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Author Topic: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression  (Read 2831 times)

intrinsic_parity

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Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« on: February 25, 2020, 09:45:06 AM »

I've seen a lot of discussion recently about the imbalance between smaller ships and larger ships, however, I think most of that discussion is in the context of very late game fleets. The implicit idea is that all ships should be viable in late game fleets. I feel like that is not necessarily required, as long as all ships are viable/useful for a significant portion of the campaign.

An alternative to altering the balance of very late game ship composition (which will tend to bigger/more powerful ships naturally), is to try and change the balance of progression so that the player spends more time playing with smaller ships, even if they end up retiring them after some time. I think ship availability is something that could be tweaked a lot to affect that. You could alter access to markets, prices, salvage drop rates etc. to try and slow down the progression towards the biggest ships. I like the fact that big ships feel like an upgrade/reward over smaller ships, and not just a slower/tankier alternative.

I'm not going to get into to super specific suggestions for changing this stuff to avoid bloating the post too much (I think I'm going to make a separate thread about salvaging because I have several issues with the current implementation), but IMO, the overabundance of easily acquirable ships (both from salvage and stores) means the player basically scales up their fleet at the same rate they gain money (which is coincidentally all the player does) meaning they scale up very quickly. The effect on fleet balance is that they don't spend that much time playing with small ships because they quickly gain access to better ships.

Another thought: maybe the addition of more content for the player to do (rather than just grind cash and get a bigger fleet) will slow down progression leading the player to spend more time playing with smaller ships.

Anyway, I'd love to hear if other people think this is a good way to alter fleet balance and other suggestions about what to change.
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Megas

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2020, 10:25:57 AM »

Not fond of grind gates.

The slower the progression, the slower the named bounties need to progress.  They already possibly progress faster than player can comfortably keep up since 0.9.1a made bigger ships more expensive and slower to acquire (aside from lucky salvage).

As for progression, all I really care about is the spikes in named bounties.  There is a big one between 100k and 150k, and another past 250k.

To make small ships more useful, they need to last in a fight.  I do not want to waste lots of CP retreating ships because they cannot stay and fight long enough before PPT expires.  Recent fleet bloat has made most small ships undesirable.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2020, 04:33:59 PM »

The slower the progression, the slower the named bounties need to progress.  They already possibly progress faster than player can comfortably keep up since 0.9.1a made bigger ships more expensive and slower to acquire (aside from lucky salvage).

As for progression, all I really care about is the spikes in named bounties.  There is a big one between 100k and 150k, and another past 250k.
I definitely think that bounties should progress more slowly, in fact, I think the player should have control over how fast the bounties progress by having to request/unlock higher tiers of bounties from a bounty hunters guild or from factions directly.

To make small ships more useful, they need to last in a fight.  I do not want to waste lots of CP retreating ships because they cannot stay and fight long enough before PPT expires.  Recent fleet bloat has made most small ships undesirable.
I don't agree with the first part though. I wouldn't mind increased PPT, but I think there are way more reasons and mechanics that push large ships to be more useful (officer mechanics, concentration of forces, fighters, individual ship balance etc...), and changing all of those things is never going to be practical. I'm thinking about ships usefulness as something that varies over the course of the campaign rather than them having an overall usefulness. Small ships are already very useful early on in the campaign. I think the problem is that the player can easily get large ships very quickly, and so the portion of the campaign where small ships are useful is too short. I don't have a problem with late game fights being huge, but you get there so quickly that it ends up being most of the game. Frigates are useful as long as you don't have (or have to fight) cruisers and capitals, so you can just make that portion of the game longer and frigates become more useful. Other people have suggested 'skirmishes' or 'ambushes' to get a similar result (more fights mostly composed of smaller ships), but I think progression is maybe a better way to do it. As long as the rest of the game (quests, bounties, remnant fleets etc.) don't scale too quickly, I don't see anything wrong with the player just spending more time playing with smaller ships before reaching end game.

I also don't want the game to become grindy, but I assume as more story/quests/things to do get added in, it will naturally slow down progression. We just need player access to ships and implicit scaling of enemies to get toned back so that the is both less able to scale up and and less required to scale up.
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Morrokain

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2020, 04:46:02 PM »

I agree with the OP regarding progression mechanics, though I don't necessarily think that the idea of using all ship types in the late game is bad.

That aside, my two main thoughts about ship availability:

1) No capitals or cruisers below .4 rarity on the open market. No ships, in general, below .2 rarity on the black market unless the colony size is 7 or greater. (specific, yes, but this is what it boiled down to for me in my head- feel free to disagree with the details but the general idea is there.)

2) Reduce the accessibility of derelicts when two NPC factions fight. It makes it really easy to get high tier ships in the right circumstances. Maybe tie this into the marine raid encounter mechanics to provide a higher bar to salvage things like capitals?- through requiring a large quantity of marines to be able to make this happen?
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Megas

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2020, 09:45:29 AM »

@ intrinsic_parity:  Sure, PPT is not the only reason, but it is so fundamental that other reasons do not matter if the frigate cannot even fight at all due to no PPT.

Frigates become obsolete almost immediately because pirates are dropping destroyers after battle right off the bat, and they are probably more useful than frigates.  This is not counting the Apogee start for those who want to get out early-game hell as quickly as possible.  My early game fleet quickly becomes a mess of Enforcers, Mules, and Shrike (P)s, led by starter Apogee.
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bobucles

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2020, 10:37:04 AM »

I do find it a bit odd that you can go to the market and pick up a pristine Conquest, just like that. Who's selling these ships? I just checked the Sindrian market and found 3 pristine Prometheus ships. Wow.

Would it make sense to tie story points into fleet progression? For example there's mostly junk on the market but one really nice premium ship. Unfortunately you have to pull some strings to make the sale. The ship would have its normal store cost, but also require some story points to pick up. Practically all capital ships may require story points to purchase, while extremely good smaller ships might need one as well. The rest of the rabble can be bought and sold as you please.

Nick XR

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2020, 02:34:06 PM »

This ties into the skirmish/ambush stuff in that there's nothing for AI frigates to do but die once the big boys show up in normal combat. 

intrinsic_parity

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2020, 03:27:42 PM »

I personally think most worlds shouldn't even have a shipyard. And the worlds with big shipyards should have more restrictions. I don't really like reputation gates the way they are right now because they feel pretty grindy (doing missions for 5 rep at a time to get to a threshold sucks). I would prefer if they were story gates (i.e. do particular missions to help the local admiral and then he gives you access the shipyard). You can have progressively harder missions to get higher access to the shipyard (better and bigger ships), and it might actually be worth losing ships on one of those missions if it gives you access to the big boys. That sort of motivation doesn't exist in the game right now. You can always get money or rep more slowly by doing less risky missions. This would also tie into the suggestion I made in another thread to have your reputation with local commanders determine patrol status. Now it could also determine shipyard access meaning your reputations with local commanders would start to be really important.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2020, 03:41:44 PM »

@ intrinsic_parity:  Sure, PPT is not the only reason, but it is so fundamental that other reasons do not matter if the frigate cannot even fight at all due to no PPT.
Like I said, PPT matters more as battle size increases. Current frigates have enough ppt to fight smaller frigate/destroyer based fleets, but there are so few fights where that is what you have to do that they don't end up being useful over the course of the campaign. One solution is to increase ppt and the other is to increase the number of small fights. That's a bit of an extreme because I agree that ppt is more of an issue than other factors right now and both can be adjusted, but I think there are just so many different factors making frigates weak in late game battles that it's not reasonable or practical to change them all. It's better to change the battles the player commonly has to face (in addition to some tweaks like ppt).

Frigates become obsolete almost immediately because pirates are dropping destroyers after battle right off the bat, and they are probably more useful than frigates.  This is not counting the Apogee start for those who want to get out early-game hell as quickly as possible.  My early game fleet quickly becomes a mess of Enforcers, Mules, and Shrike (P)s, led by starter Apogee.
I definitely agree that salvaging tends to push the player out of early game much more quickly than into late game, and the starting options and early game enemies push the player away from frigates as well. I'm going to make another suggestion thread about salvaging but I think it could use some significant changes.
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FooF

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2020, 05:05:37 PM »

Suggestion:

As long as a Frigate is "near" (range to be determined) an allied ship of equal or greater size than an opposing ship "nearby", its PPT rate does not decay. Additional consideration could be made if this is a skill-based mechanism rather than inherent.
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Megas

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2020, 05:15:46 PM »

If shipyards become too hard to access, player may just skip entirely and rely either on salvage or early colony/heavy industry.  Military market is a no-go zone unless player has commission.

Missions and named bounty hunting stink for rep building.  Multiple combats in quick succession is the fastest way to build rep.  That means either commission and killing spree against their enemies, or let pirates raid a system then go on pirate killing spree after a system bounty gets posted.  Bonus points if player can do both at the same time.

I buy very few ships from core markets, but I do like that they are in open market due to commission gate.  Most of my ships are whatever I steal from the enemy or find laying around, then whatever my colony can produce after I build a heavy industry.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2020, 05:51:55 PM »

If shipyards become too hard to access, player may just skip entirely and rely either on salvage or early colony/heavy industry.  Military market is a no-go zone unless player has commission.

Missions and named bounty hunting stink for rep building.  Multiple combats in quick succession is the fastest way to build rep.  That means either commission and killing spree against their enemies, or let pirates raid a system then go on pirate killing spree after a system bounty gets posted.  Bonus points if player can do both at the same time.

I buy very few ships from core markets, but I do like that they are in open market due to commission gate.  Most of my ships are whatever I steal from the enemy or find laying around, then whatever my colony can produce after I build a heavy industry.

This is why I wanted to change the way the player gets access to shipyards:
I don't really like reputation gates the way they are right now because they feel pretty grindy (doing missions for 5 rep at a time to get to a threshold sucks). I would prefer if they were story gates (i.e. do particular missions to help the local admiral and then he gives you access the shipyard). You can have progressively harder missions to get higher access to the shipyard (better and bigger ships), and it might actually be worth losing ships on one of those missions if it gives you access to the big boys. That sort of motivation doesn't exist in the game right now. You can always get money or rep more slowly by doing less risky missions and that's boring IMO.
The suggestion is that faction rep no longer gives you access to shipyards. Instead, access to a shipyard is given by a local commander who you need to do missions for. The idea is that you might only need to do a couple missions to get full access to a particular shipyard, but they will be much harder and more story oriented, rather than grinding 20 easy missions or fights.

I mostly buy ships, especially early on. I buy on the black market whenever possible, and I take TT commission to get my favorite high tech ships. I'm happy to pay full price for a nice pristine flagship that lets me have a big influence on battles, and I'll pay black market prices for solid fleet filler ships like hammerheads/drovers/eagles.

I also agree that salvaging might become too good if shipyards are hard to access which is why I think salvaging needs to change too.
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Plantissue

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2020, 07:14:12 AM »

I don't understand where this idea of an overabundance of easily acquirable capital ships come from. The only easily acquirable capital ship is the conquest and that's because the sole independent military colony produces it, so you don't need a commission, only reputation. Everything else is gated behind commissions and reputation. There's also black markets, but that's hardly an overabundance if you have to search for the ship you want.

Not against the idea of gating ships further, but there should be some awareness of its side effects, namely accelerating the desirability of a colony that can produce of blueprints and of blueprints itself.

I do find it a bit odd that you can go to the market and pick up a pristine Conquest, just like that. Who's selling these ships? I just checked the Sindrian market and found 3 pristine Prometheus ships. Wow.
Yes, tell us who is selling these ships? What open market is selling pristine Conquest? Should be only Sindria to my recollection and it should have d-mods. Maybe Kazeron theoretically as well though I've never seen it. So it's pretty rare and you can't buy in bulk. Prometheus ships are a civilian ship. To be honest I would expect 6-8 size colonies to have them available.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2020, 09:08:26 AM »

It's not about capitals specifically, it's about  how quickly your fleet increases in size (both numbers and ships sizes). You can literally start the game with an apogee and multiple frigates and destroyers. The idea is to stretch out the early period of the game when you have a smaller fleet. I think the combat plays very differently when there are less/smaller ships, and that combat style is also fun, but it just ends so quickly because you get access to bigger ships so quickly. Capitals aren't fundamentally the problem nor are they the reason for the suggestion.

I would also argue its pretty easy to get a friendly/cooperative reputation with any size fleet because you get the same reputation gains from every fight and mission. Just take a commission right away and go to a couple system bounties with the starter fleet and you will have good enough rep to buy capitals or at least cruisers from your faction of choice. That can happen very early on in the game, so I don't consider reputation gates to really be a significant obstacle.

I would also agree that these changes could necessitate changes to colony production as well, but honestly, its much less viable to 'rush' a colony for ship production if you don't already have a decent fleet. You will get crushed by the raids and expeditions. It more likely that this would delay the point in the game where you could safely start a colony unless raids and expeditions change a bit. I think they are already slated to be changed though so its sort of hard to speculate about that.
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Grievous69

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Re: Tuning fleet composition balance by progression
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2020, 10:15:24 AM »

You can literally start the game with an apogee and multiple frigates and destroyers. The idea is to stretch out the early period of the game when you have a smaller fleet.
It's called a FAST start for a reason, seeing as how you prefer battles with smaller ships you can just, you know, go with the ordinary starts...

And I also don't get the ''oh look pristine capitals in every market''. Yeah ok someone got lucky and saw a pristine ship once, so what? It's one capital. I was once commissioned by Tri-Tach and spent multiple months at their markets trying to buy a capital other than Paragon and no dice. It was always 4-5 Paragons and nothing else, not even Auroras. People see one Atlas 2 on the black market and immediately lose their mind. It's strong as a mere cruiser so who cares about the ''no capitals on black market''.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2020, 03:40:28 PM by Grievous69 »
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