Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

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Vezzra
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Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#1 Post by Vezzra » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:22 pm

After having played around with carriers/fighters in a few games, here are my suggestions for a revision:
  • Decouple direct fire and carrier/fighter techs in the tech tree. You should be able to research carriers/fighters without having to research direct fire weapons, if you want to try a carrier/fighter only strategy.
  • Make the carrier/fighter tech tree more interesting. In addition to refinements which increase fighter damage, we need refinements which lets you increase hangar capacity and launch bay capacity.
  • The Flak Cannon should be part of the direct fire weapon line. This would be the weapon you research if you choose a direct fire weapon based strategy, and need a defence against fighters. There need to be refinement techs which lets you increase the Rate Of Fire of the Flak, so you can keep up with the more advanced fighter techs.
  • We need an additional weapon line, anti-planet weapons. Contrary to the bombard weapons, those are not controlled by a "Bombard" button, but work in combat like direct fire weapons and fighters. However, to complement fighters, they can only target planets. Where fighters offer distinct advantages to direct fire weapons when it comes to ship-to-ship combat (serving as cannon fodder and being able to pierce shields), anti-planet weapons need to be distinctly more effective against planets then direct fire weapons (significantly higher damage per RP/PP). Then fighters + anti-planet weapons would be a viable alternative to direct fire weapons. The advantage of direct fire weapons would be their versatility: although less effective than the specialized weapons, they can target everything, and you need to research only one tech line (the carrier/fighter + anti-planet weapon combo being more expensive research-wise). Of course that needs to be balanced carefully, but I think that's the way to go if we really want to offer players to distinct strategies.
  • As Mat suggested, reduce fighter damage significantly, but increase their numbers a lot. That should make the cannon fodder effect more pronounced, direct fire weapons even less effective against them and thereby the Flak Cannon actually useful.
These would be what I consider essentially necessary changes. Other ideas would be:
  • Introduce several independent lines of fighters (in addition to "standard": organic, asteroid, energy, each with distinct strengths and weaknesses).
  • Revise the planetary defence mechanic to allow for multiple lower damage shots for planets instead of a single uber-powerful one (which would allow us to lift the fighters and planets can't attack each other restriction).
  • Introduce shipyard extensions required for "fighter production". Ships with fighter parts could only be build at shipyards with that extension, and carriers would only by able to replenish/upgrade their fighters if supply connected to such a shipyard. That means it becomes a bit harder to supply your fleets with fighters. It's not sufficient to just be in supply, which means you can't resupply your fighters at the colony you just conquered, you need a supply connection all the way back to your shipyards. If your enemy manages to cut that supply route, they can effectively cripple your carrier force.

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#2 Post by Vezzra » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:37 pm

Another two things that just came to my mind:
  • Get rid of that fighters-need-a-combat-round-to-launch-before-they-can-attack thing. I don't really see the point. It just makes everything so much more complicated, particularly when it comes to assessing actual combat strength. Fighters should just attack on the same round they launched, which will make them more directly comparable to direct fire weapons (and consequently easier to balance).
  • Have an extra species trait for fighter pilots. Actually, good/bad pilots would better fit for fighter pilots anyway, and have good/bad "gunners" for boni/mali for direct fire weapons.

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#3 Post by MatGB » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:52 pm

On the fire on launch turn thing, a different option occurred: Combat Air Patrols

If a fleet hasn't moved that turn, a proportion of its fighters are in the air ready to defend, with more on standby: yes, this gives the defended an advantage but that's a balance concern.

I also want fighters available to planets to be able to launch.

Definitely want ROF for planet defences, and am planning increasing the research time and possibly introducing a couple more stages for the current lot anyway, playing on High planets a lot at the moment and having the AI able to destroy entire fleets with just PD guns unless you've raced Big Hull building is a bit dull.

Splitting up the traits has been planned for ages, it's just a lower priority than the stuff I'm doing: which probably means I should open an Issue so someone else can do it while I do the tech stuff.

Definitely want to do more with the fighter tech tree, current implementation is very much "this at least works and the AI team can work with it", and nowhere near ideal, but the same is true of most of the weapon techs, combining them was a stopgap: it works and keeps my disbelief suspended but it's not optimal. ROF for Flak is a definite: I think starting it at 2 with cost of 8 not 20 and then having upgrades would make a lot of sense (20 is too much without upgrades).

If we can have a 'planets only' tag, that'd be cool, and I vote give it to the SpAM Cannon for testing.

I like the shipyard idea a LOT.

Also? Fighters shouldn't replenish on the turn you're in combat without a special feature or tech, as it is if you're in supply you get fighters back and your opponent doesn't.
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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#4 Post by Anvil » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:00 pm

Here are my additions.
  • Fighters could cripple battleships by directly targeting their weapon systems.
  • Planetary defense could also make use of fighters.
  • Add missiles as an alternative to fighters: A missile is launched like a fighter, takes one turn to travel and if not destroyed, does a lot of damage.
  • Some semi-intelligent target selection should implemented to avoid the Flak Cannon shots being vastedl
Btw. "Flak Cannon" sound awkward, at least to me as a German. Is this an American expression? Originally "Flak" is a German word-creation, shortened from "Flugabwehrkanone", which means anti aircraft cannon, so a Flak Cannon is a cannon cannon...

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#5 Post by dbenage-cx » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:22 am

A lot of great ideas so far, I agree with most of them, however it may be easier to weigh options when playing (and possibly to balance) if each weapon type is feasible on its own.

Limiting to 3 main weapon lines, I'd offer the suggestion of changing fighters and adding long-range in place of direct-planet.

The rules of long-range could be:
  • Does not fire the turn it arrives in-system.
  • Targets planets in-system: higher damage vs short-range, loss of pop/buildings once shields drop
  • Targets ships within a defined uu range (min and max), damage lands the following turn if ship is still within range.
  • Can not target Fighters or block supply
Rough idea vs ships, tracking incoming fire between turns sounds expensive.
Alternative might be to keep to in-system, but delay short-range and fighters by an extra combat round (increasing default rounds).
(With 5 rounds: Long-range fires on round 1, long and short-range on round 2, all on round 3)

The three lines wrt planets:
  • Short-range: no change - moderate shield/defense damage, no troop/pop/building damage.
  • Long-range: moderate/high shield/defense damage, percentage of population/buildings lost if shields deplete.
  • Carrier/Fighter: Low reduction in shields, defense, troops, and some collateral population. Shields do not prevent others receiving damage.
None of the weapon lines could completely de-populate a planet/cause ownership loss.
These would remain the field of invading, bombarding, or other action.

As to removing the 1 turn delay for fighters, I think it helps distinguish them as shorter range weapons.
Not hard sold on that opinion though, and would favor trying Combat Air Patrols.

Flak could (functionally) be an anti-fighter shield type.
(Think flak has been modernly termed for both the cannon and the ammo/discharge type)
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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#6 Post by Oberlus » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:02 pm

Lots of good ideas. I've been thinking on this. Here are my two cents (without getting too much ambitious, e.g. haven't considered new techs for fighters).



Design objectives:
(1) Make it simpler to understand/explain/use/balance/simulate.
(2) Make all strategies more viable and remove no-brainers.


Regarding (1):
- two types of fighters can give almost all versatility that three types can, and are way simpler.
- the no-attack-1st-round thingy should be removed, if not a pain in the ass programming-wise.

Regarding (2):
- Interceptors are close to useless, bombers are an option only early game, later on are suboptimal compared to fighters in all ways.
- figthers in general are relativelty OP and close to a no-brainer (it is better to have fighters than flaks).


With this few things in mind I came up with this:


CURRENTLY:
mass laser plasma DR
Bomber
Dmg x fighter 5 8 12 19
Total dmg___ 10 16 24 38
Total shots_ 2 2 2 2

Fighter
Dmg x fighter 3 5 8 13
Total dmg___ 9 15 24 39
Total shots___ 3 3 3 3

Interceptor
Dmg x fighter 1 2 3 4
Total dmg___ 4 8 12 16
Shots_______ 4 4 4 4


SUGGESTED:

- Remove figthers and tweak damage values:
- Launch bays should be specific for each figther type: one bay can launch 4 interceptors or 2 bombers.
- Damage tweaks:

mass laser plasma DR
Bomber
Dmg x fighter 5 7 10 15
Total dmg___ 10 14 20 30
Shots_______ 2 2 2 2

Interceptors
Dmg x fighter 1 2 3 5
Total dmg___ 4 8 12 20
Shots_______ 4 4 4 4


With this values:

1 DR bomber bay compared to 1 DR interc. bay have:
- 1.5x dmg against capital ships
- 1/2 fodder capacity
- 1/2 dmg against fighters
- If launch bay system stays as currently: requires one less launch bay for full launch on 1 round (or gets aprox. 2x dmg against capital ships assuming no figter dies)

1 DR bomber bay compared to 1 best DR:
- fodder capacity!
- 2x dmg against capital ships with best shield
- 2x dmg against fighters
- Requires inner slot

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#7 Post by Ophiuchus » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:03 am

I think i could live with simplifying fighters (just interceptors and bombers). Else we should differentiate them more.

Another idea: add a long range combat turn (in order to upgrade interceptors)
Instead of delaying fighters add a "fighter-only" combat turn.
* In this "turn zero" the fighters advanced and meet the oppenents fighters before the war ships meet.
So the larger fighter force will decimate the smaller one before the "real" combat starts.
This would greatly upgrade the interceptors as they are on equal terms with the other fighters.
Probably also flak would also shoot here.
* After that there are the normal 3 combat turns with fighters and war ships.
* (very optional: we could add a "rocket" or "missile" fighter type here which only shoots in turn 1 - in turn 0 it doesnt do any damage, but you have a chance to shoot it down; in turn 1 it is automatically destroyed and does multishot damage without shield protection (e.g. basic rocket 5 shots with 2 damage; basic missile 1 shot with 10 damage) - this should probably take up at least a single external slot)
* Have the AI usually have some interceptor with it when attacking another players planet (to bring down comsats)

Another idea: have planets have by default some interceptors (in order to upgrade interceptors and flak)
* If planet defenses include fighters - people have to bring countermeasures (interceptors and flak)
** lets say half the defense value is the usual big gun
** lets say half the defense value consists of interceptors
** so instead 5-damage defense - one 3-damage defense and two 1-damage interceptors
** so instead 10-damage defense - one 5-damage defense and five 1-damage interceptor

Another idea: differentiate the fighters to be able to take more than one hit ("~2HP")
Basically switch names of fighters vs bombers.
So 4 interceptors, 3 bombers, 2 fighters in the hangars.
Let fighters be only destroyed if at least 2 damage is taken.
This would result in a rock-paper-scissors situation:
* interceptors ("anti-bomber") cannon fodder, good against bombers, probably wont kill fighters in a single shot
* fighters ("anti-interceptor") ok against war ships; resilient against interceptors and flak
* bombers ("anti-warship") best damage ratio against war ships, can destroy bombers in a single shot
Not sure if fighters are tracked individually in combat at the moment, but this is not so important (works with and without individual tracking). If not tracked individually, just destroy on every second 1-damage hit (or simply roll a 50% dice for destroy/live after an 1-damage hit)
Interceptors would need to be upgraded in some way (e.g. 6 interceptors per hangar, or the long range turn mentioned above)
against the war ships)
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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#8 Post by Jaumito » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:19 pm

Suggestion - target preferences:
  • Interceptors: fire at other fighters as long as there are any, then at battleships.
    Fighters: no preference.
    Bombers: can't fire at other fighters at all.
Would make picking one over the other a more interesting decision, IMO.

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#9 Post by Oberlus » Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:53 pm

Jaumito wrote:Suggestion - target preferences:
  • Interceptors: fire at other fighters as long as there are any, then at battleships.
    Fighters: no preference.
    Bombers: can't fire at other fighters at all.
Would make picking one over the other a more interesting decision, IMO.
I like this one a lot. It is simple, implies few and easy changes, and goes to the point.

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#10 Post by MatGB » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:43 pm

Agree. Geoff, how hard would that be to set up to test?

We've discussed target priorities in a general sense in the past but not got far about what we want, this would be fairly specific.
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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#11 Post by Ophiuchus » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Jaumito wrote:Suggestion - target preferences:
  • Interceptors: fire at other fighters as long as there are any, then at battleships.
    Fighters: no preference.
    Bombers: can't fire at other fighters at all.
Would make picking one over the other a more interesting decision, IMO.
I like this one a lot.
Oberlus wrote:It is simple, implies few and easy changes, and goes to the point.
Predictions about the changes without knowing the code base are usually quite off.
This is not hard to do. But it is actually "hard" to do in a good way.

Without a bigger refactoring this would mean sprinkling specific code in a number of places and probably hardwiring the hangar bay names in the c++ code to distinguish the three types. I have some ideas and will post about it after 0.4.8 is final :)
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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#12 Post by Vezzra » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:40 am

Ophiuchus wrote:...hardwiring the hangar bay names in the c++ code to distinguish the three types.
That is a no-go. The only content "thing" (AFAIK) that might be allowed to be hardcoded in the backend code is tag names, and even that only in a way that does not break anything if no content using those tags is present. The backend C++ code must not depend on the presence of specific pieces of content to work correctly.

But maybe it shouldn't be done at all - Geoff?

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#13 Post by EricF » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:14 am

I thought a revision to Carrier/Fighters had already been discussed.
Since the whole concept of Space Fighters is ridiculous it should be Missiles instead.
You could even have different types of missiles that replace the fighter types.
Heavy Anti-Ship Missile and light Ant-Missile Missile.
An even heavier Planetary Bombardment Missile could also be added.

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#14 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:51 pm

Oh I am so sorry i posted.... just wanted to bump the topic in order i dont forget.

So let me rephrase:
"Lets discuss this topic again after 0.4.8 is out. I think I have some realistic ideas"

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Re: Suggestions for a Carrier/Fighter revision

#15 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:21 pm

Vezzra wrote:The only content "thing" (AFAIK) that might be allowed to be hardcoded in the backend code is tag names, and even that only in a way that does not break anything if no content using those tags is present. The backend C++ code must not depend on the presence of specific pieces of content to work correctly.

But maybe it shouldn't be done at all - Geoff?
I wouldn't put into the C++ code anything like hardcoded prioritization of targeting for specific bits of scripted content. A particular format of tag could be used, which the C++ code could use to figure out targeting prioritization, but at that point, it would probably be better to just add a field to the script format for fights that specifies what they should target first. For testing purposes, anyone can implement whatever they want, though.

There are probably still a few cases where particular bits of scripted content are required, but that's not an excuse to add more.

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