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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: Skill Changes, Part 2 (07/15/21)

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Author Topic: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude  (Read 3786 times)

Gothars

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Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« on: July 10, 2018, 09:40:38 AM »

It's fun to create a powerful flagship with the combat aptitude, but in the endgame it leaves you weaker than boosting your entire fleet with leadership and technology (and probably industry, after the update). An idea to reconcile that:

A combat skill that increases your fleet's power whenever your flagship damages enemies.  Let's say for every X percent of the enemy fleets total hull points you personally drain, your entire fleet gets a Y percent damage bonus.

I think what would help the combat aptitude's late game usefulness (since the effect scales with your fleet size) while still encouraging aggressive use of your flagship.


We could call it "deconstructive analyses". Maybe damaging enemy ships allows you to scan stuff like the ablation behavior of their armor and the exact tuning of their onboard flux network as it reconfigures. Sharing these data with your fleet allows them to target enemies more efficently and exploit the weakness inherent to their specific configuration and maintenance procedures.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 09:49:51 AM by Gothars »
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Alex

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2018, 10:56:32 AM »

With the understanding that the odds of me being able to sneak a skill revamp into 0.9 are right around zero, I like how this sounds! The in-fiction justification is very much my kind of hand-waving, too :)

Hmm. I think it might work more cleanly if it was, say, +1/2/3/4% for destroying a ship of a specific size, up to a total % limit. Calculating/conveying hull damage percentages seems like it'd be messy.

So, let's see. Good things: scales up combat power based on flagship actions, gets stronger in larger battles. Bad things: ??? Nothing comes to mind right off, but still, would have to think it through more. Not entirely sure a damage bonus (that's got a reasonable cap, anyway) is major enough.


Stepping back for a moment, I think there's a psychological component here as far as combat vs other stuff. That is, it feels bad to have officers be better than you skills-wise, and the flipside of that, not being able to get significantly/at all better than a maxed-out officer.

I think if combat gave some bonuses that only the player got (i.e., say an extra bonus at tier 3 that's player - or fleet commander - only), then it'd feel a lot better, even if the actual overall power balance remained about the same. That might also lead players to give combat more of a fair shake; while I do think it's a bit weaker, I think it also gets dismissed much more than it should be.

"Deconstructive Analysis" fits right in with this, too, so that's very nice. Ah, hmm - you know, this might actually work better as a 3rd/player-only tier of a skill rather than a standalone skill.
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TaLaR

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 10:57:26 AM »

While I agree with general sentiment of boosting combat, this seems too gamey.

Also, this would encourage unnatural (with natural being defined as whatever kills current enemy fastest) behavior to increase hull damage dealt. Like kill-stealing from other ships in your fleet, when there is otherwise no tactical necessity to do so. Or holding back on armor and shield damage, when allied ships can do that part instead.

Doing it in fights where allied npc-fleets are present is justifiable (since hull damage determines loot and bounty distribution), but forcing every single fight into this pattern would be very much annoying.
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Gothars

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 11:25:45 AM »

I like how this sounds!
Cool :)


Hmm. I think it might work more cleanly if it was, say, +1/2/3/4% for destroying a ship of a specific size, up to a total % limit. Calculating/conveying hull damage percentages seems like it'd be messy.

Also, this would encourage unnatural (with natural being defined as whatever kills current enemy fastest) behavior to increase hull damage dealt. Like kill-stealing from other ships in your fleet, when there is otherwise no tactical necessity to do so.

That's exactly the reason I did not suggest a bonus per kill, since that might lead to you competing with your own fleet about who makes the final shot. And your allies "stealing" your kills could get indeed annoying. Using hull damage instead doesn't fix the problem, but mitigates it. And yeah, it is already accounted for in three-way-battles, so not really a new stat.

However, what you call "unnatural", TaLaR, I would call tactical. What is bad about having something in mind besides killing your opponent as fast as possible? 

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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 05:10:54 PM »

I agree with talar, this feel gamey and unintuitive.

It feels out of place in the combat tree since it doesn't buff the players ship (unless the player also gets the bonus? In which case it could (would likely) stack too strongly with other combat skills).

I think it could also be optimal to set avoid orders on big ships and take a very fast ship like an SO ship (aurora seems best but hyperion could also be very good at this) and go frigate/destroyer hunting until the fleet is sufficiently buffed before continuing on with the actual battle. It could be like a weird chore to get bonuses.

This would also mean the player would need to pilot a fast ship to get the benefit of the skill. If the players fleet arrives in the battle long before the player does, they will be at a disadvantage until the player reaches the battle and does damage.
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Dark.Revenant

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2018, 12:25:03 AM »

Alex,

Given your design goals:
1. Combat stays balanced relative to other aptitudes
2. Combat feels relevant and impactful into the late game
3. Officers don’t receive unduly significant benefits compared to the player

The long and short of Starsector is that - sooner or later - the player will build up their fleet to include quite a few ships, even if they wind up being smaller or larger individually.  In short, the “minimalist playstyle” that Combat currently encourages is a niche self-imposed constraint rather than a legitimate, natural order of progression.  Even if fleet size becomes strongly associated with an aptitude, nothing stops the player from focusing on that altitude and also Combat.

My proposal: Auras!

Several Combat skills should have a Commander-only perk, typically at tier 3, that adds a benefit for allies ships that are nearby the player’s flagship (including the flagship).  This might involve a damage bonus, faster projectiles, less recoil, better aiming, better flux dissipation, and the like.  More esoteric bonuses might be nice, but they should remain strictly beneficial rather than something the player might regret having always on.

That’s not to say Combat should be the only only aptitude with these effects.  Gunners Implants would be a good choice, for instance.  The range and magnitude of auras in general ought to involve other Aptitudes, as well.  A Leadership skill should cause the commander’s Aura Radius to widen, for instance, to encourage synergy with the Combat aptitude.

This keeps Combat in line with other aptitudes, but offers a relevant and impactful ability that scales into the late game, without buffing officers.

Anyway, your thoughts?
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Gothars

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2018, 12:41:57 AM »

I think it could also be optimal to set avoid orders on big ships and take a very fast ship like an SO ship (aurora seems best but hyperion could also be very good at this) and go frigate/destroyer hunting until the fleet is sufficiently buffed before continuing on with the actual battle. It could be like a weird chore to get bonuses.

But killing the smaller ships first is what you do anyway, isn't it? I don't see what's different.


This would also mean the player would need to pilot a fast ship to get the benefit of the skill. If the players fleet arrives in the battle long before the player does, they will be at a disadvantage until the player reaches the battle and does damage.

Either pilot a quick ship to deal damage fast, or a big ship to deal more damage...



@D.R.: My issue with auras is that they bind you to other ships too much. I'd rather go around the battlefield freely and get my allies advantages by flanking the enemy than to cling to their side for a passive stat bonus.
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Dark.Revenant

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 01:06:12 AM »

Then you’d use the perk that you described in the OP for your own playstyle, no?  Skills are intended to differentiate playstyle in the first place.
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Megas

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 05:48:16 AM »

Bring back Optimized Assembly.  That alone was worth Combat 10, and it was not the most powerful Combat perk at the time (hull regeneration was).
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BillyRueben

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2018, 06:24:28 AM »

I'd rather see combat skills that are a lot more interesting. Right now, you have a bunch of skills that seem to simply offer % bonuses, and only half the combat skills offer that nice "game changer" at level three. And if it is a pain in the ass to code AI to take advantage of such game-changers, have skills that affect the player and officers differently. Maybe even have special weaponry available at specific levels of combat skills.
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Megas

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 06:38:23 AM »

% bonuses can be interesting if big enough.  Most of them are too small for pilot-only, probably for officers' sake.  New Missile Specialization is not as good as old MS 5, let alone 10.  Much rather get more Officer Management for two guys with missiles if I want to go down that way.  Damage Control 3 that lowers overload time by 25%, what a total joke!  Nine seconds is still more than enough time to kill whatever overloaded dead.  Even 50% before 0.8 was only mildly useful; six seconds was sometimes enough to avoid death if the enemy hesitated.  (75% early on was great though.)
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TaLaR

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2018, 06:54:13 AM »

% skills are powerful enough when stacked right. Just Ordnance 3 (+15% all dmg), Target analysis 2 (15% shield dmg), Defensive Systems 2 (-20% incoming shield damage) already shift flux balance between 2 otherwise equal ships enough to make it near-impossible to lose for skilled ship.
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Megas

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2018, 07:20:47 AM »

Too bad Ordnance Expert has two junk perks before 3.  This is one skill I like to get, but costs too much.  Yet another get more Officer Management for two guys that can get the skill for one character point.  However, it is useful in simulator grinds where peak performance is the greatest enemy and killing speed matters the most when attempting to solo the simulator full of cowardly enemies.  3 is also nice that it applies to everything.

Getting 100% to shot speed was nice before 0.8, but for me, it was mostly useful for IR pulse laser or railguns converted to PD via IPDAI hullmod.  Otherwise, I generally do not care how fast shots go when I fire weapons.  Of course, faster shots from the enemy makes it harder for my Wolf/Tempest/Medusa to dodge incoming.  If old Ordnance Expert did not have Optimized Assembly, I would have never taken it.  With the huge fleetwide OP discount, I took it, and the extra damage and shot speed was gravy on top of Optimized Assembly.

Target Analysis is one of those I could get if I had points to spare after I get max Ordnance Expert.  Again, Officer Management for two guys... (you know the rest).

Defensive Systems 2 is one of the nicer perks, and it pains me if I need to give it up for other skills.  3 is most useful for the Hardened Shields hullmod, since that hullmod is very rare for non-TT commissions (this is a case where I will farm cores and manipulate reputation after commissions damage it), although the hard-flux dissipiation is convenient for Safety Override builds.  3 is double-edged sword for phase ships.  Might be useful for Harbinger, but I do not want peak performance ticking down faster Afflictor or Shade.

I like Damage Control 2 because I will lose weapons and engines at times and recovering faster is nice (especially if stacked with Automated Repair Unit, because repairs become so fast they might as well be immune to KO).  Too bad the main perk in 1, guaranteed ship recovery, is made redundant by Fleet Logistics, one of the most powerful skills in the game.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 07:25:12 AM by Megas »
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TaLaR

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2018, 10:19:45 AM »

(Defensive Systems) 3 is double-edged sword for phase ships.  Might be useful for Harbinger, but I do not want peak performance ticking down faster Afflictor or Shade.

Yeah, very atypical for a skill (and level 3 at that) to have drastic negative consequences.

Having it pretty much ensures loss in theoretical duel between 2 phase ships. Other side can just wait out, because skill makes you tick faster.
Also just makes phase cloak less efficient for evasion in place (as opposed to active maneuvering).

I'd rather have such skills with negative effects toggle-able (in combat), or have no negative effects in the first place.
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Alex

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Re: Skill idea to boost combat aptitude
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2018, 02:11:31 PM »

Alex,

Given your design goals:
1. Combat stays balanced relative to other aptitudes
2. Combat feels relevant and impactful into the late game
3. Officers don’t receive unduly significant benefits compared to the player

The long and short of Starsector is that - sooner or later - the player will build up their fleet to include quite a few ships, even if they wind up being smaller or larger individually.  In short, the “minimalist playstyle” that Combat currently encourages is a niche self-imposed constraint rather than a legitimate, natural order of progression.  Even if fleet size becomes strongly associated with an aptitude, nothing stops the player from focusing on that altitude and also Combat.

My proposal: Auras!

Several Combat skills should have a Commander-only perk, typically at tier 3, that adds a benefit for allies ships that are nearby the player’s flagship (including the flagship).  This might involve a damage bonus, faster projectiles, less recoil, better aiming, better flux dissipation, and the like.  More esoteric bonuses might be nice, but they should remain strictly beneficial rather than something the player might regret having always on.

That’s not to say Combat should be the only only aptitude with these effects.  Gunners Implants would be a good choice, for instance.  The range and magnitude of auras in general ought to involve other Aptitudes, as well.  A Leadership skill should cause the commander’s Aura Radius to widen, for instance, to encourage synergy with the Combat aptitude.

This keeps Combat in line with other aptitudes, but offers a relevant and impactful ability that scales into the late game, without buffing officers.

Anyway, your thoughts?

I've thought about this before - my main concern with auras is that you'd have to show their range pretty precisely, and then trying to manage that so that the right stuff is in range at the right time seems... well, it doesn't seem like it'd be fun to do that as opposed to, say, doing other tactical things you might be doing.

This is why stuff like Coordinated Maneuvers and EW are battlefield-wide, btw. I did think about making those range-based as well (since it'd "make sense"), but I don't think it'd lead to something that's fun.

So, I guess - yeah, as long as they're not range-limited. Having a particular range seems to mostly invite complications (and further encourages deathballing).
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