon damage to penetrate shields (let's call them bombers) have very low capacity (say, 1-2). Hangars with lower weapon strength have much higher capacity.
IMO this alternative is more difficult to balance.
Well, it won't be a piece of cake to get the balance of that approach right (hardcoding interceptors and bombers where bombers get shield piercing ability will be a bit easier to balance, but I don't think that the difference here will be that great), but I think it might be doable.
Quote:
The problem is that bombers can be destroyed very easy so you have to use many fighters as well to reduce the rate at wich your bombers are destroyed, but on the other hand fighters can be used to destroy bombers.
This is where Morlics suggestion to make bombers significantly more effective than capital ship based direct fire weapons comes in. If a bomber can land a hit, it will do siginificantly more damage, so it's a far more dangerous weapon. But it's also far more vulnerable. Having to provide sufficient fighter cover for your bombers does make a lot of sense to me (and it's even very realistic ;)). If you don't have enough fighters to supress your enemy's fighter force, your bombers will get shot down. Bombers without fighter cover won't work.

That the fighters (the interceptor kind) serve a double role isn't a problem at all IMO. They are crucial, because you need them both for defence against enemy bombers as well as to protect your bombers. So they are the backbone of your fighter force. The bombers are the specialized type you need to add to that force to actually be able to damage capital ships. I don't think it will be too hard to balance interceptors and bombers, what will turn out to be the far greater challenge is for the player to figure out the right mixture for his fleet. If we get that mechanic just right, we may have something where there isn't an optimal mix, because which mix works better might depend on how the forces you encounter are composed. If you face a foe that fields lots of cheap PD ships you might need a very different mix than if you face a force that relies heavily on interceptors.
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I made many fighter models wich can be used to create icons.
If you have already finished artwork, no need to wait to post it (or better, provide respective PRs). You don't have to wait for the game to be able to use them now.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:38 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
It keeps all fighters on a given ship the same.
Obviously. Although that can also be achieved by allowing just one type of hanger on a design.

Nevertheless, that's a major point why I dislike it, I find that unnecessarily restrictive. Once I have access to hulls with lots of internal slots, I'd want to be able to keep the mixture of fighters of my choice on a single carrier, than to have to build a dedicated carrier for each single fighter type I want to deploy. That actually makes things more tedious for me as a player - more different designs to maintain, having to deploy several carriers where I could do with just one. Some players might prefer it that way, but others might want to use a different approach. By forcing carriers to carry only one type of fighters, we needlessly take away choices from the player (IMO).
Quote:
If different hangar parts have different weapons strengths, then the various fighters from a ship are different, and there's a bunch of extra stats to keep track of for the player and for the game (ie. which hangar did a fighter come from, instead of which ship).
I think here you've lost me. I can't see how your approach makes things any easier/simpler for the player to keep track of. On the coding side things will be a bit more complex, but that will be more than worth it for not having to sacrifice choices, flexibility, and last but not least, intuitivity. The current setup with the fighter weapon as a ship part of the carrier is very counter-intuitive.

As a player, I won't have to keep track of from which hangar a fighter comes from. I won't even keep track of from which ship it comes - why on earth should I? Fighter launch and recovery is done automatically, so only the game engine has to keep track of these things. What other extra stats do you have in mind? I can't think of any off the top of my hat.

What I actually do have to keep track of is more different type of carriers if each carrier can only carry one type of fighter. Don't get me wrong, building carriers with only one type of fighter definitely has some advantages of its own, can and should be a viably strategy. But as a player I want the choice.

From a players POV I'd actually prefer to have the hangar part and the fighter weapon part combined, instead of split in two. More intuitive and simpler.
Quote:
-Having just one stat per part means only one meter - the capacity - determines the strength or function of the part. This means the standard combination of capacity meter and max capacity meter (eg. for upgrades or replenishment by resupply) works the same.
I can see where that keeps the code simpler, but again, from a players perspective? Not at all. As the system is currently set up, players hardly keep track of meters on the ship part level. If those meters are paired is practically hidden from the player.

So what if we introduce parts that actually have two paired meters? Right now the only difference for the player is that those two meters (fighter storage capacity and fighter weapon strength) is provided by two different ship parts (which for most use cases need to be placed together on a design to work as intended, meaning, we more or less have a multi-part ship part at hand, something we'd always tried to avoid?), instead of one. Meaning, on the ships level, the player has to deal with both stats anyway, and the way these stats are presented to the player on ship and fleet level it makes absolutely no difference if those stats are provided by one or two parts "under the hood".

Actually, most of the time the player deals with combat stats on the fleet (or even system) level. That's why we have summary stats for fleets. And with fighters, we're going to need a new stat icon that displays the total number of fighters in a fleet, with a tootip breakdown detailing how many of each fighter type (=fighters with a specific weapon strength) are present in a fleet. I definitely don't want to go counting how many of each type of carrier I have in a fleet (and, if I'm not in supply range, how much fighters each one still carries), to get an idea of the state of my fighter force.

What I'm getting at, as far as I can see now, it's almost completely irrelevant for the player if you have one type of part providing two stats or two parts each providing one stat. If anything, as already stated above, having extra parts for each stat makes things more complicated and less intuitive to use in this case, especially when designing carriers.

Besides the restriction to one fighter type per carrier the counter-intuitive aspect of the current approach bothers me most. I mean, I have to place a fighter weapon as a ship part on a ship design - ugh. That's one more case where taking the "no realism" concept to the extreme actually backfired IMO. Because for me that again goes beyond the point where it breaks immersion. Even if the solution were "technically" simple and elegant (which, see above, I don't think it is), it's not "aesthetically". Sure, we can come up with fluff explanations for probably anything, but from a game design perspective it still looks kind of ugly.

I'd expect new players to be confused at first about how those parts are intended to work together. I definitely would be.

And finally, having to place three different types of parts on a design for fighters to work, besides the counter-intuitivity, will make things even harder to balance. I expect having to deal with separate hangars and fighter bay parts will already prove enough of a challenge in that regard, adding another part will complicate things even more.

Bottom line, I see no real benefits (beside less code complexity) with the current extra fighter weapon ship part approach, but a lot of complications and restrictions.

Morlics suggestion above how to balance fighter weapon strength against shields in a way that actually works is an excellent example for what I'm talking about. That suggestion, if it works (and it looks promising so far IMO), would be simple, elegant and flexible. It would even make things simpler on the C++ side of things (no need to have different hardcoded basic types of fighters like interceptors and bombers, no need to make fighter weapons shield-piercing). But it won't be possible with your approach.

Meaning, while making things less complex on the C++ side as far as part meters are concerned, it makes things much more complicated regarding other parts, even on the C++ side. So what do you gain in the end?
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I do not want to add in extra point-defense specific weapon part (mechanics) with multiple shots per round.
-Already fighters are killed by any shot, even from a damage=1 weapon, which makes for an (hopefully / in my opinion) interesting mechanic where there's no benefit to using upgraded weapons on a ship to defend against fighters. Instead, you'd need lots of external parts with the cheapest weapon available to defend against fighters. As such, countering fighters with the max damage weapons available should already not be cost-efficient (after suitable cost balancing).
As I already stated in an earlier post, I definitely see the potential here, and I like it. The reason I began to contemplate the ROF thing is because I expect all those fighter techs to have various refinments - improved fighter bays that can launch more fighters per combat turn, improved hangar capacity, improved fighter weapons. The first two will mean that each carrier will be able to field more fighters more quickly in combat. On the other hand we have the basic mass driver as the only other effective (because cheap) defensive weapon against fighters (beside your own fighters), which can't be upgraded at all, at least not in a way that makes it more effective against fighters. So my idea was, how about being able to fit more MDs on a ship for the same costs, like the fighter part upgrades let you field larger fighter forces for the same costs?. As it's not possible to put multiple parts in one slot, the idea was to have a stat that effectively multiplies a weapon. Which naturally lead to the ROF idea.

Unless you want to be fighters the only viable counter-strategy to fighters, we'll have to come up with something that allows us to improve non-fighter defensive means against fighters. Otherwise the only option a player has is to build more and more MD equipped PD ships, which will get increasingly cost-inefficient the more advanced the fighter techs get. Resulting in fighters as the clearly optimal and therefore only viable strategy to defend against fighters - and I guess that's not what you want, do you?

If you've other/better ideas how to counter fighters, I'm all ears. A solution that works without introducing an additional stat will be certainly preferable.
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As above, I don't want to add more stats to any individual part, besides the capacity.
Honestly, I don't get your reluctance against introducing more stats. If you want adding something like fighters, and want them to work in an intuitive and fun way, you'll have to accept that this comes with added complexity, e.g. in the form of additional meters/stats. I do understand that you want to keep things as simple as possible for the player (KISS is one of the fundamental believes of the FreeOrion project after all ;)), but the way you try to achieve it strikes me as counter-productive now and then.

What I mean is, more stats don't necessarily equal more complicated, or maybe better, avoiding additional stats at all costs doesn't necessarily mean things will be less complicated that way. Especially if you have to provide workarounds to achieve a working game mechanic that in the end will make things more complicated than if you just added another stat.
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Making fighter weapons pierce ship shields seems reasonable to me. I suppose they could also bypass planet shields as well, and target the defense meter first.
Ouch! That would make fighters extremely overpowered against planetary defences. Keep in mind that planetary defences only have one (albeit very powerful) shot each combat round, which already makes them ineffective against a fleet of many small ships. With fighters, this is going to get a lot worse. I mean, even the most powerful planetary defences can shoot down only three fighters per combat. If fighters can bypass planetary shields on top of that, that means colonies are almost defenseless against fighters. Anyone who doesn't go fighters will play a very suboptimal game... and that's a bad thing I guess?


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:05 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
Although that can also be achieved by allowing just one type of hanger on a design.
Such a part restriction is not currently (or at least well) supported, and would be complicated to implement, particularly in a way that works well with the design UI.
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I can't see how your approach makes things any easier/simpler for the player to keep track of.
[...]
...I'd want to be able to keep the mixture of fighters of my choice on a single carrier...
There is currently / could be just one stat to track for fighters: their damage. No need to have multiple types any more than you'd "need" multiple weapon types on a ship. And having multiple types of fighter on one ship has other problems, such as then needing to prioritize / order fighter launches by type given limited launches per combat round. And the player would want to know / the UI would need to show numbers of multiple types of fighter per ship, instead of just one stat for number of fighters. Also, one can achieve a desired ratio of particular types of fighter by building the appropriate ratio of their corresponding ship designs, without need to have a fraction of the fighters on each ship have different properties.
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...more different designs to maintain...
I suspect the opposite.
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The current setup with the fighter weapon as a ship part of the carrier is very counter-intuitive.
But easily explained and understood.
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As a player, I won't have to keep track of from which hangar a fighter comes from.
The game does internally.
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But as a player I want the choice
More stuff to choose from is not necessarily better.
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As the system is currently set up, players hardly keep track of meters on the ship part level.
They would need to if there are multiple types of fighter in one ship. With just one fighter behaviour for a ship, there can be just one "fighter count" UI indicator (like fuel), and one a "fighter weapon strength" indicator.
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So what if we introduce parts that actually have two paired meters?
I originally starting adding a second meter to a fighter-related part, but dropped it and switched to separate part types with one purpose each. A part being described by a single stat is very preferable for player understanding and UI display of the relevant info. There's also already some ambiguity between "capacity" and "damage" in ship parts, and I wanted to avoid having both mean something distinct for a single part. Once I got into the implementation, it felt like the wrong approach.

Next I was going to have an empire-wide fighter damage stat, but thought that was too limiting, particularly as species seemed likely to be something that would vary from ship to ship and would be expected to modify fighter damage.
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...the way these stats are presented to the player on ship and fleet level it makes absolutely no difference if those stats are provided by one or two parts "under the hood".
UI problems arise when you have multiple values of these stats that can't be summarized in a single number for a ship.
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I mean, I have to place a fighter weapon as a ship part on a ship design - ugh. That's one more case where taking the "no realism" concept to the extreme actually backfired IMO.
I don't see how this a "realism" problem. To maintain fighters, a carrier would need suitable equipment for the fighter's weapons. The part represents that.
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It would even make things simpler on the C++ side of things ([...], no need to make fighter weapons shield-piercing).
Making fighter weapons shield piercing would involve removing a dozen or so lines of existing code and related adjustments and would actually simplify the relevant function.
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I expect all those fighter techs to have various refinments - improved fighter bays that can launch more fighters per combat turn, improved hangar capacity, improved fighter weapons.
Hangar capacity doesn't really affect ship/fighter performance in one battle. Upgrading fighter weapons or launch rate is pretty much the same as upgrading a ship weapon. I don't see why this is a problem for fighters but not other weapons... as with a bunch of other balance discussion that followed. But regardless, upgrades for fighter parts don't need to work the same as for direct fire weapons.
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If you've other/better ideas how to counter fighters, I'm all ears.
Destroy the ship that carries them, as with "countering" other ship weapons...?
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What I mean is, more stats don't necessarily equal more complicated, or maybe better, avoiding additional stats at all costs doesn't necessarily mean things will be less complicated that way.
I am no objecting to "complicated" as a concept. I'm trying to avoid specific issues that having multiple meters on a part would cause for this application.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:39 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
Of course, this approach can only work if we drop the extra "fighter weapon" ship part. Both stats, fighter storage capacity and fighter weapon strength, need to be tied together and therefore determined by the hangar part. Otherwise you can combine each available fighter weapon with each available hangar part, which effectively makes your approach impossible.


I guess, it would still be possible by coupling them using FOCS effects (bomber-style weapons setting hangar capacity to X / reducing by Y on the same ship).

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