A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

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Tualha
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A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#1 Post by Tualha » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:59 pm

The ultimate hulls in each line of development are formidable things. Each such hull is large, with many slots including a core slot. Each confers a benefit to all nearby friendly ships. Let us consider these fleetwide benefits of the various end-of-line hulls in each series.

The ultimate energy hull is the solar hull. It completely refuels all nearby friendly ships. Huzzah!

The ultimate robotic hull is the logistics facilitator hull. It quickly repairs all nearby friendly ships, even during combat. Huzzah!

The ultimate asteroid hull is the scattered asteroid hull. It adds 3 shields to all nearby friendly ships. Muted huzzah; +3 shields is not bad. Perhaps researching some tech could increase it? Instead of moving asteroids around to protect other ships, it moves crystallized asteroids around … this is not the focus of my posting, though.

And then we have the ultimate organic hull, the sentient hull, which … adds 20 stealth and 50 detection range to all nearby friendly ships.

Bronx. Cheer.

It seems to me that the organic hull line is sorely lacking in this respect. The ultimate energy and robotic hulls are great to bring along as support for a major fleet; the ultimate asteroid hull is pretty good; the ultimate organic hull is fairly useless except for scouting. It should do more, either in addition to, or in place of, what it already does.

What should it do? Well, that’s up for discussion. Something in-theme, preferably; something that makes sense in terms of its nature, as with the others.

Perhaps, being so smart, and ultimately descended from a space monster, it can sense something about starlanes that other hulls can’t, thus increasing starlane speed for all nearby friendly ships. That would be considerably more useful. Given how fast the accompanying ships would probably be, with all their slots, perhaps increase speed by 50 or so?

Perhaps it causes all friendly pilots to become slightly better pilots, adding one to their weapon levels. That would be a nice effect too.

Thoughts?

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MatGB
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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#2 Post by MatGB » Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:34 am

I'm thinking you haven't used the stealth bonus for a fleet enough. Just adding one to a stack of otherwise obsolete hulls can give them another 50ish turns of use, I use sentient hulls actually as a flagship way more than any other hull.

Stealth is going to get more work done soon, but I'm very happy with the basic idea of what it does. A speed boost for monsters would be a cool add though.

Also, we had to tone down the Scattered Asteroid Hull, it was way too powerful.
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Tualha
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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#3 Post by Tualha » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:37 am

Hmm, it’s true, I don’t use stealth very much. Hadn’t thought of that tactic. I generally just use my first-generation destroyers to clean up monsters, ganging up on the tougher ones as needed.

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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#4 Post by MatGB » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:44 am

One of the main strengths of the organic line is stealth, and it can be very effective, the flagships play to the strengths of the line, to an extent, but can also just be 'the best hull in the line' with weaker flag effects. Organics need a bigger 'monstrous' hull I think, neither Ravenous or Sentient cut it against some of the other high slot ships, but it'd need work.

I love playing with stealth, the biggest drawback is the all/nothing benefit, once an opponent has detection tech your stealth ships are dead, having a way to boost that situationally can be very effective.
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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#5 Post by Jaumito » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:15 am

MatGB wrote:Organics need a bigger 'monstrous' hull I think, neither Ravenous or Sentient cut it against some of the other high slot ships, but it'd need work.
It's not only because of the hulls themselves, the current upkeep system is also responsible for this because it penalizes lighter hulls way too much. I just don't understand why it isn't done the usual way: a fraction of the initial cost, typically 1/10 to 1/20 as seen in other similar games. I'd still add a small flat (or better, logarithmic) part to it to avoid excessive 'chaffing', even though admittedly, fighter carriers make chaffing less of an issue.

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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#6 Post by AndrewW » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:29 am

Perhaps the organic flagship could give a boost to bio weapons mounted on ships in the fleet? (Of course now we need some sort of bio weapon to mount on ships...).

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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#7 Post by MatGB » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:08 am

Jaumito wrote:
MatGB wrote:Organics need a bigger 'monstrous' hull I think, neither Ravenous or Sentient cut it against some of the other high slot ships, but it'd need work.
It's not only because of the hulls themselves, the current upkeep system is also responsible for this because it penalizes lighter hulls way too much. I just don't understand why it isn't done the usual way: a fraction of the initial cost, typically 1/10 to 1/20 as seen in other similar games. I'd still add a small flat (or better, logarithmic) part to it to avoid excessive 'chaffing', even though admittedly, fighter carriers make chaffing less of an issue.
Oh, agree completely, been going on about this for about 3 years now: we now have the code in the backend to allow for part based upkeep and had a test case where it was 0.1 per part instead of 1 per hull, that actually worked really well but had a few problems with edge cases, specifically it meant that Comsats now produced no upkeep cost so having huge numbers was actually good strategy.

We decided to put back working on it until this release cycle but haven't actually started discussing ideas for it, I have a few in mind but they're all in the "pick the least awful" pile at the moment.
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Vezzra
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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#8 Post by Vezzra » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:36 pm

Tualha wrote:Thoughts?
Well, my thoughts on this are the same as on the current state of all things regarding the current ship hulls (and the corresponding tech lines), which is that the entire ship hull lines need to be redesigned from scratch.

IMO, before we do that, we should redesign stealth and detection and finally come up with something that can actually be an interesting game mechanic, and addresses the current shortcomings (blunt all or nothing mechanic). So we can properly incorporate the stealth and detection mechanics into balancing the hull lines. Otherwise, if we change stealth/detection afterwards, we'll have to redo the hulls again, which I'd consider an unnecessary waste of time and effort.

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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#9 Post by MatGB » Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:10 pm

Vezzra wrote: IMO, before we do that, we should redesign stealth and detection and finally come up with something that can actually be an interesting game mechanic, and addresses the current shortcomings (blunt all or nothing mechanic). So we can properly incorporate the stealth and detection mechanics into balancing the hull lines. Otherwise, if we change stealth/detection afterwards, we'll have to redo the hulls again, which I'd consider an unnecessary waste of time and effort.
Agreed.

I am likely to do some tweaks to the hull lines during my current balance work and during the stealth work, but it'll be tweaks/minor additions (eg a Gravitic Carrier hull, a Behemoth and make symbiotic/protoplasmic a bit more distinctive) with some tech tree work, then at some point basically rework from scratch, there are some really cool ideas within the existing hull techs, but none of it comes together to form a coherent whole, which we'll need.
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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#10 Post by Jaumito » Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:37 pm

MatGB wrote:we now have the code in the backend to allow for part based upkeep and had a test case where it was 0.1 per part instead of 1 per hull, that actually worked really well but had a few problems with edge cases, specifically it meant that Comsats now produced no upkeep cost so having huge numbers was actually good strategy.
You didn't consider counting the empty hull as a 'part' for this purpose?
We decided to put back working on it until this release cycle but haven't actually started discussing ideas for it, I have a few in mind but they're all in the "pick the least awful" pile at the moment.
It should be quite simple, actually. Other games I know use formulas that can be generalized as (I hope I got it right)

Code: Select all

C * (1 + k logX (1 + B + C)) / N
  • C here would be the initial cost of the ship (or any other kind of unit, depending on the game)
  • k is often 0, unless you want to avoid chaff strategies then it's often 0.5 or 1 or close - making this value higher makes large ships have lesser upkeep costs than several smaller designs of the same total cost
  • X is whatever logarithmic base you find convenient
  • B is typically 0, else it must be positive but should remain small compared to the expected cost of even inexpensive ships (think of it as a flat cost applied to upkeep.) Fiddle with k, X and B to get the proper 'anti-chaffing' balance
  • Common values for N if k=0 are 10, 12 or 20 in my experience, if k ~ 1 it's more like 30
Sometimes the logarithmic part is replaced with a square root (or more generally an exponent e<1), but I don't think it makes much of a difference.

Some also halve the final result for non-combat units.

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Re: A modest proposal regarding the sentient hull

#11 Post by Vezzra » Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:20 pm

MatGB wrote:there are some really cool ideas within the existing hull techs, but none of it comes together to form a coherent whole, which we'll need.
Yep, that's exactly my sentiment regarding the current hull lines too. A lot of really cool and interesting ideas we definitely should keep, but the whole ship hull lines look like a huge patchwork, which in many parts don't make much sense, or are counter-intuitive (e.g. I'd find it much more intuitive if the asteroid hulls were the stealthy ones instead of the organic hulls, the shield bonus fits better with energy hulls, etc).

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