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Author Topic: Large ships in small fleets.  (Read 3904 times)

Linnis

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Large ships in small fleets.
« on: March 12, 2018, 04:25:27 PM »

Basically a fleet diversity problem. An Aurora with a hound and tanker escort should be a thing.

Maybe instead of four frigate fleet it could be two destoryers or 1 cruiser fleet.

Should make picking battles more interesting on campaign field.
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TaLaR

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 09:57:59 PM »

Such fleets make no sense (=are extremely vulnerable) due to having their speed determined by largest (and slowest) ship, but being unable to properly fight against average fleet of same speed.
Which is why I never do such a thing as player, and would see AI fleets like that (if they were to commonly exist) as nothing more than a freebie.
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xenoargh

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2018, 12:03:39 AM »

If the fleet-level steering AI made use of Sustained Burn better, this would be less relevant. 

I honestly think that there's no good reason why we should have Burn levels at all, at this point; either we should be at Burn 1-19 with a slow acceleration curve based entirely on overall fleet size, rather than ship values, if not using Emergency Burn, or we should be super-cruising with Sustained Burn.  The game's choice to always make Cruisers catchable by Destroyers has always seemed a bit suspect to me.

What's missing there, from a game-mechanic POV, is that Emergency Burn and Sustained Burn shouldn't be mutually exclusive, I think; there shouldn't be any situation where intercept's effectively impossible.  I also think Emergency Burn should be a toggle, rather than a timer, so that both AI and players will really have to consider its impact over time.

I also think that I'd really, really, really like a system where we have regulated lanes of high-speed travel between Systems, at least in populated zones, ala Freelancer's Trade Lanes.  It's super-boring having to do endless Travel to and fro; the stuff at the end of the journey's interesting, the in-between largely isn't, past the scary parts of the early game.  Having Trade Lanes for fast travel that giant, actually-an-endgame-threat Pirates might occasionally ambush you as you travel along sounds much more interesting than the current status quo ante; I've had a lot more engagement with my travels since I wrote Thar Be Dragons, even as crude as it is.
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Tartiflette

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 12:41:56 AM »

That's more or less what TorchShips did in a more reasonable way. And it worked alright.
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xenoargh

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 01:10:07 AM »

I'm pretty sure it can work, within some constraints.

I think that I'd largely be against having a model where there's no real upper limit on velocity at all, unless, perhaps, it was simply unaffordable.  

I really don't mind Sustained Burn as a concept for general movement, but, to be frank, there's simply no point in lower Burn (and all its intricacies) at this point; I'm either zooming around at Burn 20 or I'm performing a local maneuver; there's no granular reasoning behind slower speeds (and I really don't want travel to get any slower at this point, because it's already quite long enough between Systems).  

So, why not simply have zero-to-Sustained Burn as a cost-free travel speed and sustained Emergency Burn for very high potential velocities?  

Probably the hardest part is balancing top rates out, given that that is pretty much the sole issue (whether we can win/lose chases over time) but surely we can have a better model than the present one.  Perhaps if ships had acceleration profiles based on their acceleration rates in combat; that would keep them neatly tied together.  

Then big slow ships can hit high speeds, but it's a cost-over-time issue; this allows smaller fleets to win the acceleration race, if using Emergency Burn, but only if Fuel supplies permit.  This would present the player with interesting challenges; they can out-run the local system police, for example, but only if they're willing to give up Fuel, and only if the locals don't have enough Fuel to catch up.

It'd also give Going Dark some real point (which, to be frank, I don't think it has right now); players would have to sneak into places to buy stuff if they faced a real certainty of getting caught by something they couldn't take down, if they got into a long chase.  

I think Going Dark would be also be much more interesting if it locked current velocities and made steering cumbersome rather than being a huge speed debuff; then we could accelerate, Go Dark and do attack runs, reach merchant destinations without getting hassled, etc.  Right now, it's a tool I hardly see a point in using; if I'm too slow to run away, then it's kind of irrelevant if I'm slightly harder to find; usually the situation is that I don't care who knows I exist, because, past early-game, there's hardly anything in an inhabited System that can take me on anyhow.
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xenoargh

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 01:18:28 AM »

Also, Interdiction needs fixing.  

It takes too long to finish (I can practically always dodge at Burn 20) and killing the velocity of the fleet using the skill means that it leaves big, slow AI fleets in a losing position even if they've managed to use it successfully.  It really should be scary and useful; I'd simply limit the spammability of the Skill by putting a nice long timer on it.  

But it should definitely be a way for a slow AI fleet to catch / kill a small fleet that was caught napping; there really should be some fear about entering a high-pop zone where the AI can use that to keep the player webbed down while it gathers enough fleet elements to win a fight.

BTW, sorry for the derail, OP.  It's just that your request basically hinges on a bunch of other issues.  We'd all like to see better diversity in fleets, I think; it would feel more thematically appropriate and produce more interesting combat outcomes.  The problem is, the game's mechanics were set up ages ago and have been added to since and are an accretion of ideas that somewhat inhibit your request; basically, we cannot address one thing without other things getting fixed as well.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 01:24:47 AM by xenoargh »
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TaLaR

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 01:39:01 AM »

Then big slow ships can hit high speeds, but it's a cost-over-time issue; this allows smaller fleets to win the acceleration race, if using Emergency Burn, but only if Fuel supplies permit.  This would present the player with interesting challenges; they can out-run the local system police, for example, but only if they're willing to give up Fuel, and only if the locals don't have enough Fuel to catch up.

Currently,resources are just not a consideration for AI fleets or factions as whole. I'm not saying this should remain as is, but making AI handle limited resources in intelligent manner is not a small task either.

And if the player is the only side to be limited by resources, it's not fun.
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Megas

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 06:02:26 AM »

Re: skills

I almost always have Sustained Burn on.  If I need a bit more agility, toggling it on and off is usually sufficient.  The delay between toggling is almost perfect timing required for a turn.

For the player, Emergency Burn is only good for powering through solar wind to reach a juicy target.  It is useless for escaping storms for fleets caught with Sustained Burn because using EB turns off SB first and freeze the player for a few seconds, and by the time the player can move again, too much time as passed - I could have just SB'ed through the storm to begin with.  Sustained Burn is superior for running down enemy fleets, and EB is redundant for that purpose.  What EB really is, is the infamous "Gank Burn" the AI uses to ambush unwary early-game player fleets, catching rookies before they can react in time.

Interdiction Array is mostly useful for getting persistent enemy pursuers to back off of your fleet and give you time to Sustained Burn and flee.  For catching things, it is useless.  It is too hard to ping a fleet, and if I succeed, I cannot use SB because that takes so long the enemy recovers in time and I am back to square one.  Maybe EB can catch it, but that is an awful lot of time and resources spent just to catch small fry.  (EDIT: Time lost because if I use EB to catch the fleet, I cannot use SB for a while, and I am stuck at a slow speed for too long after EB wears off.)  Also, if friendlies get in the way, you lose reputation.  What Interdiction Array really is, is another tool the AI abuses to grief the player.  Often, non-hostile fleets spam it and get in your way, and they do not care about collateral damage.  If the enemy uses it, they root themselves in place and it is very easy to avoid.  It is friendlies using it that are annoying.

For sneaking in, I found that the easiest way for me to sneak in is to Sustain Burn to the station as max speed and hope no one is nearby.  If I get caught, well... lure the fleets away and kill them.  Usually, when I try to sneak in a station that is guarded, it is too hard even with high stealth (e.g., Going Dark with some phase ships).  Despite my best efforts, one of them often finds me, often by pinging sensor burst at an inopportune time, and my stealth is ruined.  Thus, if I will be picked up either way, might as well make it fast - with Sustained Burn.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 06:11:40 AM by Megas »
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TJJ

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2018, 06:33:34 AM »

For sneaking in, I found that the easiest way for me to sneak in is to Sustain Burn to the station as max speed and hope no one is nearby.  If I get caught, well... lure the fleets away and kill them.  Usually, when I try to sneak in a station that is guarded, it is too hard even with high stealth (e.g., Going Dark with some phase ships).  Despite my best efforts, one of them often finds me, often by pinging sensor burst at an inopportune time, and my stealth is ruined.  Thus, if I will be picked up either way, might as well make it fast - with Sustained Burn.

We've already drifted waaaay off topic, so I don't feel bad suggesting this:

What if detection wasn't a simple radius, but was directional, say a sector of a circle.
Either rotating slowly à la stereotypical radar (passive scanning?), or locked forward facing (active scan).

It should improve the rather limited & random stealthy approach to stations, making it more reminiscent of the classic Commandos. (sneak around patrol 'vision')
It'd also allow interceptions to involve a degree of maneuvering & timing (avoid being detected during approach), rather than just the simple 'have more momentum' chase.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 06:35:47 AM by TJJ »
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FooF

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2018, 06:33:49 AM »

To the OP:

I agree for game reasons and disagree for 'realism' reasons, simultaneously. For the original idea, there is something to be gained when you have, say, a lone Dominator (or with a few frigate escorts) just patrolling about between worlds. It gives a lower-level player a bigger target that, with some skill and ingenuity, can defeat and have a sense of accomplishment. It also gives that lower-level player a chance to capture said big ship (even with D-mods) so they can get a feel for the bigger ships. Isolating a Cruiser or even Capital also really illustrates their weaknesses and can give a newer player a chance to learn that even the big ships have exploitable blind spots. As a learning tool and as an opportunity to gain otherwise difficult-to-acquire hulls, it's a win-win. Alternatively, make early game bounties more of this variety: one cruiser with a few pirate Hounds or whatnot to give the early player some cracks at taking down the bigger ships.

On the other hand, "realistically" no military is going to send out prized (and expensive) ships out solo. Most cruisers and capitals go out with sizable escorts for to avoid the very scenarios above. If the Hegemony is sending out an Onslaught (XIV) without backup, I would question all Hegemony fleet doctrine!

Gameplay has generally trumped realism in Starsector so I don't think it beyond the realm of possibility that due to negligence, haste, scarcity of resources, etc., a valuable asset from one of the major factions is sent with less-than-ideal escort. I think it should "in the cards" so to speak. I don't think it should be routine, except in the case of bounty missions or the like as noted above. But, I would kill for a shot a lone Aurora patrolling about while I'm still running around with a few Destroyers and Frigates. It would be a good challenge and give me a small chance to nab one for myself (or at least some of its high-end guns).

To the derails:

I'll agree that Burn Levels have been made largely superfluous since Sustained Burn. This has been one of my minor gripes since it was introduced. One of the key fleet composition factors prior to Sustained Burn was "can I catch/escape my target?" This is only partially the case now since Sustained Burn essentially leveled the playing field. Burn Level was once a way to distinguish the big/slow from the small/nimble but everything is "fast" now to a degree.

Acceleration is one way to balance things out but I'm afraid it would be more frustrating than anything.

Just spit-balling here:

Split in-system speed from hyperspace speed. Sustained Burn re-worked.

In-system speed is primarily driven by mass ratio: small ships are faster than big ships as a general rule. Burn Levels would essentially work as current (as would Emergency Burn and Going Dark). Sustained Burn would not work in-system. However, gravitational bodies would impart speed to ships traveling toward them (in a well-understood gradient fashion. UI would have to accommodate, sorry Alex) and slow them down as they pulled away. Sling-shotting around a star or planet might give you +2/3 Burn. Probably too complicated but it would make in-system battles a bit more interesting than a binary "Is my burn level higher? Yes/no."

Hyperspace speed would primarily be driven by power output: big ships are faster than little ones. Burn levels in hyperspace would be something of an inverse. An Onslaught with Burn level of 5 in-system would have a Burn level of 15 in hyperspace but maneuvering/acceleration would remain unchanged. Sustained Burn would allow smaller ships to get from A to B faster but they would then lose their maneuverability advantage. The biggest ships wouldn't even need it in hyperspace. Think of Hyperspace as an ocean: little ships get tossed about while the big ships can handle the turbulence.
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xenoargh

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2018, 07:56:37 AM »

There is no way I want to play this game at Burn 5-15, if the current pixels / Burn scale remains constant. 

Seriously, travel is slow enough (and frankly, too slow when traversing familiar areas).

I get the general gist of the idea, but frankly, it sounds like it'd push everybody to a mean size (Burn 9-11 ships, essentially, using your scale), because time is money.  It also doesn't make the game tactically more interesting; picking out fleet compositions based on Burn isn't interesting; at best, it's a minor chore, at worst, it's frustratingly over-complex (like, say, having 14 different Burn levels was).  I think per-hull Burn levels just never worked well; if we want big fleets to be slow, or fleets with big stuff to be slower than big fleets with small stuff, there are waaaaay easier mechanics.
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Alex

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2018, 08:46:15 AM »

For the original idea, there is something to be gained when you have, say, a lone Dominator (or with a few frigate escorts) just patrolling about between worlds. It gives a lower-level player a bigger target that, with some skill and ingenuity, can defeat and have a sense of accomplishment. It also gives that lower-level player a chance to capture said big ship (even with D-mods) so they can get a feel for the bigger ships. Isolating a Cruiser or even Capital also really illustrates their weaknesses and can give a newer player a chance to learn that even the big ships have exploitable blind spots. As a learning tool and as an opportunity to gain otherwise difficult-to-acquire hulls, it's a win-win. Alternatively, make early game bounties more of this variety: one cruiser with a few pirate Hounds or whatnot to give the early player some cracks at taking down the bigger ships.

Funny, was thinking about something similar in the last couple of days - not as a systemic thing, necessarily, but as something special to give the player a high-risk/high-reward challenge now and again. Not sure I'll get to doing that (or what shape it would take if/when I do), but, yeah, generally on board with the idea.

(E.G. "a notorious pirate captain is hiding out in system X, and only has a single Doom under their command", + high reward/chance to recover the Doom. And then, exactly how little can you get away with using to take it down? Could be interesting.)
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xenoargh

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2018, 10:59:51 AM »

I’d love that scenario for low-level Bounties :)

What I’ve been nattering on about is largely scalar stuff at the mid game+ point, where I feel like, other than scary Bounties, there’s nothing that can catch or kill my fleet, unless I’m really deliberately dumb (like when I sunk every single fleet out of Tritach’s current stronghold to see just how big stuff would get and finally died due to CR exhaustion, lol).

In endgame, I feel pretty strongly that players should face huge challenges if they drop into hostile Systems.  This feels thematically correct; one would think that everybody in the Sector would have cultural memories and strong psychological biases against letting giant fleets roam loose.  In the real world, they’re almost always shadowed and they’re always tracked, as they are strategic weapons systems that move.

So the challenges are:

1.  How do the AIs and the player’s Outpost fleets respond to local incursions?  One would think it would be as aggressively as the threat warrants, even if the arriving fleet has their Transponder on and is neutral; their intentions are unknown and they’re still a threat.

Right now, the AI seems to be fleet-level; there really ought to some strategic layer, where incoming fleets that represent a large threat get responded to, as best as local resources allow.

2.  How do large fleets catch anybody?  What actually threatens player fleets?

This is one of the biggest problems in the game design; we have stealth mechanics that aren’t useful and aren’t necessary and a bunch of moribund movement mechanics.  But there’s nothing that can catch player fleets and there’s nothing past midgame that can kill them, either.

In Ye Olden Dayes, when we got slowed down by combat, the chief problem was that great players could chain-kill.  Perhaps one idea might be a substantial speed penalty while CR is less than 95% of nominal; that, combined with bigger response fleets, would make it nearly impossible to do orbitals to repair and scour systems of response fleets and would make chaining substantially more risky.  Right now, at Burn 20, I can swoop, kill a major fleet, then continue the arc without losing velocity.

That, and I’d like to suggest one major mechanic:  if starting a battle near a Station or Colony, the local defense forces should join in, if hostile (and preferably, in overwhelming force).  That would stop players from camping them so easily.
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Goumindong

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2018, 02:09:04 PM »

Then big slow ships can hit high speeds, but it's a cost-over-time issue; this allows smaller fleets to win the acceleration race, if using Emergency Burn, but only if Fuel supplies permit.  This would present the player with interesting challenges; they can out-run the local system police, for example, but only if they're willing to give up Fuel, and only if the locals don't have enough Fuel to catch up.

Currently,resources are just not a consideration for AI fleets or factions as whole. I'm not saying this should remain as is, but making AI handle limited resources in intelligent manner is not a small task either.

And if the player is the only side to be limited by resources, it's not fun.

Resources should definitely not be a consideration for AI fleets or factions as a whole (besides the obvious stuff). Its way too AI intensive and doesn't serve a purpose that stability doesn't already.

 The only real problem comes in when AI fleets clearly have enough resources to sustain themselves, but don't have enough resources to sustain a much smaller player fleet. There is no reason that i should not be able to buy enough supplies to sustain me if the planet i am on can consistently supply larger fleets... and then when you destroy those fleets you don't retain enough supplies to sustain yourself and the planet also doesn't have enough supplies to sustain you.

There are also other problems WRT supplies and so i think i will make a suggestion about it
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xenoargh

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Re: Large ships in small fleets.
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2018, 02:54:13 PM »

I honestly don't see the problem with the AI not having to worry about fuel.  We don't need "fairness" there; we need a system where the player actually has to worry about things. 

Yes, it'd create some absurd situations, like an AI fleet chasing you on Emergency Burn right across a System.  So what?  They got topped off by tankers along the way, etc.- these systems are abstract and the AI shouldn't have to worry about it or consider it.  The player, on the other hand, has dozens of ways to foil those chasers, starting with using their Fuel to Emergency Burn, making a high-velocity chaser miss by a quick Burn of their own, using Interdiction Pulse to reset their velocity and then Going Dark to avoid further interception, etc., etc., etc.- basically, the player (potentially, if the tools all worked well) has a toolset and the AI would have resources to burn, but isn't as bright.  Sounds fair enough. 

Right now, we have an AI that can't catch the player even if they're being pretty dumb and even if it does catch them, it can't kill what it catches; this part of midgame+ needs improvement so that it's not such a cakewalk.
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