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Author Topic: Fleet cap discussion  (Read 754 times)

Morbo513

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Fleet cap discussion
« on: February 11, 2020, 11:21:00 PM »

Since the last thread got locked, here's a new one.

Current fleet cap mechanic:
30 ships, each of any size, role and type

Planned change:
Player is still essentially limited to 30 ships, but can exceed this limit at penalty of exponentially increased supply consumption

Proposed change(s):
Ship limit is calculated by way of DP, OP and/or Supplies/mo and/or a new "points" system, that more accurately reflects nominal force-strength.

Arguments in favour of current/planned system:
Performance - Too many ships on the fleet/refit screen might cause performance issues.
Scale - With battle size/DP limits in battles, the number of ships you can have in your fleet isn't far removed from the number you can deploy in battle simultaneously
NPCs* - NPC fleets aren't bound by logistical constraints, and without a reasonable limit may be generated as swarms of trash-frigates to make up overall strength.

* I imagine this is a problem that could easily be solved

Arguments against:
The 30-ship limit equates the heaviest battlecruiser with the smallest, weakest freighter as far as the size of a fleet goes.
30-ship limit forces the player to make the most of each of those slots, once they reach the stage at which they can comfortably fill it. This generally means an impetus for frigates, fast destroyers and lesser utility ships to be pushed out in favour of heavier ships - Frigates and even Destroyers lack the PPT and survivability to maintain a presence in long, large scale battles involving multiple cruisers and capitals on each side.
Logic would have the fleet captain compensate for this deficiency with greater numbers of these ships, reinforcing their deployed fleet as the depleted frigates and destroyers are retreated or destroyed; However, the number of frigates and fast destroyers needed to make a significant impact alongside an adequate number of cruisers/capitals for a typical battle at this stage of progression isn't accommodated within a limit of 30 ships. In a scenario where the player has 10 ships they will typically deploy in a battle, their reserve can only be comprised of 20 ships; that can be 20 frigates or 20 capitals; One is obviously significantly more powerful than the other. A choice between eg. 40 frigates or 5 capitals would be much more equitable.



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TaLaR

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2020, 11:59:45 PM »

30 ship fleet size is only one of many things that make frigate fleets nonviable. Full list, sorted by priority:

1) 10 officer limit. A ship with lvl 20 officers is worth 2-3 times it's DP in officer-less fodder. Need either multiple ships per officer (4 sizes worth) or some other solution.
1.1) Being able to transfer currently undeployed officer in combat would help too (but not enough on it's own).
1.2) Just allowing unlimited officers is not good enough, because this way officer-ed frigates would become too big salary drain to be considered a good strategy in campaign. While reducing officer salary by ship size would lead to annoying micromanagement (unassigning officers when you don't expect combat).

2) 30 ship fleet limit

3) Frigates need some way to compensate low PPT. Like extending PPT based on proportion of points of interests held in combat. You can't kite while holding POIs, so this wouldn't break primary motivation for PPT system. Also would reduce attractiveness of corner camping strategies.

4) Outfitting large amount of frigates would get tedious. My suggestion: https://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=17887.0 .

5) AI comes close to breaking down with too many ships deployed and spends more time bumping into each other than doing anything useful. To some degree it's unavoidable, but there is place for improvement imo.

I'm not sure many frigates hurt performance that much. A carrier with tons of fighters is also quite a performance hog, comparable to frigates that could take it's place.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2020, 12:11:18 AM by TaLaR »
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Morbo513

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 12:07:19 AM »

I agree on all, though for 5 I'd say that deployment limits don't need to change (Though it's still a problem within current fleet cap/deployment limit)
As for 3, assuming everything else stays the same, compensation for shorter PPT would come from being able to have many more frigates in reserve, and deploying them as the others are retreated. Though I think there's definitely room for adjustment in respects to PPT/CR (namely shortening the gap between the smallest and largest ships' PPTs/CR degradation), fleet-cap-by-force-strength would go a long ways to addressing this alone.
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Thaago

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2020, 12:23:58 AM »

Quote
...
5) AI comes close to breaking down with too many ships deployed and spends more time bumping into each other than doing anything useful.
...

For me this is the biggest problem. Since its a 2D game, packing and jamming are really big problems: once ships start to get in each other's way too much the combat gets bogged down and unfun. The AI also just really can't handle it. The game design needs to address this in some way to prevent bad gameplay. A flat ship limit is inelegant, but (mostly) works, because it addresses the fundamental point:

Ship combat is a better experience with a moderate number of ships. Not too many, not too few.

Points based systems that attempt to equate points with combat power don't address that fundamental design goal, which is the reason imo that they have all failed to deliver good results in the past. If tuned too low, then capitals deploy nearly by themselves, which is bad. If tuned higher, then the AI (or player) can/will deploy vast swarms of clustering frigates/light ships, which is also bad because the quality of gameplay suffers heavily.

My question is: What does fleet cap by force strength (stealing Morbo's phrase as its nice) actually achieve in terms of game design?
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Morbo513

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2020, 12:37:49 AM »

To answer your question:
It would afford the player more granular control over the composition of their fleet, while maintaining a reasonable limitation they must work within. It would allow the player to compensate for the current shortcomings of lighter ships (which are generally reasonable) with numbers, making frigates more viable throughout all stages of progression. In other words, it sidesteps the fact that a fleet comprised of 30 frigates will almost always be outlasted by, or will otherwise lose against, a fleet comprised of 30 capitals. It removes that conundrum from the decision-making process in regards to composing a fleet; Instead, you'd be able to have any number and mixture of ships in your fleet, up to a limit of overall strength - instead of being forced to compromise that overall strength for a more diverse force, or compromising the diversity of that force in the pursuit of overall strength.
It'd also be consistent with the behaviour of deployment points - The stronger the ships you deploy, the less you can deploy at once; The weaker the ships in your fleet, the more you can take with you.


I maintain that a change to fleet cap wouldn't factor into issues with the number of simultaneously deployed ships, as that is controlled by a seperate value (Deployment Points). For the record I think the current deployment limits are as good as they're going to get in light of the AI's behaviour, and general performance; A change to fleet cap would simply mean changing how many of which types of ships you can have in reserve for a given battle.
 In other words, the relatively short PPT/CR/Survivability of Frigates doesn't mean so much in the face of that of Capitals, if over the course of a battle you're able to deploy, retreat and reinforce as many Frigates it takes to equal the overall strength of that Capital.  It also means the fleet you're fighting can't outgun/outlast you simply by having heavier ships on average - because to have heavier ships, they'd necessarily have less ships.
 Currently, those reserves are best comprised of the heaviest ships possible because you can only have up to 30 total, railroading the player into a general fleet composition, at penalty of often being outgunned by NPC fleets with similar numbers of ships.

« Last Edit: February 12, 2020, 01:50:49 AM by Morbo513 »
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TaLaR

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2020, 12:53:44 AM »

My question is: What does fleet cap by force strength (stealing Morbo's phrase as its nice) actually achieve in terms of game design?

Current system forces 11 or fewer ship deployment, mostly cruisers and capitals. By endgame smaller ships are obsolete other than as distraction fodder, with few player-only exceptions. Doing anything else is just gimping myself (except maybe Drover spam, but that's a problem in its own way).

11 is a lot less than bumping constraints actually allow.
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bobucles

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2020, 04:51:50 AM »

Quote
Ship combat is a better experience with a moderate number of ships. Not too many, not too few.
A valid point. However, I'm surprised that a problem with combat limits is instead handled by fleet limits. Surely there must be a way to resolve combat limits with combat mechanics.

Let's suppose we want a combat deployment system that punishes pure capitals, while also punishing zergy swarm fleets. Capital ships can be easily punished by overpricing them; the larger ships end up less combat efficient overall and thus smaller ships are better to deploy. The zerg problem can be resolved by adding an additional cost to ship deployment, most likely a scaling one. So the first ship has no penalty, 5 ships later you're paying an extra 5 deployment points regardless of ship. This represents the difficulty where each ship on the field must coordinate with every other ship on its side, which someone with graph theory could explain better than I. So an example deployment might look like this:

- Onslaught 60 points (over priced by 50%)
vs.
- 10 kites = 20 points base
- Kite spam penalty = 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9 = 45 points

In such a system, the penalty for kite spam ends up costing more than the capital ship! The ideal is to use a moderate number of medium ships, where the goal is to minimize the penalty of overpriced large ships while minimizing the scaling spam penalty.
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TaLaR

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2020, 04:56:01 AM »

There is no need to additionally punish zerging - AI breakdown when too crowded already does.
And it's not purely AI problem either - there is just so much area available to attack enemies from, at some point it's all used up.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2020, 04:58:12 AM by TaLaR »
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Megas

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2020, 05:55:56 AM »

If a big frigate fleet is equal to smaller capital fleet, then there may be the problem of frigates being generally better for campaign.  Better burn, faster repairs.  Only in hauling was bigger is better, if it like during the days of Logistics.

As for too many ships, this is when excess ships should be outfitted with homing missiles, which passthrough allied ships.  I suppose there are carriers too, but no frigate can use fighter chips.
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Plantissue

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2020, 06:01:04 AM »

It doesn't really follow to equate fleet cap with in game performance. Deployment points are the limiter to deploying on the battlefield and the default is 300 battlesize, giving a range of 120-180 to deploy. With 180 DP and 30 ships, that gives an average of 6 DP, which means that if you want to be deploying Tempests, you would run out of DP before you run out of Tempests. If you have lower DP frigates, you can already deploy 30 ships into the battle if you so wish to do so. It does hamper reinforcements though.

This is purely conjecture: I don't think there is a performance related reason for fleet cap. Most frigates being smaller should be less taxing on performance anyways. Ironically fleet cap is only really a problem in the early or mid game when you want to recover as many ships as you can to make yourself as scary to pirates and scavengers as possible to prevent being attacked. 30 ships is more than enough for a "capital fleet". You can if you like have a "capital fleet" of 3 capitals ships if you are careful to never suffer a loss on 500 battlesize.

What also make frigate fleets unviable is the range difference that comes with hull size. A Lasher with range 600 (or 660 with ITU) isn't going to be able to head into capitals with mostly range 1440 guns and retreat back out again without losses.

I don't like the idea of forcing the player to play with a "moderate" number of ships. What determines what is "moderate"? Who is to say that one style is more fun than another? It is a matter of personal opinion. The AI deploys a fair mix of ships hulls. Back when DP sizes were smaller, people were obsessed with proclaiming that more capitals would be more fun. Now it is proclaiming that it is not. Not necessarily the same people.
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Megas

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2020, 06:13:00 AM »

What also make frigate fleets unviable is the range difference that comes with hull size. A Lasher with range 600 (or 660 with ITU) isn't going to be able to head into capitals with mostly range 1440 guns and retreat back out again without losses.
If the bigger ships are limited to few like in the old days, or a lone capital against a dozen or so frigates in the simulator, the frigates will overwhelm the bigger ship(s).  Currently, there are too many (large) enemy ships and not enough fleet slots for frigates to be useful.
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bobucles

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2020, 09:24:59 AM »

I think there are separate issues happening here. There is one issue where the player wants to define their fleet in a certain way, but both fleet cap and deployment mechanics force them into using the largest ships possible. There is another issue where the AI constructs their fleets using the same fleet cap rules, but 200DP worth of assorted ships is more fun to fight than 200DP worth of kites.

It would be nice if the player had more freedom in building their fleet. More ships already incur extra costs of fuel, supplies and personal labor to organize. Nothing wrong with that. It would be bad if the AI had that same freedom. If AI has too many deployment points for 30 slots, they get pushed into capital spam. If they get more slots, they fill the slots with a zerg rush of tiny ships. The challenge on that side seems to be mostly about how encounters are designed.

Hmm. In the current system, deployment points rule all. Bigger ships get more DP, which allow you to place more ships into battle, which makes bigger ships more viable. It's a positive feedback loop that rewards big ships for being big. What if it worked the opposite way? Instead of your DP allocation being determined by the size of your ships, what if it was determined by the speed of your ships? Frigates provide "extra maneuverability" for your fleet, which grants your side more DP, letting you deploy more ships in battle. A capital death ball is notoriously "not maneuverable", which grants it less flexibility and thus less DP for the field. Dunno how it'd actually play out though.
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Stillwel

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2020, 09:41:51 AM »

I think most of the problem with the frigates or smaller ships are just because of the combat capabilities. smaller ships arent going to face one to one with capital ships. instead of looking in a prespective where its a ship type against ship type. its much more reasonable to think about composition.

early to mid games smaller ships are what you have for the ship of the line that you have. in the late game when you have the capitals doesnt mean that your smaller fleet becomes obsolete. it basically pushed into another role of back stabbing. where the capital ships becomes a distraction and duked it out with the other ships and your smaller fleet goes through their backline and essentially dish out alot of damage. i mean phase class ships seems to be a good enough demonstration.

if not then having more ship means more shield potential and when you have limited number of ships to deploy it is very important

would a full on capital fleet be more supeior? sure but they wouldnt be able to sustain themselves in a game where most of your time youre travelling.
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Megas

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2020, 03:56:18 PM »

I think there are separate issues happening here. There is one issue where the player wants to define their fleet in a certain way, but both fleet cap and deployment mechanics force them into using the largest ships possible. There is another issue where the AI constructs their fleets using the same fleet cap rules, but 200DP worth of assorted ships is more fun to fight than 200DP worth of kites.
Until 0.9.1a, NPCs did not obey fleet limit player was forced to obey, and routinely violated the cap.  In 0.9a, pirates' endgame fleets were sixty to hunder small ships, mostly Kites and other frigates, but they did have several Falcon (P), Ventures, and Colossus 3s.  Major factions' fleets also had fewer big ships and more small ships back then too.

Today, when NPCs were forced to obey fleet limits for the first time, is capital spam, it is a slog to go through them, worse than frigate spam of 0.9a.

If enemy fleets are still too big, big ships may still dominate even if there were no fleet caps just for ships to last long enough before PPT expires in a fight.  It is a pain to save all CP for retreat orders because fights are too long.
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Plantissue

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Re: Fleet cap discussion
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2020, 06:00:30 AM »

I think that people just have different conceptions of what a fleet should look like. Do people really want to go back to the time when 1 or 2 capital ships was the maximum? To be honest I don't mind these large capitalship fleets. It makes sense that the larger the fleet, the more capital ships it should contain. You could argue that it is pretty strange that large expedition fleets contain a large contingent of combat non-capitals. What value are the smaller ships providing other than being the first to be destroyed when facing up against your fleet and orbital station?

The biggest bounty fleet I've ever encountered was 740 DP, but the highest bounties generally range about 680DP. The problem is that in default 300 battlesize, it's a real grind to go through them all, and I rather dislike having to retreat ships due to CR timer, but that's not as much as a problem for 500 battlesize. Likewise, getting caught in big mass of pirate fleets. For remnants it's easy to split the fleets up and avoid them so if you fight multiple fleets, it's generally because you made the choice or a risky choice. If enemy fleets were smaller, player colonies must likewise be less profitable. To put a perspective into costs, about 100 000c income is enough to sustain a fleet continuously that can fight off the biggest bounties and fleets.
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