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Topics - Delta_of_Isaire

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Suggestions / List of minor improvements for major increase in quality
« on: September 03, 2022, 12:46:14 AM »
There are a couple of quality of life issues in the current game that have annoyed me a few too many times. Fixing these shouldn't be too difficult but will improve playability quite a lot :)

Asteroids interrupting the burn-in sequence at the beginning of combat. In normal fights it is a minor inconvenience. But in pursuit battles, it makes the difference between successful pursuit and the targets getting away. So why does this feature even exist? It's not like asteroids impacting on armor do that much damage anyway.

Setting course to a (uncharted) starsystem (i.e. right-click on a star in the map) appears to consistently target the jump point / gravity well that is furthest away from the player's fleet, resulting in unnecessary fuel use and wasted playtime. Why does this happen?

Slipstreams disappear too often. They currently vanish 2x a year, but IMHO that should be no more than 1x a year. Too many times I've seen a slipstream and thought "hey, that will be useful for my return trip" only for it to disappear by the time I'm ready to go back.

Contact bounties target star systems, but do not point to a specific location within that star system, unlike public bounties. This can and does lead to needle-in-a-haystack scenarios. And yes I know that the time limit on the bounty doesn't expire once you've entered the system. Don't ask me how I found out. The point is that I shouldn't have needed to find out about that.

The command view in combat shows ship sprites always pointing up, with a tiny green arrow indicating the orientation of the ship. Can we please just have the ship sprites rotated instead? That would make the information much more readily apparent. In fact, the command view could use a number of touch-ups like this.

Speaking of commands: we need a way for orders to apply only to ships specifically assigned to them. Because automatic assignment of ships to orders causes more headaches than it solves. For example, if I want to order one ship to engage one particular target, that may lead to half the rest of my fleet also deciding that they should engage that target. Or, if I tell a Frigate to escort a bigger ship and then that Frigate dies, instead of the order disappearing some other Frigate might assign itself to that escort job. Which is usually not what I want.

Ship AI target selection. Best I can tell, in the absence of engage/eliminate orders, ships will tend to target the nearest enemy. Which is an overly simplistic rule that causes a lot of obvious suboptimal behavior. Most notably, slow ships attempting to chase fast Frigates; or ships with hardpoint weapons constantly rotating back-and-forth between two targets without ever properly lining up with one of them; or ships disengaging from an almost-dead target because a random different enemy suddenly became marginally more proximate. I know AI programming is difficult, but as far that goes, improving this particular behavior is low-hanging fruit in terms of the potential benefits.

Also I need to mention S-mods. A complicated topic, but I bring it up because the current state of affairs isn't quite ideal. The thing is, IMHO a large number of ships are so OP-starved that having 2-3 build-in hullmods is essential to make their loadouts work. Consequently, instead of of S-mods being an occasional bonus on a prominent ship, they end up being a mandatory storypoint sink for a large portion of your fleet. The easy fix would be implementing a way to get build-in hull mods with credits instead of SP. But that is boring. Instead, I would propose a method for your own Heavy Industry to construct custom variants of blueprints that have a specific hullmod build-in. And the creation of those blueprint variants could require storypoints. So for example: for 1 Storypoint, you can edit a Hammerhead blueprint to have build-in Hardened Shields. This approach would also fix the issue where S-modded ships are irrepleacable when lost in combat, forcing their recovery instead of building a new one with Heavy Industry.

Oh, and speaking of blueprints: please implement a way to buy or otherwise acquire blueprints from factions. Some non-hostile alternative to repeated raiding.

Despite individual differences, most ships of each of the three tech levels (Low Tech, Midline, High Tech) exhibit a similar and unique design philosophy, with certain strengths, weaknesses, and resulting tactical implications. Which is very good game design. Here I explore what these design philosophies are with a focus on tactical implications, argue why the current AI personalities are inadequate to achieve these tactics, and propose new AI personalities that should work much better.

Low Tech ships are designed for brawling, which means they are meant to be superior in direct combat with a comparable opponent. When a Low Tech fleet clashes with another fleet, that other fleet is forced to give away ground (well, space) or face annihilation. To balance this out, Low Tech has two drawbacks. The first is terrible speed and maneuverability, which means that enemies which want to retreat generally can. Although Burn Drive partially counters that. At least, most other ships can decide when and where to clash with Low Tech ships. Low Tech does not usually have the initiative. The other drawback is weak shielding and consequent reliance on non-repairable armor and hull. This means Low Tech ships can be worn down over time. They will easily win a single clash, but a determined and numerically superior ((by DP) enemy force can attack again and again to eventually secure the win.

The above description ignores one aspect, which is the flux war. While Low Tech ships can (with the right piloting) win clashes, they usually lose the flux war. Low Tech ships are generally the first to drop shields and take armor damage. The crucial difference - and the strength of Low Tech - is that they have so much armor and hull that losing the flux war does not impede their ability to continue fighting and flux out their opponents as well. Therefore, for a Low Tech ship, fluxing out should not constitute a reason for retreat.

And yet, every AI regardless of personality is hard-wired to start retreating at high hard flux. In fact that is the single best reason to use Shield Shunt: without shields there is no hard flux buildup, and so the AI is much less inclined to retreat. One could argue that Reckless AI mostly solves this problem. The trouble with Reckless though is such AIs are prone to overextending against superior enemy forces, and consequently getting themselves killed. True, Low Tech ships can afford to overextend much more than other ships, but not that much more. Besides this there is another reason Reckless AI underperforms: it builds up far too much (hard) flux, which can soft-lock flux-hungry weapons like Heavy Needlers, and much more importantly it interferes with effective shield usage. Shields should be used to absorb the most dangerous anti-armor attacks that bypass or overwhelm PD. But if your flux bar is already full then shields cannot do anything, besides triggering an overload. Ideally, Low Tech ships (at least the ones with shields) never build up more than 50-70% flux by default, to leave that shield buffer in case of emergency.

Thus I propose Brave AI personality. Brave pilots are characterized by their reluctance to retreat, often preferring to push on to within range of their shortest-range weapons, including PD. This is primarily because fluxing out (which means reaching 70% hard flux!) does not make them retreat, but also because these pilots care less about being flanked. Additionally, Brave pilots are more likely to vent within range of enemy weapons (of course excepting dangerous HE weapons like Reapers).

The quintessential High Tech ship is blindingly fast and uses Energy weapons with rather underwhelming range. Deploying those short-range weapons effectively requires a dash to close range, and fortunely the High Tech ship has powerful shields to absorb damage while closing in. Then once the range is closed, those same shields can endure a punishment while the High Tech ship lets loose with its Energy weapons powered by high flux dissipation. Against a similarly-sized opponent, the combination of shields and DPS is often enough to win the flux war, forcing the opponent to drop shields first and take non-renewable damage. However, the High Tech ship's shields won't last forever and its armor is paper-thin, so it is destined to lose the brawl and forced to retreat. This then defines the tactics of High Tech ships: dash in, do some damage, retreat to vent, and repeat.

The high speed of High Tech ships allows them to pick their battles, and a fleet of such fast ships can use maneuver tactics to spread out the enemy forces and then swarm on isolated enemies with locally superior numbers. That is defeat in detail and High Tech excels at it. Or alternatively, a single large High Tech ship often has enough speed to catch an isolated enemy ship of one size smaller, and defeat it with superior strength. That's the only type of 1-on-1 brawl High Tech can expect to win.

It would seem like the Aggressive AI personality is suitable for fast High Tech ships. But it has some shortcomings during the closing-in stage and the retreat stage of the High Tech battle style. While closing in, Aggressive officers sometimes aren't quite aggressive enough, particularly against stronger or more numerous opponents. Their desire to avoid being flanked or overextended wins out a little too often. By contrast, during a retreat the Aggressive AI is far too reluctant to commit to a retreat, and too eager to get back into the fight. The result is a ship dipping in and out of weapon range to rather little effect, mostly wasting time.

What Fast High Tech ships need instead is an Opportunistic AI personality that adheres closely to the attack-and-retreat cycle. While its (hard) flux is low, this AI should aggressively close into minimum range of its weapons, including PD. But then when its (hard) flux reaches the critical threshold of 80% (ish) its behavior should flip around into a full retreat to outside of enemy weapon range. Crucially, this retreat should be maintained even if through flux disipation its (hard) flux dips back below 80%. Only once the ship has fully vented should it go back to aggressive attack behavior. Additionally, Opportunistic AI should have one other unique trait: when friendly ships are nearby, it should be less wary of being flanked or outnumbered, and more likely to go for an attack run.

Midline ships are traditionally described as falling "in-between" Low Tech and High Tech, with more average performance in terms of speed, flux, armor and shields. There is, however something else that only Midline ships have that sets them apart from other ships. That is the ability to combine Ballistic and Energy weapons. Most notably, Midline ships specialize in long-range weapon loadouts, combining long-range Ballistics, Energy Beams, and missiles. Consequently Midline suffers none of the range issues associated with High Tech, while still having a significant mobility advantage over Low Tech.

The way this manifests on the battlefield depends on the enemy fleet. Up against slow Low Tech ships, a Midline fleet stands no chance in a direct brawl, but has the mobility advantage to kite the enemy, adopting a less extreme variation of the High Tech hit-and-run doctrine. On the flip side, against a High Tech enemy the speed advantage is reversed and Midline ships can no longer dictate range. But in that situation Midline ships do have the advantage in weapons range and armor strength, allowing them to brawl effectively and hold off the High Tech opponents. Thus, Midline can adapt its tactics to the situation.

Notably though, that does not mean Midline ships are jack-of-all-trades ships that require similarly generalistic AI piloting. Most Midline ships are specialized to favor either hit-and-run or brawling tactics. Or the third option of long-range support/kiting, but we'll get to that in a moment. Hit-and-run ships such as the Falcon and Hammerhead are good candidates for the Opportunistic AI. So is the Monitor, albeit in a more passive-aggressive way. On the other hand, more brawling-oriented ships like the Eagle and Champion are not, in my opinion, going to be happy with a Brave Officer at the helm. Brave pilots would not maintain range properly against Low Tech opponents. Instead, these Midline ships would ideally have behavior like the current Aggressive personality, but without the tendency to close into PD weapon range, instead determining distance using the shortest range non-PD weapon. That will allow these Midline ships to aggressively brawl with High Tech opponents, while maintaining range with Low Tech adversaries. Let's call this type of AI personality Steady because its a good name, and arguably the current Steady personality should be like this anyway.

Remember I mentioned kiting earlier? There are Midline ships specialized in long-range damage delivery, such as Beams + Advanced Optics Sunder or Gauss Cannon Conquest, for which neither the Opportunistic nor new Steady personality is adequate. These ships want to stay at long range - the range of their longest-range non-missile weapon, like the current Cautious AI. But ideally without any of the cowardness currently associated with Cautious Officers. More like the current Steady personality, but more focused on maintaining range. Where the current Steady AI picks its initial range based on its shortest-range non-PD weapon, and closes in further once it gains a flux advantage, this new AI behavior should initially use only its longest-range non-PD weapons, then close in to range of its shorter non-PD weapons when the enemy has picked up hard flux. So Steady behavior with more emphasis on keeping range. Sounds like a Calm kind of Officer to me.

Now I have introduced four new AI personalities to replace existing ones. The game currently has five, but I think we can keep Reckless around as well, as it has appropriate use-cases for some ships, or at least for Pathers and Remnants. Unlike Timid AI, which no player or serious enemy ever uses. Thus the new Officer personality spectrum would become Calm / Steady / Opportunistic / Brave / Reckless. That looks like a good and useful mix of Officers to me.

In case you're wondering if I think all Low Tech ships should have a Brave pilot, and all High Tech should be Opportunistic - no! Of course I realize some ships deviate from the standard expectation. The Paragon for instance is a good candidate for Steady or even Calm (with a beam loadout); Eradicators could do with being opportunistic, Legion battlecarriers with Gauss Cannons will appreciate a Calm or Steady Officer. On the whole, I think all ships will find suitable Officer personalities within the new spectrum.

Suggestions / Various suggestions after a long game
« on: March 16, 2022, 01:50:01 AM »
Been doing a long playthrough of Starsector 0.95.1a (cycle 225 and counting). Here's a list of some of the things I noticed that could maybe be tweaked/added.

> In battles on the tactical map, ship icons have two bars showing hull integrity and combat readiness. Please add a third bar displaying flux level. That info is already available one ship at a time by clicking on it. But one ship at a time makes it hard to see at a glance how a fight is going. (and flux level is much more indicative of whether a ship is winning or losing than hull integrity is)

> The AI too often refuses to use Maneuvering Jets / Plasma Jets / Phase Skimmer to catch up with a backpedaling enemy. To the point where I feel like Systems Expertise is wasted on my Falcons. By contrast, the newly improved Burn Drive does get used appropriately in situations like this.

> Consider the option for battle orders like Engage or Avoid to apply only for a specific control group. For example, that way you could order your Frigates in control group 1 to Engage only enemy Frigates/Destroyers while Avoiding enemy Capitals; while ordering your capitals in control group 2 to Engage the enemy Capitals. That's exactly the behavior I want from my current fleet, but I cannot achieve it without manually assigning each ship to Engage a specific enemy every 10 seconds (and running out of command points).

> Make the Defend order less like Engage and more like Escort. Specifically, ships ordered to Defend currently wander off way too far. Let them stick much closer to their assigned location/ship. The difference between Escort and Defend (if the assignment is a ship) should be that where Escorts stick primarily to the rear of their assignment, Defenders should stick primarily to the front.

> For carriers, seperate movement orders from Fighter Strike orders, allowing both to be given simultaneously. For example, a Carrier assigned to Escort duty should still send its fighters off towards designated Fighter Strike targets.

> Add an Ignore order, the opposite of Engage and a subtler alternative to Avoid. An Ignore order should mean "don't bother attacking/chasing after this ship, but prefer attacking something else".

> We need Officer skill respecs. Even if it is just one skill at a time. Because anything is better than having to fire a mentored Officer with 4 Elite skills to train an entirely new Officer from scratch. This might actually make me use Pod officers as well, because currently 95% of those have schizophrenic skill distributions that are useless. (And if you're worried about lvl 7 officers being overpowered... Don't. And IMHO those should be lvl 6 anyway)

> Allow certain uses of storypoints to be alternatively done by spending a (ridiculous) amount of credits. this eases the late-game storypoint grind and provides a moneysink. Things like colony improvements, officer elite skills, the historian, or escaping battles.

> On a related note: I would gladly spend 1 credit per bonus XP to instantly convert that bonus XP into real XP. Make this possible please.

> Ordnance Expertise is power creep. It provides a substantial increase in sustained DPS for nearly every ship. It is hard to justify an Officer build without it. It's not even the power increase that I mind, but rather the fact that it's a mandatory skill for a lot of ships. Case in point: my Onslaught (XIV) goes from 1270 dissipation to 1698 dissipation (+34%) and my Conquest goes from 1850 to 2254 (+22%). Either make Ordnance Expertise a fleetwide skill (maybe with half the effect magnitude, i.e. +1/+10 instead of +2/+20), or replace it with something else that is more specialized (like a skill that increases the Hitpoints of Fighters).

> There is a vacant niche for an HE equivalent of the Heavy Autocannon. Something to fill the rather large gap between the Heavy Mortar and Heavy Mauler. 10 OP, 800 range, decent accuracy, 180 DPS, 150 dmg/shot.

> Add a Midline Support Fighter, to complement the High Tech Xyphos and Low Tech Mining Pod. Moderate OP cost (~10), 2 or 3 fighters per wing. Give each fighter 2 LR PD Lasers and a Breach SRM.

General Discussion / Exploring how to command the AI
« on: June 09, 2021, 03:25:42 AM »
There have been some comments recently about how AI-controlled ships in the player's fleet appear to ignore orders, and how said orders might mean something different to the AI than what the player thinks they mean.

This sounds like the sort of thing that can be tested, so I want to go ahead and do that. Let's explore how controllable the AI is, and what the 'best' combinations of personalities and orders are to achieve particular behavior.

- Define a simple scenario where we want to see a certain behavior from a particular ship.
- Find a combination of personality and orders that achieves this behavior, if possible.
- Using FleetTester mod v1.0 and Starsector v0.95a-RC15.

Scenario #1a: Kiting a slower enemy with long-range weapons
Enemy: a lone Enforcer with 3x Light Autocannon, 2x Light Mortar, no missiles, and ITU. Steady personality.

Candidate ship: Hammerhead with 1x Hypervelocity Driver, 1x Heavy Mauler, 4x PD Laser, no missiles, and ITU.

>>> The Hammerhead outranges and outspeeds the Enforcer, which means it should be able to kite it without risk. Which combination of personality and orders achieves this?

> Steady without orders works.
> Steady + Engage works.
> Steady + Eliminate makes the Hammerhead close to minimum range.
> Steady + Search & Destroy works.
> Steady + Full Assault makes the Hammerhead close to minimum range.

> Aggressive without orders makes the Hammerhead close to minimum range.
> Aggressive + Engage, Eliminate, Search & Destroy OR Full Assault makes the Hammerhead close to minimum range.
> Aggressive + Avoid makes the Hammerhead run away like a scared chicken.
> Aggressive + Avoid + Search & Destroy still makes the Hammerhead run like a chicken.

> Cautious without orders works.
> Cautious + Engage works.
> Cautious + Eliminate makes the Hammerhead close to minimum range. Notably it retreats to vent flux quite soon as it builds up hard flux, something Steady didn't do nearly so much or so quickly.
> Cautious + Search & Destroy works.
> Cautious + Full Assault makes the Hammerhead close to Minimum range. Notably it does so more slowly than Steady, and also retreats much earlier as it builds up hard flux.
>>> Conclusion: Both Steady and Cautious AI are capable of kiting a slower enemy, keeping a steady pressure of weaponsfire until the target is destroyed. Both personalities can still be made to close the distance with specific orders. Aggressive AI is just too aggressive for kiting with long-range weapons, if the ship also has some shorter-range weapons like PD Lasers.
Scenario #1b: Kiting a slower enemy with a mix of short- and long-range weapons
Enemy: a lone Enforcer with 3x Light Autocannon, 2x Light Mortar and no other weapons. Steady personality.

Candidate ship: Hammerhead with 1x Hypervelocity Driver, 1x Heavy Mauler, 3x PD Laser and 1x Light Autocannon in one of the front smalls.

>>> The Hammerhead outspeeds the Enforcer, and outranges it with HVD/Mauler but also has a LAC with same range as the Enforcer's weapons. Will the AI opt to only use HVD/Mauler, or also try to use the LAC?

> No sense testing Aggressive: we already know it would close to PD Laser range in any case.

> Steady without orders makes the Hammerhead approach to LAC range.
> Steady + Engage OR Search & Destroy makes the Hammerhead approach to LAC range.
> Steady + Full Assault OR Eliminate makes the Hammerhead approach to PD Laser range.
> Steady + Avoid makes the Hammerhead run like a chicken.

> Cautious without orders works: the Hammerhead stays at HVD/Mauler range.
> Cautious + Engage OR Search & Destroy works as well.
> Cautious + Eliminate or Full Assault makes the Hammerhead approach to PD Laser range.
>>> Conclusion: When mixing weapons of different ranges, Steady AI chooses engagement range based on its shortest-range (non-PD) weapons, while Cautious AI chooses engagement ranged based on its longest-range (non-PD) weapons.

Scenario #2: Capturing and controlling strategic points / Rallying at a waypoint
Enemy: 2x Kite (A) with a Light Dual Autocannon, ITU, and no other weapons. Steady personality.

Candidate ship: Eagle with 3x Railgun, 3x Pulse Laser and 5x PD Laser, ITU, and no missiles.

Mission: capture and control/defend a Comm Relay in the center of the battlefield.

>>> Two lightly armed Kites are no match for this Eagle, but they are a lot faster. Is there a way to make the Eagle stay near the strategic point and hold it, or will it inevitably be distracted by a Kite? For reference: manually piloting the Eagle this mission is a breeze. Park the Eagle on the Comm Relay, set all weapons to autofire and just turn the ship with Maneuvering Jets towards the Kites. Easy.

> Steady + Capture + Control makes the Eagle get distracted by one Kite long enough for the other Kite to capture the Comm Relay. Subsequently the Eagle does re-capture it. The same pattern then repeats. Sometimes the Eagle even prioritizes fighting the Kites over re-capturing the Comm Relay.
> Steady + Assault + Defend still makes the Eagle get distracted long enough to lose the Comm Relay.
> Steady + Rally Task Force order on the Comm Relay (instead of Capture/Assault) is no different.

Observation: Enemy Kites often prioritize flanking the Eagle to shoot at its relatively unprotected rear over capturing the Comm Relay, even when the Eagle has wandered far enough away that one of the Kites could easily capture it.

> Aggressive + Capture + Control also makes the Eagle prone to getting distracted and losing the Comm Relay.
> Aggressive + Assault + Defend is no different.
> Aggressive + Rally Task Force order on the Comm Relay is no different.

> Cautious + Capture + Control is no different.
> Cautious + Assault + Defend is no different.
> Cautious + Rally Task Force on the Comm Relay is no different.

> Timid personality makes the Eagle actively back away from the Kites even if that means completely ignoring a Control, Defend or Rally order.
>>> Conclusion: Ship AI appears to prioritize engaging enemies over staying at an assigned strategic point or rally point. And there is no way for the player to override that behavior. Which is kind of disappointing.

More scenario's to follow in the future. No promises on how far in the future that will be. Leave your suggestions for scenarios to explore!

Modding / [0.95a] Better Ships v1.0
« on: June 08, 2021, 06:04:08 AM »
Better Ships

    <<< That's a download button!

Mod Features
  • Changes Ordnance Point (OP) capacity of all standard, Derelict and Remnant ships according to a new, simple formula, tuned to provide a 'fun' amount of OP to play with. 'Fun' means that OP Capacity still forces trade-offs, but you are not restricted to a bare minimum loadout. You can get more of what you want, but you still cannot get everything you want (even with 3 s-mods).
    Exactly how much OP is 'fun'?
    How much OP is 'fun'? In my opinion, enough OP to have:
        > A medium-tier weapon in every slot
        > Max vents
        > Max Capacitors
        > Integrated Targeting Unit
        > One other expensive hullmod, for which I use Heavy Armor as the benchmark.

    This is not saying that all good loadouts should have for example max capacitors or these exact two hullmods. This is more of a default, balanced reference build that provides room for trade-offs if you want something more specialized. Bigger weapons at the cost of Capacitors, or two smaller hullmods instead of one expensive hullmod, et cetera.
    Implementation details
    For most ships, OP capacity changed to equal the sum of:
        > Maximum number of Vents (without skills), i.e. 10/20/30/50
        > Maximum number of Capacitors (without skills), i.e. 10/20/30/50
        > OP cost of Integrated Targeting Unit, i.e. 4/8/15/25
        > OP cost of Heavy Armor, i.e. 8/15/20/40
        > 0/5/10/15 OP for Fourteenth Battlegroup (XIV) modification
        > 5 OP for every small gun mount (OP cost for average weapons like IR Pulse Laser and Light Assault Gun)
        > 4 OP for every small missile mount (standard OP cost of small missiles)
        > 10 OP for every medium gun mount (OP cost for average weapons like Heavy Autocannon, Pulse Laser)
        > 10 OP for every medium missile mount (standard OP cost of medium missiles)
        > 20 OP for every large gun mount (OP cost for average weapons like HIL, Autopulse Laser, HAG, Mark IX)
        > 20 OP for every large missile mount (baseline OP cost of large missiles)
        > 10 OP for every fighter bay

    Composite/Synergy/Universal mounts are considered gun mounts for OP calculation.

    Weapon and Fighter slots with built-in non-removable weapons are not counted (e.g. Flak Cannons on Monitor, Mining drones on Venture).

    For Civilian ships that are not combat-freighters (so real non-combat ships), the new OP capacity does not include the bonus for ITU and Heavy Armor.

    For Ox and Salvaging Rig the OP capacity is unchanged for balance reasons.

    For Guardian the OP capacity is also unchanged, because the new calculation would result in a significant loss of OP (375 vs original 450) and this thing deserves to be good.
    What's the result?
    On average this results in a 30% increase in OP capacity compared to vanilla. But note that some ships benefit (much) more than others.

    Average OP increases from 90 to 117, an increase of 30%.
        > Among Frigates the average increase is 29% or 11 OP.
        > Among Destroyers the average increase is 38% or 25 OP.
        > Among Cruisers the average increase is 36% or 44 OP.
        > Among Capitals the average increase is 21% or 56 OP.

    3 Ships lose OP while 109 ships gain OP and 2 ships remain the same.

    The losers are Hyperion (-3), Kite (S) (-5) and Paragon (-4). Unchanged are Ox and Salvaging Rig.

    Ships with a relatively small % increase in OP include Afflictor (+4%), Ziggurat (+6%), Onslaught (+7%), Harbinger (+8%), Aurora (+9%), Radiant (+11%) and Tempest (+12%).

    Ships with a relatively high % increase in OP include Colossus Mk.III (+218%), Colossus Mk.II (+182%), Condor (+129%), several Derelict ships, Heron (+65%), Mora (+61%), Drover (+56%), Shrike (P) (+44%) Atlas Mk.II (+43%) and Astral (+42%). So Carriers notably benefit a lot.
  • Tweaks the Deployment Point (DP) cost of a few ships for better balance after the OP changes.
    Which ships are affected?
    Radiant - now 60 DP (was 40) because it is at least as good as Paragon.
    Guardian - now 60 DP (was 40) because it is at least as good as Paragon.
    Colossus Mk.II - now 12 DP (was 9) because it is no longer held back by low OP.
    Colossus Mk.III - now 12  DP (was 8 ) because it   is no longer held back by low OP.
    Scarab - now 10 DP (was 8 ) because Temporal Shell makes it stronger than Tempest and Shrike.
    Scintilla - now 15 DP (was 12) because it is easily as good as a Drover (even ignoring the Drover's bugged performance).
    Afflictor - now 10 DP (was 8 ) because it's a better Shade.
  • Overwrites vanilla goal variants with versions that account for new OP capacity and that are less terrible.
    You mean vanilla goal variants are terrible?!
    Yes. Yes they are. Well, some of them. Maybe a lot of them, actually. No offense to Alex  :P
    What are the new variants like?
    The new variants are designed to fill the same role, do the same things, as their vanilla counterparts. They are literally just tweaked to properly utilize the new OP capacity and generally do what they try to do better. So the changes are vanilla-friendly and all that.
    Implementation details
    This mod replaces vanilla .variant files completely, using the "replace" tag in mod_info.json.

    This approach is necessary to overwrite vanilla .variant files. Normally mod files are merged into their vanilla counterparts, but for variant files that leads to issues like multiple weapons fitted into the same mount etc because the originally specified weapons and hullmods are not replaced/removed.

    The alternative would have been to add the modified variants under a new name, and then edit default_ship_roles.json to set the weights of vanilla variants to 0 and add the new variants with their corresponding vanilla weights. I felt that this approach would be more complex and less reliable.

    The drawback is mod compatibility. Normally you want mod files to merge into vanilla rather than replace vanilla, so that multiple mods can affect (diferent parts of) the same file. For variant files however, few mods alter them and you wouldn't want merging behavior because that could will cause conflicts as noted above.
  • Reduces randomness of autofitting, so that ships try to adhere to goal variants more closely.
    Because random loadout changes are more likely to reduce than improve the combat performance of a ship variant. Provided that the goal variant is actually decent of course, which the new variants added by this mod should be.
    How did you do it?
    By setting "autofitRandomizeProbability" to 0 in all relevant .faction files (in /data/world/factions).
    What's the result?
    This tweak means randomly spawned ships adhere fully to goal variants, unless the required blueprints aren't available because either (1) the faction doesn't have those blueprints at all or (2) the game randomly decided that, for fitting this particular ship, certain blueprints aren't available. So it doesn't completely remove autofit variation, but greatly reduces it.

    For weapons, when the target weapon cannot be fitted a different weapon of the same type (same mount size, same damage type if possible) is fitted instead. For example, Hypervelocity Driver might be replaced by Heavy Autocannon, Sabot SRM might be replaced by Harpoon MRM, or Pulse Laser might be replaced by Mining Blaster (which is a terrible replacement but that's another topic).

    It is rare for hullmods to be omitted, in part because I designed the replacement variants with vanilla blueprints limitations in mind. But when some hullmods cannot be placed, or there is extra OP left over because some weapons were replaced by cheaper alternatives, then some randomly chosen hullmods may be added.

>>> Improved AI goal variants and better adherence to those variants will make battles more challenging!

Mod compatibility
  • Can be added to existing save files. However, existing ships will not have their loadout updated. Most NPC ships will eventually respawn, but you'll have to refit your own ships to account for OP changes.
  • Removing this mod from a save is not recommended. The game probably won't crash, but it will leave existing ships with 'illegal' loadouts that spend more OP than should be possible.
  • Compatible with mods that do not change ships, i.e. most utility/feature mods, etc.
  • Compatible with mods that add new variants for vanilla ships. Autofit will ensure that these variants are "upgraded" to the new OP capacity.
  • Compatible with mods that add new weapons, but don't expect these to show up on NPC ships very often.
  • Compatible with mods that add new ships. However, the new ships will likely be underpowered because this mod buffs vanilla ships.
  • Not compatible with mods that change any stats of vanilla ships in ship_data.csv.
  • Not compatible with mods that edit vanilla .variant files.

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