0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

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Ophiuchus
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0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#1 Post by Ophiuchus »

Thinking about fine-tuning game balance in 0.4.10:

Arc Disruptor buff - this should be a valid option for an average pilot species in default settings and it is not currently.

Arc Disruptor-2 has no advantage to Mass Driver-4 against ships/planets besides being more heavy and against shield-3 it is already only half effective and costs three times as much RP. This means it currently makes only sense if you upgrade to Arc Disruptor-3. But that tech cost is so high (720RP) that the other players at that stage already have good plasma weapons (60+300RP)and/or shield-5 (300RP) even if you have much more research output (which likely means that you did not have a lot of PP to spend on disruptors beforehand). And after that you will also have to pay the research for basic laser-1, plasma -1, to get access to end-game weapons like plasma-4 or death ray.

Also if you get access to good pilots, Lasers-4 are only 20% less cost efficient than Arc Disruptor-3 against unshielded targets.

In freeorion 0.5 we will have some wiggle room for multi-shot weapons (thanks to damage/structure scaling), so there it could make sense to fine-tune damage etc (e.g. 4.5 damage by Arc Disruptor-2). But that discussion is for later.

For 0.4.10 i suggest making Arc Disruptor-2 researchable at 100RP (60 RP force fields) Arc Disruptor-3 researchable at 400RP (260 RP for laser1,2,3,4). I think in most average pilot cases researching Arc Disruptors will still be inefficient, it might work to give an empire which has a lot of PP to invest early an edge in the beginning of midgame.

Any suggestions/objections?
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Oberlus
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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#2 Post by Oberlus »

Arc Disruptor buff - this should be a valid option for an average pilot species in default settings and it is not currently.
I'm not sure that is true.

The advantage of AD2 against MD is that it uses one less slots (more armor, or a launch bay) and that it can be upgraded to AD3 that overpowers MD.
AD+bombers is quite annoying, since it forces the enemy to mount both PD and shields.
MD+bombers is similar but requires more slots and don't upgrade so well.

By the time enemy research plasma, AD empire can have many ships with AD3 (all the old ones if preserved) while plasma weapons must be be installed in new ships.
720 RP for AD3 might be too much, but 400 RP is too little. Maybe down it to 600. Also, plasma costs 300 RP for damage 9, you still need 500 more RP to get to Plasma 4 (so total 800, plus laser 1).

IMO, the real problem for the AD to be successful is that armor parts are so cheap that armored chaff makes it of little interest for its main purpose: anti-chaff.
The solution for that, which I've been mulling over but didn't get the time to crunch numbers, is to equalize a bit armor and weapon costs.

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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#3 Post by Ophiuchus »

Oberlus wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:52 pm
Arc Disruptor buff - this should be a valid option for an average pilot species in default settings and it is not currently.
I'm not sure that is true.

The advantage of AD2 against MD is that it uses one less slots (more armor, or a launch bay) and that it can be upgraded to AD3 that overpowers MD.
Yes, AD are better than MD if fully upgraded. I think your reasoning (which i call AD more "heavy" than MD) would be valid if it would be part of the main weapon research tree, but it is not. Also comparison of MD with AD3 is kind of invalid AD3 costs currently 40(?) times as much research points. I think it is not possible to sink in so many PP into AD that you can ever recover the research costs.
Oberlus wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:52 pm AD+bombers is quite annoying, since it forces the enemy to mount both PD and shields.
MD+bombers is similar but requires more slots and don't upgrade so well.
If you go for effective bombers you need to research the main weapon line as well. If you go for fighters and no AD, you probably build carriers first and invest as little as you can into MD parts and tech (e.g. skip MD4) and then go for laser bombers and laser ships.
Oberlus wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:52 pm By the time enemy research plasma, AD empire can have many ships with AD3 (all the old ones if preserved) while plasma weapons must be be installed in new ships.
720 RP for AD3 might be too much, but 400 RP is too little. Maybe down it to 600. Also, plasma costs 300 RP for damage 9, you still need 500 more RP to get to Plasma 4 (so total 800, plus laser 1).
I think the comparison to plasma research is partly invalid - you can match AD3 already with Lasers. Against shield-3 compared to of Lasers-4 AD are 50% more heavy but damage/PP is almost the same (8dam/PP vs 9dam/PP) and and you can build those ships quite early. Also a ship with 2 Laser-4 and shields-3 (80PP) is almost equal in a annihilation game against a ship with 2 AD-3 (80PP), and if you have add more weapons per ship the balance tips over to the Laser ship. At shield-5 (100RP+300RP), AD-3 (12+120+720RP) and Laser-4 (60+40+60+100) do the same amount of damage, so also have the same heavyness - and researching Lasers-4 and shield-5 (660RP) takes only half the amount of researching AD-3 and shield-5 (1252). I think it is easy to prepare an effective counter fleet and more effective counters than shield-5.
Oberlus wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:52 pm IMO, the real problem for the AD to be successful is that armor parts are so cheap that armored chaff makes it of little interest for its main purpose: anti-chaff.
The solution for that, which I've been mulling over but didn't get the time to crunch numbers, is to equalize a bit armor and weapon costs.
Yes, that would be interesting. Not for 0.4.10 though.
Against armored chaff is AD-2 (132RP) slightly better than MD-4 (40RP) because it has double the heavyness (still in the process to figure the net effect out). There is certainly more spread and maybe also a little less overshooting - 2xMD4 in average: 5dam/bout, 1xAD2 4.5dam/bout (seems negligible not sure i got that right).

Getting to AD-3 at 500 RP (100+400) does not strike me as very OP, enemy got to Lasers-2 and shield-3 in less than half the research time (60+40+100). So about half the time to build effective counters and enough time to upgrade to Laser-4 (60+100) and spending 140RP less and being 60RP in lead in the main weapon line while the AD tech is already maxed out. With the old balance also you would be very busy in that time building colonies/getting your economy going. Early grab is rather something for good pilot species (where main line is definitly better). With the new balance I am not sure if that economy building is still so important - so AD2 100RP and AD3 500RP to be on the safe side?
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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#4 Post by Ophiuchus »

Just another note - to get some feel for importance of heaviness i did a ship design effectiveness analysis on robotic zortrium level (with hull upkeep).

Best ship design for Arc Disruptor-2 is about 10% better than best Mass Driver-4 ship design against unshielded enemies.

Best ship design for Arc Disruptor-3 is about 20% better than best Laser-4 ship design against shield-3 enemies.

And some weapon based stats for reference:

Against unshielded AD2 gains +300%. (Lasers-4 gain roughly +30%)
Against Shield-3 AD2 looses 75% effectiveness. (Lasers-4 loose roughly -25%)
Against Shield-5 AD2 looses 100% effectiveness.

Against unshielded AD3 gains +75%.
Against Shield-5 AD3 looses 50% effectiveness.
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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#5 Post by Oberlus »

So OK with just reducing tech cost of AD3 to 600 (down from 720) and maybe make it 10 turns?
And AD2 100 RP.

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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#6 Post by Ophiuchus »

Oberlus wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:45 pm So OK with just reducing tech cost of AD3 to 600 (down from 720) and maybe make it 10 turns?
And AD2 100 RP.
I think it is still underpowered, but we can take baby-steps.
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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#7 Post by Oberlus »

Alternatively, make it four techs (instead of 3), each upgrade upping damage by 2, so that maximum damage (AD4) becomes 3x8=24.
- AD1: 12 RP, 4 turns (as currently).
- AD2: 60 RP, 5 turns (down from 120 and 8).
- AD3: 240 RP, 6 turns.
- AD4: 480 RP, 8 turns.

Total RPs to get to AD3 are down from 852 to 792, same total turns.

Being able to get to AD2 faster with much less investment, and reaching AD3 (2x6 instead of 2x7) much sooner than currently (which helps a lot making it good for mid game before enemies get shields on most ships), and not long after to AD4 that does same damage vs unshielded as plasma6 (maxed plasma for great pilots) should make the weapon more interesting (and more cost effective against unshielded than Death Ray).
Also remember the anti-fighter role of the weapon, and the fact that forcing your enemy to mount Shield-9 or better to negate your Arcs is a pain in your enemies production budget if you also mount as many bombers/fighter hangars than arcs in your ships, because of the expensiveness of shields.

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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#8 Post by LienRag »

I didn't check all your calculations here so I'll have to trust you on this (and a minor cost reduction is not game-breaking anyway) but I'm wary of the tendency to see differences between things that are meant to be different as a problem rather than a design choice.

The Arc Disruptor is not - as I understand it - meant to be the main weapon of an Empire, it's a specific weapon for specific purposes (namely, versatility between fighters, planets, and unshielded ships, and also taking out chaff), so there is no reason for it to be cost-effective against shielded ships...

That a weapon or a tech is efficient at a specific stage of the game and less cost-efficient later is also interesting for the gameplay, not a problem to tackle (basically, either one chooses to build Arc Disruptors early and then if the early ships are still alive, upgrades the tech later so as to make them more efficient; or chooses to build sacrificial ships so that no tech upgrade is necessary; or chooses to wait for better weapons and equip his late-game ships with them).

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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#9 Post by Ophiuchus »

LienRag wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:28 am The Arc Disruptor is not - as I understand it - meant to be the main weapon of an Empire,
It is intended to be usable as effective main weapon if the opponent does not field shields (and it is currently lagging quite behind main line weapons until AD3 even in that regard).

And it matters when the upgrades happen/what they cost. Imagine you could early on research a shield-20 part which costs 50PP. Everybody would be forced to build carriers as main force basically.

The main problem in current balance is: AD1 not better than the starting tech, half as good as MD4 against early enemies (so only good against comsat); AD2 is as good as MD4 against early enemies (maybe 10% better) and 50% worse against shields-3 which have been available to the enemy for a while; AD3 is quite a boost, but comes at a heavy research price. So no benefit from AD1, no benefit from AD2, and better options if you are willing the amount of RP you need for getting AD3. There would be a very short time frame where you get a benefit from AD3 (because of simply upgrading your early investment) - but that is also easy to counter and also you missed out on getting an earlier benefit and return of investment from mounting lasers. Better research the main line, have easy access to fighters if you need those and researching plasma-4 or death rays; maybe you would also pick up good or great pilots at that time, which greatly shifts balance further to fighters and main line weapons.
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Re: 0.4.10 arc disruptor buff - cheaper to research

#10 Post by Ophiuchus »

Oberlus wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:45 pm So OK with just reducing tech cost of AD3 to 600 (down from 720) and maybe make it 10 turns?
And AD2 100 RP.
As this is pretty safe - Should we ask vezzra to include this in 0.4.10 ? I think i like your other alternative more, but that is definitely not for 0.4.10
Oberlus wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:27 am Alternatively, make it four techs (instead of 3), each upgrade upping damage by 2, so that maximum damage (AD4) becomes 3x8=24.
- AD1: 12 RP, 4 turns (as currently).
- AD2: 60 RP, 5 turns (down from 120 and 8).
- AD3: 240 RP, 6 turns.
- AD4: 480 RP, 8 turns.

Total RPs to get to AD3 are down from 852 to 792, same total turns.
Sounds good, lets try. Usually having a doubling of power would be a no-no (going from AD1 to AD2), but AD1 is the underpowered comsat killer, which is fine. AD2 brings it up to Mass Driver-4 level. Compared to the fighter tech pacing there are two vs three upgrades where each upgrade adds 6 damage if not countered.

I have some doubts if AD2 is not too fast, one is just a little behind mass drivers. Lets playtest.
Oberlus wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:27 am forcing your enemy to mount Shield-9 or better to negate your Arcs is a pain in your enemies production budget
Yes, completely negating the ARC would become a bit more expensive (60PP or 80PP). shield-5 (35PP) would still leave 9 damage which still does some damage (Plasma-3 does 10 about the same damage). Definitely this gives more reason to install higher shield levels or even robotic interface shields.
Oberlus wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:27 amif you also mount as many bombers/fighter hangars than arcs in your ships, because of the expensiveness of shields.
Have you done some mixed-weapon analysis?
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