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Author Topic: Beam Stuff  (Read 22462 times)

xenoargh

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Beam Stuff
« on: March 15, 2018, 12:05:33 PM »

Hey, just wanted to report that I've been testing out some ideas which appear to be working thematically.

Basically, Beams lack two major things, if they're going to work without Hard Flux.

1.  They need a mechanic where they're at least OK for assault roles. 

Making them ultra-efficient makes them pretty ubiquitous weapons (although I think everybody would be shocked how far you have to go, with Vanilla's current mechanics; essentially, a Tac Laser is nearly-free at that point). 

Giving them Hard Flux makes them too attractive for kiting (at 1000+ range).  It'd work if Beams were largely within the 600-800 range, but 1000 plus bonuses is not all right.

So, what I've done is given them scalar damage, based on range vs. max range.  The formula I'm using is:

Code
float theRangeMult = Math.min(Math.max((maxRangeSquared / MathUtils.getDistanceSquared(beam.getTo(), beam.getFrom()))-1f,0f),3f);

This gives a range scalar on damage that can range from 0 to 3 (at < 25% of maxRangeSquared) and this is added to the conventional damage number. 

This, along with some efficiency changes in general and removal of the Beam vs. Armor nerf, got to a pretty happy place, even at relatively-low damage numbers.  The effect is that Beams start to become reasonably-effective at belly-button ranges, but are otherwise essentially unchanged in their mechanics.

2.  They feel less-differentiated than they should; this is a problem with the High Tech weapons in general, now that a lot more ships may be considering them as part of their portfolio.

So, what I've tried out recently is pretty straightforward:

PD, LRPD and Mining Laser have been switched to HIGH_EXPLOSIVE; this gives them a secondary role as armor-killers (and, in particular, makes them more relevant vs. fighters while losing nothing against missiles).

Tachyon Lance and Phase Beam are HIGH_EXPLOSIVE with EMP damage additional.  This makes them devastating vs. unshielded targets, and the change in mechanics outlined above makes the Tachyon Lance fierce up close (but does little for the Phase Beam, which I have at 450 range, in exchange for better burst DPS in general).

Tac Laser, Graviton and HIL are now KINETIC; at each tier, there's an option to efficiently trade Soft Flux with opponents, which feels like Support, but without much Armor-killing power.  This is much more noticeable in big scrums and late-game fights where Beams' range advantages are quite a bit less important (which is usually where, in Vanilla, I drop most Beams entirely).

The Burst weapons (BPD, HBPD, Guardian) are all ENERGY.  This makes them inferior on Soft Flux but they can remain somewhat ubiquitous.

The Ion Beam remains ENERGY, but it's an inferior Flux-trader.

Mining Laser is a long-duration (0.3s) burst-beam with a 1-second cooldown; it does great damage per-pulse but cannot engage swarms.  It does about 100 damage per pulse, which will not allow it to stop Harpoons by itself, which seems about right.  I keep mentioning this weapon largely because the Vanilla version is just totally not worth mounting at all; it's simply too weak to stop anything and is thematically too much like the PDL; this gives it a different job, but doesn't obsolete the PDL (especially if range scalar is considered).

After trying this out in testing, I feel like this all works, thematically.  The PD lasers suddenly have a job that is sensible; they can engage missiles at full efficiency and aren't trash vs. fighters, and while they're certainly not great assault weapons, they have a niche role to play where they're reasonably useful.  The Tac Laser benefits from the change and the Pulse Beams stay neutral, which is probably where they should stay; they can do a little bit of everything and kill missiles pretty well, but aren't great for anything other than that job and occasionally being useful against fighter swarms.
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TaLaR

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2018, 12:37:32 PM »

Soft flux is only a serious problem when you do not produce overwhelming amount of it (though most ships don't). How op do these changes make all beams (well, with 2 universal slots possibly used for ballistics) Paragon? Considering that it's quite viable with beams as is.

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xenoargh

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2018, 01:41:23 PM »

It doesn't really do a lot for the Paragon, ironically.  It's not zero, but it's not as deadly to go all-Beam (at least, imo) as an alpha-strike Paragon built around Plasma Cannons / Light Needlers is, in Vanilla.  Kind of depends on what you want the Paragon to do, ofc; for AI-controlled "don't die" Paragon builds, this helps them out.

Mainly, these changes buff Beams against fighters and other close-range threats and provides an assault option for a few ships (Beam Aurora makes more sense, Beam Odyssey kind of makes sense, if its turrets weren't silly). 

The one really arguable point I've kind of gone back and forth on is whether it weakens the Tac Laser too much as an anti-fighter weapon; this really kind of pigeonholes it into a Support role.
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Goumindong

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2018, 03:39:21 PM »

I don't see the need for beams to fill an assault role and i don't see the need for the secondary changes that "make things feel more unique". Antimatter Blasters, Heavy Blasters, Plasma Cannon, Pulse laser, and AutoPulse Laser all fill assault roles. Yes, they're not beams but they don't need to be be beams in order to energy weapon slots to have sufficient assault capability






As it stands beams feel pretty unique to me, the phase beam and tachyon lance are the only two weapons that are similar to each other and you're not solving that. Just looking at the beams currently we have

Tachyon Lance: Anti-Frigate/Destroyer plus anti-armor fleet support
Phase Lance: Anti-Frigate/Destroyer plus anti-armor fleet support

Graviton Beam: Fleet Support Anti-Shield

Ion Beam: Fleet Support Specialty (keeps shields up mainly preventing hard flux dissipation without eating EMP)

Point Defense: Its point defense. Maybe there are too many types of PD... but ballistic gets a load of PD too. Either way we have consistency/support/raw defense

Tactical Laser: Fleet Support untyped

HIL: Anti-Armor (finishes off enemy ships)


Your changes make things even more samey. Tactical/Graviton/HIL all doing kinetic make them the same weapon at different tiers rather than being different. It also, depending on the the scaling, makes these weapons hilariously OP or hilariously worthless. The thing, at the moment, really keeping Graviton Beams in check is the difficulty of attaining medium energy slots. Otherwise you stack them* and you produce overwhelming soft flux on any target you focus. Two Eagles with Graviton's produce 1200 Shield Damage/Second or more depending on skills. If they've got maulers in the front slots have fun keeping your shields up.

Doing that for HIL would be... insane. I love me an HIL Sunder but with HIL doing kinetic this would produce 1400 kinetic damage/second. You barely care about the armor punching power on smaller ships (125 pen at 250 dps is still plenty for frigates and destroyers). But this is enough to flux lock many capital class ships. And then its going to get a damage boost if you're closer?

If they're not going to do *** damage at max range then hooo boy every ship with small energy is loading up on tactical lasers and HILs, don't even bother bringing anything else you can kill them flux locked ships with missiles. If they're doing *** damage at max range then you just stop taking beams because nothing with a beam would ever really have the chance to penetrate the hail of HVD fire that you would load up all the medium ballistic slots with. You would entirely cede the long range game to ballistic weapons.

*You still stack them if you can


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Schwartz

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2018, 03:42:14 PM »

Beams are in a decent place right now. I would rather see HIL turned to Energy type instead of even more beam weapons being made non-Energy. It should be the exception rather than the rule (explosive beams are just a silly concept), and that exception is Graviton beam.

Large beams do not need the anti-armour buff; they murder armour quickly enough as it is. Both HIL and Tachyon are devastating if they manage to connect. However giving HIL Energy damage might round it out a bit vs. shielded ships and not make it such an insta-kill vs. everything else.

If it was all up to me, I would:

Make HIL an Energy damage weapon
Up PD and LR PD damage output slightly
Give Phase Lance its EMP back or up its range

The other stuff, while interesting, is fixing a non-issue IMO. Beams have range; they don't need extra damage.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2018, 03:45:24 PM by Schwartz »
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Blothorn

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2018, 03:44:32 PM »

Not all weapons need to be useful in all situations. Moreover, in Vanilla, the fact that you trade damage/effiicency and range is important to loadout balance--overfocus on long range and you can be overwhelmed at point-blank. Range-scaled damage is therefore a substantial advantage, and I worry about applying it to an entire class of weapon.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2018, 04:11:18 PM »

I like the damage scaling idea (in fact I've suggested it before), but I think that existing beams fill roles well already. Maybe adding a few new beams with these new mechanics would be more interesting than replacing all beams.
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Goumindong

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2018, 04:22:39 PM »

HIL as energy would probably even be too much. The inability of ships with large energy slots to penetrate shields with 1000 range weapons alone is pretty central to the design identity.

Think about the sunder again but this time we look at what it does shooting at another destroyer. Say a Medusa.

A Medusa has 400 to 600 flux dissipation and 6000 ish flux. A sunder with ex HIL does 625 shield damage/second. En HIL does 900. Kin HIL does 1400. The EX HIL cracks shields in 240 seconds. It effectively doesn’t. The En HIL cracks it in 20. The Medusa barely has a flux capacity at that point. The Kin HIL is right out. It kills the shields in 7.5 seconds.
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Megas

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2018, 05:39:46 PM »

HIL used to be energy... and half the DPS.  It was awful, like old Thumper awful.

Even current HIL is a bit on the weak side, rather weak enough that I would never use if I had a steady supply of Tachyon Lances.  Although... HIL could be handy if it was a common Open Market weapon.  HIL is useful enough like Heavy Mortar or various other Open Market ballistics are, something to use until you find enough rare weapons to replace them.

Phase Lance is usually rubbish.  Pulse laser is generally more useful.  Phase Lance either needs more range (it used to have 700 range as Phase Beam) or hit for hard flux.  Getting its EMP back would not hurt.
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Wyvern

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2018, 10:06:55 AM »

Beams are in a decent place right now. I would rather see HIL turned to Energy type instead of even more beam weapons being made non-Energy. It should be the exception rather than the rule (explosive beams are just a silly concept).
Explosive beams actually make sense to me.  It's not that the beam is somehow full of explosions; it's that the beam makes its -target- explode.  This is actually what happens with a sufficiently powerful laser - see, for example, all the laser-pumped fusion experiments.
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Wyvern is 100% correct about the math.

Linnis

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2018, 12:12:16 PM »

I am not sure how you been playing but beam weapons are great atm, especially the large variant HIL an TL. (Though the HIL really shines in mods where cruisers can have them as paragon really needs the burst of the TL)

The only two problems beams have imo is the graviton beam has too low power output maybe 150 for 150?. As for the small PD beams, they suck at tracking but anything that's not flack or vulcan has problem shooting at missiles anyways.
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Blothorn

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2018, 01:24:08 PM »

Kinetic beams are dangerous because they provide long-range flux that cannot be dodged (save by high angular velocities usually only achievable by fighters). Making them stronger, even with slightly worse efficiency, would make it very easy for anything with medium energies to run area denial against frigates and anything with multiple medium energies to run area denial on most destroyers.

Consider a theoretical lasher with 2500 capacity/200 dissapation (~140 after shield upkeep). At present, a single graviton beam (say on a Wolf) would take it down in 42 seconds; two (e.g. on a Sunder) in just 10 seconds. Up that to 150/150 and the Wolf takes the shield down in 16 seconds and the Sunder in just five. (And remember that these numbers go down dramatically if the Lasher attempts to use any flux-generating weapons.)
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Megas

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2018, 01:32:56 PM »

I have never been really afraid of graviton beams.  They are either ineffective or too slow at their job.  The only ship I can justify graviton beams on is Eagle, which can mount enough to hurt frigates, but even then, I have Arbalests/Heavy AC/HVDs backing those beams up.  (Paragon can use Gravitons well, but I much rather have Ion Beams or Heavy Blasters instead, since it has the flux stats to use those hogs.)  For nearly everything else, Tactical Laser does Graviton Beam's job nearly as well for a fraction of the OP cost.  However, if I have leftover OP to burn, I might upgrade Tactical Lasers to Graviton Beams with a "Why Not?" attitude.
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Goumindong

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2018, 03:05:11 PM »

Graviton beams stack in all your med slots to be very efficient. If you attain higher tech frigates and destroyers they are all able to efficiently contribute to fights at high range
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xenoargh

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Re: Beam Stuff
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2018, 01:53:55 PM »

Most of the changes I was experimenting with didn't effect the bigger Beams this round; I was really looking at the smaller ones.  The issues there are subtle.

You know, though?  The more I think about the subtle problems with these things, the more I think that the biggest problem in the weapon balance was the choice to have just four fundamental damage types.  Giving them names like "energy" makes everybody have opinions based on fluffy stuff, rather than what's happening in the numbers.  

As for Gravitons... they're not great, but they're not the worst of the bunch.  Eagles are, as Megas points out, about the only viable platform, and even there, they're a questionable choice.  Graviton-Wolf is a thing, but not a good thing; usually, it's better to keep Wolf packs more within their Dissipation bands, and that's too hard to manage when you spend OPs and Flux on Gravitons.  Can't think of any other ships where I'm really excited about them; they don't work on Mules, they don't work on Auroras, they don't work on Paragons or Odysseys or Medusas; there are better choices and unlike the Tachyon Lance, they're not absurdly rare.
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