Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

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Vezzra
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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#16 Post by Vezzra » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:42 am

afwbkbc wrote:In balance strategy game I would be able to somehow hold them (at least with major losses) until my own come out. But here, my fleet just died like flies to them, so I only could run away to my blackhole in hope to get solars in time. He conquered 80% of my planets meanwhile and I understood that it was too late. So, it was already too late when I started on solar hulls branches.
I think this sums it up pretty well. That's exactly what the problem is.

And that the Solar Hull has almost no weaknesses. It's sturdy and has lot of slots and is fast and has limitless range, and all that for a price that must be considered a bargain for all you get... it's only real weakness is the excessively long build time and the dependence on a very rare strategic resource (black hole). Which, however, isn't so much of a problem for the first player to deploy Solar Hulls, but a potentially crippling one for everyone else.

I consider that a grossly imbalanced game element.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#17 Post by afwbkbc » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:02 am

I suggest raising price of solars slightly and adding 'Industrial Flexibility' tech branch that reduces 'minimal build time' globally (i.e. first tech by 10%, second by 25%, then 50%, 75% and 100% (so upon researching entire branch you can build anything in 1 turn of your industry is high enough).
Also make weapon slighyly cheaper and armor slightly expensive. And remove 'supply costs' mechanic or add tech branxh to mitigate it.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#18 Post by Vezzra » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:08 am

afwbkbc wrote:So, right now it's IMPOSSIBLE to plan strategy against solar hulls [...] INSTANT-WIN THE GAME.
I wouldn't go that far, at least on larger maps you might have sufficiently large empires and enough time so even a first strike wave of Solar Hulls can't crush an enemy empire within just a few turns. Small/medium maps certainly are much more of a problem, especially considering that with smaller maps there is an increased chance that only one or two players can acquire a black hole.
PLEASE FIX.
Well, we're close to a release, and I certainly don't want to start a major revision of the hull lines or game mechanics at this point, but there are probably some easy things we can do to at least alleviate the problem somewhat: cut down the number of internal slots to 5, maybe also cut down the external slots a bit (IMO the Solar Hull really has too much more slots compared to the other high end motherships), make it a slow hull instead of a fast (I'd suggest speed 60), substantially up the costs, and cut down the build time to 8 to be more in line with the mothership hulls of the other lines. That's all we can reasonably do for 0.4.7.

Long term we need to do something more thoroughly. I just quickly compared the stats of the various mothership hulls, and oh boy, the Solar Hull really is unbalanced. We really, really need to fix that monster.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#19 Post by afwbkbc » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:23 am

Nope, first wave of solars crushed me in about 10 turns of 400-systems map. It's all about sending enough troops along.

I'd leave it fast hull or at least as fast as fractal, but reduce number of slots.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#20 Post by Vezzra » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:29 am

I've opened an issue on github about tonign down the Solar Hull:

https://github.com/freeorion/freeorion/issues/1400

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#21 Post by afwbkbc » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:30 am

How about this solution:
leave solar hulls as they are, but make them unrepairable.
if such ship is damaged, it will remain damaged forever.
makes sense because if ship is THAT HARD to produce - it shouldn't be possible to repair it in simple drydock.
it will also allow to throw shitloads of cheaper ships on it until it's destroyed. right now they are just drydocked for free and are as good as new.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#22 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:45 am

afwbkbc wrote:How about this solution:
leave solar hulls as they are, but make them unrepairable.
if such ship is damaged, it will remain damaged forever.
Alternatively / additionally, they could automatically lose some structure every turn, giving them a finite lifetime before self-destructing.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#23 Post by Vezzra » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:45 am

afwbkbc wrote:I'd leave it fast hull or at least as fast as fractal, but reduce number of slots.
I don't think that will be enough, it's the fatal combination of being fast, strong and limitless range that makes it so deadly. We have to cut down at least one of these aspects, and having a monstrous giant like this (it's supposed to be a "miniture sun" after all) being slow makes sense to me. Cutting down the speed to 60 and the internal slots to 5 (so you can't put on as much engine parts as before) should help slowing them down considerably.

Cutting min build time a bit to 8 gives you 2 turns you can get them out ealier to react to another player with Solar Hulls, so all that should help to alleviate the main problem at least a bit. It will still be bad enough, but not as bad as before. For 0.4.7 that has to suffice.
afwbkbc wrote:How about this solution:
leave solar hulls as they are, but make them unrepairable.
if such ship is damaged, it will remain damaged forever.
makes sense because if ship is THAT HARD to produce - it shouldn't be possible to repair it in simple drydock.
it will also allow to throw shitloads of cheaper ships on it until it's destroyed. right now they are just drydocked for free and are as good as new.
That idea is certainly worth considering (as it would add a very serious weakness to an otherwise extremely powerful hull), but that isn't an easy fix. This is a change on the game mechanic level, instead of just tweaking some stats, which is far more likely to mess with the AI, and that's something I don't want to do so close to the release.

Aside fromt that, at least the build costs have to go up anyway. That hull is far to cheap compared to other hulls.
afwbkbc wrote:vezzra : I seem to banned on github but please also mention my 'unrepairable' proposal there.
Hm, I can see your comment just fine there, can you check again?

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#24 Post by Vezzra » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:47 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:Alternatively / additionally, they could automatically lose some structure every turn, giving them a finite lifetime before self-destructing.
Another excellent idea, but also something I don't want to introduce for 0.4.7.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#25 Post by afwbkbc » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:15 am

Decrease of minimal build time won't help anything because it will also mean first solars come 2 turns earlier. 18 turns is still not nearly enough to adapt for other players - they will lose most of their empire by the moment they build their first solars.
For quick fix - increase of cost and decrease of speed should be enough.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#26 Post by Vezzra » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:46 pm

MatGB wrote:how hard would it be to distribute players around the edges of a map and avoid the centre?
Hard to say, lets I expect that to be quite challenging. The algorithm we have now is, despite all the improvements we made, still comparatively basic... well, LGM-Doyle's recent revision probably lifted it from that to something more sophisticated.

But once you want to take global positioning into consideration, things reach a level where we actually have to replace the current algorithm with something that does a far more sophisticated evaluation. Basically an algorithm would be required that assigns each system a merit value which factors in a number of different, weighted parameters. The home system selection process more or less would have to be rewritten from scratch (although I think LGM-Doyle's work could serve as a very good starting point).
Some maps (Disc) would be a very good balance then, others you could have serious problems (Spiral can end up with 2 players on the same spiral and one with nowhere to go). But if we recommend specific maps for multiplayer (or even have a couple designed for it) then it could help the blockage problem substantially.
Any home system selection algorithm that aims at taking the global position into consideration has to be "galaxy shape aware", so to speak. No way around it. Anything else would only be a half measure.

If we decide to take that road, we should go all the way, IMO.
I suppose we could also look to ensure specials that generate guards are further away, or that guards within X jumps are always Ancient Guardians not sentries?
The basic problem here is that two things get mixed up. The guardians spawned at specials (or natives like Acirema) are supposed to protect that particular special/species, so a player can't get it too easily (to avoid overpowered/unbalanced gains very early in the game). Only that, nothing else. Because we use space monsters for that, such a guardian not only protects the special/species, but also blocks the entire system, which is not what we want. We just can't prevent it, because space monsters simply work that way, and so we get something we actually don't want because it's tied to the thing we need (protection of powerful assets).

The correct way to solve this would be to change game mechanics so that we can have guardians which only protect one planet, without blocking the entire system. The Ancient Guardians are certainly a step in the right direction. However, what I'd like to see are space monsters that only protect a single planet. They let you pass through the system, even colonize other planets, and don't initiate combat. But unless you destroy them (in which case you have to initiate combat), you can't do anything with the planet they protect. So in order to get to whatever it is on that planet, you'll have to defeat the guardian. Only now you have the option to ignore them when you're not ready to fight them yet, and they won't block your expansion otherwise.

That would take care of some serious issues regarding starting positions.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#27 Post by MatGB » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:47 pm

Hmm, I think I like this idea. A monster set to passive and some sort of scripting, say in the special itself, that prevents colonisation/outposting if the monster is still alive?

You'd have a problem there with inhabited worlds with guarded specials, you can already get to them with stealthed troop ships: that could be dealt with with a very small shield boost of course.
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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#28 Post by Vezzra » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:54 pm

I'd expect a clean solution to require some changes to the backend code as well, but that shouldn't be an issue.

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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#29 Post by Dilvish » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:47 pm

instead of shielding, you could rely on stealthing the planet (so long as the monster is still present) which would protect against both invasions and colonization/outposting, without any further backend coding being necessary. Putting the stealth between radar and neutron scanner would probably be about the right point for things currently guarded by Guardians and Sentries. IIRC that would prevent the planet from even showing up until you actually had a ship enter the system, but I think that's OK also.
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Re: Serious balance issues and suggestions summed up

#30 Post by Vezzra » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:31 am

While I very much like the idea of guardians that protect their charge by cloaking it, I wouldn't have all guard monsters work that way. It should be possible to have a guardian ship that just protects one planet and does not interfere with anything else in the system (and has to be defeated to be able to reach the planet and do anything with it) without having to resort to hacks like making the entire planet completely cloaked, or complicated scripting to work around limitations of the engine. Content scripters should be able to add such a guardian without having to do any fancy scripting.

I see no problem with adding the necessary changes to the backend code... asuming that it wouldn't be too complicated. We will of course need a mechanic that allows for more fine grained control over what a fleet can do/can be ordered to do in a system, like guarding a specific planet.

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