Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

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RonaldX
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Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#46 Post by RonaldX » Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:56 am

I don't quite follow you on "special rules".. I'm proposing that there be no special rules at all. You get informed when someone has chosen to engage you, and you're told everything you can currently detect about their fleets, and then you decide whether or not you want to manually control the battle. Combat manager matches you up, and it's last-man-standing wins.

If you pick the wrong one and fight a stealth scout instead of a stealth death fleet, well, you picked the wrong one. But you will be basing this decision on the value of the property you are defending. I don't care if the enemy brings a giant death fleet to destroy one of my scouts on some valueless asteroid, but I would care if the enemy brings anything to attack my homeworld. I can always look at the combat reports and see that my scout was vaporized by a battlecruiser coming out of stealth afterwards.
since such a ship is undetectable at any distance on the tactical map, unless its stealth actually decreases, due to firing weapons, exiting an asteroid belt, etc.
As far as stealth and the tactical map, you are saying that range has zero effect on stealth detection? Just want to make that clear.
Both these situations are reliant on the cloaked enemy acting against his best tactical interests. Worrying that these situations will actually end up being significantly annoying game-slowing factors is ludicrous.
How about this for a situation: The person you are playing with is going for the meta-game strategy of "I'm going to annoy you into submission by engaging you one scout at a time, in essence, I'm going to use douchebag tactics to waste as much of your life as possible." If you don't think this isn't a common reality, then you probably don't play many online games. I state this strictly from the perspective of a player, not a designer. I've spent many an hour corpse camping people too weak to fight back against me just to ruin their day and waste their time. If possible, I'd like to see rules which prevent meta-game tactics of this type.
Adding a special-case rule for when an empire is made aware of the presence of an enemy unit isn't simpler at all, and adds a lot of annoying restrictions. For example, what if I have 10 stealth units in the system, but I only want to attack with five of them? It's impossible, because all units in the system are present on the tactical map, and in the system you propose, combat will not end until all of the cloaked ships are destroyed, or a cease-fire is ordered, which means that the surprised player must know how many enemy ships are present. In the system I propose, the player is free to attack using whatever ships he wants, without having to give any special commands or being limited by seemingly arbitrary special rules.
The "arbitrary special rule" is just a basic, from-the-start assumption that once a unit has engaged you, you are able to lock onto it and determine it's presence in-system, even if it goes back into stealth. Whether or not you can see it and target it aside, you *know* that it is in-system, until it is destroyed or flees. As far as only wanting to engage with half your fleet: if you don't like the music, don't come to the party. Like you said, it's not in a players best tactical interest to engage with less than his full force anyways. If it's in-system, it's a fleet asset that is involved in the combat, whether you want it to be or not. I'd prefer if you could get a count of the number of ships stealthed in a system.

I know this is just making you scream, but otherwise stealth (at a level which is undetectable by your enemy) becomes the massively-all-powerful tool that everyone is going to go for. Aside from being completely untargetable, untrackable on the galaxy map, and invisible on the tactical map, the benefits of stealth allow you to drift in and out of combat at will and pile up forces literally anywhere you want them. This encourages players to do whatever is cheaper; either research max stealth technology and become godlike destroyers of all in their path, or research max detector technology so that stealth is useless against them. There isn't a whole lot of give-and-take or strategy involved here. If your stealth is higher than your enemy's capability to detect, you pretty much win, because he can't effectively fight back against you, concentrate forces against you, or defend against you.

My concern is that when a unit "stops firing", and goes back into an undetectable state, it may still be on your list of threats, but you have no idea if it has fled, or if it's still lurking about waiting for reinforcements. I want to be able to know one way or the other whether it is in-system or not. There has to be some kind of balance to the seemingly overwhelming power of undetected stealth.

-Ty.

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Bigjoe5
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Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#47 Post by Bigjoe5 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:19 am

RonaldX wrote:I don't quite follow you on "special rules".. I'm proposing that there be no special rules at all.
No. I'm proposing that there be no special rules at all.
RonaldX wrote:You get informed when someone has chosen to engage you, and you're told everything you can currently detect about their fleets,
This is the special rule I'm talking about. You get informed when someone has chosen to engage you. If a fleet's stealth is higher than your detection, you cannot detect anything about their fleets, including whether or not they exist. This is passed design and not up for discussion. Because of this, the player must receive information beyond what he is able to detect normally, which means that there is a special rule about what information about the gamestate is given to the player specifically for instances in which the player is attacked by ships whose stealth is higher than his detection. I am proposing that no information be given to the player outside of what he should already know according to established, consistent game rules.
RonaldX wrote:If you pick the wrong one and fight a stealth scout instead of a stealth death fleet, well, you picked the wrong one. But you will be basing this decision on the value of the property you are defending. I don't care if the enemy brings a giant death fleet to destroy one of my scouts on some valueless asteroid, but I would care if the enemy brings anything to attack my homeworld.
I'm pretty sure you'd care if it was the scout that was going after your homeworld and the death fleet that was going after your main industry world. There isn't going to be just one target of value in an empire...
RonaldX wrote:
since such a ship is undetectable at any distance on the tactical map, unless its stealth actually decreases, due to firing weapons, exiting an asteroid belt, etc.
As far as stealth and the tactical map, you are saying that range has zero effect on stealth detection? Just want to make that clear.
No...
Bigjoe5 wrote:The following calculation is used only to determine whether or not the ship's location on the tactical map is made known to the player: If EnemyStealth > FriendlyDetection - (TacticalMapDistace*ScalingFactor), the friendly empire is made aware of the enemy ship's location on the tactical map.
It is obvious that in this case, if enemy stealth is greater than friendly detection, the friendly ship cannot detect the enemy ship on the tactical map at any distance. In all cases, this equates to a situation in which in-system detectors also cannot detect the ship on the galaxy map at any distance. However, the distance apart two vessels are on the tactical map does not affect how far apart they are on the galaxy map. The distance between them on the galaxy map is 0, which means that if a given ship can be detected at any distance on the tactical map, the player will have visibility of it on the galaxy map, and therefore will have knowledge of its presence in the system, and all knowledge that it can acquire by scanning it at distance 0 on the galaxy map.
RonaldX wrote:How about this for a situation: The person you are playing with is going for the meta-game strategy of "I'm going to annoy you into submission by engaging you one scout at a time, in essence, I'm going to use douchebag tactics to waste as much of your life as possible." If you don't think this isn't a common reality, then you probably don't play many online games. I state this strictly from the perspective of a player, not a designer. I've spent many an hour corpse camping people too weak to fight back against me just to ruin their day and waste their time. If possible, I'd like to see rules which prevent meta-game tactics of this type.
Better to have your life wasted one scout at a time than have your manual combat wasted defending your homeworld from a scout while the massive stealth death fleet wipes out your main industry world. My priority is on preventing those types of meta-tactics first and foremost. Besides, don't forget that your opponent has a limited amount of combat time too. It's not like he gets to waste any more of your time just because you get a free combat.
RonaldX wrote:The "arbitrary special rule" is just a basic, from-the-start assumption that once a unit has engaged you, you are able to lock onto it and determine it's presence in-system, even if it goes back into stealth. Whether or not you can see it and target it aside, you *know* that it is in-system, until it is destroyed or flees. As far as only wanting to engage with half your fleet: if you don't like the music, don't come to the party. Like you said, it's not in a players best tactical interest to engage with less than his full force anyways. If it's in-system, it's a fleet asset that is involved in the combat, whether you want it to be or not. I'd prefer if you could get a count of the number of ships stealthed in a system.
I've explained clearly how this doesn't scale up to combats involving three or more empires. What would be useful from your end is to explain how it can, without unnecessarily revealing a stealthy third party or introducing a lot of other special rules about when combat ends, whose forces are revealed to whom, etc.
RonaldX wrote:I know this is just making you scream, but otherwise stealth (at a level which is undetectable by your enemy) becomes the massively-all-powerful tool that everyone is going to go for. Aside from being completely untargetable, untrackable on the galaxy map, and invisible on the tactical map, the benefits of stealth allow you to drift in and out of combat at will and pile up forces literally anywhere you want them. This encourages players to do whatever is cheaper; either research max stealth technology and become godlike destroyers of all in their path, or research max detector technology so that stealth is useless against them. There isn't a whole lot of give-and-take or strategy involved here. If your stealth is higher than your enemy's capability to detect, you pretty much win, because he can't effectively fight back against you, concentrate forces against you, or defend against you.
There will be other counterbalances to stealth to avoid making it the end-all massively-all-powerful tool that everyone goes for. For example, creating ships that have stealth exceeding the detection of the opponent will require significant research dedication, to the exclusion of many other potential advantages. Ship hulls with naturally high stealth will have drawbacks such as low HP or capacity, and ships who equip stealth parts will no longer have an internal slot available for other special equipment, which will be generally be just as useful as the stealth part, if not more so. Stealth is good, yes, but by no means unbalanceably overpowering.
RonaldX wrote:My concern is that when a unit "stops firing", and goes back into an undetectable state, it may still be on your list of threats, but you have no idea if it has fled, or if it's still lurking about waiting for reinforcements. I want to be able to know one way or the other whether it is in-system or not. There has to be some kind of balance to the seemingly overwhelming power of undetected stealth.
I’m sure you do want to know what the other player is doing. Speaking as a player, I’d certainly like to have the entire gamestate sent to my client, but speaking as a designer, I can clearly see that it would be bad for strategy (and therefore actually make it less fun for me as a player). The fact that the player does not possess information which he should not have according to the rules of the game is not a design flaw in and of itself.
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RonaldX
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Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#48 Post by RonaldX » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:53 am

There will be other counterbalances to stealth to avoid making it the end-all massively-all-powerful tool that everyone goes for. For example, creating ships that have stealth exceeding the detection of the opponent will require significant research dedication, to the exclusion of many other potential advantages. Ship hulls with naturally high stealth will have drawbacks such as low HP or capacity, and ships who equip stealth parts will no longer have an internal slot available for other special equipment, which will be generally be just as useful as the stealth part, if not more so. Stealth is good, yes, but by no means unbalanceably overpowering.
I don't think you quite grasp how powerful an undetectable unit is. It could have a slingshot glued to the front of it for firepower, or be as slow as a snail, but if your enemy can't fight back against it, it's as good as invincible. You can sit in a system, even if the enemy knows that you're there, and just watch everything he does, and there is literally nothing he can do about it, because he can't even shoot into space and *hope* to hit you.

I want you to try something.. Fire up MoO2, load a late-game save, and make a Doom Star with the following components:
- Battle Pods
- Time-Warp Facilitator
- Phasing Cloak
- Any weapons or other systems your heart desires

What happens here, is the Time-Warp Facilitator lets you take two turns for every one of your enemies, and the Phasing Cloak automatically re-stealths you after a turn of inactivity. So you basically wait for your enemy to make his move, fire your weapons at him, then your second turn, you just sit still, and the Phasing Cloak re-stealths you. The enemy can't target you or make any actions against you whatsoever. One of these ships can literally destroy every single thing that is thrown against it, no matter what. Alone or in groups, it wins. It is absolutely invincible.

If you are proposing that all a ship needs to do to restealth is not fire (essentially has a built-in phasing cloak), then you are building this functionality into every stealth ship that the opponent can't detect at 0 range. If the removal of the Time-Warp Facilitator is effected, then the player has exactly one turn in which to shoot back and pray to kill the stealthed ship before it evades them entirely. A player could throw an auto-repair unit into a stealth ship, and have a ship that is indestructable unless killed in a single salvo, or he just stops shooting, waits until he's repaired back to full, and then re-engages his enemies. He has virtually a free hand to pick away and destroy anything he wants as long as you don't have enough firepower to one-shot his ship.

My only advice with stealth is that you have to be EXTREMELY cautious on how it is balanced. Just making it expensive isn't going to do it, because stealth+"tech x" can often become a ludicrously powerful combination, at which point you're now introducing those hated "Special Rules" to prevent a player from combining them, like saying only tiny ships can be stealthed, or whatever.

Another thing to consider with stealth is the wide array of methods a ship has of being detected in the first place. Thermal Signature, Magnetic Signature, Motion, Warp-Drive Emissions, etc. etc. Stealth may or may not hide every single detection method, for example, an observing fleet could possibly detect fluctuations in the entry/exit point of a starlane itself indicative of a ship passing through it.. In that case it isn't the ship that's being detected at all, simply the presence of *something* going into or out of the starlane.

I realize I just ran this way off topic, but I want you to understand where I'm coming from when I say there needs to be limitations on what a player can do with stealth, and the whole pivot point of this discussion is around how stealth is handled in starting/ending combats.

-Ty.

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Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#49 Post by Bigjoe5 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:17 pm

RonaldX wrote:I want you to try something.. Fire up MoO2, load a late-game save, and make a Doom Star with the following components:
- Battle Pods
- Time-Warp Facilitator
- Phasing Cloak
- Any weapons or other systems your heart desires

What happens here, is the Time-Warp Facilitator lets you take two turns for every one of your enemies, and the Phasing Cloak automatically re-stealths you after a turn of inactivity. So you basically wait for your enemy to make his move, fire your weapons at him, then your second turn, you just sit still, and the Phasing Cloak re-stealths you. The enemy can't target you or make any actions against you whatsoever. One of these ships can literally destroy every single thing that is thrown against it, no matter what. Alone or in groups, it wins. It is absolutely invincible.
I am aware of the Phasing Cloak/Time-Warp Facilitator trick. It is indeed broken, though not invincible. Counters to it include

- Big empty doomstars with Quantum Detonator
- Ships with loads of Pulsars/Spatial Compressors, provided there are actually uncloaked ships to target
- All ships equipped with Reflection Field, if the cloaked ship is equipped with beam weapons

Also, Warp Dissipator is an obvious choice to add to the Phasing Cloak/Time-Warp Facilitator ship. Suffice it to say, nothing that broken will make its way into FreeOrion.
RonaldX wrote:If you are proposing that all a ship needs to do to restealth is not fire (essentially has a built-in phasing cloak), then you are building this functionality into every stealth ship that the opponent can't detect at 0 range. If the removal of the Time-Warp Facilitator is effected, then the player has exactly one turn in which to shoot back and pray to kill the stealthed ship before it evades them entirely. A player could throw an auto-repair unit into a stealth ship, and have a ship that is indestructable unless killed in a single salvo, or he just stops shooting, waits until he's repaired back to full, and then re-engages his enemies. He has virtually a free hand to pick away and destroy anything he wants as long as you don't have enough firepower to one-shot his ship.
This situation would be quite easy to balance, actually. First of all, since stealth will decrease as the ship takes damage, just being able to survive one turn of fire doesn't cut it - you have to survive with a sufficiently high health that your stealth is still higher than the enemy detection. Secondly, the game will include sufficiently advanced detection technology to make any ship visible even when it is not firing its weapons, unless that ship's stealth is artificially enhanced by a location-dependent condition such as being in an asteroid belt, in which case "hit and recloak" tactics aren't exactly an option unless the enemy ships are sitting there in the asteroid belt with you. This is in contrast to MoO2, in which it was absolutely impossible to target a phasing-cloaked ship directly. This means that even if such tactics are valid and effective, they are conditional - that is, they are dependent on having an opponent with inferior technology, and can therefore be countered by more advanced technology, which was not the case in the MoO2 scenario. Thirdly, a stealthy ship might not immediately return to full stealth in a single turn once it has stopped firing. It might, for example, lose 20 stealth as soon as it fires, then when it stops firing, it regains 4 stealth per turn for 5 turns, or something like that. This would give the defender a bit longer to fire on the vessel, and generally increase the risk of decloaking to fire on an enemy. Fourthly, the defender can always try to make his way to a stargate entry and retreat from combat. Presumably, a ship with a Warp Dissipator to prevent this would have a significant stealth penalty. Fifthly, an automated repair unit would take several combat turns to fully repair the ship, which means that the ship would have to be in hiding for the large majority of the combat, significantly reducing the overall effectiveness of such a tactic, and it's possible that the automated repair unit itself would give a small stealth penalty, depending on what kind of balancing is required for stealthy ships being able to repair themselves.

Also, consider the fact that this is not a situation which is unique to stealthy ships; if a large fleet of LR ships comes across an enemy fleet, the LR might be able to completely destroy the other fleet without taking damage, if the enemy fleet didn't have sufficient PD or LR of their own. Similarly, a fleet of SR ships with powerful weapons and shielding can easily wipe out a lesser fleet of SR ships with weaker weapons and shielding without taking damage. All of these things can be countered with better technology and more powerful fleets, just as the small stealth ship's tactics can.
Bigjoe5 wrote:My only advice with stealth is that you have to be EXTREMELY cautious on how it is balanced. Just making it expensive isn't going to do it, because stealth+"tech x" can often become a ludicrously powerful combination, at which point you're now introducing those hated "Special Rules" to prevent a player from combining them, like saying only tiny ships can be stealthed, or whatever.
Here, we're in agreement. I don't think any of us intend to allow broken stealth tactics, and none will be allowed to make their way into the final version of the game.
RonaldX wrote:Another thing to consider with stealth is the wide array of methods a ship has of being detected in the first place. Thermal Signature, Magnetic Signature, Motion, Warp-Drive Emissions, etc. etc. Stealth may or may not hide every single detection method, for example, an observing fleet could possibly detect fluctuations in the entry/exit point of a starlane itself indicative of a ship passing through it.. In that case it isn't the ship that's being detected at all, simply the presence of *something* going into or out of the starlane.
Most of these things will just be abstracted into the general "stealth" and "detection" meters for simplicity, but I've considered the possibility of having starlane use be noticeable by any other players in the system, even if the ships themselves are not detectable, which could perhaps be countered by a further increase in the stealth technology of the ships using the starlane, but that might just be adding an unnecessary limiting factor to the power of stealth.
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Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#50 Post by Bigjoe5 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:20 am

I have organized my thoughts in some detail on the wiki.
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