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Author Topic: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.  (Read 5552 times)

fededevi

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2018, 06:51:26 AM »

How overpowered would it be if you could ride tandom with an Officer? [...]

If you remove piloting skills from the player you solve the problem, Officer would work like a "swappable" set of piloting skills which you choose based on the ship you want to pilot. Obviously the player should have less points than now to spend on the remaining skills.

This would make many ship & loadouts much more viable for the player because you will be able to specialize officers for e.g. missile ships, carriers, shield-less ships and so on.. And then choose or level the officer based on the ships/weapons you find.
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Shrugger

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2018, 07:36:46 AM »

I like that idea. Would put players VS enemy fleet commanders on equal footing, would solve the issue of players needing to decide between fleet meta or fun piloting...but then again, it would make officers even more critical.

Besides, it's too fundamental a change and won't happen.
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heskey30

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2018, 12:45:56 AM »

Well it seems to me like we've already got the best combat skill from the very beginning of the game. Is anyone here really getting regularly trashed by high skilled npc commanders lategame? Sure they're dangerous, but a skilled player will still beat them even with fewer ingame skills. I think that's a good balance - letting the player be godlike in battle and also an amazing fleet commander is good wish fulfillment but ultimately you're just going to be steamrolling everything and bored.
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Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2018, 01:28:08 AM »

What combat skill is that?  If the skill is not offered by the game, it does not count.

I do not get bored steamrolling enemy - it is fun.  I do not like fighting comparable enemy with weaker tools, even if I can win against AI by exploiting vulnerabilities.  I do not like being outnumbered, fleet to fleet, 40+ to 25 during the 0.7 era, even though I could solo more than 100 ships (combined from several fleets) with a max skills Onslaught back then.  Today, I do not like being outskilled by the AI if I do not dedicated all of my points into as many skills max level AI can take.

Also, it is no fun if taking the fun stuff means I am significantly weaker than one who takes the effective stuff, even if unskilled can kill the enemy.
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Steel Threat

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2018, 02:00:01 AM »

Megas is, as usual, largely on the money with his assessment.

Some of the problems with the skill system at the moment are:

1) Many skills have 'dead' levels - where the bonuses are insignificant or insulting, particularly based on build - which combined with aptitudes often feels punishing. Putting your one skill point a level into getting something later feels mediocre.
2) Certain skills are standouts and feel absolutely mandatory regardless of build. Looking at you, 10% OP. I'm not even sure what the first two ranks of that skill line give, from memory, and I don't care. They could be blank, and it'd still be one of the best skills in the game. Others just feel mediocre. I understand the logic behind say reduced HE damage to shields, it's just completely worthless and nobody cares. Or about increased damage to, what was it, fighters and missiles? Others still feel like taxes - oh, you didn't take ECM? Enjoy your range penalty.
3) 'Group Buff' skills often are on the same level as or otherwise outclass 'Solo Combat' skills. This was particularly noticeable in earlier versions where there was a carrier command that affected all fighters in your fleet, and one that just affected your own. Even now - would you like 25% increased CR for your ship or, for, uh... everyone's... ship?
4) Taking all combat skills doesn't particularly make you feel great, especially given most AI officers can just do the same thing. It doesn't feel rewarding, especially when they get those skill ranks easier than you in a sense, and it feels punishing in that you're deliberately giving up 'command' buffs (which are by and large superior mathematically with even a small fleet, and outrageously better with a large one compared to the often similarish combat bonuses) to do so - you're the only one who can take those, but any pilot in your fleet can take combat skills... taking them just puts you on their level, it doesn't make you feel strong.

I've seen ideas of allowing the player to pilot their own officers ships with their bonuses, or being able to recruit fleet leaders, but I don't think those are the best approach. What I'd recommend is giving all flagship commanders - the player, as well as the leaders of any opponent fleets they encounter - their own, separate buffed up variant of combat that is superior to the regular officer combat tree.

This means rather than feeling like you have to choose between very powerful fleetwide buffs that are mathematically superior, or being actually as compotent in combat as your fleet officers (but not much more), you can instead pick between reasonably okayish with very good officers (high leadership boosts - which also affect you), as competent or slightly more with a buffed fleet (mixing between them), or by being an absolute combat monster and mostly eschewing leadership skills (all combat). You don't feel like you're giving up something unique only you can have (leadership buffs, in a sense) to just be... on par.

In addition, it means you'll be likely to face the occasional 'supership', lead by an high level flagship opponent who took combat skills instead of leadership skills.

The real biggest problem with the system is the perception that you're suffering taxes, that you're being punished by taking the optimal approach (leadership) by being worse than your officers, and that even if you do spec into the mathematically inferior combat tree, you don't really feel as rewarded as you do in the old days where it really made you a combat monster. Buffing leadership was necessary, but I feel that combat - particularly for the player - needs some changes and buffs, as well as making the player feel more unique rather than that they're giving up extremely good fleetwide bonuses to be... on the same level as the AI.

I know I exaggerate a little here, but we're talking perception, and I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. Maxing combat should make you feel powerful, not like you're paying a tax.

It'd be nice to see the 'lone wolf' style of the old days a little more playable than it is currently, too. I know it's not really the design intent, but it was absolutely one of the most enjoyable ways to play for me and I really do miss it.
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Thaago

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2018, 06:12:49 AM »

Tldr; taking combat skills flattens the difficulty curve and makes gameplay both more enjoyable and also easier at the stages where there is still risk. But it feels bad (not being sarcastic, it really does).

it feels bad that the "optimal" route is to take leadership/tech skills and to be worse in combat than the officers, and I do think the skills need to be tweaked to compensate. I like Steel Threat's idea of officers just inherently having weaker skills than commanders. (I am also in favor of their being multiple experience tracks and doing away with aptitudes.)

However, despite being not 'end game optimal', the game is easier at every stage that matters when the player takes some combat skills. This is because of how huge a force multiplier player targeting and piloting is. I don't think every combat skill is needed or good, but picking up a few has a dramatic impact.

Early game: Combat skills let your Hammerhead confidently kill many pirate destroyers or frigates with ease. If you  can fly (not a given for new players) you should make more supplies than you spend on every battle where things don't go wrong (which happens). Named bounties are big paydays on top, and you can comfortably build a buffer or expand your fleet with the starting Jangala bounty.

Mid game: People have said that there is a spike in the difficulty of bounties at this stage - its not there if you have a decent combat build and pick up a big ship for yourself. Dominator + skills will comfortably take out multiple AI capitals (in succession - 2 at once is doable but tricky). If you've scraped together the cash, player Onslaught + reasonable escort (say 3 destroyers + 2 destroyer carriers) should wipe the floor with the mid level, several hundred k bounties.

End game: This is where you suddenly feel a bit weaker, as its impossible to have all the best support skills. Except... this part of the game is easy, so it doesn't matter. Mods are a bit of a different story, as their endgame challenges are much more powerful (10 times as powerful at least).


Side note: when playing with mods that use heavy fighters or missiles (Diable, Imperium, and Templar in my current playthrough) the +50% damage to missiles and fighters is a gamechanging skill. Heck, even in the base game it lets your PD confidently stop Reapers or Sabots in the brief window before they go second stage.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2018, 06:15:53 AM by Thaago »
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2018, 09:00:55 AM »

It seems to me like the player is forced to decide between making the combat layer easier and more enjoyable, or the campaign layer easier and more enjoyable. I don't like that I have to choose which part of the game to be more enjoyable, I want it all to be more enjoyable. That's my main problem with the system. I usually choose too make the campaign layer more enjoyable because I can compensate for increased difficulty in combat with my own skill and my fleet, but I can't really compensate for campaign annoyances/difficulties that are alleviated by skills.
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Gothars

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2018, 10:57:01 AM »

Just gifting combat skills to the player/fleet commanders would result in power creep. If power levels rise too high game mechanics and tactics stop to matter as every opposition is just smashed with brute force. That might be what Megas wants, but for me it would ruin the game.

I'm totally OK with not necessarily being the best in direct combat, by the way. What leader in history was ever the best fighter/pilot/shiphandler of his army? I'm not leading some orc tribe where the fiercest fighter becomes chief.
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Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2018, 12:53:51 PM »

Just gifting combat skills to the player/fleet commanders would result in power creep. If power levels rise too high game mechanics and tactics stop to matter as every opposition is just smashed with brute force. That might be what Megas wants, but for me it would ruin the game.

I'm totally OK with not necessarily being the best in direct combat, by the way. What leader in history was ever the best fighter/pilot/shiphandler of his army? I'm not leading some orc tribe where the fiercest fighter becomes chief.
Not really.  If I spend all of my points to match the NPCs, I have no points left for anything else.  And most pilot-only skills are too weak to justify spending more than a few points there.

Also, it is silly for me to put three points in frivolous pilot-only skill like Strike Command or Advanced Countermeasures when I can put one point in Officer Management and get two more guys with up to seven or so skills.  If playership is so great, better for playership to stay unskilled while backed up by two elite wingmen.  This is optimal, but not fun for me because I feel like a slave to my wingmen.

I do not necessarily have a problem with player choosing to specialize in non-combat skills and be weaker in combat.  I have a problem that I need all of my skill points just to keep up with NPCs.  I should not have to totally specialize in what NPCs take just to keep up.

Steel Threat articulated my complaints of the skill system very well.  You spend points in combat not to be an ace, but to keep up with the AI.  And you need to spend all of your points to do it.  Paying taxes as he said.

Re: Power levels.  I liked the stronger power level of pre-0.8 more.  (Also, I did not need to raise game speed to 2f back then either, thanks to stronger skills and Augmented Engines)  If ships and weapons were not so hard to replace back then, I would have tolerated ships dying left-and-right instead of soloing every fight to avoid casualties.

And intrinsic_parity is right.  "the player is forced to decide between making the combat layer easier and more enjoyable, or the campaign layer easier and more enjoyable."  I like to make combat more enjoyable, because direct combat is what the game is all about.  But if I do that, I gimp the fleet and/or I have nothing left for non-combat, since you do not have enough points to grab everything for combat.  I am fine not being able to get everything for combat.  I am not fine being only able to grab enough to keep up with NPCs and nothing else.

@ Thaago: When level scaling was at its worst, I could not get a big ship in time before my fleet was overwhelmed.  Just when I get a few destroyers, all of the bounties were having two or three cruisers plus more smaller ships than the rest of my fleet combined.  After I finish tutorial in Galatica, the first bounty fleet already has significantly more ships than my starter fleet (but they were junk, worse than mine), and winning that was not easy, and it only got worse from there, when more bounties upgraded faster than I could.  Trying no tutorial start was not any better.  First two or three fleets were easy enough due to being low level, but afterwards thanks to my levels climbing fast - much faster than my fleet and assets, the big armadas of death appeared before I could take them.  Had I wanted to play more, I would have needed to put my fleet in storage and do exploration/contact missions with a solo Dram or Dram/Wolf duo and grind for cash for a while.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2018, 01:02:54 PM by Megas »
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Thaago

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #24 on: September 01, 2018, 06:15:40 PM »

@Megas
If the starting bounties are too hard, you may want to turn your game speed back to 1, or invest in combat skills. Taking on pirate cruisers in that beat up old Hammerhead is perfectly doable. (Though when the enemy has multiple pristine Mora's - those fights I avoid.)

Quote
Also, it is silly for me to put three points in frivolous pilot-only skill like Strike Command or Advanced Countermeasures when I can put one point in Officer Management and get two more guys with up to seven or so skills.  If playership is so great, better for playership to stay unskilled while backed up by two elite wingmen.  This is optimal, but not fun for me because I feel like a slave to my wingmen.

This is a fallacy - the player piloting is a multiplier on whatever the skills give. I agree that the player skill is not worth ten officers, so late game total power suffers. But I would say that the player is worth 5 officers, and in the early/mid game where you can afford to have a bigger flagship, that is a huge boost in power.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2018, 06:18:58 PM by Thaago »
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Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2018, 07:16:34 PM »

It is multiple cruisers, on every bounty, worth from 100K to 150K each.  I could probably deal with one cruiser.  I cannot deal with two or three, among Falcon, Eagle, Dominator, and/or Mora, plus more destroyers and frigates - and fighters - than my entire fleet, among them multiple Condors... and my best ship is one among Drover, Medusa, Hammerhead, or Condor along with a fleet of maybe one or two other destroyers, my starter Wolf and Shepherd, (D) mod Hounds and Lashers, and less fighters than the enemy.  And enemies probably have better weapons than I do.  I am outnumbered and outclassed.  I cannot tell exactly what fleet the bounty uses.  It gives you the enemy flagship, but not its escorts, and sometimes, the escorts are as powerful as (or even stronger than) the flagship.  My character level might have been around in the mid teens or at least under twenty.

I did not have a problem with bounties until level scaling was introduced.  I have not played the latest version where the level scaling was delayed by a few more levels (from 4x to 10+3x), but considering I do not have an endgame fleet by level 40, it just delays the problem from early-game to mid-game.

I have skills, but mostly the ones everyone should take - some among Combat Endurance 1, Loadout Design 3, Electronic Warfare 1, Fleet Logistics 3, and probably Fighter Doctrine.  With empty aptitudes, that takes a lot of points, probably require high teens to get, if I get that far.  During the time of level scaling, I doubt I reached level 20.  I could if I really wanted to, but since I was in no mood to grind for more of the same until 0.9, I just quit and did other things.

Also, in 0.8, pirates that are not named bounties are rarer than they used to be, enough that system bounties is not a reliable income method like in early versions of Starsector.  You pick off maybe one or two fleets for the entire month.  So far, main income sources are named bounties or missions.  If the named bounties become too strong, that leaves missions.

Quote
This is a fallacy - the player piloting is a multiplier on whatever the skills give. I agree that the player skill is not worth ten officers, so late game total power suffers. But I would say that the player is worth 5 officers, and in the early/mid game where you can afford to have a bigger flagship, that is a huge boost in power.
I disagree that it is a fallacy.  I am sure the player is worth multiple officers with or without pilot-only skills, but since pilot-only skills does not uplift the player much, better for him to be unskilled while more of his fleet is elite.  I do not like that trying to be on par with NPCs with skills gimps the fleet and gives you no campaign stuff.

I am perfectly fine at 2f.  Gameplay is even slightly slow there.  Even Starsector was faster before 0.8 with more powerful skills.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #26 on: September 01, 2018, 07:37:43 PM »

Sure the player is worth multiple officers, but no combat skill (except officer management obviously) is worth an officer. Sure it's more valuable for the player to have skills than officers to have skills, but that is not the choice that the player is presented with. The choice is for the player to take some marginally valuable skill, or to gain extra officers that can have several max level skills. 1 skill point in officer management is 2 officers who can each get 20 skill points worth of skills. This means that 1 player skill point = 40 officer skill points. I don't think a skill in player hands is on average 40x more valuable than in officer hands. It's just not fair comparison.
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Thaago

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2018, 07:46:41 PM »

It is multiple cruisers, on every bounty, worth from 100K to 150K each.  I could probably deal with one cruiser.  I cannot deal with two or three, among Falcon, Eagle, Dominator, and/or Mora, plus more destroyers and frigates - and fighters - than my entire fleet, among them multiple Condors... and my best ship is one among Drover, Medusa, Hammerhead, or Condor along with a fleet of maybe one or two other destroyers, my starter Wolf and Shepherd, (D) mod Hounds and Lashers, and less fighters than the enemy.  And enemies probably have better weapons than I do.  I am outnumbered and outclassed.  I cannot tell exactly what fleet the bounty uses.  It gives you the enemy flagship, but not its escorts, and sometimes, the escorts are as powerful as (or even stronger than) the flagship.  My character level might have been around in the mid teens or at least under twenty.

I did not have a problem with bounties until level scaling was introduced.  I have not played the latest version where the level scaling was delayed by a few more levels (from 4x to 10+3x), but considering I do not have an endgame fleet by level 40, it just delays the problem from early-game to mid-game.

I have skills, but mostly the ones everyone should take - some among Combat Endurance 1, Loadout Design 3, Electronic Warfare 1, Fleet Logistics 3, and probably Fighter Doctrine.  With empty aptitudes, that takes a lot of points, probably require high teens to get, if I get that far.  During the time of level scaling, I doubt I reached level 20.  I could if I really wanted to, but since I was in no mood to grind for more of the same until 0.9, I just quit and did other things.

Also, in 0.8, pirates that are not named bounties are rarer than they used to be, enough that system bounties is not a reliable income method like in early versions of Starsector.  You pick off maybe one or two fleets for the entire month.  So far, main income sources are named bounties or missions.  If the named bounties become too strong, that leaves missions.

Quote
This is a fallacy - the player piloting is a multiplier on whatever the skills give. I agree that the player skill is not worth ten officers, so late game total power suffers. But I would say that the player is worth 5 officers, and in the early/mid game where you can afford to have a bigger flagship, that is a huge boost in power.
I disagree that it is a fallacy.  I am sure the player is worth multiple officers with or without pilot-only skills, but since pilot-only skills does not uplift the player much, better for him to be unskilled while more of his fleet is elite.  I do not like that trying to be on par with NPCs with skills gimps the fleet and gives you no campaign stuff.

I am perfectly fine at 2f.  Gameplay is even slightly slow there.  Even Starsector was faster before 0.8 with more powerful skills.

I don't know what else to say other than you are vastly underrating how powerful (combat skills) x (best ship in fleet) x (player ability) is. The bounties you describe, if they are pirates, are standard fights for the fleet you have and should be winnable with no losses - maybe a few if things go really badly. You've taken a lot of fleet boosting skills with no fleet to boost.

Pilot skills really do uplift the player by a a lot; I'd estimate a factor of 2 or 3, depending on ship.

Sure the player is worth multiple officers, but no combat skill (except officer management obviously) is worth an officer. Sure it's more valuable for the player to have skills than officers to have skills, but that is not the choice that the player is presented with. The choice is for the player to take some marginally valuable skill, or to gain extra officers that can have several max level skills. 1 skill point in officer management is 2 officers who can each get 20 skill points worth of skills. This means that 1 player skill point = 40 officer skill points. I don't think a skill in player hands is on average 40x more valuable than in officer hands. It's just not fair comparison.

This is absolutely true: in the endgame. Where everything is already a cake walk. In the early/mid game, a player is lucky to have 4 officers and they won't be max level. Heck, I've had max level characters with multiple capital ships (ie game over) and still not had a full officer roster. (Also officers have 21 skill points).
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Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2018, 08:03:34 PM »

From what I have seen, player with lots of pilot-only skills can punch above a skill-less one by a ship class or two, and that's it.  Nothing like soloing a hundred or so ships with an Onslaught with no hull damage and few minutes of peak performance to spare in 0.7.  Even the best maxed out Paragon or Astral flagship today can solo about 60 to 80 ships before peak performance and CR time out.  Admittedly, part of this is due to AI turtling like Spathi from Star Control 2.

Meanwhile, unskilled (big ship and carrier) clunker fleet can steamroll fleets.  If I can steamroll an endgame fleet with an unskilled clunker fleet, but not with merely a flagship with lots of pilot-only skills, why would I want to sink everything into pilot-only skills aside from watching quad-lance Paragon lancing things to death efficiently when it is clearly suboptimal.  Nevermind battlestation if my ship cannot outrange it.

Once I can get a capital (usually Legion given that even pirates use that), things get much easier.  But this does not happen for me until much later in the game.  The last time for me was after I gained enough xp to level up a few times from 40 (back before level scaling).
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Thaago

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #29 on: September 01, 2018, 08:20:09 PM »

But punching a class or two above your weight solves literally every problem you say the game's combat has. Bounties too hard in early game? Having a destroyer that can take on cruisers, or a cruiser that can take on capitals, solves the problem. Enemies like to run away? Switch over to a fast flagship for a while and use that fast destroyer that punches like a cruiser to crush them.

Also, nothing about having a super flagship means you have to solo things. Get ships that support your flag. That could be fighter cover, it could be a few tanky ships to make a battle wall, or it could even be a bunch of frigates to split the enemy up and let you defeat them in detail.  You don't need to solo hundreds of ships, ever, so its really not a valid point of balance.

The pursuit of optimization has made the game harder, which begs the question of what exactly you are optimizing for.
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