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Author Topic: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters  (Read 8488 times)

BeornK

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Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« on: December 23, 2019, 01:24:52 PM »

By now most its appears clear the massed fighters strikes are very effective.  I'm not sure I think this is good for the game balance since drovers or other cheap carriers with massed fighters seems overly effective against other fleet compositions.  Increasing the effectiveness of point defense/flak or nerfing fighters would penalize smaller deployments of fighters without addressing the issue of massed fighter wings.  However, I think have simple solution that will work well to reducing the effect of massive fighter swarms without nerfing fighters and in keeping with the existing mechanics.

Add a limit to the number of active squadrons that can be deployed at once before degrading fighter performance.  Perhaps a max of 10-12? squadrons deployed at once then start applying penalties to fighter performance as the number increase.  In game lore this would be limited fighter channels for coordination.  This follows the similar mechanics in game that penalize doing the same thing to extremes.  You could even add a carrier hullmod for a new battlecruiser sized carrier that raises the max limit since you can't spam battle cruisers. 

Thoughts? 
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The Soldier

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2019, 01:34:11 PM »

Well, there's always going the route that Company of Heroes did to combat Pioneer spam - in there, Pioneers suffer a 5% damage received debuff for every other Pioneer unit within 10m.  Maybe something like that could take into effect when there's more than 3 fighter wings in the same general screen space?  Of course all the numbers could be tweaked, but what about the general idea of it?
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Igncom1

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2019, 01:41:17 PM »

I've never liked the idea of putting simple number limiters on things like this. Not my jam.

One reason that fighters are so effective is that they are essentially mobile turrets for fully sized ship weapons. Which in the case of bombers is fine, as they are supposed to be combating full on ships. But for fighters it gets problematic as you have swarming drones fitted with ship scale point defence weapons (Wasps/Sparks) to be used against craft that have corvette levels of endurance (the idea being that a fighter is just the next size down from frigates, as in they are more like corvettes.)

My solution would be to make fighters more like real life aircraft and essentially make them very vulnerable to anything that can touch them reliably. Bullets, flak, proxy mines, you name it. But then make them far easier to replace, perhaps when the squadron is recalled entirely to the carrier, to make up for the rates of attrition they'll be facing. Possibly making certain scenarios where overwhelming flak might necessitate not deploying them at all. Like how missiles are not always a good idea to use due to overwhelming PD.

As it stands a fighter like the warthog or broadsword, or an interceptor like the spark, are far more comparable to a corvette that endlessly re spawns rather then a valuable reusable fighter craft like in a ww2 setting. You could make an argument that like missiles you should have only a small number of replaceable per battle, so must be used conservatively lest you waste them all, but that isn't for me.
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SCC

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2019, 01:49:34 PM »

There's only so many ships that can fire on a single target, and even when they are together they have to watch out for friendly fire. Fighters have virtually infinite force concentration and no friendly fire. That's the main issue, besides AI ships not dealing with fighters especially well.

Megas

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2019, 02:32:36 PM »

My solution would be to make fighters more like real life aircraft and essentially make them very vulnerable to anything that can touch them reliably. Bullets, flak, proxy mines, you name it. But then make them far easier to replace, perhaps when the squadron is recalled entirely to the carrier, to make up for the rates of attrition they'll be facing. Possibly making certain scenarios where overwhelming flak might necessitate not deploying them at all. Like how missiles are not always a good idea to use due to overwhelming PD.
That used to be the case when fighters were ships instead of missiles during 0.6.x and 0.7.x.  Unfortunately, there were no fighter skills back then, and (during 0.7.x) warships with officers trumped all.

As for topic, the skills update a few blogs back shows diminishing returns after fighter bays in fleet exceed six.
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BringerofBabies

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2019, 06:18:23 AM »

There's only so many ships that can fire on a single target

This particular part I think should be fixed - PD/Anti-Fighter weapons should be able to fire over friendly vessels (when targeting fighters), much like the Tempest's drones. Then ships could better support each other against fighters, particularly dedicated PD escorts. It would however, have the side effect of making it harder for missiles in general to reach their targets.
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TJJ

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2019, 09:14:28 AM »

Extremely fragile, but rapidly replaceable would be an interesting direction to go; it'd turn them into a short range defensive tool rather than an extreme range offensive one.
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SonnaBanana

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2019, 09:25:22 AM »

Just increase their replacement time, double at minimum.
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Thaago

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2019, 02:19:42 PM »

There's only so many ships that can fire on a single target, and even when they are together they have to watch out for friendly fire. Fighters have virtually infinite force concentration and no friendly fire. That's the main issue, besides AI ships not dealing with fighters especially well.

Another way of combating this would be to reduce the engagement range of carriers - part of the power of thunder spam is that the carriers can be so far away.
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Sutopia

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2019, 09:25:20 PM »

Make EWAR deal double penalty to fighter control range, done.
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shoi

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2019, 10:46:01 PM »

fighters are only a problem when they hit "critical mass" so to speak, so nerfing them outright is dumb because they are otherwise balanced and probably would end up being useless in any other situation.

The best approach is implementing something to penalize fighter/carrier spam, which is something I think alex is already aiming for.
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Megas

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2019, 04:09:42 AM »

fighters are only a problem when they hit "critical mass" so to speak, so nerfing them outright is dumb because they are otherwise balanced and probably would end up being useless in any other situation.
I would not want to see fighters become Pilums 2.0.

I tried reaching critical mass with Pilums, but could not do it with unskilled officers.  I suspect I might if I get ten officers built for missile spam.  Without critical mass, Pilums are mostly useless and act much like old pre-0.8 Thumper - waste of OP.  I do not want to see fighters end up like that.  Then carriers become useless like they were during 0.7.x.

If fighters lost range, then they cease feeling like fighters.  Fighters are already too similar to missiles or ship weapons.
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BeornK

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2019, 06:57:54 AM »

The reason I suggested reducing the effectiveness of mass spammed fighters instead of just boosting point defense or nerfing fighters outright is that fighters are not the problem.  20 Squadrons of fighters at once is the problem.  Nerfing fighter respawn rates or toughness in general has a much bigger effect on limited fighter deployments than the giant murderball deployments.  Its only once the fighters get "critical mass" that point defense gets split among lots of targets and they overwhelm defenses.  Nerfing fighters is not the issue.  Its nerfing massed fighters that needs to be addressed IMHO.   Hopefully any mechanics that reduce the effectiveness of the "critical mass" deployments will be decoupled from the fighters themselvs so that small numbers of fighters aren't useless.

My suggestion would be to allow say 12 squadrons then start applying across the board debuff to fighters after that number get higher.  Reduced Max range, Rate of Fire and Replenishment should be pretty easy to implement and balance.  I don't think fighters need nerfing.  I just think mass spammed fighters need nerfing.  I think -5% per squadron after hitting the max squadron limit for Range and ROF until you hit a max of -50% and a 5% Increase in deployment times per squadron (no limit) would be a reasonable starting point.

You could even have classes of fighters that this doesn't apply to allow different mechanics.  How about a variant Talon Interceptor that has to stay close the the carrier like a Xyphos (with a touch more range) but doesn't count towards the max squadron limit. (It only helps defend the carrier and nearby ships.)  Or A Combat Information Control Center(CIC) build in Hull Mode for a larger carrier that lets that large carrier's squadrons not count towards the limit.  After all you can't spam Astral sized ships like you can drovers.  A midline Battle Cruiser  Carrier with a CIC and 6 Hangars that didn't count towards the limit (due to the CIC hullmod) would make for a neat variant late game carrier if you wanted to run lots of fighters.
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Megas

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2019, 08:45:01 AM »

How about a variant Talon Interceptor that has to stay close the the carrier like a Xyphos (with a touch more range) but doesn't count towards the max squadron limit.
That is what Mining Pods are for.  Of course, mining lasers are rather lame.

As for limits, Alex has hinted skills in the next release will have a limit before bonuses get smaller to discourage "mono-fleets".  Only time will tell if it works.  (History has shown it has not so far - more ships was always better than CR bonuses from unused Logistics during the 0.6.x releases.)

Unskilled fighters are not too powerful aside from Sparks.  Spark spam is very strong even unskilled.  Also, battle map size helps.  500 map size is more fighters than 300 map size.
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TaLaR

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Re: Balancing fighter swarms with out nerfing fighters
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2019, 08:41:10 PM »

I tried reaching critical mass with Pilums, but could not do it with unskilled officers.  I suspect I might if I get ten officers built for missile spam.  Without critical mass, Pilums are mostly useless and act much like old pre-0.8 Thumper - waste of OP.  I do not want to see fighters end up like that.  Then carriers become useless like they were during 0.7.x.

I don't think Pilums can ever reach true critical mass. They have too low missile health, simple 4 OP PD Laser counters ~2 Pilum launchers in skill-less fight. You can't win out against odds like this unless enemy has no PD whatsoever.
I mean you probably could find vulnerable AI compositions and in many cases AI would probably find creative ways to get killed by some behavior quirks in presence of mass Pilums (despite not really being threatened). Still, Pilums can't compare to unstoppable waves of Drover Sparks.
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