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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:02 pm 
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Now back to the fighters discussion (after being distracted for two weeks ;))...
Morlic wrote:
If we go with shield-piercing weapons, I guess that is a concept which might be worth pursuing. We could introduce some empire meter determining which shields can be pierced and have techs dedicated for that purpose.

While we probably should avoid all-or-nothing mechanics, an idea would be to reduce the damage by some percentage.
For example
Code:
 Damage = floor(FighterDamage * min(1, ShieldPiercing/ShieldStrength))
I'm not sure if you're talking about introducing other shield piercing weapons besides fighters (which would be a separate discussion) or shield piercing fighters here, but for the basic concept of shield piercing weapons that's probably irrelevant.

So anyway, very similar ideas regarding shield piercing weapons have been brought up before, and been rejected because the suggested mechanics have been too complicated without adding a sufficiently interesting dynamic. I'd say, before we think about opening that can of worms (several levels of shields/shield piercing weapons), we should implement the far simpler concept we've now, where we have only one type of shield and one special type of weapon (fighters) that can pierce shields. We just need to make sure that the shield piercing fighters have a distinct and clear disadvantage compared to direct fire weapons that balances their powerful advantage of being able to bypass shields.

The simplest approach would be to make them significantly less cost effective in terms of raw damage output. That would mean that against unshielded opponents direct fire weapons would be much more effective, because the shield piercing bonus is useless in this case. Meaning, against enemies who field heavily shielded ships, fighters would be the weapon of choice, against enemies who field unshielded ships (which have the advantage of being cheaper after all) direct fire weapons are the way to go. That, and their vulnerability against cheap PD-yish weapons (which capships with heavy direct fire weapons are immune against) should balance them nicely.

How well that is going to work out in reality remains to be seen, but to get there we'll have to go ahead and implement the thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:32 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
That the test parts are preunlocked does not mean that fighters need to be preunlocked. At the least, I'd expect a player to have to research as much as for Laser weapons to get fighter parts...
That would definitely work better I guess. The basic fighter tech should probably be on the same tier as shields, if not one tier further down the tech tree.
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Quote:
Maybe we just let each fighter deal one point of damage...
I hoped to have a way to have zero-damage fighters be available and useful as decoys.
Hm, yes, in that case there's no way around the fighter weapon strength stat. I'm not sure however if the concept of zero damage "decoy drones" (as I'd call them) in itself is an interesting enough game element to introduce the added complexity of the extra fighter weapon strength stat. For that to work, these decoys would have to be really cheap, but if they are too cheap, they might get overpowered to quickly, thus difficult to balance... hard to say without actually implementing the feature and starting to get into some serious playing with numbers and testing...
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But for the first armed fighters, giving them shield-piercing damage = 1 seems fine. Later in the content progress / tech tree, a new part could become available to give fighters increased damage, perhaps, akin to getting the next tier of ship weapon, whereas refinements to increase hangar capacity and launch rate would be more like ship weapon refinements.
Yes, that sounds like a reasonable and interesting idea worth trying.
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That's perhaps another reason to tie fighter damage to the hangar, as things could be set up so the increase in fighter damage requires a whole new part, while capacity could be increased with refinements (but those refinements wouldn't transfer to the next tier of hangar / fighter).
Yup, this too sounds good to me. That whole concept should offer interesting choices for the player.
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Implementing the one-type-of-hangar-per-design restriction will require some working out how to do it nicely in the UI, though...
Yeah, I know. It's not that I don't see the complications regarding the implementation of such a UI mechanic. But as already mentioned earlier, I think we need that anyway, regardless if we tie the fighter weapon strength stat to the hangar or an extra part, which also needs to be restricted to one per design (regardless how the restriction is enforced). Right now we use stacking groups to ensure only the stat provided by one part is used (whether it's shields, or stealth parts, or whatever), but that's not really very user friendly...


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:01 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
We just need to make sure that the shield piercing fighters have a distinct and clear disadvantage compared to direct fire weapons that balances their powerful advantage of being able to bypass shields.
[...]That, and their vulnerability against cheap PD-yish weapons (which capships with heavy direct fire weapons are immune against) should balance them nicely.
More so, a destroyed fighter can't be launched if not replenished by resupply, unless an extra part is added to regenerate fighters away from supply, similar to discussed general ship field repair parts. This makes fighter-based ships more suited to defense than offensive uses.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:29 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Vezzra wrote:
We just need to make sure that the shield piercing fighters have a distinct and clear disadvantage compared to direct fire weapons that balances their powerful advantage of being able to bypass shields.
[...]That, and their vulnerability against cheap PD-yish weapons (which capships with heavy direct fire weapons are immune against) should balance them nicely.
More so, a destroyed fighter can't be launched if not replenished by resupply, unless an extra part is added to regenerate fighters away from supply, similar to discussed general ship field repair parts. This makes fighter-based ships more suited to defense than offensive uses.


Just a thought: while a ship has a shield, a single fighters reduce it by the amount of $tech1 (something like 'shield deflector targeting system') for the current combat and deal no damage at all to the structure. This would be overpowered if the fighters are the first to act during combat and is useless if they are the last to act (assuming shields refill during turns). If a ship doesn't have any shield (left) they act as a light weapon which can be upgraded with $tech2 (laser, plasma.... ). A carrier would do less damage to an enemy with higher shields while still being be of great value to a mixed fleet.

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:15 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Vezzra wrote:
We just need to make sure that the shield piercing fighters have a distinct and clear disadvantage compared to direct fire weapons that balances their powerful advantage of being able to bypass shields.
[...]That, and their vulnerability against cheap PD-yish weapons (which capships with heavy direct fire weapons are immune against) should balance them nicely.
More so, a destroyed fighter can't be launched if not replenished by resupply, unless an extra part is added to regenerate fighters away from supply, similar to discussed general ship field repair parts. This makes fighter-based ships more suited to defense than offensive uses.


Fighters as of now can only be destroyed in actual combat. The fact that the carrier still lives after that combat implies that we won the battle. If we won the battle and were on the offensive side, then usually we can follow up the battle by taking a planet (which would replenish our fighters).

Anyway, if we won a battle then we usually will have gained a resource advantage. The enemy may not replenish its fleet as easily as we our fighters.

So the only case where it would really matter is a major battle which rages on for more than one turn and where we have to retreat as we ran out of fighters. Again, this only matters if the fight has not been decided yet after that first combat.

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:54 pm 
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banduri wrote:
Just a thought: while a ship has a shield, a single fighters reduce it by the amount of $tech1 (something like 'shield deflector targeting system') for the current combat and deal no damage at all to the structure. This would be overpowered if the fighters are the first to act during combat and is useless if they are the last to act (assuming shields refill during turns). If a ship doesn't have any shield (left) they act as a light weapon which can be upgraded with $tech2 (laser, plasma.... ). A carrier would do less damage to an enemy with higher shields while still being be of great value to a mixed fleet.
So basically, that would mean instead of being a shield piercing weapon fighters would act as shield depleters. Not as powerful as shield piercers, but still an effective anti-shield weapon. An interesting idea, but not interesting enough I think. It will add substantial complexity for only a moderately more interesting mechanic at best.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:26 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
The simplest approach would be to make them significantly less cost effective in terms of raw damage output. That would mean that against unshielded opponents direct fire weapons would be much more effective, because the shield piercing bonus is useless in this case. Meaning, against enemies who field heavily shielded ships, fighters would be the weapon of choice, against enemies who field unshielded ships (which have the advantage of being cheaper after all) direct fire weapons are the way to go. That, and their vulnerability against cheap PD-yish weapons (which capships with heavy direct fire weapons are immune against) should balance them nicely.

I agree with this, I'm currently at about turn 150 of a game in which I've gone over the top on organic stealth with fighters (to test the balance/potential of stealthed carriers, mostly) and it's great fun to play but already complex in many respects.

I like the simplicity of the current fighter implementation meaning they're low powered but shield piercing, unable to attack planets and unable to replenish supplies unless they've "won" an attack (not sure how the game works that out but I've had more than one fight where my carriers were invulnerable but they'd been unable to do enough damage to the enemy ships in a target system to establish supply so I had to withdraw to replensih fighters, the first time this happened I was pleased as I had thought it wasn't working properly).

However, as the game is developing 2 damage fighters simply aren't cutting it, in the early game where you've got Standard hulls and maybe low armoured Robotic or Asteroid hull opponents they're really good, but when the AI has put together heavily armoured hulls (even Robotic with Zortrium) then it starts to be relatively ineffective, almost to the point where they're not worth using.

So, keeping it simple proposal: When fighters are replenished they're replaced with current top of the range fighters (I'm remembering the scenes in Babylon 5 where they got resupplied with the new Starfuries, etc), and we have a small number of stat boosts for fighter weapons.

Currently, Fighters are at strength 2, always. Defence Grid is strength 3.

I propose we have additional tiers at just below the shield level, which would also, of course, be just below the tier 1 weapon level, equivalent to Bad Pilots.

So we have techs that upgrade fighter damage to 4ish, 8ish and 14ish. Perhaps link the techs in the to require the shield tech as a prerequisite (so in order to have 14 damage fighters you need to have researched the—probably overpriced currently—Blackshield tech).

Exact numbers and costings to be determined, but keeping it simple appeals to me.

A note on Flak: With the current overall weapons, parts, hull costing paradigm, and the current upkeep mechanism, I am never going to deliberately build a ship with flak guns. I'd rather have another death ray and sometimes have it take out a fighter. Obviously, this is hard to test and be sure about as the AI isn't building ships using fighters, but it's just not something I'm going to waste a slot on.

HOWEVER. If we make the change we've discussed more than once to upkeep per slot used instead of per hull (which I much prefer, in theory, as I'm really enjoying mixed powe fleets and building frigates into the late game even though it's inefficient), then there is a way they'd get used: reduced, or no, upkeep, for flak weapons.

This, of course, opens a different can of worms, but I'm very much of the opinion we need to change the way upkeep works anyway, so it's a valid can to open I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2016 8:21 pm 
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Fighter damage from the hangar, damage and capacity both as hangar meters, and direct fire weapon damage and shots per attack both as direct fire weapon meters are implemented now.

There's still no enforcement of not using multiple different hangar types on one design, though, so expect the unexpected if you mix hangar types.

I also added related set part meter effects for the shots per attack and fighter damage (both the parts' "secondary stat"), and added related effects to the various species weapon macros.

I also added a variety of hangar types, with semi-arbitrary capacities and fighter damage statistics.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:29 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Fighter damage from the hangar, damage and capacity both as hangar meters, and direct fire weapon damage and shots per attack both as direct fire weapon meters are implemented now.

There's still no enforcement of not using multiple different hangar types on one design, though, so expect the unexpected if you mix hangar types.

I also added related set part meter effects for the shots per attack and fighter damage (both the parts' "secondary stat"), and added related effects to the various species weapon macros.

I also added a variety of hangar types, with semi-arbitrary capacities and fighter damage statistics.


This is an awesome new feature! I've noticed that if a ship has enough bays to launch all its fighters the first round, the total attack damage reported in the Ship Design and Fleet UI's is increased by 2(Hanger Capacity * Hanger Damage) This seems wrong if my understanding of how fighters currently work is correct, shouldn't it be more like 2/3 total fighter damage in that case?

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:26 am 
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Bluehand wrote:
...shouldn't it be more like 2/3 total fighter damage in that case?
I don't think so... A fighter launched round 1 would attack twice. Why would the ship attack be only 2/3 of that sum?


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:37 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Bluehand wrote:
...shouldn't it be more like 2/3 total fighter damage in that case?
I don't think so... A fighter launched round 1 would attack twice. Why would the ship attack be only 2/3 of that sum?


Normal weapons fire in all three combat rounds, fighters fire in two of three at most. A Mass Driver 1 does 3 damage in each round for a total of 9 damage, whereas a 3 damage fighter attacks in two rounds for a total of 6 damage. I would calculate each fighter as having 2/3 the attack rating of direct fire weapons because of this(or 1/3 for fighters launched in the second round who only fire once), though I can see reasons for not displaying them as such. It is important to be able to take into account the launching of second round of fighters in the ship damage ratings, but if all three rounds are added up, the direct fire damage ratings should increase accordingly as well.

Either way, there seem to be errors in the way the UI displays ship Total Attack ratings which include Fighters.

As an example, a ship with 3x Hanger 3 and 3x Fighter Bay is reported as having 108 Total Attack. The actual total damage output of all fighters per round is 36 (6 fighters doing 6 damage each) and in a full combat another 36 for the third round for a grand total of 72. If a ship is equipped with an equivalent arsenal of direct fire weapons (e.g. 6x Mass Driver 4) it will do 36 damage per round, do 108 damage across all three rounds, and have its Total Attack reported as 36.

A hull with 2 of the same Bays and Hangers is reported as having 72 damage. If I add a hanger the damage is unchanged. I don't understand it.

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:00 pm 
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I suppose it depends on what you mean by "total fighter damage" then.

A fighter launched in round 1 shoots twice, so it is counted as doing 2*damage_per_shot.

If fighters are being counted for each shot, but direct fire for just one shot per battle, then yes, that's overstating the fighter damage.


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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:26 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
I suppose it depends on what you mean by "total fighter damage" then.


I'm referring specifically to how the UI displays the damage of ships in the Ship Design window under "Total Attack" and the Fleet window under "Fleet Damage" and "Ship Damage." The main issue is that the calculation isn't consistent with actual damage, regardless of whether that's per round or per combat.

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 2:55 am 
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I submitted a pull request which expands the fighter parts somewhat, and add techs for them.

https://github.com/freeorion/freeorion/pull/525

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 Post subject: Re: Fighters & Carriers
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:43 pm 
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I'd like to offer you all a more abstract set of observations about this entire notion.

Up until now your handling of combat reflects pre-naval aviation thinking in the real world. Big ships with big guns over power small ships with small guns. There's a bit of a hiccup in the analogy because you don't have torpedoes so there's no equivalent of torpedo boats and while stealth allows surprise attacks which are a bit like submarines, the subs have to surface and fire their guns.

If you introduce fighters, or interceptors and bombers, you will change the way that combat is approached. Whether shield piercing or by simple power, once space fighters are effective against big ships clouds of fighters will be more effective than battleships.

How would I combat carriers in another fleet? I would send in a soak off attack that specifically targets carriers. Even if suicidal, it would make sense. I'd have stealthed ships pop up and make targeted attacks on the carriers. If you give me torpedoes, their first target will be the carriers. If I have carriers and fighters, I absolutely need those fighters to target the other guy's carriers. The entire "random target selection" becomes onerous, because you've created different classes of ships with different combat mechanics that pretty much demand special treatment in combat.

BTW: Ships will need to be able to detect launched fighters so that stealthed carriers break stealth, otherwise you've created a real mess.

I think the idea of adding fighters to the game is very interesting, but I strongly recommend you step back from viewing them as additional ship parts, or how to balance them within your existing combat model and, wipe the page clean and evaluate how a combat model would evolve given that capability.

There is a reason that the aircraft carrier and the ability of an aircraft to sink a capital ship doomed the battleship. This decision is far more structural to the game than just adding a weapons system.


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