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Author Topic: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew  (Read 4926 times)

bowman

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Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« on: May 26, 2019, 03:18:16 AM »

I appreciate a good challenge in this game but when expedition fleets start being made more out of capital ships than anything else I really start questioning where all the money is coming from and how I'm expected to match it short of abusing the maximum fleet DP total (aka im only ever dueling it out with, say, 3 capitals v 3 capitals) or cheesing the AI's faults.

For the record, I'm fairly sure I can in fact kill this fleet (my current running fleet is 1x Conquest, 2x Odyssey, 1x Legion, 4x Heron, 3x Enforcer).

I will say that while my fleet is itself a little silly given it's nearly half capitals I am far more willing to forgive myself of doing things, being the player, than forgive the game world of doing similarly absurd things unless I can handwave it away or it is simply fun enough that I don't care. The problem lies in the fact it strikes me as fairly lore-breaking and more than a tad annoying that I see and have to fight: Pirate fleets consisting of 10 converted Atlases; this expedition force from the Sindrian Diktat counting for probably half or more of the Conquests they should reasonably own and operate; or the Luddic Path somehow fielding 5 converted Prometheus along with 15 or so Colossus.

My own faction is currently 4 planets of sizes 8, 6, 5, and 3 and my economy totals a net income of 674k credits/month. The Sindrian Diktat, on the other hand, have 3 planets of sizes 7, 7, and 5. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume both of their size 7s are amazing and better than my beta-cored size 8 (which is a 200% HR world, though Beta Cores + in-faction demand means my upkeep is 0.86x to 1.15x). That makes the SD an 840k credit/month economy. However, we can see in the markets listings that the SD have only one Heavy Industry producer, Sindria, making 6 units of ship hulls; 150k credits of ship production / month. I totaled the two fleets (which are one expedition force) sent to fight me and, ignoring the costs of destroyers and civilian vessels, their blueprint production cost is 5260k credits. That means the Sindrian Diktat are sending more than 35 months of ship production and 5,260,000 credits of value in warships to just harass me- they haven't actually declared war here. This seems incredibly excessive. If there was at least 35 months between raids I'd accept it but there isn't, as far as I can tell: I'll admit I haven't actually counted. This also doesn't even touch on the pirates or luddic path fielding similar or likely even greater fleet costs combined with stations which themselves cost at least 750k credits (T1 + T2 Upgrade, have yet to see T3).

What this amounts to is that pirate raids need to be smaller and more focused on fringe systems or harassing shipping: things that are both profitable and reasonable for pirates to do, unlike raiding planets with T2/T3 stations and 6000 Defense Rating. As well, expeditionary forces this large need to have more of their cost in supporting ships instead of being so heavily skewed into capital-class vessels simply because it de-values capitals being the biggest ships in the sector and ignores them being described as giant monetary drains to field (I vaguely recall some lore snippet saying that, perhaps that's been retconned or I'm remembering another game?). Lastly, actual declarations of war would be nice if they're going to dedicate 6.3 months of their entire planetary earnings into ships which themselves take 35 months to even produce with their shipyards just to throw them at an upstart faction who hasn't really done anything other than cut into market shares (while also increasing demand for various resources anyway, meaning I've probably just increased their markets overall). I'd also like to point out that if they put 35 months of production to waste like this then the Hegemony should be absolutely stomping them into the ground with their raw tonnage advantage.

At the end of the day I do indeed like a challenge and I'll enjoy this fight, particularly because I'll get to see my T3 station in action. At the least, I imagine there are already plans for war declaration but I think my other points have some merit. I'll end with saying I don't need pirates or anyone to be 100% profitable or match their expenses with theoretical income: if it's fun then I don't truly care all that much but I would still appreciate some balance in the game's universe (because I love this game's setting/lore so much I'd hate to see it fall by the wayside).

EDIT: Forgot to attach the fleet image woops.

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 03:24:05 AM by bowman »
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Shad

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2019, 03:29:54 AM »

It's part of the 0.9.1 update, which has capped AI fleet sizes to 30 ships. So now if the fleet needs to be big, the game just fulls out those 30 shups to be be larger ships. It's technically WAD (though your screeshot illustrates perfectly the problems of this change).

The AI factions also don''t follow player economy, otherwise there would be noone to fight very quickly.
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bowman

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2019, 03:54:23 AM »

Except the expedition forces can be multiple fleets, this one was actually both the fleet being hovered and the one in combat slightly above it. There's no real need to up the ship sizes given they could just be 4 fleets with more normal spreads: 1-2 capitals, 3 cruisers, 4 destroyers, 6 frigates for example. It would make sense for them to all split off and individually capture one of the system structures (nav/comm/relay) and then just fly together to assault the station. The station actually just completely annihilated the fleets, for the record. A T3 High-tech station with plasma cannon blueprints is pretty devastating, it seems. Oddly, the expedition was considered superior to my station though I suppose if it wasn't limited by deployment points and all Conquests were able to shoot it simultaneously it would have died given the damage they managed to inflict individually before they were vaporized by plasma rounds.
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Megas

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2019, 03:22:01 PM »

At least it is slightly less annoying than fleets with over a hundred ships because the AI honors the fleet cap and not breaking the game rules.  Still, they seem too big simply to harass the player without declaring war first, and the logistics required is too expensive and impractical for free agents or privateers to lug around across the sector without a very good reason (like maybe storming a Red Planet knockoff with tons of Radiants for a unique reward).
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Schwartz

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2019, 03:39:25 PM »

On the one hand, we have a game mechanic that tries to challenge the player as he grows. This may result in 3-fleet deathballs made of mostly cap ships coming every X months.

On the other hand, you have to wonder what kind of daunting logistical and monetary investment that involves, where the factions will actually leave their own colonies to dry up and be taken apart by pirates. They don't do anything this crazy even when they're at war with each other, yet the player earns a regular deathball visit.

Couple of solutions to this, but I'll summarize what I think would benefit realism and gameplay a fair bit:

- Factions looking to their own well being first and foremost. Pirate raids on factions are brutal, pirate raids on the player are relatively weak. Balance these two and meet in the middle.
- Add remnant incursions for later in the game when the player has a lot of AI cores in use. They could see it as their own kind being taken hostage for lesser means.
- Add more variety to colony events that require player interaction, such as droughts and famines, mining discoveries, handling the pollution and problems of an overpopulated world, paying percentage tithes to factions instead of an ever-growing and long term unsustainable bribe system. Stuff like that.
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Megas

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2019, 04:08:40 PM »

- Factions looking to their own well being first and foremost. Pirate raids on factions are brutal, pirate raids on the player are relatively weak. Balance these two and meet in the middle.
The reason they are normally not brutal is because the player gets off his butt and destroy new pirate stations while they are still one section wimps.  The lazy good-for-nothing factions do nothing until after they take a pirate raid then post a bounty after the base grows into a multi-section base.  Meanwhile, they gang-up on the very player that wipes out their pirate bases because he dares to build a self-sufficient set of colonies.  It seems that if the player wants to kill everyone in the sector, he can simply mind his own business away in the fringe until several colonies decivilize after some years of unchecked pirate raids, and the player can finish off the rest.
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Schwartz

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2019, 04:44:29 PM »

Player-facing pirate stations grow over time, yes, but they start super weak. The raids are weak.

Pirate stations that target factions pop up immediately as soon as another one is destroyed. They immediately send out a very powerful raid. The station itself may be weak-ish but the amount of trouble they project over the civilized systems can't even be compared to the other kind. With the 2-station minimum for pirates and pathers, that means if the player tries to be diligent and actually eradicate pirates, all he manages to do is force them to spawn as fast as he takes them out. Often triggering raids faster than he would if he left them alone. At least this was my impression.
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Shad

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2019, 04:47:30 PM »

At least it is slightly less annoying than fleets with over a hundred ships because the AI honors the fleet cap and not breaking the game rules.

It's not necessarily a good rule though. Why even have the arbitrary 30 ship limit? The officers and upkeep of the fleet act as effective softcaps already. Late game already had an issue with lesser frigates and destroyers (things like hounds) having no place in the fleet. All that's changed is that this applies to the AI too.

And it's sad that so many ships end up completely useless outside eary game.
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Cosmitz

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2019, 11:01:21 PM »

The balance between CR, fleet size, map size and the 30 ship cap was always more haphazard and emerged as players played the game. If there's a question of the 30 ship cap, it calls into question any of the others. The only real answer to that comes from the trickle-down of the campaign layer, fuel, supplies, costs etc, since for the sake of combat, without the cap and considering CR, you'd just plop down the most cost/OP efficient ships, set them to permaproduce on your colonies and that'd be that, just match your numbers to the enemy's numbers.

Given where we are now, if you are to ask me, while CR 'works' now, it seems very overengineered for just keeping Hyperions from soloing fleets, while causing issues with the current campaign game that throws you into multiple successive battles where indeed, the cap limit of 30 ships comes into play since you /need/ to have extras to swap in as a sort of 'stamina bar'.
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StarScum

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2019, 12:18:01 AM »

I basically got the same fleet you posted and it quickly killed my will to play the game. If the AI can just *** out capital ship stacks with no consequences, whats the point? It's game-breaking, for obvious reasons, and lore breaking, because none of these *** post-apocalyptic factions should be able to field such a fleet, or at least want to considering a more sensible mix would be much more economical and only a little less effective.

I'm assuming that the AI spawns fleets based on a points system and limiting them to 30 ships means they can invest those points into bigger ships rather than more. If that's the case, I think we need a harder limit on the amount of points the AI can spend late-game. It shouldn't go up past a certain point or else you get this...
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Megas

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2019, 06:24:04 AM »

@ Shad:  I did not say it was good, just better than what it was.

As for the 30 ship limit, annoying as it is, I find 3v3 combat even more annoying because both sides are capital slugfest.  We no longer have real fleet battles, just tag-team duels with a bunch of cheerleaders on the sidelines.  I rather have in-game maximum battle-map size raised first (up to 1000) than fleet cap.  Even if my computer cannot handle it, I am sure many people with newer or better hardware can.  That said, higher fleet limit would be good to enable small ship spam.  It is not like both can be changed in a later version.

Also, how does the enemy lug ten or more capitals and a bunch of cruisers across the sector to a unremarkable planet (bounty) or your home base (expedition) without enough logistics ships to support all of their ships?  A single Prometheus is not enough for a round trip with ten capitals from core to fringe and back.

With slower colony building and income, I find it harder to play space cop against pirates that can raid core worlds.  I already have enough trouble trying to raise income to upgrade my fleet and colonies and to defend them from enemies.

Peak performance was okay before 0.9.  Now, fights are too big.  Peak performance times have not kept up with fleet sizes.

Remember when Hegemony System Defense Fleet used to be the biggest, baddest target to destroy.  Now, they are small-time chumps, basically about the size of an early expedition fleet or a mere 200k-250k bounty.

Hyperion is not what it used to be.  More precisely, it was nerfed indirectly by tweaks to other gameplay features.  AI firing at phased ships has the side-effect at sometimes firing at Hyperion as it teleports in, sometimes leaving almost no time to attack before taking hits on the shield (if raised in time).  Combined with the huge battles of today, Hyperion is too hard to use today, with not enough peak performance to do very much.  It does not have much of a practical niche anymore.

Conventional frigates are still obsolete after early game.  Destroyers are a bit more useful, but still mostly sidelined once multi-capital fights become the norm late in the game.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 06:27:34 AM by Megas »
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2019, 09:32:12 AM »

I'll note player owned Military Bases and HQ also spawn more ships than your personal income would imply.  I've got a Paragon blueprint, and I see in my defense fleets I see things like 2x or 3x Paragons.  Thats 1.2 million in just capitals in just 1 defense fleet.  So even though my "tax" income might be 700,000 per month, and I can direct 250,000 of that to ships of my choice per month, my faction of 3 planets with Military bases can spawn in something like 4-6 million credits worth of ships every month as well.  Given individual traders have enough cash on hand to pay me 100,000 to 200,000 credits to make a 1,000-2,000 unit delivery, and that is just 1 merchant unaffiliated with a government (independent for example), presumably there are trillions or more of credits floating around the sector.  Assuming my faction is in fact shipping ~15-25% of all goods consumed in the sector, either my tax rate is crazy low, or my faction as a whole makes a lot more credits than I personally, as a single fleet commander, do. 

That is not even including all the capitals for sale in all the military bases scattered around the sector which are presumably surplus and not the brand new production for internal faction use.

I guess the question comes down to what end game should be, and how to enforce that in a lore friendly way.

The main game loops are:
1) Fighting space battles
2) Getting better ships to fight those battles.

The second loop is done on the campaign map, and has multiple avenues, but at the end of the day, the whole point is to get better ships to advance game loop #1.

So how do you provide interesting fights to a late game player fleet, given most players will use the best ships they have access to?  Artificially limit the player's fleet composition (i.e. enforce ratios or maximum number of capitals/cruisers/destroyers/frigates)?  Scale the opposing forces up to match the player's capabilities?  Keep previous fleet sizes but provide arbitrary buffs to the enemy fleet (increase damage, speed, range)?  Other options?  As noted, people are already capable of handling 20 conquests late game.

Or are people looking for a completely different game genre at end game, where the game shifts from fleet battles to some kind of master of orion top level strategy game?  Less loop 1, more loop 2, and add a new loop 3 where you command the multiple fleets and the planets of your faction to towards some new goal?

I guess the way I look at it, by the time you can destroy fleets of 20 capitals, you've effectively won the game in its current state.  Either the game can imply you've won by no longer sending stuff at you (at which point, what game loop are you having fun with?), or the game spawns fleets in order to give you something to do.  Rather than giving you a hard stop end to the game, it currently gives you a soft end, so you can keep playing with those ships you've collected if you want by providing larger DP value fleets.  I'm pretty sure Alex is working on and thinking of end game content at this point in time, with the current end game not being what he wants to ship the final game with.  Frigate->Cruiser fleet build up feels like early game.  Colony stuff feels like mid-game.

Towards that end, I guess I'd like to hear what kind of fleet fights do people want to see at end game?  And how do you balance stuff to get there?  If I'm reading some of people's comments here correctly, they want stuff to be more lore accurate and more properly simulated (i.e. tracking where each ship is built, how its fueled, supplied, etc).  However, I wonder what cost such level of detail would come at, and where does the challenge come from late game?

P.S. I find if your computer can handle it, 500 DP total is pretty good late game.  I generally field 2-3 capitals and 5 cruisers (plus a frigate or two to round it out).  Even at minimum 200 DP, that is like an Odyssey + Conquest + 5 Herons (or 5 Apogees if fighters are contraindicated versus a Doom fleet) + tempest + omen.  It also means I'm facing 7 capitals or 15 cruisers on the field simultaneously.  Also gives the enemy a chance at taking out your stations.
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SafariJohn

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2019, 09:46:42 AM »

Remember when Hegemony System Defense Fleet used to be the biggest, baddest target to destroy.  Now, they are small-time chumps, basically about the size of an early expedition fleet or a mere 200k-250k bounty.

In short: Power Creep.

I think I've said it before, but I think the game would be better if most fleets maxed out at like 1-2 cruisers and about 10 other ships. Then the 3+ capital ship death fleets would be something special.
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StarScum

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2019, 11:14:21 AM »

I say that late-game incursions should be split up into multiple fleets with logical compositions. That way they're still late-game threats but it doesn't overwhelm the player by making them fight hundreds of ships or dozens of capitals at once. You can take out a fleets, rearm, and then take out the other.

There should still be a cap on how big the incursions can be so they don't get more and more ridiculous, and larger incursions should take longer to spawn.

There really should be some way to make peace with the factions so late-game doesn't devolve into you camping at your colonies 24/7 and can have some actual breathing room. A Mount and Blade style "right to rule" or legitimacy stat should be added that increases whenever you fend off threats or develop colonies and raising it will make the Sector see you as a legitimate polity that has the right to exist instead of just some upstarts.

I also think a Mount and Blade prestige and honor system should be put in place, but that's for another thread.
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bowman

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Re: Expedition Fleet Sizes: Capital Skew
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2019, 01:23:47 PM »

@StarScum
Yeah, some kind of right to rule would be great.

I'd also like there to be multiple fleets but I'm not sure if there's enough other things for them to do aside from assaulting the station in order to prevent them from simply deathballing. What could be interesting is if there would be multiple individual battles going between the different fleets making up the expedition and different patrol fleets defending the station/planet. If we wanted to get even fancier then the station could have a campaign-level area similar to nebula or asteroid fields which affects the battle space of nearby battles. (Maybe "Permanent Sensor Platform" increasing your range by 5% or "Station Navigational Feed", etc). Perhaps even special station artillery mounts which effectively make a battle-wide event similar to a meteor storm but instead it's a gauss round on steroids flinging from one side of the map to the other. Might just result in stations providing too much of an advantage to the defender in that case, though.

Regarding multiple fleets more specifically, they have a couple issues I can think of that kinda boil into "we need to avoid deathballing" (by giving the expedition more to do than assault the station). Namely:
1) They deathball against your station; which they should, but this still means you're fighting an absolutely gargantuan fleet (which others have pointed out CR hasn't exactly kept up with these kinds of fights- primarily imo because the player is fighting battles where you are outnumbered 4-1 or worse). I've partially offered a solution to this above, where there could be multiple battles going on at once instead of all fleets joining one instance but this would require the player to have multiple patrol fleets. Just remembered though: the Orders tab may make this more of a reality if it means what I hope in that you could order fleets other than your own around. In that case, being able to split your fleet into multiple defense fleets would be the perfect solution combined with the multi-battlespace plan.

2) The value of multiple fleets would be the ability to split of and harass other things, or cap system structures like Nav/Sensor/Comm. This falls apart, though, when the system doesn't actually have any other structures to cap and you fall back onto problem 1, where their fleet is a deathball again. One solution I can think of would be the use of fleets to block warp points which would then kill your faction's mercantile convoys. During war-time this functionality could be reused and extended: they are willing to target any fleet entering the system as it is a war-zone and a mercantile fleet headed in which isn't bringing basic supplies (food, civilian goods) would effectively be assisting the enemy. I assume food/goods fleets would be acceptable given the sector at large sees saturation bombardment as an atrocity. Effectively the same thing if you'll let the entire population of a planet starve.

I'd actually love if we could have fights with 1000+ DP with proper fleet compositions and all but I imagine the game engine would be very unhappy with us if we tried that. Though I will say the game runs astoundingly well in that I'm not sure I've ever had it crash and even running 500 DP battles all the time only results in the game slowing down. I actually think in my case I'm limited by my graphics card given the game only starts slowing down once I get vision of the enemy fleet and projectiles/effects start flying all over the place.
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