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Author Topic: Weapon Tuning/Modification  (Read 478 times)

Serenitis

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Weapon Tuning/Modification
« on: November 26, 2020, 02:57:39 AM »

We have always had a lot of requests to add more weapon types to 'fill in' gaps in the available loadout lineup.
Some of them eventually got added to the game, and became useful additions.

But what if such requests were no longer nescessary to fill in gaps, because the game gave you the ability to do so yourself?
What if you could make your coveted 800 range HE ballistic medium by modifying an existing weapon?

Consider the following:

In order to modify a weapon, the player would first need an example of that weapon in thier inventory (or storage).
Then they would need to apply a 'tuning package' to that weapon.

Such a package would be similar to a design spec for a hull mod except that it cannot be learned, only applied to a weapon.
They could be found in ruins, salvage, and maybe very rarely available in markets.
The package itself would indicate to the player which specific attribute of the weapon it will improve, but it will not give any indication of what other attributes will be compromised in order to achieve that.
(The packages will have thier exact attributes determined when they are generated, so save scumming will have no effect.)
Possibly the biggest factor will be that such tuning packages can only be used once. They are consumed by the process.

Possibly the simplest way the player could 'combine' these two items is to drag one onto the other.
The resulting 'tuned' weapon would then have to be marked in some way so the player could identify it easily. A simple small coloured shape overlayed in a corner might work (also might look awful).
Such a weapon also needs to be identified when installed on a ship.

If the player drags a single item onto a stack (or vice-versa), a single instance of that weapon is modified.
If the player drags a stack onto a stack, the tuning process is completed repeatedly until one of the stacks is gone.
This leads a fairly major downside. Using this method of modifying weapons will require a seperate inventory/storage slot for each instance of a weapon, as they will all have different attributes.
The process works okay for a single use, but is less than great as numbers increase. Clutter is not good.

There could also be the possibility of recovering pre-tuned weapons from salvage, which might be a good way to attract the player's interest.

Possible tunable attributes:
  • OP cost
  • Flux Efficiency (only for weapons which generate flux)
  • Shot Range (burn duration for missiles)
  • Shot Speed/Beam Extend Speed
  • Fire Rate/Cooldown
  • Damage per Shot

Additional possibilities if this isn't enough:
  • Traverse Speed (can only be increased - cannot be a dump stat for hardpoints)
  • Tracking Speed (only for homing weapons)
  • Recoil/Spread
  • Charge Count (only for weapons with charges/ammo - more expensive if weapon doesn't have native regeneration)
  • Charge Rate (only for weapons with charges/ammo - not applicable if weapon doesn't have native regeneration)


If this process sounds too arbitrary and random for your taste, there is another means to achive a similar result...

Dispense with the packages entirely, and instead have a colony building (either new or existing) enable some form of 'workshop' function which would allow the player to directly modify a weapon to thier tastes.
However, much like the packages above there will be an associated cost of improving one aspect of a weapon - other attributes will have to be sacrificed.

I imagine such a workshop UI would be a set of sliders, with the chosen attribute to increase separated & coloured green.
With all the other attribute sliders together & coloured red.
Increasing the green slider will create a number depending on how 'valuable' that attribute is.
The AI will then automatically adjust the red sliders to equal that number in some 'default' pattern that will produce a useful result. With each red slider having its own 'weight' depending on the relative value of that attribute.
The player will then have the option to alter this however they wish - so long as the numbers balance.

When satisfied, the player can then confirm and produce a single instance of that weapon to use however they wish.
Some usability suggestions might be:
  • Being able to apply tuning to multiple weapons simultaneously
  • Being able to give/show a weapon to the workshop in order to duplicate its tuning on another weapon of the same type

At this point, you could have the workshop produce blueprints for modified weapons. Which is a possibility.
But personally, I think having this ability be confined to what the player personally controls might make it feel a bit more 'special' than an addition to an opaque industrial process. I may be wrong tho.

In all probability, this is an awful idea that requires far too much effort. But its at least somewhat fun to contemplate.
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Megas

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2020, 06:53:48 AM »

Seems like munchkin bait if they can be mass produced.  Maybe okay if they are limited non-renewable resources like Legion14 or Alex's new exotic weapons.
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pairedeciseaux

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2020, 01:12:51 PM »

In all probability, this is an awful idea that requires far too much effort. But its at least somewhat fun to contemplate.

I approve the “somewhat fun to contemplate” part.  :)  In any cases it is a good attempt to, uh, solve a player problem? Surely an attempt made in a good faith.

I’m afraid the idea has a low benefit/cost ratio. Benefit being measured by relevant gameplay improvements, cost being measured by additional complexity and meaningless/boring gameplay.
Spoiler
As a player:
  • Would you “tune” the Heavy Mortar to 800-range with even worse spread and lowered damage per shot?
  • Would you “tune” the Heavy Mauler to 800-range with increased rate of fire and lowered damage per shot?

As a game designer: How much tuning latitude would you allow? Is it fun and/or meaningful? At what point does it break the game? Are you aligned with or working against the initial effort of creating unique weapons with clear advantages and disadvantages?
[close]

By the way, this smells like weapon crafting, and reminds me of some other games:
Spoiler
Terraria: player progression is deeply tied to gear obtained while exploring the world and defeating monsters/bosses, several pieces of gear can be combined together (and/or with additional material) to produce better gear (including weapons). Since Terraria was inspired by Minecraft, it’s not surprising to find such a crafting system and it works quite well.

Divinity OS 1 and 2: both games have a fairly extensive crafting system, player progression is tied to character level and gear (beside stories). I would argue the weapon crafting part is both unnecessary and not fun … though I imagine it might be a killer feature for a small subset of the player base. I remember there is one quest in DOS1 where crafting a specific weapon or tool at a specific place is required, and one important-though-optional special craft-able weapon/item in DOS2. Other than that loot/merchant cover all weapon acquisition needs in my experience: because looted/bought weapons have all sorts of variations/modifiers builtin, and eventually a suitable variant is found/bought quickly enough.
[close]

Does Starsector need weapon crafting (or “tuning”)? Not to be confused with the existing weapon construction. IMO the answer is no.

If the main reason the question is asked is that a few people want more medium HE ballistic guns options, then IMO these people should be directed at existing armor breaking solutions:
Spoiler
  • well, existing medium HE ballistic guns
  • both player/officer skill and hullmod increases range of all guns on a ship
  • (both player/officer skills and hullmods improve flux stats of a ship)
  • small HE ballistic guns (like, Light Assault Gun on Enforcer and Hammerhead)
  • large HE ballistic guns (Conquest, Dominator, Onslaught)
  • medium energy guns (Falcon, Eagle, Conquest)
  • missiles!
  • mods … on the top of my head, the following mods all add interesting medium HE ballistic guns: II, Scy, DA, DME, BDY
[close]

And I’m not going to explain why I think it is a bad idea to allow players to, say, reduce the OP cost of the small Reaper launcher (or any other 2-OP weapons), or increase the range of any laser beams, or increase the range or the “efficiency” of the Heavy Blaster, or increase the burst size of the needlers/HAC/MarkIX, or … you get the idea.  :P

Seems like munchkin bait if they can be mass produced.  Maybe okay if they are limited non-renewable resources like Legion14 or Alex's new exotic weapons.

That would be like a restricted selection of "unique weapons" with some of the upgrades/downgrades described in the first post, available in very low quantity (maybe as personal contact quest rewards?). I guess this would be acceptable... provided you manage to avoid confusing the player about that unique Mauler that is not exactly a Mauler.
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SCC

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2020, 01:34:49 PM »

How do you tell tweaked in one way, tweaked in another and completely untweaked versions apart?

Megas

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2020, 03:20:12 PM »

@ pairedeciseaux:  What I meant by limited is player cannot craft unlimited modified weapons.  I would imagine crafting modified weapons would be done by non-renewable one-use Domain magitech devices, or a planet with a wand of wishing device that has three charges.  Player applies said Domain magitech to a normal weapon and it becomes an unfair munchkin weapon.

If player can build as many mod weapons as he wants, then they become the new standard to min-max for and the new go-to weapons to use.  Not some cool thing that feels special.

The mod features will probably not be used to shore-up sub-optimal weapons' weak-points, they will be used to exaggerate the strengths of already good weapons.
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Serenitis

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2020, 03:10:37 AM »

How much tuning latitude would you allow?
Hopefully, enough to be worth the hassle. But not enough to be completely broken.
Smaller limits for the overcomplicated industry method, probably based on some quite steep diminishing returns.
Slightly less restructive for the finite modspec method, as that can be expressly defined in development & is entirely opaque to the player.
Quote
I’m not going to explain why I think it is a bad idea to...
You don't need to. Primarily because even with the rather permissive "infinite industry sliders" each attribute has a value assigned to it based on whether high number or low numbers are better for that attribute.
The closer that value is to the "better" end of its range, the more expensive it becomes to modify it.
So your 2OP Reaper could in theory be modified to be 1OP. But in practice you would have to "pay" so much from other attributes to achieve this, that it would not be worth the effort.

If done "correctly" it should be self-balancing. Increasing one attribute decreases others. Some attributes have a higher "cost" than others.
It's not perfect by any means, but its a system that could potentially work. The hard part is defining all the attribute values and relationships, so whatever script is running this can look at any weapon data (vanilla or mod) and say "x is worth 2y + z" etc.
Yeah, it's decidedly non-trivial. And very likely not worth the effort of pursuing any further...

The entire issue though, can be ignored completely if using the exploration based method as the player then has zero input to any of this - which tbf, would be the more interesting approach anyway.
As noted this could be also tied into the coming contacts feature, in addition to items recovered from salvage.

How do you tell tweaked in one way, tweaked in another and completely untweaked versions apart?
At first I though a neat background. But that wouldn't work for installed weapons.
So it would likely have to be an overlay of some kind.
A plain coloured shape would work for the inventory, but maybe not so well for installation.

I wonder if a semi-transparent overlay could be used to sit behind the weapon image, but infront of the ship, so it then looks like theres a glow around weapon..?
You'd need 1 for each size minimum.
Is it enough to highlight something and say "this thing is different - look at the stats!"?
If not we'd need different colours for different primary attribute boosts, that would be another 3 glow images for each.
There are probably better ways, but what they might be are beyond me tbh. UI-ing is hard.

The mod features will probably not be used to shore-up sub-optimal weapons' weak-points, they will be used to exaggerate the strengths of already good weapons.
Ngl, this is the single biggest failing of the "industry" method.
The exploration based finite method would (imo) be more fun, as the entire thing is essentially out of the players hands and just a roll of the dice in general. And the player just deals with what they're given.

Full transparency here:
I don't really "get" this min-max thing. I understand it conceptually, but fail to see why you'd ever want to do it. As it's shortcutting you out of fun (imo).
So yeah, I may not be the best person for munchkin-proofing ideas...
Please poke more holes!
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SCC

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2020, 03:19:42 AM »

I wonder if a semi-transparent overlay could be used to sit behind the weapon image, but infront of the ship, so it then looks like theres a glow around weapon..?
You'd need 1 for each size minimum.
Is it enough to highlight something and say "this thing is different - look at the stats!"?
If not we'd need different colours for different primary attribute boosts, that would be another 3 glow images for each.
There are probably better ways, but what they might be are beyond me tbh. UI-ing is hard.
In combat, I mean. In inventory time the game is paused, you can spend as much time playing around as you want, but in combat pausing just to assess random enemies' loadouts, because you no longer can do so at a glance, is going to be annoying.

Serenitis

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2020, 03:49:38 AM »

In combat, I mean. In inventory time the game is paused, you can spend as much time playing around as you want, but in combat pausing just to assess random enemies' loadouts, because you no longer can do so at a glance, is going to be annoying.
I hadn't considered that.
But would it be any different though?
The weapons will still fundamentally be whatever type they are. So even if some random ship has a mauler that can shoot at 1100 range, it will still recognisably be a mauler.
It might have slightly different stats to the standard version, but you could still glance at it and be fairly confident of what you're facing.

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Megas

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Re: Weapon Tuning/Modification
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2020, 09:42:46 AM »

I don't really "get" this min-max thing. I understand it conceptually, but fail to see why you'd ever want to do it. As it's shortcutting you out of fun (imo).
So yeah, I may not be the best person for munchkin-proofing ideas...
Please poke more holes!
For me, fun is winning the game by breaking it with the tools given by the game.  The best fight is the one the player is a god to utterly crush the enemy is a one-sided beatdown with, again, tools and rules given by the game.

I do not like close fights when I could have stacked the deck in my favor to win by a landslide instead.  That said, I do engage in close fights if necessary, but I prefer not to.

Cheating by using... cheats (editing saves, loading with dev mode to give lots of stuff, maybe playing with settings.json) defeats the point of the game.  Maybe as well say "I win" and do something else.
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