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Author Topic: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.  (Read 4665 times)

Morbo513

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Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« on: July 20, 2018, 08:26:38 AM »

Currently, SS leaves me butthurt when it comes to relying on friendly ships not to get themselves killed; to work in unison and use violence of action to effect when the opportunities arise; to recognise their importance within the fleet compared to the importance of their immediate orders.

I really don't believe in the command points mechanic, or the orders we have available that they govern. If I'm not mistaken, a few minutes in a battle as we see it is actually meant to be hours in "real-time". The notion then, that the commander of a fleet can only give one order to a ship or group of ships every so long strikes me as silly to say the least. Realistically, someone in such a position would be reeling off commands to other ships every passing second. You could handwave that as some off-screen tactical officer doing the job, but they're bad at it. Point is, AI do not have the oversight or creative thinking required to make effective tactical decisions and effectively coordinate multiple elements simultaneously. This is frustrating when its deficiency results in taking losses, as punishing as they are in this game. If I lose a ship I want it to be my failure that resulted in it, and if I don't I want it to be down to my efforts over dumb luck and making sure I fit AI-friendly loadouts.

The orders themselves are too binary. If I order one ship to attack another, it doesn't mean I want them to pursue them until one of them dies. When the target ship retreats behind their lines and I rescind the order, I don't want to have to wait another 2 minutes to issue another one.
Likewise, I want to be able to give commands to my carrier and its fighter separately. Especially where mods are concerned, many carriers are equally capable up on the line and their firepower is wasted when the AI decides it should instead be cowering behind the ranks.

The AI in general is very competent on an individual basis, don't get me wrong, and that extends to generally fighting cohesively. But I've lost count of the number of times I've been begging for one of my ships to pull back when they're over-extended for them to just fly into an Onslaught's cannons, or for a group of ships to go all in for a kill before the target's fleet can come to its rescue, only to have them to remain uncommitted and let the opportunity slip by. All because I issued one too many commands a minute ago to right some other wrong or take advantage of some other opportunity. Sound familiar?

Despite all this, the orders you can give often aren't followed with the intended course of action. You want to form a "wing" of frigates so you make one the leader by giving another two an Escort command on them. Have fun watching those two never commit until the leader pulls back enough for the enemy to push forward and enter the escorts' weapon range. Or you've ordered some ships to escort a tanker during a "strategic" retreat. Those escorts will get bogged down by the first enemies the group run into.


What I'm proposing is to put the tactical element of battles firmly in the player's hands. Do away with the arbitrary command points system, and give us universal, granular control of our ships' behaviour.
The first part of it is to remove Command Points as a mechanic. They're an arbitrary limitation, and with orders of such singular purpose, don't rank high regarding skillpoint and hull-mod investment, or tactical importance re: command relays.
Off the top of my head I don't have a solution as to what those skills and hullmods could be replaced with, but by most accounts I've heard they lack purpose in the first place.

Many of these could be rolled in to one another, or take precedence contextually. It's the principle that I'm attempting to convey, all the following is just an example of possible implementation.

Disposition:
Tactical Retreat - Immediately disengage, retreat and remain beyond nearest enemy's weapon range + 500 units.
Timid                - Remain outside of nearest enemy's weapon range, only entering if risk is low.  Immediate disengagement if any damage taken.
Cautious            - Remain outside nearest enemy's weapon range, entering occasionally to chip away at its flux/armour/hull. Disengages on hull damage.
Steady (Default) - Enter nearest enemy's weapon range as needed to maintain balanced damage output vs input. Disengages at high flux/moderate continuous hull damage.
Aggressive         - Keep enemy in range of all non-PD weapons, withdrawing to avoid continuous hull damage.
Reckless            - Keep enemy in range of all non-PD weapons, withdrawing only to vent flux or on heavy damage.
Kamikaze          - Attack nearest or assigned target without regard for incoming damage, and do not disengage until told otherwise. No regard for damage.

Disposition is the most important element to me, and (in addition to removing CPs) achieve 50% of what I hope for here.
Officer personality could still exist but take a back-seat. Eg. a Reckless officer set to Timid will fluctuate between Reckless, Aggressive and Steady. A steady officer set to reckless would fluctuate between reckless and aggressive. Kamikaze and Tactical Retreat would never be ignored.
For the enemy AI's purposes, factions could have global modifiers to their fleets' average disposition based on the types of officers their markets produce.

Escort behaviour:
Protect                  - Ship will maintain positions between its escort target and the nearest enemies (Screening with frigates, escorting non-combat ships etc)
Wingman (Default) - Ship will defer disposition to escort target; engage enemies it engages and disengage when it disengages
Defend                  - Ship will maintain an orbit around escort target, but pull back "behind" the target when threatened (Mainly for PD-heavy craft supporting other ships)

This is the other 50%. There's little else you can do to maintain cohesion between given groups of mutually-supporting ships. Being able to determine how they act when escorting lets you ensure they cover one anothers' weaknesses, or maximise the effect of mixed damage types across ships.

Fire discipline:
Dictates whether and in what situation the ship should expend its limited missiles
Hold Fire    - Ship will not fire limited missiles
Salvo Fire   - Ship will fire one salvo from each of its launchers at the nearest or assigned target
Fire at will  - Ship will fire missiles as situation dictates (current behaviour)
???            - Ship will fire all launchers at closest or assigned target until expended.

Beyond Hull, Armour, CR and ships, missiles are the only other finite resource across your fleet within battles. It only makes sense to be able to control their expenditure.

Flux discipline:
Determines how much flux buildup a ship will tolerate before disengaging (would swap them to Timid/Tactical retreat until flux is vented).
High     - Will disengage at ~40% flux
Normal - Current standard behaviour
Low      - Will disengage at ~95% flux
None    - Will drop shields and continue engaging their current target until they take too much damage as determined by disposition.

For ships that have heavy armour but weak flux/shields, or weak flux/shields but heavy/short-range firepower and other combinations, this would help you in matching their behaviour with their capabilities where disposition alone might hamstring them or sentence them to certain death.

Retreat behaviour:
Orderly - Retreating ships will seek out and join any other retreating ships, will orient their ship/shields to protect them from damage, engage enemy ships between them and retreat.
Fighting withdrawal - Retreating ships will seek out retreating friendlies if any. Will attempt to fight off attackers as they are pursued to within enemy weapon range.
Careless - Will bee-line straight for the exit, keep their shields down for maximum speed, and only use PD if any to destroy incoming missiles & fighters.

Defaults for these could be set up in the loadout screen per-ship, or fleet-wide in the fleet management screen, in addition to being able to set presets. Ideally there'd also be a command to have all ships revert to their presets; failing that, default behaviour.

I had more ideas for this but like I said, a lot of them can be rolled in or applied contextually so I removed a lot where that was the case. Most of it's covered by disposition.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 08:29:28 AM by Morbo513 »
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Tartiflette

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2018, 08:46:53 AM »

Different simpler take on a rework of the order system: we could have the current fleet-wide orders "free" (as well as the retreat order) and individual ship orders (move there, kill that, send your fighters against this) that would cost command points but would also be followed MUCH more closely by the AI. That way the command point become aces up your sleeve you can spend to pull off some precise tactical strike, but you don't have your hands tied when it comes to capturing points and maneuvering your fleet around.
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Gothars

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2018, 09:13:48 AM »

I kinda think that the command system works "good enough". Sure, there are hickups, but they are at a level where I can attribute them to "realism", i.e. your subordinates being cocky, or fearful, or just morons sometimes. I'd rather Alex spends his time on new content.


Do away with the arbitrary command points system, and give us universal, granular control of our ships' behaviour.

Command points have a very specific purpose, they let you focus on piloting your ship instead of commanding your fleet. If you had unlimited, granular orders, you'd have to switch between piloting and giving orders all the time for optimal results.

If the command system were to be changed, I'd like it to go in the opposite direction, were you give even fever orders that have even more impact. For example, instead of "ship X and Y, eliminate the exposed enemy Z", you'd order "fleet, take out exposed enemies". Or instead of "ship X, escort ship Y, ship A, escort ship B" you say "fleet, be defensive and support each other". Of course that would require the AI to be even smarter than it is now, by far.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 09:24:34 AM by Gothars »
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Megas

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2018, 09:20:34 AM »

There would have been times I would have liked something like macros, where default AI behavior is set (before battle).  For example, automatically capture points of opportunity, retreat the moment peak performance expires, that sort of thing.  Faction-wide aggressiveness in the new faction screen is a first step towards this.
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Inventor Raccoon

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2018, 09:32:32 AM »

I don't think there's a need to individually set disposition on a per-ship basis (since officer personalities and full assault exist and in 0.9 you can set the personality that all non-officer ships will use) but I would like to tell ships exactly what I mean by "escort". Depending on the exact escort, it can mean a few things. If it's a Monitor, I want it to escort the ship and stay in front, blocking enemy fire and shooting down missiles. If it's another ship of the same size, I just want them to gang up on enemies. If it's a carrier or a fire-support ship, I want it to stay behind the escortee and just generally attack what it attacks, from safety.
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jupjupy

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2018, 09:52:56 AM »

We could always have a full-on micromanagement mode where the player can physically order ships around like in a traditional RTS, and when he selects a ship and right clicks a spot the ship's AI just turns off until it gets there, and reverts to its original AI when it does. Then, if the player issues an 'attack' command to a ship, either an attack move or whatnot, the ship's AI literally does just that - attack the selected enemy. Just like a regular RTS game.

Not sure if thats what people really want, but if it works as an alternative mode, I don't see why not.
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Morbo513

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2018, 10:10:35 AM »

Command points have a very specific purpose, they let you focus on piloting your ship instead of commanding your fleet. If you had unlimited, granular orders, you'd have to switch between piloting and giving orders all the time for optimal results.
This is why you'd be able to create presets and why there'd be defaults. Ideally these commands would always be able to be issued fleet-wide too - Have all your ships dump their missiles simultaneously and potentially create a whole host of openings to exploit. Order all ships to tactical retreat to get some breathing room. Even better, you'd do be able to do it by groups too.
There are plenty of SP games that combine FPS/Action with relatively deep Tactics/Strategy successfully; Mount & Blade, Battlezone, Hostile Waters, SWAT 4, the early Rainbow 6s and Ghost Recons, ArmA/OFP.
Of course, none of them are in the top-down perspective, which does present limitations in your ability to keep track of the tactical situation. Fortunately, we have the luxury of the Starsector pausing when entering the command screen.

None of this means that you HAVE to be issuing orders and changing this stuff up - With disposition and escort alone as described, you could still utilise the command functions as they are right now and still get away with it - especially with presets. At the very least this just gives you more tools to address the AI's shortcomings, or in other words bark at incompetent subordinates - said "cocky morons" - as well as greater ability to respond to the tactical situation as it unfolds.

While I agree with you that "less is more", in this case that depends on AI with infinitely better judgement. It would be wonderful if they were capable of autonomously recognising where they'd be best employed, with which ships to pair up and which function to perform in that formation. But that's further taking away from the player's role as a commander.
I love to make comparisons between this game and Mount & Blade. While the context is completely different, ie line battles, infantry formations, cavalry and archer ranks, the concept is the same. You command a fleet/army while directly participating in the battles you're overseeing them in. M&B's commanding system is also relatively simplistic, leaving a lot of things up to the AI, but it gives you just enough control and factors to account for, that victory or defeat hinges massively on your decisions within a battle in concert with your army composition and personal performance, rather than being completely outweighed by them as it currently is in SS. You can win a battle against stacked odds by coordinating your troops and putting in a herculean effort yourself, you can lose a battle with more, better troops by using them recklessly.
In SS most of the orders I issue are actions the AI would already be taking if they truly had initiative and awareness of their own.
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Alex

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2018, 10:44:32 AM »

Hey! I appreciate the thought and effort you've put into this.

Will keep it a bit brief since it feels like similar stuff has come up before (though it's been a while).

So, right. If you have this level of fine-grained control over your ships, using it becomes necessary to play "optimally". For example you have "timid" and "kamikaze" dispositions, which could serve as proxy for micromanaging ships to close in and back off. You'd have to do that, because you could do it better than the AI, no matter how good the AI was. (That's just a quick example, not a knock specifically on these two dispositions).

Effectively, you're stuck having to do that instead of being able to pilot your own ship without worrying about things too much. Of course you can still pilot your ship, but it'll feel bad since you'd be taking losses that could be avoided. Being able to pause does help a bit, but "pause every 5-10 seconds, look at every ship, issue orders, unpause to pilot for a few more seconds) is not gameplay I want to encourage. I mean, you do need to periodically pause and look at the map now, but it's much more limited than it would be.

So, instead of that, the game lets you focus on piloting your ship, and lets you mitigate the mistakes your allied ships might make by providing several easy ways to recover lost ships post battle.

A lot of this is also down to what the desired gameplay is. The current set of design choices definitely emphasizes personal piloting over a command style, and that's a conscious choice. What you're proposing isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it'd be on the other side of the spectrum, emphasizing command over personal piloting, and that's not a direction I want to do in, if that makes sense.

It's probably tempting to say "but why not do both" but, well. For one a system like you propose - even if it worked well out-of-the-box, and more likely it'd require a lot of fine-tuning - would be a massive UI effort, and would require a good bit of AI work as well. Other design choices also factor in here, i.e. officer personalities, the detailed mechanics of piloting, and so on. It's not just the command system that leans in the direction of piloting being the more "primary" means of playing the game. Basically, I think what you're proposing might work, but it'd be a different game.


(Side note: I've played M&B *a lot* and have a very different experience of the orders system there. Aside from a few cases, such as clumping infantry among trees to counter cavalry, or other ways of cheesing the AI, the orders seem to be more for fun/immersion than being particularly effective. And "use a bunch of knights and nothing else" is fairly clearly optimal anyway, but that's another matter.

An important point, though, is that giving orders is primarily something you do before the armies have made contact, and orders are largely (not entirely) ineffective past that point. I think that's a big part of what makes it work, to the extent that it does, since orders don't get in the way much once the swords start swinging.)
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Sarissofoi

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2018, 11:10:27 AM »

An important point, though, is that giving orders is primarily something you do before the armies have made contact, and orders are largely (not entirely) ineffective past that point. I think that's a big part of what makes it work, to the extent that it does, since orders don't get in the way much once the swords start swinging.)

Fair point.
So don't want to be that guy but could be possible to add role or put ship on specific duty and make tasks group(ships that cover each other and work together(either in fleet screen(as default) or before battle) ?
Something like Long Range Skirmisher, Close Range Brawler, Missile Support so if I say for example have Vigilance I could set it default behavior to keep in back and fire missiles or whatever I plan for it.
Similar for Carriers: like Strike Force that use crafts to strike enemy(and respond to Attack command more) or Interceptor(that focus on countering enemy crafts) or Antibomber or fighter screen, etc.
And premade task forces that fight in group.
Now I use most/all command points at putting capture on points and assigning escorts.
Plus there is issue with retreating ships. It could be maybe that ordering damages/low readiness/spend ammo/low fighters cost no command points?
(Also could it be to make it free to order flag ship around?(although this could be abused if player jump from ship to ship) but why I copuld order my ship to go places when I am on the ship?(and yes I am bad and play on autopilot mostly).

SCC

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2018, 12:07:19 PM »

So, right. If you have this level of fine-grained control over your ships, using it becomes necessary to play "optimally". For example you have "timid" and "kamikaze" dispositions, which could serve as proxy for micromanaging ships to close in and back off. You'd have to do that, because you could do it better than the AI, no matter how good the AI was. (That's just a quick example, not a knock specifically on these two dispositions).

Effectively, you're stuck having to do that instead of being able to pilot your own ship without worrying about things too much. Of course you can still pilot your ship, but it'll feel bad since you'd be taking losses that could be avoided. Being able to pause does help a bit, but "pause every 5-10 seconds, look at every ship, issue orders, unpause to pilot for a few more seconds) is not gameplay I want to encourage. I mean, you do need to periodically pause and look at the map now, but it's much more limited than it would be.
I can tell you that it's much easier to just command your ship when you don't have to nanny your band of assorted drunken sailors every fight and instead tell them some general orders beforehand so that they don't do the stupid, for once.
I don't need to have that many options, I like mod Autonomous Ship a lot and I used just options for ships to retreat when they're out of ammo or below certain HP. It meant that I can use orders to order my ships to actually do something instead of "plz don't die".

Alex

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2018, 12:28:32 PM »

Fair point.
So don't want to be that guy but could be possible to add role or put ship on specific duty and make tasks group(ships that cover each other and work together(either in fleet screen(as default) or before battle) ?
Something like Long Range Skirmisher, Close Range Brawler, Missile Support so if I say for example have Vigilance I could set it default behavior to keep in back and fire missiles or whatever I plan for it.
Similar for Carriers: like Strike Force that use crafts to strike enemy(and respond to Attack command more) or Interceptor(that focus on countering enemy crafts) or Antibomber or fighter screen, etc.
And premade task forces that fight in group.
Now I use most/all command points at putting capture on points and assigning escorts.
Plus there is issue with retreating ships. It could be maybe that ordering damages/low readiness/spend ammo/low fighters cost no command points?

Being able to assign officers is about the extent of per-ship behavior customization I'm comfortable with. It's difficult enough to debug the AI and make sure it works reasonably well; doing that in the face of multiple "behavior profiles" like that increases the the time it takes to do that tenfold.

For example, let's say there's a "Long Range Skirmisher" profile that forces certain behaviors. And then let's say there's a bug there that either causes poor behavior or a crash when faced with a ship with a specific ship system or weapon. That's an entirely plausible scenario, and it'd be very easy for it to slip through because the odds of me using that particular profile in that particular situation during playtesting would be low.

Officer personalities also introduce this problem to some degree, but 1) they're designed to affect more general things where such issues are less likely, and 2) they still complicate testing considerably, and I wouldn't want to compound the issue.

(Btw, as a point of interest, a general version of this argument applies against adding any sorts of options without careful consideration, but that's somewhat off topic.)


(Also could it be to make it free to order flag ship around?(although this could be abused if player jump from ship to ship) but why I copuld order my ship to go places when I am on the ship?(and yes I am bad and play on autopilot mostly).

I think you've answered your own question there :)


I can tell you that it's much easier to just command your ship when you don't have to nanny your band of assorted drunken sailors every fight and instead tell them some general orders beforehand so that they don't do the stupid, for once.
I don't need to have that many options, I like mod Autonomous Ship a lot and I used just options for ships to retreat when they're out of ammo or below certain HP. It meant that I can use orders to order my ships to actually do something instead of "plz don't die".

I think auto-retreat orders are a special case where having some thresholds can reduce the amount of attention you need to pay to ships, and generally that illustrates why you *don't* want to add things that require you to pay more attention. Basically, making AI behavior more complicated by allowing the player to give it constraints etc, in the general case, is not going to produce "smarter" AI that needs less watching; it'll probably do the opposite.

"Retreat" really is unique, here, I think, because it's a strategic decision with fairly easy to quantify parameters (hull, CR, etc), vs trying to positively influence the infinitely more complex second-to-second tactical behaviors.

Given that, I'd be open to doing something like that to simplify retreat (and am not necessarily against it being free, if it's automated), but it's a fairly low priority item and there'd be a bunch of UI stuff to work out, so it's not exactly trivial. Still, I'll keep it in mind!
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Megas

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2018, 12:50:28 PM »

I can tell you that it's much easier to just command your ship when you don't have to nanny your band of assorted drunken sailors every fight and instead tell them some general orders beforehand so that they don't do the stupid, for once.
I don't need to have that many options, I like mod Autonomous Ship a lot and I used just options for ships to retreat when they're out of ammo or below certain HP. It meant that I can use orders to order my ships to actually do something instead of "plz don't die".
This is kind of what I meant by macros (as used by Phantasy Star IV).  In that game, you could program a set of actions for your party to do instead of manually inputting every thing.  Okay, maybe this is not the best example...

Or something like Madden football, you choose a play, the other team chooses a play, before offense hikes the ball.

For Starsector, you effectively have one play (maybe two once faction aggressiveness becomes enabled).  What would be nice is you set general fleetwide orders before the fighting starts (and between rounds).  You may simply want everyone to do whatever and kill everything that moves, in which case, you use default behavior.  If you want to automatically capture the nearest points (without wasting all of your CP), you pick the capture play (we don't have that now, of course).  If you want ships to retreat when some ammo or peak performance threshold is met, you pick that play.  It should not be any more complicated that marking which ships and weapons your colonies prioritize to produce, can it?

P.S.  Due to limited CP, it is useful to gravitate toward one size for your ships.  A reason I do not use frigates or SO anything for endgame battles is I would burn all of my CP retreating individual ships, and peak performance exhaustion gets staggered among multiple ships.  Better for peak performance to expire simultaneously so I can retreat a bunch of ships with one CP.  Having ships retreat automatically when peak performance expires would be a very useful option, especially since we will not lose loot from simply retreating a battle before we win the encounter.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 12:55:41 PM by Megas »
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Morbo513

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2018, 01:10:59 PM »

I can certainly understand and agree with most of your reasoning, Alex. Don't get me wrong, I'd still much prefer SS' combat as an action game more than strategy.
One conundrum I had is that with this level of depth, enemy AI would be at a significant disadvantage against a player using it to full effect and don't really have a good solution to that. I digress.

I guess my wishlist really boils down to:
An improved escort command -  As I mentioned in the OP, the exact behaviour could be contextual. "Defend" I imagine would be very difficult to reliably determine, so forget that. "Wingman" would be the behaviour where the escort's firepower/overall strength is weaker than or equal to the escort target, "Protect" where the escort is significantly stronger than the escort target. This is assuming that the infrastructure to make such comparisons exists or would be easily achievable (Ordnance points?).

In other words if I have 2 AI frigates escorting my own, I want them to engage my target when I do. If I assign an escort to a tanker, I want them to be aggressive in acting to prevent harm to it.
Perhaps grouping ships could have them stay together by default, not requiring any input from the player. If there's one thing that leads to more friendly casualties than anything else, it's ships getting cut off and isolated and while Escort as it is helps prevent that, it also massively reduces the impact of the escorts themselves.
Alternately, ships in number groups could automatically maintain cohesion with one another and prioritise that above all else.

Deconfliction of carrier and fighter commands - I don't typically run carrier-heavy fleets, but I do want to be able to give separate orders to the carrier and its fighters. Have the carrier its self back up a capital, while sending its fighters to harass enemy frigates.

More lenient command points - Perhaps removing them is extreme; I do recognise that the limitation they impose serve a purpose, but I feel like it's too limiting and therefore still hate them. A good compromise might be to eliminate the cost of issuing orders at the very beginning of a battle.
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Alex

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2018, 02:11:41 PM »

P.S.  Due to limited CP, it is useful to gravitate toward one size for your ships.  A reason I do not use frigates or SO anything for endgame battles is I would burn all of my CP retreating individual ships, and peak performance exhaustion gets staggered among multiple ships.  Better for peak performance to expire simultaneously so I can retreat a bunch of ships with one CP.  Having ships retreat automatically when peak performance expires would be a very useful option, especially since we will not lose loot from simply retreating a battle before we win the encounter.

That's a good point. Will keep this in mind; the retreat stuff, between having to keep an eye on it and how it costs CP, is... not ideal.


One conundrum I had is that with this level of depth, enemy AI would be at a significant disadvantage against a player using it to full effect and don't really have a good solution to that. I digress.

Ah, wasn't thinking of that, but yes, that's a pretty big issue.

I guess my wishlist really boils down to:
An improved escort command -  As I mentioned in the OP, the exact behaviour could be contextual. "Defend" I imagine would be very difficult to reliably determine, so forget that. "Wingman" would be the behaviour where the escort's firepower/overall strength is weaker than or equal to the escort target, "Protect" where the escort is significantly stronger than the escort target. This is assuming that the infrastructure to make such comparisons exists or would be easily achievable (Ordnance points?).

In other words if I have 2 AI frigates escorting my own, I want them to engage my target when I do. If I assign an escort to a tanker, I want them to be aggressive in acting to prevent harm to it.
Perhaps grouping ships could have them stay together by default, not requiring any input from the player. If there's one thing that leads to more friendly casualties than anything else, it's ships getting cut off and isolated and while Escort as it is helps prevent that, it also massively reduces the impact of the escorts themselves.
Alternately, ships in number groups could automatically maintain cohesion with one another and prioritise that above all else.

In your experience, would you say the current escort behavior fits either of those roles?

(In general, intelligent escort behavior is... difficult.)

Deconfliction of carrier and fighter commands - I don't typically run carrier-heavy fleets, but I do want to be able to give separate orders to the carrier and its fighters. Have the carrier its self back up a capital, while sending its fighters to harass enemy frigates.

IIRC, it sort of implicitly works that way - you can give a fighter strike order, and the carrier will use its fighters to attack the target, while still remaining near/behind the largest friendly, only leaving them if the fighter strike target gets too far. Generally, though, that seems a bit too fiddly for me to want to provide explicit controls for.

More lenient command points - Perhaps removing them is extreme; I do recognise that the limitation they impose serve a purpose, but I feel like it's too limiting and therefore still hate them. A good compromise might be to eliminate the cost of issuing orders at the very beginning of a battle.

Hmm. How about making new assignments free while the command frequency is open? Just tried that (since it's pretty trivial) and it seems to be alright. Does mean more "eliminate" orders etc being available, potentially. Might have to tone down the number of command points a bit, but will keep it like this for now.

It's also cleaner in that there's no special rule for when something is or isn't free, and that's nice.
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stormbringer951

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Re: Battle Orders - Make me a captain, not an adviser.
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2018, 05:08:33 PM »

In your experience, would you say the current escort behavior fits either of those roles?

The current escort behaviour works well when you need to have a tanky frontline ship escort a fragile support one, or to leash a aggressive/reckless personality ship to a more cautious ship so it fights effectively but doesn't go too deep. In other cases of what "escort" could mean, like the ones Raccoon mentioned, I wouldn't use the order.

I feel it is tempting suicide to assign a weaker direct combat ship to escort a stronger one, since it will often try and shield the escortee when it is in trouble or stand and fight flankers head-on, against opponents that can chew it up in ten seconds flat. AI fleets assigns escort frigates a lot, and inevitably loses them pointlessly.

I don't think there's a need to individually set disposition on a per-ship basis (since officer personalities and full assault exist and in 0.9 you can set the personality that all non-officer ships will use) but I would like to tell ships exactly what I mean by "escort".

Yeah, between full assault, personalities and ship loadouts I feel like I have a lot of control over ship behaviour, although sometimes it hurts to not get the right character trait to be able to do certain loadouts on certain hulls, but that is what Borken's personality-change feature and autonomous ship hullmods are for.





My major pain point with the AI is that large, powerful ships will chase fast frigates around even while under orders to go do something else, because that frigate is nearby (it was at one point attempting to flank, but now is being futilely chased into the sunset by my entire heavy cruiser squadron). While sometimes this is all my own fault for not bringing enough fighter squadrons or frigates to stamp out flanking enemy frigates quickly, even with sufficient forces to exterminate all loose frigates, this is the one area where I will attempt to micromanage and target call for my frigate killers because it is infuriating to open up the map and realise all my slower heavy combatants are way out of position because they are all chasing the same irrelevant flanking frigate.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 05:12:11 PM by stormbringer951 »
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Weapons Group Controls mod - deselect all weapon groups, hold-down hold-fire mode, toggle alternating/linked fire
Captain's Log - throw away your notepad: custom notes, ruins and salvageable reminders
Old Hyperion - for your dose of nostalgia
Adjustable Skill Thresholds - set fleet DP and fighter bay thresholds
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