Fractal Softworks Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5

Author Topic: Yet another fighter balance post  (Read 3865 times)

Grievous69

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 1112
    • View Profile
Yet another fighter balance post
« on: May 28, 2020, 11:16:12 PM »

Even better if fighters became ships again so carriers can spend OP on guns and warship hullmods like they used to.  I am tired of the optimal carrier being the unarmed one that runs from everything while elite fighters do everything.  Also, commanding fighters to do stuff if player wanted.
Yep. That's one popular community suggestion that I have not seen bring any improvement to the game. May be pointless to argue against it now, but the game is worse off than it was before the change was introduced both concerning balance and combat depth.
I really wanna talk about this. I always knew some preferred the old fighter system but I thought those people were rare. Because personally I think the new system is miles better than the old one. I'm not gonna spend time convicing you since Alex already wrote a blog post about that. What I want to discuss is how some things remained the same after the rework and how it might be improved to reduce the ''spend all OPs on fighters and leave mounts empty'' problem I and a few others clearly don't like.

First, the goal of the fighter rework, among others, was to make the fighters feel more useful and stronger (well that's clearly achieved). But the problem I have is them having the exact same weapons as the ships many times bigger than them. This obviously has balance issues where it's hard to nerf/buff one without messing up the other but also having the same weapon being limited on one platform, but then absolutely unlimited on the other. Yea I know there's a thread for that, I'm just stating there could be a way to solve that logical obstacle. High delay type weapons of existing ones is a good start, more fighter weapons should be ''this weapon but weaker''.

Second thing, the OP going all into one basket. I reread the blog post just to get into the mindset of Alex again and there seems to be something that's bothering me. Originally, you have a decision on carriers between having almost free fighters with weaponry, and being virtually naked but with mean little bastards around. The base cost should've been 0 OP, but since Talon was obviously worth more it was buffed to 2 OP so I'm gonna use that as a baseline (it's hard to count Mining pods into this, having 0 enagement range and all that). So the caveat is, you should theoretically end up with same relative strength using both ''playstyles''. Now try having a Mora with nothing but Talons. Sure they still end up doing something and you have more room for weapons, but the difference between 3 wings of them and 3 wings of anything decent is astronomical. That's one less filled small mount on a Mora having the impact of a 4 times stronger fighter wing. You could do the same with Mining pods just to prove my point. Same with Drover, no point in having cheap fighters (I know that's a whole other can of worms). Sadly there's no 0 OP bombers or close so you can't really test Astral or Heron with those but I'm sure you would end with same differences in power.

And the last thing that's making the current meta annoying: AI
The cursed state of limbo where they just have to keep smacking fighters at 0 speed over and over again almost as they have been punished by the gods. I know going Leeroy Jenkins into a carrier immediately isn't a solution but this part is what makes fighters ultra annoying to deal with. I don't know how AI should exactly react in each situation so probably someone smarter than me has an idea.

As for those who swear by the old system I say, take off your nostalgia glasses. I completely agree that there was more depth because of the extra commands but as the whole package, the current system beats it out of the water. I just can't see it coming again because of the numerous problems already addressed by the Big Kahuna himself.

Short version: Make fighter less stronk, carrier great holy machines of war again

EDIT: Another great example of a weapon that shouldn't be the same on a fighter >> Xyphos
« Last Edit: May 28, 2020, 11:20:49 PM by Grievous69 »
Logged
Please don't take me too seriously.

SCC

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 2143
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2020, 01:12:20 AM »

Old fighter system allowed the player to use fighters like most other ships, with no specified mother carrier and unlimited range. They were a lot less powerful, though. Now they are quite strong and the drawback is that carriers themselves have to pay for that out of their own budget, so that power at range equals weakness in close quarters.

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 8556
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2020, 05:16:02 AM »

At first, I had no problems with the new fighter system, especially when 0 OP Talons with double Swarmers acted like classic Broadswords and performed as well as any 8-10 OP fighter, while my carrier armed with guns could brawl.  That was good!  Carriers were useful after the disaster of 0.7.x where officers made carriers without skills (because there were no fighter skills during that time to begin with) obsolete.  However, (especially after the Talon nerf forced me to look for other fighters) I noticed that my carriers did not have enough OP for both good fighters and guns (except Legion), and that unarmed carriers are more effective than classic battlecarriers with guns plus fighters, I became annoyed.  Carriers became less fun to pilot because I need to either sit and wait far from battle or I need to run for dear life until my fighters kill everything.  Carrier skills make it worse because without respec, my flagship is locked into three useful choices - Drover, Heron, and Astral.

For those who want weaker fighters because they dominate too much, I think that making fighters as ships as before 0.8a would kill two birds with one stone.  Fighters are weaker and carriers use OP for guns like they should.  Carriers should be able to bully smaller ships in a slugfest.  A lone Lasher against a Mora or Heron, or even Hammerhead versus Astral.  Carriers have those gun mounts for a reason, and they should use them, and they used to, but the current gameplay makes that clearly sub-optimal due to OP cost of fighters and Expanded Deck Crew.  This has nothing to do with nostalgia glasses.

If carriers cannot use guns effectively because fighters are so much better, why bother with drawing mounts they will never use on them?  To turn NPC carriers into punching bags on par with pirates?

I think the fighter weapons would be useful on bigger ships.  I am jealous that fighters get unlimited Swarmers but not bigger ships, and there were times I wanted the high-delay weapons as low OP cost energy light mortar for some high-tech ships.  Mining Laser is not a cheap weapon; it requires too many hullmods to raise up to be something remotely useful.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 05:17:46 AM by Megas »
Logged

Schwartz

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 1233
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2020, 05:18:04 AM »

I built plenty of fighter-heavy and fighter-only fleets with the old system. They weren't weak at all. There was an upside to swarms, so the more fighters you had, the better overall they became, similar to how it is now. I'm arguing that they didn't need to be made to feel stronger at all, and as far as usefulness is concerned... having designated targets for bombing runs or designated targets for fighters to defend, points to capture, even staging points for bombing runs to me defines usability. Having a system where you have per-carrier fighter clouds that can't do anything but attack or not attack is, well, workable but a big step back in usability.

For example, we see the system struggle when there's a lot of debris across the battlescape. Bombers now decide to start their bombing runs from a flanking position to other allied ships - but they don't know when they're firing their torpedos directly into debris just inches away from allies. Torpedos have AoE. Everything about fighters is now tied to hopping from ship to ship. Empty space basically doesn't exist for them as far as navigation is concerned. This is a downgrade.

Fighter weapons were in a better place when they were still smart lone wolves roaming the battlescape. You expected a squad of 3 Broadswords to threaten a frigate if they happened to come across one. They weren't punching above their weight because their weight (getting to and from objectives, and recovering losses slowly and at a large distance) was less.

I don't see how the current system beats it. It's much more straightforward and it gives carriers fast swarming attacks. Like Megas says, it's fighters-as-missiles. With the old system, when you defeated a fighter squad or had fighters run into flak, you had these fighters off your backs for a little while. Sometimes they even lost the squad. Right now they regenerate fast and are on you fast, weakening a lot of PD (because fighter ordnance basically never stops) in favor of accurate regular weapons.

Basically I'm saying: The new system has been built on top of the old and has not seen the deep balance pass it needs. If it gets one - and if we get a useful fighter command or two back on the tactical map - then we may get somewhere that's as good as the old system was.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 05:20:07 AM by Schwartz »
Logged

Grievous69

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 1112
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2020, 05:40:48 AM »

I think you're just expecting the new fighters to work the same as the old ones but with a little change. Alex stated he wanted them to be more like supports, and not just mini ships. Because it was kinda absurd you could have 15 fighter wings and only one or two carriers. Also to be real, there's not that many tactical commands that we now lost a huge integral part of combat. With the old system you just selected all your anti ship fighters, right click on a target, rinse and repeat. Sure you could defend points with them and assign as escorts, but you can do that now as well, it's just the carrier has to be close by. If anything, I feel like the old system was more abusable.
Logged
Please don't take me too seriously.

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 8556
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2020, 06:03:57 AM »

Right now, fighters behave like missiles++, and because they cost OP, carrier spends OP on them and Exp. Deck Crew instead of guns because fighters are better on the ships designed to carry fighters.  Legion is the exception that (with LD3) has barely enough OP to afford decent fighters and enough guns plus hullmods to work.  (Odyssey is now a capital-sized Shrike that has fighter bays as a vestige of what it was from the pre-0.8a days.)

Fighters are not support.  They are weapons that have too many similarities to missiles, which is why I say fighters are missiles even if others disagree with that notion.  Alex may have intended fighters to be support, but that is not how things worked out.  They became super Pilums.

Before 0.8a, carriers were still mostly carriers, but could fight in a pinch if an enemy got through to the carrier.  Sure, Condor (or anything else that was not much bigger than attacker) was dead, but anything else could fight back and do some damage.  Now, carriers are basically missileships like Gryphon, but better.  But in order to be superior fighter platforms, they need to give up all other weapons to do their job.

I suppose I could object less to the modern carrier mechanics if current bays were scrapped and the gun mounts were changed to accept only fighters - a mount that accepts only fighters (or other weapons in case of universal mount), and fighters docked on those mounts like fighters and drones do in Endless Sky.  It looks intimidating when a bunch of Kor Sestor fighters and drones launch from a carrier and start tearing your fleet of Hai and Wanderer ships to pieces.  However, even the carriers in Endless Sky had room for some guns, just not enough to match a proper warship of its size, and ship equipment did not compete with fighter capacity.  (They also were flimsier and could not use as many powerful engines as warships can.)

One more thing, the current system only beats the old system because the current system can smash enemy fleets while the old way could not catch up without skill support when officers came.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 06:31:06 AM by Megas »
Logged

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 8556
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2020, 08:34:21 AM »

EDIT: Another great example of a weapon that shouldn't be the same on a fighter >> Xyphos
I do not get this.  If making Ion Beam different for fighters means they get more range than normal to match a warship's long-range ballistics so that Legion can pound enemies with the likes of Mark IX or Gauss (or Eagle/Dominator/Paragon with Converted Hangar and HVDs) at max range while Xyphos zaps them with unblockable EMP from behind the mothership, then sure, I buy that.  Otherwise, Xyphos seems mostly useless for most carriers that want to stay back and fling long-range missiles fighters at the enemy.  Xyphos seems only useful for Odyssey that may be forced to brawl in a melee like a Shrike, and current Xyphos is good for that.
Logged

Grievous69

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 1112
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2020, 08:41:22 AM »

Oh come on dude, you're saying x thing is not broken because it's not very strong on everything. Should the AC then remain the same even tho it's only good on Hammerhead and some other SO builds? I really don't like the balance where a weapon is unusable on 95% of the ships but then is downright stupid on one or two. Thank god the AC is getting nerfed.
Logged
Please don't take me too seriously.

Thaago

  • Global Moderator
  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 4886
  • Quantum Mechanic
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2020, 08:41:57 AM »

Xyphos is rather wonderful when its orbiting an attack ship, but its unreliable because I don't have any good way of telling the AI to do that.
Logged

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 8556
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2020, 08:56:35 AM »

Oh come on dude, you're saying x thing is not broken because it's not very strong on everything. Should the AC then remain the same even tho it's only good on Hammerhead and some other SO builds? I really don't like the balance where a weapon is unusable on 95% of the ships but then is downright stupid on one or two. Thank god the AC is getting nerfed.
I still fail to see how Xyphos is overpowered.  When is it overpowered?  When a flagship Astral grabs six of them and then kisses the enemy like what Monitor did with (fortress) shield ramming cheese back several releases ago?  That seems incredibly risky and inefficient.  If I need to use Astral for that, I am better off with bomber spam.  Nearly as overpowering, but much safer and easier to use.

Xyphos is not doing any miracles for Odyssey.  It blocks some missiles and zaps the occasional enemy, and it better be for the expensive 15 OP cost.  (Longbows and Daggers instead are nice for chucking some missiles at targets of opportunity during a flyby.)  If all I want is a meat shield, Mining Pod can do that for free, and it is not awful at the job (it just has no significant offense to speak of).
Logged

Grievous69

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 1112
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2020, 09:06:26 AM »

When is it overpowered?
On any decent battlecarrier, which is currently only Legion but still. Mora could kinda count but it has pretty weak weaponry and not enough range with small ballistics. If we get another battlecarrier you bet it's gonna be bonkers there also. The very fact that you have free unblockable ion damage is enough. Mix that with kinetic weapons on your own and you can stunlock most ships easily. Now look at ion options for ships, either a weapon has short range so it isn't abused much, or it has a very high cost for its damage. You may not see as a problem because you're not gonna be fighting enemy Legions with Xyphos wings in campaign but it has the potential to be super annoying if something new comes along.

Actually I think the Brilliant would be crazy good with Xyphos.
Logged
Please don't take me too seriously.

Megas

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 8556
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2020, 09:13:19 AM »

On Legion, Xyphos does not have enough range to hit the enemy I am shooting at.  The Legion's ballistics outrange the Xyphos' Ion Beams.  And unblockable ion beam and kinetics combo is not overpowered.  If anything, that is the only thing going for Ion Beam; otherwise, it is weak.  I would use Ion Beam Sunders and Paragons a lot more if Ion Beam and ballistics combo was really overpowered.  At least Tachyon Lance and ballistics are very strong, and four lance Paragon is my loadout of choice until I bump against Ordos with multiple Radiants.

In case of Odyssey, if my ship is that close, it is overpowering things with plasma cannons and the enemy will be dead soon enough.
Logged

TaLaR

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 2263
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2020, 09:21:15 AM »

Xyphos don't stack with themselves - single wing is enough to keep enemy mostly disabled, if you can keep the shield down. And since their shield damage is negligible, bringing more doesn't help with shield.
They also do not stack with other fighters, since they can't engage.

Imo they are only good on an Odyssey (1 Xyphos + 1 Longbow) or converted hangar Enforcer. And Brilliant, right.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 09:23:10 AM by TaLaR »
Logged

FooF

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 667
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2020, 09:55:54 AM »

I'll say it for the 50th time: the reason the current system of fighters feel like "missiles on steroids" is because the system meant to keep them in check (replacement rate) benefits from 1.) PD being geared toward killing missiles, not fighters and 2.) no "partial" destruction of fighters (it's a binary system). You simply can't reduce the replacement rate fast enough to make fighters worse than standard weapons in the current version. This isn't a fault of the current fighter system but the meta-game around it.

Regarding #1 - If you kill the fighters faster, replacement rate goes down and the next swarm of fighters is slower/less effective. Mitigating the fighter swarms is something that I've felt has been relatively unchanged since 0.8 and fighters with shields make a lot of PD much less effective at outright killing fighters. Since killing the fighters is the only recourse an opposing ship has to slowing fighters' perpetual waves, this leads to carriers having a perennial advantage that can be multiplied if you keep adding carriers. 

This is the distinguishing feature between a fighter and a standard missile weapon: missiles may not be replaced but they are (generally) available on command. The player can judge opportune times while the fighters just kind of shoot whenever. There's a lot to be said for striking at the precise moment. If replacement rate could be reduced more effectively, the fighter vs. missile debate would become apples vs. oranges. Fighters would be perpetual but haphazard and could be almost completely neutralized vs missiles which are limited, can't be stopped short of destroying the missile itself, but when used properly, can completely swing a battle.

Regarding #2 - A fighter with 1 HP has no impact on replacement rate. Or to put it another way, flux is being spent by the opponent but if it doesn't kill the fighter, the flux doesn't actually do any damage to the system meant to keep fighters from overwhelming the opponent. The carrier benefits from forcing flux from an opponent at no cost to itself.

If replacement rate was based off of fighter wing HP, instead of merely wing size, an opponent could still reduce replacement without having the binary system of "killed/not killed." This could be handled a few ways. Forcing fighters to return to the carrier at some HP % (like 33%) would not only force them to peel off but it would also force the carrier to spend replacement rate to repair them. Or, you could have a gradient system that some % of overall wing HP would have a detrimental/beneficial effect on replacement rate. Either way, doing damage to fighters would have a direct effect on replacement rate, which would, in turn, slow their advance and give fighters a true downside.

Or, you could tweak the replacement rate on all ships and simply lower it until there's a general feel of balance vs. standard warships.

I didn't like the old system particularly and the only thing that was lost, in my mind, was the ability to command the fighter wings directly. Other than that, I find the current system drastically better than the old. I don't agree with Megas that carriers should also have some fighting capability independent of their fighters. Most carriers are poor warships anyway and that sounds to me like shoehorning a square peg into a round hole. I would prefer tweaking the current system rather than going back to the old.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 09:57:38 AM by FooF »
Logged

Eji1700

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 201
    • View Profile
Re: Yet another fighter balance post
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2020, 10:19:34 AM »

My only thought is i've always felt it was somewhat weird that any ship with a hanger can run any fighter/bomber.

I get that on some level that's intended so you don't just wind up with small/medium/large hangers and have it be identical to weaponry, but at the same time I can't help but wonder if some limitation should be used.

Maybe do S/M/L hangers, or some sort of definition, but have it be more flexible.  You can still put almost any ship in any hanger, but your wing sizes/replen rate might be smaller...maybe call it logistical capability or tech level or something.  Just something to push across the idea that mass producing sparks takes more than just OP when compared to talons.

Maybe that's not the answer, but some sort of handle/limitation would really help balance the entire weapon type, and probably help promote more varied builds as well.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5