Shields -> Damage Reduction

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Geoff the Medio
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Shields -> Damage Reduction

#1 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Current shield parts in ship designs contribute to a ship's shield meter, which is essentially an extra contribution to a ship's total "hit points" during a battle, along with the structure meter which is increased by armour parts. The only difference is that shields can regenerate between battles.

I'm pondering making shields instead give a damage reduction property to ships. This would reduce the damage from any attack in a battle that hits a ship. This is strategically different from armour, in that many small attacks would be reduced more by shields, while fewer large attacks would be reduced less by shields.

Thoughts?

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#2 Post by Bosparan »

I rather like the idea.

How about going about things this way:

Every hull gets a basic mitigation (damage-reduction) value in addition to its basic HP.
Shields then modify this value by improving it, their efficiency based on the base value (like +25% of base value for the weaker shields). Armour on the other hand continues improving HP and maybe offers a low increase (1-2) on basic mitigation.
To finish things off we add a hard cap on maximum mitigation (let's say 3 times the hulls unmodified base value for example) to prevent invulnerable ships.

This would mean the player can really feel the improved survivability, but we avoid some raised eyebrows when a light cruiser can take more punishment than a Titan or moving sun.

This also makes different hull-types (for example Asteroid vs. Standard or Standard vs. Energy) better differentiable, so that choosing between these is more meaningful (right now, all I do is build hordes of Titans and knock on the door).

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#3 Post by eleazar »

Geoff the Medio wrote:Current shield parts in ship designs contribute to a ship's shield meter, which is essentially an extra contribution to a ship's total "hit points" during a battle, along with the structure meter which is increased by armour parts. The only difference is that shields can regenerate between battles.
It is true that the distinction between shields and structure is small, but it is very simple. With interactive combat, this could be extended to having shields regenerate slowly during battle, which would be more significant.
Geoff the Medio wrote:I'm pondering making shields instead give a damage reduction property to ships. This would reduce the damage from any attack in a battle that hits a ship. This is strategically different from armour, in that many small attacks would be reduced more by shields, while fewer large attacks would be reduced less by shields.
So something like: a shield with a strength of 5 would reduce the damage inflicted by 5?

This sounds like moving towards RPS-type interactions-- which are great in the right context, but when you can't control which ships shoot which ships are rather problematic. With the current blind system ships with weak weapons might waste all their power on strong shields, while ships with great firepower waste their strength on tiny ships.

IMHO as long as you have no control over combat, it should be very simple and deterministic. It would just make combat more annoying and confusing if the player can design ships for certain roles, and then the combat engine uses them blindly and often unwisely.

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#4 Post by Vezzra »

Geoff the Medio wrote:...I'm pondering making shields instead give a damage reduction property to ships. This would reduce the damage from any attack in a battle that hits a ship. This is strategically different from armour, in that many small attacks would be reduced more by shields, while fewer large attacks would be reduced less by shields.

Thoughts?
I like that concept very much, it would make shields and armour substantially more distinct than they are now. Many years ago, when I wanted to make my own 4X space game (I never got beyond pondering ideas ;)), that's exactly how I wanted to implement shields. However, besides the issues eleazar mentioned that would arise with the current combat system (basically the outcome of battles would be far more unpredictable and random), I see a serious issue with this concept that needs to be addressed, and that's a consequence of "many small attacks would be reduced more".

The problem is: Massive hulls like the titan hull could be equipped with a lot of shield parts, giving them such a high "damage reduction per weapon hit" that it's effectivly invulnerable to small, light combat vessels like fighters or combat ships based on small hulls, rendering such small combat vessels useless. Which would result in a strong tendency towards big ships with big guns. Unless you balance shield and weapon strength so that even fighters can penetrate the shields of a big, massive capship, but how to do that without rendering shields useless?

Maybe instead of giving a fixed value for damage reduction, make it a percentage? So the damage done by a hit is reduced by 10%, 20% etc. However, this might lead to ridiculous things like a small ship with light shields still reducing the hit it suffers by a massive weapon by ridiculous amounts. Beside the problem, how do several shield parts stack when you want to avoid 100% damage reduction...?

Ideas?

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#5 Post by Bosparan »

Actually, that is no problem at all.
I have no hesitation at all to equip my light cruisers with Death Ray V weapons.

The current system allows for small hulls to be equipped with the biggest and baddest guns there are. Shields would only start to matter when there is a big tech-imbalance, but then the lower one is screwed anyway, given that the only way to obtain technological superiority is by having the superior infrastructure and thus industry.

It would make Titans a lot more more survivable than small ships, admittedly, but at that stage in the current system, I do not see any reason to build the smaller hulls anyway (that might change if there is ever an upkeep for ships implemented of course). I've wiped out entire armadas comprised of literally hundreds of small-fry without my fleet (Titans and Suns, maxed out for damage and toughness) suffering so much as a single damaged ship. I assume the attacker gets the first hit or something like that. So what the damage-mitigation of shields would bring is turning high-end battles between fleets of similar power from insta-gib slugfests, where the first one to shoot wins, into a lengthier fight with more balanced outcomes.

That at least is my analysis of what the change would bring to the current combat system. Since I haven't found an accurate description what actually happens, part of this is speculative of course.

One thing to note though:
Since it is impossible to refit ships, this would lead to a fast devaluation of early ship designs, where even a small increase of damage mitigation could invalidate entire ship-armaments (especially with the first weapon-class. 1 Point of Damage-Mitigation would reduce the Railgun I from its usual utter ineffectiveness to complete futility).

This would mean, that under the current system, there would be a more urgent need to completely replace existing fleets, during a stage where resource-consumption actually matters.

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#6 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Bosparan wrote:...in the current system, I do not see any reason to build the smaller hulls anyway (that might change if there is ever an upkeep for ships implemented of course). I've wiped out entire armadas comprised of literally hundreds of small-fry without my fleet (Titans and Suns, maxed out for damage and toughness) suffering so much as a single damaged ship.
What version are you playing? A great advantage for large ships is the opposite of yandonman's experience....
I assume the attacker gets the first hit or something like that.
Depends on your definition of attacker, but probably no: all the ships in a battle have an equal chance to attack each combat round. Which empire owns a ship doesn't affect its chance to attack.
Since it is impossible to refit ships, this would lead to a fast devaluation of early ship designs, where even a small increase of damage mitigation could invalidate entire ship-armaments (especially with the first weapon-class. 1 Point of Damage-Mitigation would reduce the Railgun I from its usual utter ineffectiveness to complete futility).
That suggests there would also need to be refinement techs or other means to increase the power of earlier weapon types, without needing to design a new ship to get the benefit.

Also, keep in mind that the existence of a mechanism to reduce damage from attacks doesn't mean every ship will get this benefit at no cost. If it comes from shield parts, they could be quite expensive (compared to weapons) and definitely would take up a weapon slot in a design, making a heavily shielded ship less effective at attacking large fleets of enemy ships. If it comes from hulls, those hulls could also be quite expensive compared to contemporary options.

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#7 Post by yandonman »

Geoff the Medio wrote: (shields being different than hull/armor)

I really like this idea, not surprisingly. It would be cool if shields filled specific niche situations - which would further differentiate them from armor. Shields that reduce damage by a small flat amount would be good against many small ships, but basically weak vs heavy hitters. I like having that strategic tradeoff. Maybe there are a small number of other shield types that would be good against other strategies - aka: a shield type that's good against heavy hitters, but weak against many small ships.



eleazar wrote:With the current blind system ships with weak weapons might waste all their power on strong shields, while ships with great firepower waste their strength on tiny ships.
In cases where your opponent is fielding a heavily mixed fleet, yes, you are correct. I would imagine that such a fleet's performance would be highly variable, again due to the randomness. And my initial thought is that I like that heavily mixed fleets get to use the randomness of battle to their advantage.

In cases where your opponent is fielding a smiple (2-3 ship types) mixed fleet, you'll have a basic idea of what's shooting at you and what you're shooting at. So, I would imagine that one could design and produce accordingly.

In cases where your opponent is spamming one kind of ship, you know what you're firing at, and what's firing at you. In this case, it would be very easy to design and produce to counter one's enemy.

When one gets to the later game (aka, large numbers of ships), no matter what is graphically shown, it's still going to be largely a "blind" system - shield flares, lasers firing, etc just aren't going to be meaningful after more than roughly 10 ships per side (as there would be just too much going on to take in).


With the late game, large ship battles in mind, and with the play testing around this I've been doing recently, I think the solution to the blind system would be either some more detail in the SitReps OR a specific Battle Report screen that could show damage inflicted (opponent's hull, armor), damage lost (opponents shield absorption - Geoff's idea), damage taken (self hull, armor) damage absorbed (self shield - Geoff's idea).
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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#8 Post by Geoff the Medio »

yandonman wrote:...Geoff's idea...
It's not really an original idea...
In cases where your opponent is fielding a heavily mixed fleet, yes, you are correct. I would imagine that such a fleet's performance would be highly variable, again due to the randomness.
In cases of a "heavily mixed fleet", unless that's just a few ships of each of a dozen or so radically different designs, I'd expect there would be lots of ships involved, in which case randomness would be less of an issue. With lots of samples (ships) variability in measurements results tends to decrease.

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#9 Post by Bosparan »

Geoff the Medio wrote:What version are you playing?
Naively thinking the linked Installer gives the newest version, I ended up with Build 5096, so yes, my experience is based on something quite a bit out of date.

I am currently downloading the latest test builds to fix my "out-of-date"-problem
Geoff the Medio wrote:A great advantage for large ships is the opposite of yandonman's experience....
Actually, I calculated things and the comparison still holds true. What Yandonman apparently did not calculate was the matter of cost. The army of 10 flies cost - at build 5096 admittedly, but I assume it was the same during the time of his experience - 25% more than the Quantum Ship's. Accounting for productivity-increases based on tech-level and imperial expansion inbetween, he could likely have fielded at least 5-8 of the modern ship at the same cost relative to empire-production. Which would under the old system have eaten the entire enemy fleet for breakfast.
The fight was held under 10 to 1 odds, that neither cost nor production times upheld. Using two Quantum Ships would have him possibly (but not likely, given random targeting) loosing one of them, the moment he fields 3, none would be seriously damaged after the event. After the described patch, if shooting a ship that is already destroyed this turn is impossible, the quantum ship would in an absolute worst case scenario loose 136 HP fighting at 10 to 1 odds.

A titan hull takes 5 turns to build, compared to 2 for the small-fry. This means that if construction times are the limit (which they were in my games at Build 5096 so far), you can build 2.5 small-frys for 1 Titan. My usual Titan design can take a full Death-Ray V broadside from 2.5 small ships and smile - they won't like its answer though (and building those small ships with Death-Ray Vs would do interesting things to their PP-costs).
Geoff the Medio wrote:Depends on your definition of attacker, but probably no: all the ships in a battle have an equal chance to attack each combat round. Which empire owns a ship doesn't affect its chance to attack.
I was referring to the order of shooting within a turn, not whether they get to attack at all. One thing I do not know, is whether battle-damage is applied immediately, or only after everyone is done shooting for the turn.
Geoff the Medio wrote:That suggests there would also need to be refinement techs or other means to increase the power of earlier weapon types, without needing to design a new ship to get the benefit.
Either refinements, or allowing for refitting, yes. What I actually would prefer is to remove tiers from the weapons (So that there is no longer a Mass Driver II or Mass Driver III) and instead make the techs that unlocked the higher tiers of a weapon-type improve the performance of what is currently the Mark I. This could also allow for diversifying improvements (like having the "Mark II" upgrade, but also an upgrade that might reduce cost or other parameters, if weapons should acquire them). Another advantage is that it would unclutter the design menu.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Also, keep in mind that the existence of a mechanism to reduce damage from attacks doesn't mean every ship will get this benefit at no cost. If it comes from shield parts, they could be quite expensive (compared to weapons) and definitely would take up a weapon slot in a design, making a heavily shielded ship less effective at attacking large fleets of enemy ships. If it comes from hulls, those hulls could also be quite expensive compared to contemporary options.
Cool with me. But if you want to make me feel the PP-cost (based on the outdated build admittedly), you'll need to increase costs by several hundreds of percent. Now, increasing construction times would be another thing of course...

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#10 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Bosparan wrote:I was referring to the order of shooting within a turn, not whether they get to attack at all. One thing I do not know, is whether battle-damage is applied immediately, or only after everyone is done shooting for the turn.
There is no "turn" as you seem to conceive of it. Every "round" (as I call it in the code), a randomly selected ship shoots at randomly selected targets. Next round, another randomly selected ship (possibly the same one) does the same.
Now, increasing construction times would be another thing of course...
I don't understand your multiple-references to the limitations from production times... There's presently no limit on how many of something you can produce in parallel, so after a few turns past when you research or otherwise unlock something, the number of the something you can be producing is only really limited by your empire's PP total, and not the time to produce one from scratch.

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#11 Post by Bosparan »

Geoff the Medio wrote:I don't understand your multiple-references to the limitations from production times... There's presently no limit on how many of something you can produce in parallel, so after a few turns past when you research or otherwise unlock something, the number of the something you can be producing is only really limited by your empire's PP total, and not the time to produce one from scratch.
Actually, my construction-queue refused new constructions after I hit 100 simultaneous projects.
Geoff the Medio wrote:There is no "turn" as you seem to conceive of it. Every "round" (as I call it in the code), a randomly selected ship shoots at randomly selected targets. Next round, another randomly selected ship (possibly the same one) does the same.
Ok. That explains some things. I won't say I am comfortable with that - I originally come from a turn-based RPG-gaming background, and still am blinkered by my MoO-II experience (I know FreeOrion is not designed to be MoO IV, but a good game in its own rights, but sometimes I just can't help it). On the other hand, given what the game system currently has to work with, making things formally turn-based with a solid order of action would make the outcome a lot more predictable, to the point of near certitude.

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#12 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Bosparan wrote:Actually, my construction-queue refused new constructions after I hit 100 simultaneous projects.
Ah, well, that makes a bit of sense then. Notably, this restriction has been (or at least has effectively been) eliminated in the latest builds.

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#13 Post by em3 »

Bosparan wrote:Ok. That explains some things. I won't say I am comfortable with that - I originally come from a turn-based RPG-gaming background, and still am blinkered by my MoO-II experience (I know FreeOrion is not designed to be MoO IV, but a good game in its own rights, but sometimes I just can't help it).
I believe you should feel free to implement it this way. :wink: As I understand, the current combat system is a minimal place holder that was added so that any combat would be possible at all.

I think the priorities when making it were (although I might be mistaken):
  1. Take minimal time to code.
  2. Be influenced by the fleet composition.
  3. Have not deterministic outcome.
Nobody had the time to design and develop a full-fledged turn-based wargame system that would have to be replaced eventually anyway, I guess.
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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#14 Post by unjashfan »

The problem is: Massive hulls like the titan hull could be equipped with a lot of shield parts, giving them such a high "damage reduction per weapon hit" that it's effectivly invulnerable to small, light combat vessels like fighters or combat ships based on small hulls, rendering such small combat vessels useless. Which would result in a strong tendency towards big ships with big guns. Unless you balance shield and weapon strength so that even fighters can penetrate the shields of a big, massive capship, but how to do that without rendering shields useless?

Maybe instead of giving a fixed value for damage reduction, make it a percentage? So the damage done by a hit is reduced by 10%, 20% etc. However, this might lead to ridiculous things like a small ship with light shields still reducing the hit it suffers by a massive weapon by ridiculous amounts. Beside the problem, how do several shield parts stack when you want to avoid 100% damage reduction...?
Maybe the shields will become less effective as they get hit in combat, so they will prevent less damage as a battle goes on. This way shields will "break" after it takes a certain amount of punishment, which prevents heavily shielded ships from preventing practically all the damage done to them. The rate which shields weaken could be anything from a fixed amount per hit to a percentage of the damage prevented. Any thoughts on this mechanic?

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Re: Shields -> Damage Reduction

#15 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Vezzra wrote:The problem is: Massive hulls like the titan hull could be equipped with a lot of shield parts, giving them such a high "damage reduction per weapon hit" that it's effectivly invulnerable to small, light combat vessels like fighters or combat ships based on small hulls, rendering such small combat vessels useless.
There's presently no rule that prevents small hulls from being mounted with high-damage weapons. Small hulls probably wouldn't be able to mount many high- (or low-) damage weapons, but each weapon takes a separate shot now, so that doesn't matter much for the purposes of damage reduction. Damage-reduction granting parts, may also be very expensive, may not stack, or may be much harder to get than damage-reduction hulls (which can't be stacked).

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