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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:45 pm 
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Design discussion for this PR by TheSilentOne1
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Pretty much done, tested and should be working, except I haven't taught the AI to utilize this. If someone from the AI team would take this on, that'd be great.

At this point (but note the idea below), I think I would ***not*** want the AI team to implement support for this, because I think if an AI went on a planet-destroying rampage it would make for an un-fun game and really piss people off. I question the whole idea of making more planet/system destruction content, but it seems especially poor for the AI.

Design-wise: DeathStar capability that only requires surviving a single round of combat seems over-powered to me. If we want such a thing at all I think it would need to be astronomically expensive, ***at least*** an order of magnitude more expensive than now, perhaps two orders of magnitude. Mostly, though, I think it should require a longer period of time, by working with specials that get applied to the planet, advancing them along a sequence of at least like 4 or five specials before destruction occurs (and if the deathstar ship is destroyed or leaves the system then the specials cycle back down one per turn or just totally disappear right away). And even then I think it should be much more expensive than the current cost.

Overall, though, even with the changes I propose above, I am doubtful of this being good to add to default content. Perhaps have a new Rule "Allow Planet-Destroying-Attack Content", defaulting to False/No, which would gate availability of this ship part (and perhaps Nova Bomb also, or perhaps generalize to include things like Gateway to the Void). Then gated by such a rule I could see the AI being enabled to use this part, there being some chance that a maniacal AI might choose to go on a planet destruction rampage.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:14 pm 
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I had been planning on doing something to the Spinal Antimatter Cannon to give it the ability to blow planets up, but it would be gated over both time and involve multiple bombards, wasn't sure how to go about it so put it lower on the list.

I have zero clue about balance for it and agree that having the AI use it outside of scripted scenarios would be a Bad Thing (having said that, the Vorlons going on a planet killing rampage in B5 was a cool plot), but having it as an overcosted option for players (alongside the Nova Bomb which needs some work as well) isn't something I'm too averse to, but it needs to be very hard to pull off without being stupid (the current nova bomb implementation makes it unworkable, same for the black hole collapser and it's why I made the planetary beacon ship part).

Having the ability to blow planets up is something we should have. Making it easy isn't something that we should consider.

Plus while I approve having it follow the SpAM in tech, I think having it as an upgrade for that rather than a new part makes more sense.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:18 pm 
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Dilvish wrote:
DeathStar capability that only requires surviving a single round of combat seems over-powered to me.
I agree that balancing the PDC is something that needs to be discussed and adressed. I see multiple ways to prevent the PDC from being overpowered:
  • give it a high influence or PP upkeep
  • high base PP cost
  • influence penalty whenever the cannon is used
  • diplomatic penalties whenever the cannon is used
  • have rebels spawn on worlds with the same species or metabolism type (as on the planet that is destroyed)
  • give the cannon a load-up before or a recharge time after firing

Also, using the PDC also means that you will lose a world which, had you conquered it, would have been giving you PP/RP in a matter of a few turns. I see plenty of ways to get the balancing right.

Dilvish wrote:
Perhaps have a new Rule "Allow Planet-Destroying-Attack Content", defaulting to False/No, which would gate availability of this ship part (and perhaps Nova Bomb also, or perhaps generalize to include things like Gateway to the Void).
A "no doomsday devices" option sounds reasonable, though I'd like to see them enabled by default. Doomsday weapons are part of what makes space games like FreeOrion fun.

Dilvish wrote:
I think if an AI went on a planet-destroying rampage it would make for an un-fun game and really piss people off.
Why? I think it will add to the game. Imagine this (future) scenario:
My Guisache people are deeply scared because Droxxona, the easily offended Eaxxaw matriarch of Persei Omicron 7, which has a bonus and a passion for researching doomsday devices, has her death star close to my borders and I really need a quick strike fleet to prevent her from blowing up my border worlds; and I'm racing to research the PDC myself before a doomsday reseach ban is passed by the galactic council. I have no love for the robot empire in the outer reaches of the spiral and my people won't complain about a few melted machines.

MatGB wrote:
Plus while I approve having it follow the SpAM in tech, I think having it as an upgrade for that rather than a new part makes more sense.
I think it may be difficult to implement, because the PDC is a different type of ship part (planet destruction) than the SpAM (which is a short range beam weapon). Also, the PDC currently doesn't deal damage (which would contribute to it being overpowered). As it is now, the PDC competes with the SpAM for the core slot(s).

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:46 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
I see multiple ways to prevent the PDC from being overpowered:
  • give it a high influence or PP upkeep
  • high base PP cost
  • influence penalty whenever the cannon is used
  • diplomatic penalties whenever the cannon is used
  • have rebels spawn on worlds with the same species or metabolism type (as on the planet that is destroyed)
  • give the cannon a load-up before or a recharge time after firing
Building on this, would it be possible with current game mechanics (FOCS) to require the PDC to complete a PP-consuming project? (say 5 turns and 500 PPs or something like that). This would imply that you can't destroy planets that are outside of your (hidden) supply line.

Or it could consume fuel from the PDC ship instead of PPs from the supply line, way more than what a single ship can carry unless overloaded of tanks, with numbers on how fast you can consume that fuel and how much is required adjusted to ensure that you need several turns and/or several PDC ships to perform the killing shot.

Or a completely new hull, specific to carry the immensely huge cannon that should be required to destroy a whole planet (the PDC would be a built-in characteristic of that hull), and maybe relatively useless for other purposes (say it should be extremely slow to move, easily detectable and relatively easy to destroy if not heavely undefended), could be introduced. One such ship would require several times the PPs and turns required to build a Solar hull.

Or the cannon could be a planetary building instead of a ship part. Therefore you should build that building on a given planet and then use the game mechanics to move it into the planetary system where you want it to wreak havoc. And it could be conquered and used against you!


Also, regardless of any of the previous, bigger planets could require more time/energy/firepower to be destroyed.

Just tossing some ideas.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:02 pm 
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Oberlus wrote:
Or a completely new hull, specific to carry the immensely huge cannon that should be required to destroy a whole planet (the PDC would be a built-in characteristic of that hull), and maybe relatively useless for other purposes (say it should be extremely slow to move, easily detectable and relatively easy to destroy if not heavely undefended), could be introduced. One such ship would require several times the PPs and turns required to build a Solar hull.
I like this idea. We could easily introduce a new slot type that only doomsday weapons fit in (e.g. the nova bomb), and have only one hull that offers this slot; and that hull would be slow and easy to detect.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:25 pm 
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How about stationary and not in combat for a couple of turns?

EDIT: Or with full health .

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:40 pm 
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I share Dilvish's concern that planetary destruction could be an un-fun mechanic.

There is no give and take to a planetary destruction mechanic. With conquest, a player can strategically give up territory in a conflict and recover it later. There is an ebb and flow to conquest, which is fun. With planetary destruction the territory is destroyed and there is no way to recover or "play" with the mechanic.

If planetary destruction is costed competitively, then it creates a must win race, adding to the steamroller effect already in the game.

Planetary destruction is a spoiler mechanic, which allows an empire to permanently remove resources from the universe degrading the overall quality of the universe.

Some of the late game technologies are powerful, destroying planets, creating starlanes etc. In order for the game to be fun for a larger audience, we need to balance the destructive techs with constructive techs and limit entropy. Otherwise, all long games will inevitably end with galaxy strewn with destruction.

I'd suggest increasing the available types of asteroid belts so there are 5 sizes corresponding to the planet sizes. Then planetary destruction reduces a planet to asteroids of the appropriate size and an empire with the Artificial Planet technology could restore the planet.

Dilvish's suggestion to build up a planet destruction sequence over many turns is a good suggestion. I would also reset the clock if the deathstar is damaged in combat. This causes interactivity and gives the defending empire an opportunity and incentive to build/gather a fleet and counterattack even if only to reset the clock.

Some of the other drawbacks suggested, don't currently have any in-game effect: influence is not implemented; diplomacy is irrelevant, all AIs already declare war on everyone.

Making the planetary destruction part expensive, is not a mechanic that the defending player can directly interact with since opposing empires production queues are neither visible nor alterable.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:10 pm 
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Not had the opportunity to pull yet, does the current implementation actually destroy the planet, or leave it intact with some flag/special?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:17 am 
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It turns the planet into an asteroid belt, and remove colonies/outposts.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:34 pm 
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LGM-Doyle wrote:
I'd suggest increasing the available types of asteroid belts so there are 5 sizes corresponding to the planet sizes. Then planetary destruction reduces a planet to asteroids of the appropriate size and an empire with the Artificial Planet technology could restore the planet.

I really like this idea regardless of the cannon, it's still virtually pointless to use artificial planet on asteroids despite the cost rebalance I did, and some asteroids are effectively small planet size anyway.

Perhaps it could also have a mechanic where asteroid shipyards can only build certain types of ship in larger fields and/or fields get exhausted and reduced in size over time?

But yes, you make good points.
thesilentone wrote:
the PDC is a different type of ship part (planet destruction) than the SpAM (which is a short range beam weapon)
See, we can rewrite and content, but the actual definition of what the SpAM currently is is "a waste of PP and slot", playing around with it needs to happen because while it's a very cool idea it's a bit too limited as is, and it could easily be redescribed: it shoots antimatter projectiles, make them big enough, anything goes boom.

Either is fine really, it's just if we add a different thing in then the SpAM remains useless and I'd like to make it cool.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:48 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
See, we can rewrite and content, but the actual definition of what the SpAM currently is is "a waste of PP and slot", playing around with it needs to happen because while it's a very cool idea it's a bit too limited as is, and it could easily be redescribed: it shoots antimatter projectiles, make them big enough, anything goes boom.
That's not what I meant, I'm sure the upgrade could be explained satisfactorily to the player. However, in the source code the SpAM is handled as a different ship part than the PDC, and afaik it is currently not possible to upgrade a "PC_DIRECT_WEAPON" to a "PC_DESTROY". What I meant to express is a direct upgrade (like the one in place for the beam weapons) may not be so easy to implement.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:07 pm 
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Effectsgroup. Any part can be given an effectsgroup alongside it's main stats. And effects can be gated based on whether you've got a tech, we do that a lot already.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:18 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
Effectsgroup. Any part can be given an effectsgroup alongside it's main stats. And effects can be gated based on whether you've got a tech, we do that a lot already.
Ah, that's good to know, I'm a total noob when it comes to FOCS. So SpAM >> PDC upgrade, sounds good.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:14 pm 
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I've added a gamerule that allows to disable doomsday weapons; so far the PDC and the Nova Bomb. (Should I also include the Gateway to the Void?)

LGM-Doyle wrote:
Planetary destruction is a spoiler mechanic, which allows an empire to permanently remove resources from the universe degrading the overall quality of the universe. [...]
I see the PDC as an end-game weapon, so a competitive race for this powerful tool is not necessarily a bad thing, rather a part of the game (like the tech victory race). Additionally, at some point the game is supposed to come to an end, so if the galaxy starts irreversibly degrading at some point, that's fine by me. That being said, your suggestions regarding asteroid belt sizes do sound good, too.

LGM-Doyle wrote:
Dilvish's suggestion to build up a planet destruction sequence over many turns is a good suggestion.
I'm not opposed, only imho the sequence shouldn't be too long; it should be a powerful weapon, after all. As I pointed out above, I see a variety of different ways to balance the PDC.

LGM-Doyle wrote:
Some of the other drawbacks suggested, don't currently have any in-game effect: influence is not implemented; diplomacy is irrelevant, all AIs already declare war on everyone.
But both of these things are next on our road-map, and if the PDC should be somewhat overpowered as of now, it can be rectified then.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:30 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
Dilvish wrote:
Perhaps have a new Rule "Allow Planet-Destroying-Attack Content", defaulting to False/No, which would gate availability of this ship part (and perhaps Nova Bomb also, or perhaps generalize to include things like Gateway to the Void).
A "no doomsday devices" option sounds reasonable, though I'd like to see them enabled by default. Doomsday weapons are part of what makes space games like FreeOrion fun.
Let me explain my thinking a bit more about such a rule and why I suggested it default to No. Although some folks may find some roleplay fun with doomsday weapons, as you suggested, figuring out decision rules for which using a doomsday weapon would actually be a tactically superior choice for the AI will uncertain at best. Any such activity by the AI may by necessity simply be a case of maniacal-AI-goes-on-rampage, or is likely to appear as such to the player. Although I could see some folks liking your little story vignette, my experience with our playerbase is that overall they don't like to see the AI making bad choices, and would be especially averse to the AI making a poor choice that involved actually destroying one of the player's colonies.

Having a rule that everyone knew about to control the use of doomsday weapons by the AI would solve that problem, but I think chances are many people wouldn't notice the rule at first and would just go with defaults. So we should ask ourselves which default status for the rule is least likely to cause beginning players to give up on FO before they discover the rule. I think that doomsday-averse beginning players would be far more discouraged by having their colonies destroyed than pro-doomsday beginning players would be at the lack of such, and that there are at least as many doomsday-averse players as there are pro-doomsday players.

So to me, this indicates very strongly that an AI-doomsday-use rule should default to No.

I had originally contemplated that AI use be gated with part availability in a single rule, but if there is any question about such a rule defaulting to No then I think AI use needs to be split off from part availability. For single player play I'm not sure we even need a separate rule about the parts being available, they could just be available and the rule could only be about the AI use of them. For multiplayer, though, I suspect they would be better off with a rule, but I think it also safe to presume they have enough knowledge of the game and options that it would be fine if the doomsday-parts-available rule defaulted to Yes.

The Silent One wrote:
LGM-Doyle wrote:
Some of the other drawbacks suggested, don't currently have any in-game effect: influence is not implemented; diplomacy is irrelevant, all AIs already declare war on everyone.
But both of these things are next on our road-map, and if the PDC should be somewhat overpowered as of now, it can be rectified then.
I think we'll need to focus on balancing it as best we can with the currently available mechanisms, and then once more balance mechanisms become available the part could be rebalanced.

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