Four combat bouts as default

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Ophiuchus
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Four combat bouts as default

#1 Post by Ophiuchus » Wed May 13, 2020 10:34 pm

I have been mulling over this for two years I think. Freeorion combat which happens each turn has three combat bouts in which your weapons damage enemies. I finally suggest to up the number of combat bouts to four instead of three (while preserving most of the balance) #2901. This will heighten influence of ship design on combat.

My main reasons why I think increasing the number of bouts is beneficial
  • More time for combat to evolve (e.g. there are one or two bouts after enemy fighters have been shot down and your)
  • Related to that it means more design space for our weapon systems
  • It is anti-chaff in two ways: it reduces shot overkill and damage overkill.
As just increasing the number of bouts has a lot of implications, lets keep the current damage/structure balance.
How to do this? By keeping weapon damage the same and increasing structure by a third to accomodate for one being hit once more in the fourth bout. If it is better to understand you can also think about the different way round: keep current ship structure and lower damage per bout to 3/4.


I put up a PR#2908 in which I add scaling factor rules for ship damage and ship structure so also the players can decide what exact values to use. Some implementation details follow from this. As suggested by others, planetary defense is mostly for inflicting damage so it scales according to ship weapons. Planetary shields are mostly working like structure so it scales according to structure. There are some effects which always ensure there is a minimum 1 point of e.g. shield, this does not need to scale. In general turn-oriented values (e.g. armour parts) scale like structure, bout-oriented values like ship shields scale with ship weapon damage. Fighters scale almost like ship damage but not quite (easier to down, and not shooting the first bout), so there is a specific rule for fighter damage as well.

Some details of what happens if you increase the number of bouts from three to four and scale the structure of the ships up by 4/3 (so a 60 structure ship will have 80 structure instead in that game).
  • Anti-chaff/Reduces shot overkill. Your spinal cannon is shooting four times, so if you shoot chaff in the first bout you only wasted a fourth of your damage (1/4) instead of a third (1/3). As structure is comparatively "higher" per bout, damage is more evenly distributed and dead enemies get faster removed, reducing shot overkill.
  • Anti-chaff/Reduces damage overkill. Your spinal cannon is shooting four times, so if you shoot a 50-structure ship in the first bout you only wasted an eighth (50/400) of your damage instead of a sixth (50/300).
  • Pronounces fighter mechanic stronger - there are multiple effects:
  • fighters launched in bout 1 can shoot up to three times instead of two times (so up to 50% more damage if not shot down before)
  • fighters launched in bout 2 can shoot up to two times instead of one time (so up to 100% more damage if not shot down before). Second-bout fighters are only 33% worse than first-bout fighters (instead of being 50% worse). This makes having extra hangars more worthwhile and can lead to more nuanced carrier builds.
  • Fighter fighters can concentrate on enemy ships if enemy fighters are cleared out early. Double the clear view if enemy fighters are completely downed in bout two.
  • Flak gets a 50% boost (if fighters are still around)
  • We are planning on introducing a simplistic ranges concept (three ranges) which would play really nicely with four bouts. (Stealth mechanics proposal)
These effects would of course get stronger if you up the number of bouts to higher values, e.g. to ten instead of three. But I have a hunch that four will suffice and more bouts would clutter up the combat report. Also some current problems like subpar performance of stealthy warships would be amplified (but stealth overhaul is in the pipeline anyway). With the scaling rules in place we can change the defaults to what we need quite fast.


Base hull is not directly scaled with structure so it can still be shot down with a single Arc Disruptor shot and basic mines (it scales with the lower of ship weapon damage and ship structure factors). But that is a bit fiddly as reinforced hull tech bonus does scale with structure, so the arc disruptor 3 is guaranteed to one-shot improved base hulls with every scaling setting. Capping the reinforced hull bonus at double hull structure would probably suffice. There is some more stuff which needs to be found out - likely planetary defenses and fighter balance need to be adjusted.

The underlying scaling rules also provide the facility to increase structure/damage if we need more design space for e.g. multi-shot weapons (see Re: Base weapon stats for (mostly) integer values. When introducing the disruptor arc it was almost impossible to find a design spot which is not either underpowered or overpowered or has other strong drawbacks (even the arc disruptor is restricted for balance reasons - it does not scale with pilot skill).


I intend to have four bouts feature to be merged soon after 0.4.10 if possible. The technical underlying scaling rules could certainly go into 0.4.10 as it is basically a refactoring which has no effect if you stay at the default values (3 bouts and no scaling).


Some more reading: Calculating chaff effect in combat in Anybody knows how chaff scale the bouts?, Hidden close range ships can be countered in the fourth bout in Stealth mechanics proposal.
Last edited by Ophiuchus on Thu May 14, 2020 1:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Oberlus
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Re: Four combat bouts as default

#2 Post by Oberlus » Wed May 13, 2020 10:57 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 10:34 pm
The technical underlying scaling rules could certainly go into 0.4.10 as it is basically a refactoring which has no effect if you stay at the default values (3 bouts and no scaling).
+1
The sooner we get it into master, the sooner we can playtest it easily in MP.

Ophiuchus
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Re: Four combat bouts as default

#3 Post by Ophiuchus » Thu May 14, 2020 7:57 am

Oberlus wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 10:57 pm
Ophiuchus wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 10:34 pm
The technical underlying scaling rules could certainly go into 0.4.10 as it is basically a refactoring which has no effect if you stay at the default values (3 bouts and no scaling).
+1
The sooner we get it into master, the sooner we can playtest it easily in MP.
I get the code into shape and set the defaults back three bouts and scaling 1.0 (instead of four bouts, structure scale 8, ship damage scale 6, and fighter damage scale 6; 4-8-6-6).

MP could then choose to use e.g. 4-8-6-6 (including proposed structure scaling) or 4-4-3-3 (lower int values) or even 9-3-1-1 (high amount of bouts for seeing stronger effects, low int values)
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Vezzra
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Re: Four combat bouts as default

#4 Post by Vezzra » Sun May 17, 2020 1:14 pm

If that PR can go in in a form that does not change current behavior/dynamics, then yes, merging it pre-release can be considered, if you guys think it is important enough. Keep in mind that such changes still carry the risk of introducing bugs, so it really should only be merged if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Ophiuchus
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Re: Four combat bouts as default

#5 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue May 19, 2020 11:09 am

The PR went in, so one can use scale-for-different-number-of-bouts feature by setting the three rules accordingly (structure,main weapon damage,fighter damage).

There is a followup PR for 0.5 with the suggested four bouts and extra scaling and necessary stringtable changes (4-8-6-6).

Different bout setup should/could be tested in multiplayer; e.g. (4-8-6-6) or (4-4-3-3) or (6-2-1-1) or (8-8-3-3) or (9-3-1-1)
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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