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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Personal Contacts (08/13/20)

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Topics - TaLaR

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Which they obviously shouldn't.

1) Enemy Onslaught vs Drover + a frigate. A frigate is too small to follow, so Drover just keeps distance as I'd want it to. Both are fast enough to never be caught, so the only threat is death by PPT/CR.
2) Enemy Onslaught vs Drover + a fast DE. DE avoids Burn Driving Onslaught, Drover lags behind and tries to follow even through the death zone right in front of Onslaught, eventually dying in few passes.

Suggestions / Fast missile racks use with recharging missiles
« on: July 05, 2020, 02:37:51 AM »
FMR can work with finite missiles to burst the target faster.
And works even better with cooldown-based missiles, the only one in vanilla being Salamanders.

However, FMR is atrociously bad with recharging missiles like Pilums. You don't get significant burst like rapid-firing Harpoons/Sabots, neither you get sustain of Salamanders.

Maybe FMR should also boost recharge proportional to it's natural rate? For example for Pilums, which recharge at about half firing rate, 1 FMR charge should restore close to half clip.

Or at least stock variants for FMR ships used by enemies shouldn't focus on Pilums.

Suggestions / Alternating weapon group selection improvement
« on: July 04, 2020, 01:33:42 AM »
Don't change currently selected weapon within alternating group when switching between different weapon groups (but do switch if re-selecting same group).

For example, 4x2 Reaper group (with Missile Rack):
- Fire 2 top, selection moves to third (1 1 2* 2)
- Switch to other weapon group
- Switch back to Reaper group, selection is on 4th (1 1 2 2*)

This is inconvenient, because if I fire 2 in a row, I'd end up with (0 1* 2 1), rather than (1* 1 1 1). As result I need to pause and fix selection before firing for optimal result.

Suggestions / Fix AI suicide by Fortress Shield
« on: May 25, 2020, 12:42:49 AM »
For example, 2 fully flux optimized soft flux (3 Grav, 7 Tacs) Auroras vs single flux/shield optimized Paragon (any weapons).
Auroras can't really get through shield, but AI will activate fortress shield anyway, eventually dying.

The fact that it's unnecessary suicide can be easily proven by disabling autopilot/weapons on Paragon and just going afk with shields up.

Can Paragon AI check whether soft flux buildup is actually dangerous before activating Fortress shield? Imo it's worth activating only if:
- incoming soft buildup > dissipation AND there is enough soft flux built up that it hampers weapon fire. Should be aware of more than just immediate rates (not count a TL/PL at it's burst rate unless overload is imminent). If only combined incoming soft buildup + own weapons/shield soft buildup > dissipation, it needs to intermittently hold fire instead.
- incoming hard buildup (including projectiles in flight) > fortress shield buildup for period sufficient to block the projectiles. This rule should also take into account how ready to fire is Paragon itself (not worth sitting on fully recharged weapons with low soft flux for minor hard flux gain).

Suggestions / Autofit automation
« on: February 06, 2020, 02:50:05 AM »
At any moment when docked at station allowing cr-loss-free refit, player can initiate autofit pass for all managed ships according to following rules:

- Each ship can be linked to autofit template OR set unmanaged.
- Autofit template can be set as default for hull type.
- Ships not matching their current template display warning in fleet/refit lists. 3 states: not outfitted/ partial fit (autofit pass was applied to ship, but did not reach exact fit)/ exact fit.
- Updating autofit template allows to update all linked ships by initiating autofit pass. Their status drops to 'not outfitted' (since there was no autofit pass with updated template).
- Any story-point spending (to make a hullmod built-in) by autofit needs to be confirmed by player. With even larger warning for any attempts to remove built-in hullmods.
- Autofit pass can be configured whether stored/bought weapons are used, whether to accept partial fits (or just leave as is), whether to touch story-point hullmods.
- Ships are processed in fleet/refit list order.
- (optional improvement) Failing autofit pass can create exact list of lacking weapons to allow queuing their production of in 1 click (assuming you have blueprints).
- (optional improvement) A ship can queued to be produced with all weapons needed for it's default autofit template.

What good it does:
- Easy management of large lategame fleets
- Removes at least one obstacle towards massing smaller ships being a viable tactic.

Suggestions / Nerf Doom mines insta-kill-ability
« on: December 23, 2019, 07:08:35 AM »
There are 2 cases when mines can insta-kill a ship (or at least inflict heavy unavoidable damage):

1st case is when a frigate moves too fast. Frigates have very small exclusion area, and speed-buffed frigate can end up in situation when even perfect
reaction is not fast enough to avoid the mine. Player can manage this by intentionally slowing down around Dooms, but AI ships are *doomed*, lol.

2nd case is even worse: when friendly fighters move near the ship and run into a freshly spawned mine. Short of raised 360 shield or active phase cloak, nothing can prevent damage in this situation. In fact, friendly carriers will do their best to setup you exactly for this kind of problem with their insistence on using fighter escorts.

Also, UI-wise can we get clear indicator for piloted ship's and selected enemy's ability radius? Not seeing exact mine deployment radius exacerbates these issues ten fold, since I can't even reliably tell when I need to take countermeasures (slow down and deploy shield in direction of friendly fighters). Though I wouldn't mind a big red indicator 'Mine threat' whenever I'm in Doom's or Station's reach on top of that.

Suggestions / Phase ship AI improvement
« on: September 19, 2019, 10:53:27 PM »
Now, the obvious endgame for phase frigates is omni-shield bypass maneuvers, but I'm not asking for that much here. This topic is for some of simpler issues.

1) Phase ship are too easily distracted by fighters and missiles. This is the big one.
2) They often fail to properly to align rear-shots even against slower front shielded targets incapable of resisting (there are cases of this in Drover video).
3) Do ships take missile's speed vector and turn rate/ acceleration into account when dodging them? Doesn't seem to be the case.
I mean dodging a missile by backpedaling buys you much less time than letting it pass through you.

Drover made as harmless and easy to exploit for Afflictor as possible without leaving it completely unarmed (yep, Drover wins anyway):

Vigilance with ECCM-less Pilums (they are practically static obstacles from phase ship's perspective, yet it spends inordinate amount of time dodging them):

Suggestions / AI disables PD too easily
« on: September 18, 2019, 10:22:50 PM »
PD tends to have quite bad flux efficiency, so it often tends to be first on chopping block when AI starts to prioritize what to disable due to rising flux levels.
And it's more often then not wrong in doing so. Usually enemy itself isn't even in PD firing range, so the only thing disabling PD does is allowing missiles through.
Particularly common with IPDAI IR Pulse - yes it's expensive to fire. But still better than eating Sabot or Squall fire.

At the very least there should be an overriding behavior to enable PD if missiles are incoming.

Suggestions / Fire control improvements
« on: September 08, 2019, 10:28:53 PM »
I recently started using a mod to change firing mode in combat, and it's superbly useful ( ). Maybe this should be a vanilla feature?

Also, in some cases it would be very nice if autofire respected alternating firing mode : namely sustained pressure with Needlers or Plasma Cannons to counter shield drops by defender. Having to prime it by firing first salvo manually and switchng to auto later is quite micro-intensive and gets old fast.

Though due to specific usage it would need to be allowed per-group at design time:
- firing mode: linked/alternating (and can be switched in combat)
- autofire uses firing mode: y/n.

Suggestions / Aurora as sample case for AI piloting errors.
« on: September 05, 2019, 09:19:25 AM »
Aurora makes a great demonstrator, because it's combination of short range and high speed (but only in bursts, since most of it comes from system) magnifies effects of piloting errors.

Ai seems to mostly determine when it should approach based on relative flux (i.e. my 30% vs enemy 60% = they are vulnerable, let's rush). This is wrong in several ways:

1) If enemy has much better effective flux capacity (more raw capacity, better shield, more effective weapons), this can be suicidal. Paragon doesn't need it's full flux bar to handle Aurora, and even efficient Eagle build(see below) can easily win from higher flux percentage.
Builds like 4xTL Paragon can even afford firing when Aurora is out of range to drive up their own flux and provoke Aurora into closing in. Then kill it, once lured deep enough.

2) Tactics doesn't seem to discern hard and soft flux. So opponent can just intermittently hold fire (or use fortress shield) and let Aurora use it's inefficient weapons to reverse the initial perceived advantage.

3) Can lead to backing up after successfully disabling enemy weapons with emp, mostly when enemy has significant amount of soft flux. Opponent stops firing, their flux goes down and Aurora thinks it's time retreat (if it had decently high flux levels too). WRONG! It's time to vent in their face, since they can't punish the vent due to disabled weapons (of course need to be aware of what exactly got disabled).
(This is somewhat rare situation, but I've seen it vs same Eagle a few times).

Mostly used this Eagle vs sim Aurora with Eliminate command (otherwise fight takes too long, and will probably go into CR timeout).

Suggestions / AI should prioritize shield blocking HIL much higher.
« on: September 03, 2019, 07:43:24 AM »
Blocking HIL with shield is an extremely efficient action compared to letting it hit armor even for few seconds. It should be prioritized over blocking most other types of ordnance in situations where AI has to choose.

It isn't easy to demonstrate since it only happens in a fight against multiple ships, but current priority is way too low. I've often seen AI prioritize blocking a highly scattered wave of Annihilators (half or more of which would miss) over few seconds of HIL damage - that's a very bad trade.
Worst case I've seen is prioritizing a mere threat of other projectile guns (so, not insta-hit) pointed it's way by other ships over actually firing HIL.

Somewhat decent demo case is a Conquest vs 6 sim DEs that are packed together in interface (2 Enforcers, 2 Sunders, 2 Hammerheads). One of Sunders has HIL.

Suggestions / Anti-phase tactics
« on: August 21, 2019, 01:21:15 AM »
Let's consider what could stop a player piloted Afflictor from taking out a ship within enemy fleet:
- an enemy Afflictor or Shade, perfectly tailing me to attack right as I unphase. A tag team of two could do it even with disadvantages in character skills and variant.
- Harbinger, denying area around the target (since it can force me out of phase).
- Doom, dropping mines in spot I'm most likely to attack from (right as I prepare to unphase behind target). Even reactive usage of mines as now is dangerous, but doesn't really stop Afflictor.
- Tachyon Lances, Phase Lances, and to lesser degree HILs (long initiation) and Heavy Blasters (dodge-able) leading the me to attack on unphase.
- Keeping 360 shields up all the time for isolated ships. Huddling back-to-back for non-360 ships, also with shields preemptively raised.
- Self-defense abilities like phase skim or teleport. Phase cloak doesn't count because obviously I'd attack during cooldown.
- Fighters can force me to waste me some flux/time, but ultimately can't catch 200+ speed 4x time cloaked Afflictor.

And the most dreaded threat - enemy death explosions, though they obviously don't save the victim ship. I'll probably make a mod to draw these at some point. With cruisers and capitals the margins are razor thin, so it's very easy to attack from too short range by mistake.

Anyway point is - there are some things that can be done to protect fleet from an Afflictor, but they all take significant effort. And AI simply doesn't process it as any special threat (despite the fact that it is). Which leads to Afflictor game-play being too one-sided.

Suggestions / Allow switching firing modes in combat
« on: March 12, 2019, 05:24:33 AM »
Player can have weapons only in 1 group and 1 firing mode (alternating or linked).
Often I simply need both and end up choosing 'alternating', because you can badly imitate 'linked' by rapid clicking (well, I suppose I could macro it with somewhat acceptable results), while I can't go other way around.

- Reaper/Blasters on phase ships (overkill with linked or fail to exploit window of opportunity due to lack of sync with alternative).
- Multiple Tachyon Lances (linked fire is preferable against ships as long as you have enough flux, but you need alternative to safely fire at high flux/prevent enemy from exploiting weapon cooldown to vent/snipe fighters).
- Multiple Plasma Cannons (linked is good for exploiting opportunities like enemy vent, alternative to intercept missiles/fighters or curb armor/fortress shield tanking).

So I'd very much like a hotkey to switch mode in combat. In addition a binding like 'SHIFT+click' to fire in other mode without permanently switching would also be nice.

Suggestions / Too aggressive venting with single weapon.
« on: March 09, 2019, 07:53:09 AM »
Put a HVD on a Hound, max out vents. 200 dissipation / 175 consumption (and there is no shield or anything else to raise it). Deploy it against any slower and shorter ranged enemy (like Close Support Lasher).

Hound vents after every shot - why?
It already has more dissipation than it can use, the only effect venting has is increase of HVD cooldown.

Even for ships with dissipation under consumption it seems better to start vent when weapon cooldown is almost complete.
Refire delay when vent starts right after fire: weapon cooldown + vent time for full flux cost of shot.
Refire delay when vent starts right after cooldown: weapon cooldown + vent time for part of flux cost that failed to dissipate during cooldown.

Suggestions / AI range management
« on: March 09, 2019, 12:08:36 AM »
2 Hammerhead variants, long ranged (LR) and short ranged (SR). Both are very straightforward, no missiles or any difficult tactics requirements. They just need to maintain correct range to win.


As long as range is above Needler range of 800*1.2 LR ship wins, under Railgun range of 700*1.2(-extra for weapon placement on ship) SR ship wins. In between is somewhat unstable and depends on armor/hull/flux state, but overall SR ship somewhat wins at this range.

Both have same speed, meaning that as long as LR ship is serious about maintaining range and SR ship doesn't try to sacrifice armor for zero flux boost (AI doesn't do this), closing the distance is near impossible. Which is exactly how this plays with LR ship under player control - one-sided win for LR ship.
Getting win is also easy with player-piloted SR ship, LR ship just let's you close distance and loses after few offensive vents.

Under AI control LR ship keep committing mistakes until it dies.
- It doesn't seem to take inertia into account during approach. So while it starts trying to backpedal once in combat range, that's too late. It needs to enter combat range at near 0 relative speed.
=> which leads to ships closing at least into Needler range and at worst straight into Railguns, and both ships getting to high flux.
- LR ship allows the other side to get away when both are at high flux, but only CR ship is actually threatened (due to range). LR ship can recover flux by combination of passive dissipation, intermittent hold fire and shield-flicker (against mauler), without giving opponent opportunities to vent.

SR ships has it's own problems too:
- It doesn't try to close distance hard enough. It often is happy with Needler range, despite Railgun range being so much more advantageous (since it accumulates some flux in process of closing range).
- SR ship allows to break contact after reaching Railgun range. Unless SR ship has already lost too much armor/hull and/or has much higher current flux than LR ship, it can armor tank/offensive vent to victory.

Overall "low flux = let's approach, high flux = let's retreat and vent" is very flawed logic. Ships need to be aware in which range-bands they can win against an opponent and do their best to maintain/close the distance (taking inertia into account).
- It's ok to to not use vent opportunity and keep firing instead (when you have range and speed advantage).
- It's also ok to offensive vent/armor tank in close range if closing the distance again would cost you more and you have massive advantage in close combat.
- There is no need to close distance against enemy that is slower (system effects included) and has short range firepower advantage. This just plays into their hand.
- Situation where ship A wins against ship B at medium range, but (slowly) loses at long range and (quickly) loses at short range is also possible.
- AI should probably consider armor-tanking zero flux boost as valid way to close the distance. Which can be countered by hold fire + back off (if there are allies to retreat to).

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