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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: Hyperspace Topography (10/12/22)

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Topics - FooF

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1
Suggestions / Minor Skill Tree Re-Work
« on: September 23, 2022, 01:54:09 PM »
I love the new skill tree and, to me, it is the best iteration we've had. However, after playing with this version over I don't know how many runs, I would propose a slight tweak on the early skills and one slight tweak for Combat.

All Piloted Ship skills are Tier 1* (*this obviously doesn't apply to the T5 Combat skills but more on that later)

I now believe that all four Technology and Industry piloted-ship skills should be available at any time. It's not that the Tier 1 skills in Tech or Industry (as current) are bad but for certain builds, I desperately wish to skip them. My suggestion is to combine the Tier 2 combat skills into the Tier 1 level and simply require the (current) Tier 3 skills require 2 lower tier skills. (That is to say Navigation/Sensors/Gunnery Implants/EWP and Bulk Transport/Salvaging/Field Repairs/Ordnance Expertise/Polarized Armor would all be T1).

I also don't think the Tier 2 Combat skills are any better or worse than the T1 skills from Combat: they're just locked behind an additional pick. Yes, it homogenizes the trees a bit but having access to the combat skills at any given point gives the player a bit more freedom to boost their flagship.

The first T5 Combat pick is available after 3 points spent on lower tier skills. The 2nd after 4.

That is to say, you can pick System Expertise or Missile Spec after 3 picks in Combat but if you want both, you have to go back down into T1 before getting it unlocked (the 1st T5 skill doesn't count). This just makes the 1st T5 pick one skill point sooner. I'm of the opinion that the T5 Combat picks are not as game-changing as the other 3 trees' T5s, though still very good. I think the first one could be had earlier, though having both should require the full investment.

Partially due to conditions of Suggestion 1, even if I have 5 flagship skills (from 3 trees), I still can't get the Combat T5 skills and I tend to lag behind my subordinate officers. This would lead to more builds potentially having 3 T5 skills from 3 different trees, which is kind of strong, I admit. However, I'm a big proponent of giving flagship skills the most opportunity of all the skills out there because they're competing against hugely influential fleet skills.

Either one would make me happy and save me a skill point or two. I don't like increasing the Level Cap and would like to play as the game is intended but now that I've played a bit, it would help my playstyle a lot to have these tweaks. You may disagree!

2
Suggestions / Leadership: Tactical Drills
« on: September 23, 2022, 09:07:59 AM »
Tactical Drills is a skill I do not use. 5% damage, even across dozens of ships, just doesn’t seem as useful as other early Skills, even if it’s a decent choice in a vacuum. The other piece is that it’s just not that interesting, or should I say, it could be more interesting.

My first thought is to keep the base +5% damage bonus (with DP cap) but add an additional 5% (with DP cap) per captured point in battle. This does a few things: it makes you want to command and control points on the map, it creates an impetus to have ships that steal points mid-battle (i.e. frigates) even in endgame fleets, and it forces players to potentially spread their forces out to maintain the damage bonus.

Alternatively, make the initial bonus much higher but the drop off much sooner. Imagine if it was a base value of +50% but begins to drop off after 20 DP or some lowish number. It would help early game fleets with a large bonus but drop off rapidly to 10% around 100 DP. By 240 DP, it’s back to 5% and dropping. It would also help players trying to maximize their flagship/solo-play. I think we have too few options to do that.

I definitely like #1 over #2 but thought I’d toss them both out there.

3
Suggestions / Champion's Lateral Small Energy Mounts
« on: August 20, 2022, 07:06:32 PM »
Preface: I love the Champion. I have been on record saying it is the Platonic Ideal of what a line cruiser should be. I doesn't need buffed, nerfed, or changed in any way...

...except for those silly Small Energies on the side that I have never used. They are an irksome blemish on an otherwise pristine hull.

Problem: The optimal use of the Small Energies on the side is to leave them empty.

The two Small Energies on the side have three strikes against them. 1.) Their firing arcs do not let them contribute to either the main frontal firepower nor do they protect the more vulnerable engines. The rear-most Small Energies already cover the 90% of their arc, so the side mounts are redundant. 2.) They're Small Energies: a topic unto itself but generally perceived to be one of (if not) the worst mounts 3.) Filling them with something actively robs OP/flux that could be better spent somewhere else.

Something like a Burst PD or PD Laser in those mounts aren't bad per se, but because of reason #1, all you're doing is giving token PD to the side of the ship that can't really double-up with the rear Small Energies all the way to the Engine. In a best use-case scenario, side-mounted PD protects the vulnerable flanks from a torpedo or pesky fighters. However, you're spending 14 OP for Burst PD and 8 OP for a single PD Laser that really can't do a lot on its own. Given that other Small Energies will draw even more flux (i.e. IR Pulse) or deal soft flux (Tac Laser) in a way that the forward battery can't help with, the awkward firing arc puts it in a no-man's land for the ship. As they are, leaving them empty seems like the best course of action.

Is there anything wrong with that? No, I suppose, but having mounts that are perpetually unused feels counter-intuitive. They do have a purpose, it's just that purpose doesn't compete very well against the other priorities of the ship.

Solutions:

Allow the firing arc to reach further back toward the engines:

If the side-mounts could "double-up" with the rear-most Small Energies more, I might be more tempted to utilize them to protect the sides/rear of the ship. I still don't know if I would use them for reasons #2 and #3 above. Making them face more forward, in my eyes, is bad since there are already 4 Small Energies up front that can handle PD-duty if necessary. I'm not a big fan of this idea but it's better than the current situation.

Change the mount type:

Things could get interesting here. For the most part, I dismiss out-of-hand changing it to Ballistic, Synergy, Composite or Universal because the ship doesn't have any already. From a hull design standpoint, they just don't fit to me. I suppose Synergy or Universal could work (as they don't take anything away) but that seems a little "extra."

Small Missile: This is the most intriguing as Small Missiles beg to be filled. It creates a bit more meaningful choice overall for the hull, though it would almost certainly have to be a guided missile of some sort. I'm wary about this option, however, because this is a straight-up buff to the Champion. A pair of Sabots, Harpoons, Atropos, etc. all of a sudden give it more flux-free punch. Alternatively, Salamanders or Swarmers give it some utility. The Persean League is also getting a bunch of new Missiles and as the premier line cruiser, it's odd that it wouldn't take advantage of that.

Small Hybrid: Take nothing away but add the option to use Ballistics here. They don't benefit from the ship system, just like the Mediums up front so there's still some choice here. From a ship design perspective, it tracks. That said, I'd take Vulcans over HEF PD Lasers any day. This at least alleviates any additional flux cost since Vulcans cost next to nothing to fire. You could, of course, throw some Kinetics/HE in there but again, the firing arcs don't allow them to contribute to the intended target up front. This is still a buff but not as much as having missiles. One could make the argument to change the Rear Small Energies to Small Hybrids as well for consistency.

Get rid of them:

Why even tempt us? I'm not keen on this option because even though I don't use them, others might. But if they were gone, they wouldn't be an OP-trap.

Overall:

I prefer the Small Missile route but I would understand why that's a bad idea. Technically, it also leaves the flanks even more vulnerable than before because you don't even have the option of putting PD there. That could be more of a feature than a bug, I suppose (i.e. "Champions are weak to being flanked"). If the side mounts were Hybrids, I *might* put Vulcans in there but I might still leave them empty because I prioritize the forward mounts so much more.




4
Suggestions / Vanilla Balance Tweaks
« on: August 10, 2022, 05:11:47 PM »
One of the great things about SS is the ability to just tweak stuff on your own. I've been experimenting with a kind of "vanilla balance mod" for a little bit and thought I'd share some of the small tweaks to the game I've made that may be fodder for balance discussions proper.

Weapon Changes

Phase Lance: Increased range to 700.

The Pulse Laser and Phase Lance are sort of two sides of the same coin: one deals hard flux but little true damage while the other deals strong armor damage but no hard flux. Both are decent against strike craft, both are 600 range, both are 10 OP, and both are relatively close in terms of flux use. Whereas the Pulse Laser is a true generalist, the Phase Lance often wastes its shots on fighters or on shields. I wouldn't call it "weak" in a vacuum but its upside isn't nearly as pronounced as say, the Ion Pulser, which is only 1 OP more.  So, I gave it more range. Since it doesn't deal hard flux, I felt that the range increase doesn't benefit it nearly as much as it would a Pulse Laser and its penchant for hitting shields also kind of reduces the overall effectiveness. However, the extra range gives Medium Energy, as a whole, a bit more "bite" and allows Phase Lances to shine a little brighter among its brethren (without having to spend OP on Advanced Optics).

In playtesting, I've found the added range really helps Midline ships like the Eagle. Yes, Phase Lances get "wasted" in the opening volley (as they tend to outrange their other Energy counterparts) but it also means that as energy ships try to back off, the Phase Lances are also get opportunistic hits as shields drop.

Burst Laser and Heavy Burst Laser: Increased maximum charges to 5 and 9, respectively.

I just don't think Burst Lasers are worth the OP cost as they stand and though I'd like to try something more exotic with the HBL (allow it to target 3 targets independently at once), I wanted to keep these changes to just value tweaks. Giving them more charges allows them deal with saturation better and makes them slightly better at engaging larger targets without making their sustained damage any better.

Heavy Mortar: Increased damage/shot to 220 and flux/shot to 180. Reduced rate of fire to 1/sec. Reduced recoil 25%. Same DPS and flux/efficiency as before.

Why would I ever change the ever-reliable Heavy Mortar? Well, to make room for the Assault Chaingun change below. The two would hold roughly similar roles so I made the Heavy Mortar harder-hitting but slower firing. Because it's not spewing rounds all over the place, I made it slightly more accurate. It acts more like an HE Arbalest now. I wanted to keep the 2-round burst but it felt like the delay between bursts were painfully long. As an HE weapon, it's technically better due to greater damage/shot but it still misses and you're rarely going to get multiple rounds on the same patch of armor. I intended this to be a side-grade rather than a buff/nerf.

Assault Chaingun Completely reworked. Range now 800. Damage/shot and flux/shot is 120. 180 rounds/minute. 360 DPS total. Decreased maximum recoil but otherwise inaccurate at range.

Yes, this is now the mythical 800-range, 10 OP Medium HE option (at the expense of a short-ranged buzzsaw that needed more damage/shot). Honestly, I felt the ACG could fulfill both roles. At range, you're throwing flux away because you're inaccurate but up-close, it can do some real damage. The other factor to consider is that it's an expensive weapon to fire regardless of what you do. It might be a good overall HE option but good luck getting it to fit your flux budget. 

In playtesting, I found I was treating it like a Heavy Blaster rather than a general-purpose weapon. Load up on Small Kinetics and let a single ACG do the heavy lifting. Hammerheads with an ACG and Heavy AC combo punched themselves out pretty quickly if you let the go full bore. A single one on an Enforcer was usually enough. Cruisers like the Eradicator and Eagle saw good use out of them and Capitals loved them. If you could afford to fire it, it was almost a Large Ballistic in a Medium slot (again, Heavy Blaster-esque)

Hephaestus Assault Gun: Upped damage/shot and flux/shot to 240. Halved firing rate (120/min now). DPS/flux stay the same.

Another domino effect of the ACG change. The ACG was now basically a slightly less efficient Medium HAG so the HAG needed to side-grade a little too. Same thing as the Heavy Mortar: double the damage, half the shots. It has better armor-penetrating properties but is also a little less of a generalist weapon. What it really competes with now is the Heavy Mauler as they do about the same damage/shot. Heavy Mauler front-loads its damage as much more accurate, though, so I didn't feel the overlap quite as much.

Fighter Changes

Trident: Increased wing size to 3 (from 2)

This is a 50% buff, I know. However, I didn't feel the Dagger vs. Trident comparison was close at all due to the Trident's extra 7 OP cost and the fact it's slow as molasses. If you can afford one of these wings, you're getting the premiere bomber platform but they also have their drawbacks beyond cost. Also, it's name is "Trident" which brings to mind a 3-pronged weapon, not a 2-pronged one!

Wasp: Decreased replacement time to 2 (from 5).

These should be true swarmers and what they lack in firepower and overall usefulness, they make up in sheer quantity. Even at low carrier replacement levels, these things should be popping out and easily replaceable.

Hull Changes

Eagle: Increased top speed to 75.

See the Eagle thread if you want to know more. I think Speed is what the Eagle needs most of. Paired with some of the Weapon changes, it's more of an assault ship, I feel.

Aurora: Changed shield to a 360 degree Front shield with half current upkeep.

I removed the "Front Shield Conversion Tax". More of a personal preference than a necessary balance change. I think this also gives the Aurora a bit of a mystique to it and a slight advantage over the Fury in terms of it being the premier High Tech Cruiser. The Aurora's shield might not be as efficient taking damage but it is super-efficient in terms of upkeep cost and 360 degree defense, "as standard!!!"

Legion: Added 30 OP.

See the Legion thread. Basically, the Legion is OP-starved relative to the Onslaught though it costs the same logistically. I didn't want to go overboard with it but it allows for an extra hull mod or two.


5
Suggestions / Odyssey Medium Synergy Mount
« on: December 16, 2021, 04:44:46 AM »
Found an Odyssey in early-mid game and since it is the backbone of the fleet, I’ve heavily invested in it and am trying new skills (hard flux beams in particular). What I’m noticing is a huge desire to put a medium Energy on the broadside portion of the ship, namely the top-left Medium Missile mount.

The Odyssey is dependent on the Two Large Energy for the most part with a large missile compliment but I think build variety would improve if you had a little wiggle-room in supplementary damage. Changing that mount to synergy still gives the missile capacity but allows for a Medium Energy to add another damage source or utility (like EMP or Graviton). Right now it feels like Odyssey builds are pretty same-y and there’s not a lot options for variety.

I’m fine with the other Missile mounts remaining Missile-only.

6
Suggestions / Two small suggestions
« on: December 11, 2021, 04:42:27 PM »
QoL change: Warning Beacon Icons on Sector Map

Please make Warning Beacons on the Sector Map (Tab+Q) the same icons as what are present on the Intel Screen (under the Remnants tab) in regards to danger level. Right now all the beacon icons are the same and you don't know what they are at a glance. Instead, you have to hover over them to know what system has a certain danger level. I don't know why I haven't been bothered by this before but since starting a new playthrough, this began to bug me. The icons might have to be sized down but even just a color change matching the danger level would be very welcome.

Hyperion Credit Cost:

In this first 0.95.1 playthrough, I found a Hyperion on the Open Market within 20 minutes of playing for ~49k credits (1 D-mod). I shouldn't be able to buy one of the top-tier frigates in the early game (on the open market, no less!). There was a Tempest on the Black Market (same planet, Culann, I think) for ~44k. The gap between the two is huge so I just think the Hyperion is under-costed. It could be doubled and I wouldn't bat an eye, though to be fair, it should be locked behind military commissioned markets 99% of the time. 

I know the Hyperion has been nerfed a bit this patch but it's still really good. Well, greater than 50k credits good.

7
Suggestions / Cruiser-sized Fuel Tanker
« on: August 08, 2021, 01:05:10 PM »
This has obviously been suggested before but I'm revisiting it after playing with a few Revenants in my fleet.

The addition of the Colossus between the Buffalo/Tarsus and the Atlas was an unqualified success. It filled a need without making other haulers obsolete. I use all manner of haulers in the game now and as my fleet gets bigger, I tend to also upgrade my logistics ships to match. Colossi are great for those Cruiser-sized fleets and even into endgame where you don't want an Atlas slowing you down. That said, I do ultimately get an Atlas at endgame and bake-in Augmented Drive Field because the larger logistics ships get, the more efficient they are.

Fuel Haulers are missing the Cruiser-sized variant. A couple of Phaetons usually are enough for most mid-sized fleets but consolidating them into one fleet slot with 2,000 fuel capacity would be nice, kind of like how a Colossus is a bit better than two Buffalos from an efficiency standpoint (Burn 7, minimally armed, 6 supplies/mo. and 4 fuel/ly.) Also, the Cruiser-sized bonuses from Surveying Equipment, High-Resolution Sensors, etc. would be nice to have on my fuel tankers. I brought up the Revenant because it is Cruiser-sized but because of its dual-role and maintenance cost, it by no means replaces a dedicated Cruiser-sized fuel hauler.

The only hitch is that the Prometheus would need a boost if you had a 2,000 capacity Cruiser-sized fuel tanker, as the Capital would be less efficient than the Cruiser. My suggestion is to bump the Prometheus up to 4500 fuel capacity, making it by far the most efficient way to lug around fuel, albeit at Burn 6 without help.

I'm sure there is/was a reason why a Cruiser-sized Fuel Tanker isn't in the game but it never hurts to ask again! :)

8
Suggestions / [REDACTED] system spread
« on: June 27, 2021, 12:27:31 PM »
Another thread got me thinking about "upgrading" the phenomenon of Pirate/Pather incursions both against player colonies and against the Core Worlds themselves.

The Issue:

I don't consider it an "issue" per se, but the fact that Pirates effectively fulfill the role of the Bogeyman to the Core Worlds just seems a bit of a bridge too far. Pirates/Pathers are disorganized, they use third-rate tech, they die in droves and they seem to be endless. To be fair, the game needs a universal foe like this because it creates unlimited opportunity for fighting, it gives the player a "chaff" enemy to practice/level up on, and generally speaking, there's no serious moral implications for tracking down spacers, thieves, and bandits. It's win-win for all involved.

However, as the linked thread points out, Pirates/Pathers are much more akin to what Megas aptly calls a "zombie horde" that you'd rather put down for good than put up with. The problem is that, as mentioned, the game needs an endless threat that is both universally reviled and there are no moral implications to destroying them en masse. So, I'm not implying that the Pirates/Pathers ever "go away," whether through some kind of scorched-Earth sat bombing campaign or mission-driven reward (i.e. killing Kanta or somesuch) but rather their role as the Bogeyman slowly gets replaced with something that is both more in-universe threatening and more in-universe logical as an unending "zombie horde."

Fortunately, the game already has this: the Remnants.

Suggestion:

Remnant systems "migrate/spread" to nearby systems after a certain point in the game (entirely player-driven and perhaps entirely optional). Whereas Pirate/Pather systems literally spring into existence from nothing at periodic times, Remnant systems would "awaken" after some specific circumstances and begin "infecting" systems around them. The rate, modus operandi of spread, etc. is all up for debate but the ultimate goal would for the Sector to slowly be overrun by the Remnants and they would be the ones sending unending hordes of AI ships into the Core Worlds, against the Player colonies, etc. Not only would they be a legitimate threat but their unending numbers makes way more sense than seeing Pirates die by what appears to be by the tens of thousands (in a Sector that has fewer people than Earth today!)

What I believe this opens up toward the mid-late game is more opportunities for fighting plus "stakes" that we currently have little of. After "The Event" that begins waking the AI up (which could very well be the current end of the storyline now), Factions could employ the player to wipe out newly-formed Remnant systems, the player could join Faction-backed Expedition Armadas to go into Medium- and High-Danger systems and fight alongside to root out Remnant Battlestations, etc. However, unlike the Pirates/Pathers, the Player could theoretically wipe out the AI threat because there are only so many Remnant systems that could spawn new ones.

Mechanics:

My thought is that any Remnant battlestation (Damaged or Fully Operational) could spawn some sort of "seed ship" at certain intervals and send these ships to an adjacent system. Seed ships would come in "Defective" and normal varieties. Medium-Danger systems would have a higher incidence of "defective" seed ships and these would create Low-Danger systems once deployed (i.e. no battlestation). High-Danger systems would never send "defective" seed ships so their "rate of infection" would naturally be higher. Normal seed ships would travel slowly (like Burn 2) to adjacent systems set up shop to become a Damaged Remnant Battlestation after a certain amount of time and begin spawning their own patrols, and ultimately more seed-ships. The rate of "infection" in the Sector would eventually become exponential but not fast by any means (i.e. the player would have the opportunity to intercept seed ships via notifications and/or Faction expeditions to disrupt). Of course, if the player chooses not to intervene, the Sector will eventually become overrun and Remnant incursions into the Core Worlds will lead to the collapse of human civilization there (though Hybrasil never gets targeted...hmm...). No new High-Danger systems would ever be created in the spread, however, so that it doesn't get completely out of control.

The seed ship itself is akin to the Domain Mothership fights: a small-ish, immobile station fight. Defective seed ships could easily be destroyed by a few destroyers and frigates but fully-functioning ones are about the strength of a Tier 1 Station. As a rule, they would never have escorts. I think this is intentional and good design that Remnants are never in Hyperspace (some sort of anathema?). Only the seed ships would be found in hyperspace but because of "The Event," Gates might be a vector for infection. This would allow smaller exploration-focused fleets to still be able to deal with them out on the fringe without needing giant armadas to take down. Perhaps defective seed ships floating around in the outer reaches could also act as a "introductory Station fight" early game.

It would also be interesting to see the Factions, Pirates, and Pathers push back as their systems are encroached on, but that's getting into 4x territory.

Concerns:

That last part is the part I'm most worried about: this has a 4x feel to it and I know that's generally not within the scope of the game. Where this differs from Factions expanding into new territories, declaring war, seizing planets, etc. is that this whole thing has a singular-focus. The Remnant migration wouldn't have any "intelligence" to it and it only exists to add an existential threat to the Sector. The spread has more of a "blob" feel rather than territory-expansion on the level of a 4x. If they begin to get near your own colonies, you'd have an impetus to destroy them. If they're near the Core Worlds, the player might get more invitations to join expeditions, kind of like Pirate Activity events. There would be more bounties and whatnot, I'm sure. How the spread involves the player will really be the measure of success for this idea.

The other concern is that at a certain point, you'll get bombarded with Seed Ship notifications and that would get annoying, especially if it's 30 LY away and you have no vested interest. Perhaps you could click a box that says "only notify me if it's within 10 LY of my colony or the Core Worlds." I think that Seed Ship spawning is an event worth noting, though, at least the "normal" ones. Perhaps you also have to find Remnant systems first to get notified and otherwise they spread without your knowledge. Seeing the major factions send Expeditions against someone else for once might also make their punitive expeditions/AI inspections to your own worlds a little bit more reasonable!

Thoughts/comments/concerns welcome.

9
Suggestions / Shield Stat Outliers
« on: December 19, 2020, 04:58:42 PM »
All the Conquest threads piqued my interest in shield stats (because the Conquest has a horrible shield), so I took a look at all Vanilla ships across Tech levels, hull sizes, and shield types to see what observations I could make and where the outliers were.

My initial investigation was in regards to shield upkeep vs. base dissipation rate. I was curious to see what the "average" was and then see what ships were significantly outside of that mean range and possibly why. This led to then looking at shield efficiencies, shield arcs, whether or not Front Shields are, on average, more efficient/offer more arc coverage than Omni, etc. It kind of became a rabbit hole that I've spent far too much time thinking about. :p

Here are my observations (wall o' text ahead...):

1. Shield Upkeep relative to Base Dissipation Rate

Your average Starsector ship has a shield upkeep rate somewhere between 40-50% of its base dissipation rate. I always knew it was high, but I didn't put two-and-two together until now. Only 7 ships (barring phase and shield-less ships) have below-average upkeep:dissipation ratios, while only 6 ships have higher-than-average ratios (i.e. shield upkeep is disproportionately high). The vast majority of ships fall between the .4 and .5 ratio, making this stat fairly universal across the board. In fact, these upkeep ratios are fairly universal even across Tech level averages (Low = .46, Midline= .42, High = .44) so that distinction doesn't really come into play.

The outliers are interesting and somewhat surprising.

The Tempest is the king of shield upkeep:dissipation ratio at .2, with the Odyssey not far behind at .25. Tied for 3rd are the High Tech ships, Shrike, Omen, and Medusa at .3. Basically, all the over-performers are High Tech. They're spending less relative to their base dissipation rates to keep their shields up. This should not be surprising considering that High Tech relies heavily on shield use for defense.

Regarding the less-than-great ratios, this outliers here are also interesting.

The worst ratio in the game belongs to the Astral, as its shield upkeep is 70% (.7) of its base dissipation! From an absolute upkeep perspective (just the upkeep cost itself), the Astral is tied for 5th at 420 flux/sec but its dissipation is only 600. Next is the poor Tarsus, coming in at .66. The Tarsus has a terrible shield profile, among the worst in the game (for additional reasons to be mentioned later.) The next worst ships are the Paragon, Apogee, and Hyperion at .6.

I find it interesting that High Tech basically has a monopoly on both the best and worst ratios in the game. Why the Astral has the worst is fairly straightforward to me: it doesn't have a lot of flux generation to begin with and as a carrier, its dissipation isn't the greatest. It really doesn't hurt the Astral, though, so I don't think a change is needed. The other high-tech ships surprise me a little but they also have among the best efficiencies in the game (see below), along with 300+ degree shield coverage.

2. Shield Efficiency

Shield efficiency is the ratio of damage the shield takes per 1 point of damage (lower is better). The vast majority of shields in the game have a efficiency between .8 and 1. Anything above (bad) or below (good) that range are the outliers. There is a split between the tech levels on efficiency. The average Low Tech ship is 1.07, the average Midline is .89 and the average High Tech is .73. This jives with the general perception of the Tech doctrines as we know them.

However, while High Tech has the best efficiencies, only High Tech has efficiencies below .8. There are High Tech ships that fall into the average range but no High Tech ships falls below that range. Likewise, only one Low Tech ship, the Kite gets to .8, the rest are 1 or below. Midline, naturally falls in the middle with a few egregious outliers, as most are .8.

The best shield efficiencies are High Tech, as mentioned. There is a 6-way tie between the Paragon, Astral, Hyperion, Scarab, Medusa, and Omen, all having efficiencies of .6. The Apogee and Shrike are just behind at .7. Like the shield upkeep values, none of these should come as a surprise: all these ships use their shields as their primary defense as part of the High Tech "school."

The worst shield efficiency, by a fair margin, is the Conquest coming in at 1.4. It takes sole possession of "worst." There are 9 ships with an efficiency of 1.2, and most are civilian craft but the warships include the Sunder, Enforcer, Condor, and Prometheus Mk. II. The Enforcer, I believe is going to 1 in the next patch. However, the Sunder and Conquest, both "glass cannons," have notoriously bad shield efficiency. Likewise, all Low-Tech ships, minus the aforementioned Kite, are around 1 for efficiency.

***From an efficiency standpoint, the Conquest's shield is truly terrible. With 20,000 capacity, but modified negatively by the 1.4 efficiency rating, the Conquest's effective shield HP is only 14,285. Only the Legion and "junk" capitals have less. Add to this that it is also "average" in its upkeep but has below-average arc coverage (90) and it is in the top 3 worst shields in the game. This appears to be by design, though, because any ship with good firepower and good maneuverability has to have a deficiency somewhere for balance reasons. Personally, I think 1.4 is still a tad high. "Raised" to 1.2, its effective shield HP would be 16,667, a little less than that of the Onslaught. Still bad but not egregiously so. I don't think the Conquest has *that* much firepower or maneuverability to justify such a poor shield efficiency, to be honest, but I don't think it's in a terrible spot as it is.

***The real outlier here, from my perspective, is the Odyssey at an efficiency of 1. It ties with the Buffalo for having the worst efficiency among High Tech ships. For perspective, the Apogee at .7 efficiency and 12,000 capacity has an effective hard flux pool of ~17,000 (barring any other modifiers). The Odyssey has 15,000 due to its efficiency equaling its capacity. Even the Aurora, with .8 and 11,000 capacity, comes close at 13,750. What I'm saying is that the Odyssey, in terms of shield tanking, is actually not any better than its High Tech cruiser cousins or even an Onslaught. Again, like the Conquest, this appears to be by design. Both the Conquest and Odyssey are fairly nimble for being such big ships and allowing them to take hits on shields and retreat via ship system would make them difficult to pin down to deliver real damage. However, purely from an internal consistency standpoint, they both seem wildly out-of-line with their respective fleet doctrines. If the Odyssey was buffed to a .8 efficiency (still low by High Tech standards), it would have 18,750 effective shield HP. I don't think it needs it but from an internal consistency standpoint, one could make the argument.

3. Front vs. Omni Shields

I wanted to see if there was a quantifiable difference between base Front shields and base Omni shields since the Front Shield Conversion explicitly states that Front shields are more efficient, have wider arcs, and open faster. As such, the conversion halves upkeep, doubles the coverage arc, and opens the shields faster. I consider the Front Shield Conversion to be an almost universally good use of OP for most ships (broadside ships being an exception) due to all the shield perks it gives. In general, more ships have Omni shields than Front (30 to 22) and there are a disproportionate number of Frigates that have Omni over Front (11 to 5). I don't consider one to be "better" than other, though an Omni-shielded ship has the option of getting the Front Shield Conversion, which does a lot of good things.

In practice, the data shows that Front-shielded ships do not, in fact, have better average upkeep:dissipation ratios than Omni-shielded ships because they are virtually identical (.45 to .44). This means that a Front-shielded ship, has no advantage over an Omni-shielded ship in terms of shield cost. If Front-shielded ships had shield upkeep roughly half of their Omni-shielded counterparts, there would be a distinction but no such distinction exists in-game. In terms of coverage arcs, Front-shielded ships do have considerably wider arcs on average: 215 vs 150. It's not quite double but it is significantly more. In terms of efficiency, which is not 1:1 with shield-type, Front shields do tend to be slightly more efficient on average than Omni shields (.88 vs. .94) but I believe that to be more coincidence than intentional.

***Whether a ship has Front or Omni shields doesn't seem to have a lot consistency to me.  The Astral has a 360 degree Front Shield at .6 efficiency while the Paragon has a virtually identical shield, save that it is Omni. The Enforcer and Mora have Omni shields while the Dominator, Legion and Onslaught do not. All high-maneuverability High Tech ships have Omni shields but the Wolf does not. Front vs. Omni within doctrine types seems kind of all over the place, too.

Winners and Losers/Suggestions

Winner. The Omen has the best overall shields in the game. At .3 upkeep:dissipation ratio, .6 efficiency, 360-degree Omni shields (which can be converted to Front to halve even the paltry upkeep), the tiny little Omen is surprisingly durable with over 4,000 effective shield HP. (Of course, the Monitor is a special case and really has the best shields in the game!) The Medusa is also right there with the Omen, it just doesn't have as much shield coverage.

Winner. High Tech. They have the best shield efficiencies in the game along with the best shield upkeep:dissipation ratios. However, their values aren't vastly ahead of Midline or Low Tech to the point where its imbalanced. This is why Energy Weapons, despite their short range and generally inferior stats, have to be balanced against the High Tech doctrine of good shields.

Loser. The Tarsus. The poor Tarsus arguably has worse shields than the Conquest. Not only does it have the second-worst upkeep:dissipation ratio, it also has the second-worst shield efficiency. The one thing it might have better than the Conquest is a better shield arc (120 vs 90) but at least the Conquest has an average/good upkeep ratio (.4 vs. .664). Suggestion: Make the Tarsus better defensively than the Buffalo since it costs more. Shield efficiency of 1 (from 1.2) and shield upkeep of 50 (.4 ratio).

Loser. Civilian ships, fuel tankers specifically. They have poor efficiency and poor shield upkeep ratios. The Atlas, in particular, has the smallest shield arc in the game at 45, though the rest of its shield stats are average. No suggestion here: this is all very justifiable as civilian ships tend to be very vulnerable.

Loser. The battlecruisers. The Odyssey and Conquest suffer from Inefficient Shield Syndrome because of their overall speed. As mentioned, I think their efficiencies could be tuned a little more in-line with the rest of their fleet doctrines for consistency's sake, though I don't believe where they are at is bad, per se.

Loser. Inherently Front-Shielded ships. Front shields are supposed to be more efficient but those that are built-in with them are not. I didn't test shield opening speed (perhaps they are indeed faster to open) but they definitely don't get a discount vs. Omni shields as it pertains to upkeep. Having a Front shield simply keeps you from getting the very nice Front Shield Conversion. Suggestion: Don't break the game but discount the upkeep of all natural Front Shielded ships. It could just be a built-in Hullmod that reduces upkeep by 25% or something rather than re-tooling all the values. I don't know if I'm seriously suggesting this but the game isn't internally consistent on this topic.

Winner. Stabilized Shields. I have a new appreciation for how much Stabilized Shields can affect my ship's flux profile. It won't come before maxing vents but when the average ship loses 40-50% of its dissipation to simply maintaining the shield, cutting it in half for 3/6/9/15 doesn't seem like a bad idea. The Paragon, for example, saves 375 flux/sec with a 15 OP hullmod. Or to put it another way, adding 60 Vents doesn't even cover the cost of raising the shield!

So...if you read this far, thank you! I'm sure .95 will skew everything but as for what we have, that's what I've noticed. Feedback and discussion welcome.

-Made edits due to incorrect info

10
General Discussion / Poll: Paragon with Large Synergy Turrets
« on: December 01, 2020, 05:13:58 PM »
How often would you put Large Missile(s) in the 2 Large Turrets on a Paragon, if they were turned into Synergy mounts?

Paragons not having a true missile component (I consider 4x Small missiles to be an insignificant percentage of its total firepower) is undoubtedly by design, but how would Large Missiles fare on the lumbering behemoth? If the option were available, would you put Large Missiles on a Paragon in lieu of a Large Energy weapon? I'm just curious (i.e. this isn't a Suggestion).

Follow-up questions: Would the Paragon become unbalanced with this kind of change? Or, would changing the Large Turrets to Synergy have no practical effect on how you currently use the Paragon (beyond not being able to "downgrade" to Medium Energy with the switch to Large Synergy)?

The sticky part of all of this is the Fortress Shield: you could cancel the Fortress Shield, unload a whole barrage of missiles and then button-up again. That's a fairly neat trick that the player could probably abuse pretty well and the AI could not. However, given the deployment and logistical costs, does having that kind of (limited) burst damage paired with the Fortress Shield put the Paragon into OP territory?

Personally, even with the Fortress Shield abuse, I don't think I'd put Large Missiles on very often. Large Energy has some monster weapons in there and even though turreted Cyclones or Hammer Barrages would be nice, I generally prefer the sustained firepower over long, drawn-out battles. Also, having extra range on missiles isn't necessarily a boon since they have a greater distance to miss or get intercepted. But that's just me. What do you think? 

11
Suggestions / Overload Reduction Hullmod
« on: November 14, 2020, 01:08:57 PM »
I'm in an endgame-type playthrough right now and as I was piloting an Odyssey through a rather large [REDACTED] Ordo, I got in a very bad position (my fault!) and overloaded quite spectacularly. It felt like an eternity (even with Damage Control 3) and though I didn't lose my flagship, I took quite a pounding. It was at this moment I thought, "Man, I'd pay OP to reduce overload duration."

So, a simple suggestion: create a hullmod that reduces overload duration by some percentage or, alternatively, have the hullmod cap overload duration to X seconds (depending on hull size), regardless of the magnitude of flux hit that put you over.

This could also be added to an existing hullmod, i.e., I think it would fit nicely in Automated Repair Unit, Hardened Shields, Hardened Subsystems, or even Stabilized Shields. If it was a separate hullmod, it could be a standalone, relatively large reduction (like 30%), or a smaller percentage (20%) with another added perk. I don't know if Damage Control 3 will even exist in the next patch so my working assumption is that there is some overload duration reduction somewhere and paired with this, you could roughly halve overload duration. If it was separate hullmod, I don't think 3/6/9/15 OP would be out-of-line to pay.

Regarding the "alternative" idea, if you capped the overload duration to some value depending on hull size, you could know for certain that you won't be drifting for 15 seconds, but rather only 8 (or some number), even if you raised shields to eat a Reaper. I think this route is more abusable but I could be wrong.

My thought on such a hullmod, as with many others, is that it's situational and would enable a "riskier" playstyle, albeit not as fundamentally gameplay changing as Safety Overrides.  I suppose, all other things being equal, I might risk overloading myself to overload my opponent knowing I will recover faster than they will, though I imagine most people would take it for the insurance it provides when we find ourselves in our most vulnerable state.

(I must admit, what I know about overload mechanics is limited. I know it's a combination of hull size, where larger hulls stay overloaded longer, and amount of hard flux taken to "go over" capacity but if there are hard limits built in already, I don't know them. In the example I listed above, I believe my Odyssey was out for about 8 seconds, and that's with DC3. I can't recall what put me over, it wasn't a Reaper, but it may have been a Plasma Cannon hit.)


12
Suggestions / Midline Capital Brainstorming
« on: October 22, 2020, 05:50:00 PM »
Problem: There is only one Midline Capital in Vanilla

The venerable Conquest, a very good (albeit unconventional) Midline battlecruiser is the sole Midline ship among the Capitals. I have nothing against the Conquest: I just think it's lonely! High Tech has the Paragon, Astral and Odyssey. Low-Tech has the Onslaught and Legion. You also have the Pirate Capitals in the Atlas/Prometheus Mk. II and the two logistical haulers (Atlas and Prometheus).

Solution: Add a Midline Capital

Of course, the question is: what would a new Midline Capital look like? We're not adding ships just to add ships: it needs to serve a distinct function that isn't already available. To be fair, I think most of the roles for Capitals are already handled. You have two battleships (Paragon & Onslaught), a pure carrier (Astral), a heavy battle carrier (Legion), two nimble battlecruisers that each have their own flavor (Conquest and Odyssey) and then the "chaff" capitals that the Pirates have. Both of these are paper tigers.

Suggestion: A "Command" Capital

Midline is known for two things: very balanced generalists and hyper-specialists. Look at a Centurion, Hammerhead, Falcon, or Eagle. They're all very middle-of-the-road in terms of overall firepower, speed, armor, etc. They don't have glaring weaknesses, nor do that have glaring strengths. However, within the Midline line-up are glass cannons (the Sunder and new Champion Heavy Cruiser), the Gryphon (missile boat) and Heron, which is a dedicated fast-carrier. The Conquest itself is hard to pin down in either of these two categories. It is, on the one hand, a generalist: it has good coverage everywhere, is generally fast, well-armored, and has excellent flux stats. However, its poor shield and unorthodox broadside nature kind of puts it into a specialist category. If anything, the Conquest epitomizes the Midline fleet doctrine: it is balanced and is tactically flexible.

So, my suggestion is to build on that and have another "balanced" Capital that is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades but has a little specialty: namely in acting as a force multiplier. I'm dubbing this a "Command" Capital because not only does it bring a generally "balanced" battle profile, it creates targets of opportunity.

The Ship

A picture is worth a thousand words, I suppose. This is a rough mock-up of what I had in mind.



To explain: Yes, it looks like a Bird. I'm calling it the "Aquila" right now (I know, we have an Eagle but...) The hull profile/name is obviously malleable! Firing arcs are the solid colors in the colored circles (not the negative space!). I hope the color-coding and relative sizes tell you mount types.

The Aquila is built around 2 Large Ballistics and 1 Large Energy, both turreted and forward-facing. These 3 main batteries are flanked by 2 Medium Ballistics and 2 Medium Missiles on the "wings." In the "head" of the ship, 2 Medium Energy and 2 Small Ballistics give ample coverage facing forward. For rear-defense, 2 Small Energy in the "wings" face backwards and two Medium Energy and a Small Ballistic cover the "tail."

3 Fighter Bays complement the ship's weaponry, giving tactical flexibility and long-range punch. This rounds-out the "jack-of-all-trades" idea that Midline is known for.

Technically, the Aquila can bring more sustained firepower to bear than a similar Conquest broadside however its flux profile is nowhere near the Conquest's and the Conquest, overall, has a much greater armament. It is also conspicuously lacking a true missile component. It will also not be as nimble as the Conquest (it is the same speed but doesn't have Maneuvering Jets) so it needs to be able to trade fire with other Capitals and not feel under-gunned.

Overall, it is not bristling with weapons nor does it have a lot of Small mounts available for PD. It will be vulnerable to smaller swarming attacks, especially on the rear and sides. However, its forward firepower will be impressive and it will be able to take a hit with relatively good shields/coverage and good-not-great armor/hitpoints.

The System: Focus Fire

The Aquila, as a "Command" Ship, can be a lynchpin for a successful assault. On-board analysis of an enemy ship can be relayed to all allied craft to pinpoint weaknesses in the shields and hull (not unlike a Heron's Targeting feed, but on a fleet-wide scale). As such, a targeted enemy ship will take an additional 25% damage from all allied weapons.

Focus Fire will give the Aquila the ability to "mark" a target. My current thoughts on this is an 8-second duration with a 15 second recharge, with 2 charges. Ships will have to be targeted (i.e. "R" selected) or the ability will not work. The 25% damage bonus is after all other modifiers. Whether or not the AI can be "persuaded" to attack "marked" targets, I don't know, but an Eliminate Command + Focus Fire may be a wise use of Command Points (which you will accrue faster anyway, more on that later).

Current thoughts on stats:

Hull Stats:
OP: 325
Hull: 14,000
Armor: 1250
Shield: 270 degree Front Shield
Shield Efficiency: 0.9
Shield Upkeep/sec: 300
Top Speed: 45

Flux Stats:
Flux Dissipation: 900
Flux Capacity: 15,000

Logistic Stats:
DP: 45
Burn: 8
Fuel/ly: 10
CR/deployment: 15
Crew: 500/700
CR Recovery Rate: 3%

Built-In Hullmods:
ECM Package
Operations Center

Overlap with the Legion and Odyssey

The obvious comparison to be made is against the Legion and Odyssey. The Legion fulfills many of the same roles, however, the standard Legion and even the XIV variant are squarely "Low-Tech" bruisers, often reliant on missiles and is true battle carrier. The Aquila is something of an in-betweener that is more of a warship than a carrier. Since it lacks any maneuvering system, the Aquila is more akin to the Astral or Paragon in terms of being unable to disengage. However, whereas the Paragon can hide behind a Fortress Shield and the Astral is (hopefully) not on the front lines to begin with, the Aquila is like the new Champion Cruiser that will have to punch its way out.

Compared to the Odyssey, the Aquila hits harder but is vastly less nimble. Beyond both ships having flight decks, they fulfill vastly different roles. The Odyssey is a true battlecruiser: faster than anything bigger but stronger than anything smaller. The Aquila is a true battleship that happens to have fighters.

Overall

I imagine the Aquila being the center-piece of a Midline Battle fleet, Focus Firing on ships already faltering or using the ability to force a strong ship to buckle. As a true battleship, it costs more than an Onslaught or Legion to field (or Conquest, for that matter) but is not as durable as either. Built-in hullmods reinforce that this is a command ship. ECM (if it still exists next patch) will improve the ECM rating and Operations Center will increase Command Point accumulation. Like its smaller cousin, the Eagle, it doesn't have glaring flaws but it doesn't have massive advantages over similarly-sized competitors. It has more rear-defense than traditional Low Tech ships but by no means is it exceptional, especially considering it has no shield coverage back there. Finally, the bulk of its firepower cannot be leveraged to the side so attacks to its flanks will face much less resistance.


Thoughts on this idea and your own recommendations for a Midline Capital are welcome.


13
General Discussion / Doldrums Chat: Unorthodox Loadouts
« on: August 08, 2020, 01:36:06 PM »
Since we're waiting, why not inspire some different playstyles with familiar ships? Not too long ago, I was introduced to the Broadside Onslaught and it transformed how I see the ship. Hopefully, there are a couple of other unique loadouts to ships that I've written off so that I use them again.

For my contribution: The Destroyer2



An SO Eagle that is below flux parity relative to its dissipation (with skills) and that's with the Shields up. Yes, it has to get close but the Eagle isn't terribly slow and it can take a hit if it has to. I treat the pair of AM Blasters as Reapers: only when I have a clean shot and mostly as a finisher. Unlike Reapers, they're unblockable and if the target puts its shields up, it will still cause a whole ton of flux, which usually I can spare. Ultimately, this ships never. stops. firing...which is a big deal because not only can it sustain both the Assault CG and the Heavy Blaster, but the Phase Lances contribute quite a bit shield and armor damage, while also swatting fighters. The MGs in front can also chew up the occasional missile.

You might ask why the Small Dual MGs but when you compare the Heavy MG to the Dual, you get 65% of the damage for 21% of the flux cost and for half the OP. It's simply about efficiency. The Heavy MG has a slight range advantage (and slightly higher damage/shot against hull) but both are primarily used to break shields and the Dual MG is much more efficient.

I used the XIV variant in the screenshot but the regular Eagle works, as well. This thing will absolutely murder Destroyers, hence the name. While a dedicated Destroyer-killer doesn't seem like a big deal at the end game, what this Eagle can do over a similarly-styled Aurora is punch through armor. Even against Capitals, it has some major armor penetrating power and can make short work of them if it can find an advantageous position. The only downside is the SO timer, even with Hardened Subsystems.

14
Suggestions / "Exploration" variants
« on: May 25, 2020, 09:07:43 PM »
Random idea:

Currently, I view three ships as somewhat dedicated to exploration: the Shepherd, the Venture, and the Apogee. The Shepherd is a very useful utility ship that not only helps reduce surveying costs but also gives a bump to salvage recovery. The Venture is a hardy (but slow) centerpiece to surveying missions, although Militarized Subsystems is a must. The Apogee is a full-fledged exploration cruiser with decent firepower for the fringe but also a host of built-in hullmods that help with scanning and surveying. It also has a very nice logistics profile with good storage and modest deployment cost.

Along these lines, it would be nice to have more dedicated exploration ships, namely ships that tend to be jack-of-all-trades that I, personally, don't see much use out of but might if they were useful in an exploration role. Exploration fleets could be built that remain swift, combat-capable (though not particularly good) and have bonuses to sensors, surveying, and/or salvaging. Here are my candidates and proposed changes:

Wayfarer

I don't think I've used the Wayfarer since 0.8 when it was introduced as a starting ship. It's touted as being relatively tough and relatively strong in combat but awkward converging arcs has always made it a non-contender for me. It does have the benefit of not being a Civilian vehicle, being fast (Burn 10), and having modest storage capacity.

An Explorer variant (or I could argue, the base ship) would simply add High Resolution Sensors and Surveying Equipment as built-in Hullmods. I would never pilot it but the AI handles them decently and they'd make capable combat ships if part of a larger fleet.

Gemini

I tend to skip the Gemini because I don't like my freighters joining the battle, but like the Mule, the Gemini does pretty well in combat. It's OP-starved but since it tends to hang back and let its fighter wing do the work, it doesn't get into a lot of trouble. Having decent cargo capacity also gives it the ability to support itself (and other exploration vessels) out in the trackless regions of space. Its downside is that it costs 3x more to maintain than a Buffalo or Tarsus (with less storage capacity!) so for hauling duty, it is grossly inefficient.

An Explorer variant would add Surveying Equipment as a built-in hullmod, increase the cargo capacity to 300, and reduce the logistical profile down to 7 supplies/month. Combat performance would suffer a little by way of turning the 2 Medium Ballistic mounts into 2 Small Ballistic, dropping base dissipation to 150 (from 170), and lowering the base capacity down to 2500 (from 2700). It would retain its fighter bay and Medium Missile mount (which is the bulk of its combat prowess) but it would be much more vulnerable due its inability to mount Flak or other defensive weapons.

Venture

But you say, "I thought it was already an exploration ship!" You're right but I think it should also get the Salvage Gantry hullmod. I know with the salvage mechanics this might seem overboard but the Venture ought to be an oversized Shepherd (it practically is already). Would this make Salvage Rigs obsolete? I don't think so. The Venture has 5x the logistical profile for a 5% salvage boost relative to the Salvage Rig. I might even consider hauling a Venture around just for the perks. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever had a Venture in my fleet.

Overall

You can add some of these hullmods to the ships as-is, however, by doing so, you're reducing their combat capability (which wasn't all that high already). Having some Exploration variants that "bake in" these exploration perks would keep some of these marginally useful ships in consideration for longer. But then again, the next patch might change everything so... :D

15
Suggestions / Adding Officers to the Simulator
« on: May 01, 2020, 08:09:36 AM »
Problem:

Though I'd argue the combat simulator could use a general overhaul, one of its greatest liabilities at the moment is that it can't simulate "actual" battles that the player will face. Why? None of the ships you face have officers/skills. Unskilled ships become less and less of a challenge as the player (or his/her officers) advance in level and more and more opponents have officers/skills as you progress further into the game and face higher-end bounties, larger fleets, and faction expeditions.

When it takes an unskilled Paragon to be a challenge for your level 20 Officer'd Destroyer, I think the challenge curve is broken.

Solution:

Add an option to give Simulated opponents a random officer (i.e. random skills chosen) of a given level. That is, the player can check a box (like in /dev mode with "max player skills") and input an officer level and all Sim opponents will have a random officer assigned to them of that level when they spawn. Since fighting a specific skill set is highly unlikely in-game, keeping it random simulates actual battles more readily than having to micro-manage the officers faced. The caveat is that Carriers would have Carrier-skills and non-Carriers would not have Carrier skills but I think the game already handles this in fleet generation, as-is.

Though it would add some randomness into the Sim, the fact that you're fighting random officers during actual gameplay actually makes it more in-line with what the player will be facing (which is the point taking your loadout out for a "test drive," right?)

Comments/Suggestions welcome.

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