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Author Topic: How do we balance fighter spam?  (Read 4865 times)

Warnoise

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How do we balance fighter spam?
« on: February 28, 2021, 10:44:01 AM »

Fighters now are the by far the best in terms of cost/performance. They play so many roles that having (a lot) of them in a fleet is a must:
-They bomb targets without worrying about ammunition
-They can block incoming damage. Especially incoming torpedoes and other high damaging projectiles
-They can aggro AI turrets, leaving your actual ships safe from damage
-Fighter spam will melt absolutely anything without having to worry about ship losses

Seriously, every playthrough I found myself changing to fighter spam fleet without realising it. All that because fighters so much better than anything else.

I am aware however that they are in a delicate place currently, but for a start I wish at least they don't stop non pd projectiles (unless they are heavy fighters) because having your torpedo getting stopped by a small spark is kind of frustrating.
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Helldiver

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2021, 11:48:11 AM »

Large and medium non-PD guns shouldn't target fighters by default unless no enemy ships are close by. Too much flux and and effective damage wasted by medium and large guns constantly and clumsily trying to hit fighters on AI ships (and on autofire groups on player ships). Part of the reason why AI fleets are so easily baited into high flux and pointing their main guns away by fighters.
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Thaago

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2021, 11:52:46 AM »

I think its a bit tricky to come up with concrete suggestions right now because there are some changes we know about (smaller fleet sizes, changes to fighter skills, changes to player combat skills) that are going to drastically change the balance of fighters. My personal thought is to make most fighters have a shorter range in order to make the carriers more vulnerable, combined with AI that much more aggressively engages them, but I don't know if those are good ideas given what else is coming up.

Large and medium non-PD guns shouldn't target fighters by default unless no enemy ships are close by. Too much flux and and effective damage wasted by medium and large guns constantly and clumsily trying to hit fighters on AI ships (and on autofire groups on player ships). Part of the reason why AI fleets are so easily baited into high flux and pointing their main guns away by fighters.

I disagree with this just because some of those guns are really great fighter killing weapons. The current plasma cannon has a tag to stop if from firing at fighters on autofire and perhaps that tag could be shared to a few more guns, but for the most part medium and (sometimes large) weapons are excellent tools for killing fighters.
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SCC

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2021, 12:13:04 PM »

I wonder how would giving all fighters ammo, thus requiring that they periodically return to carriers and give their targets a breather, affect this issue. Has anyone tried it?

sector_terror

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2021, 12:29:35 PM »

I wonder how would giving all fighters ammo, thus requiring that they periodically return to carriers and give their targets a breather, affect this issue. Has anyone tried it?

Does this not alreayd exist for bombers?
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Helldiver

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2021, 12:46:50 PM »

I disagree with this just because some of those guns are really great fighter killing weapons. The current plasma cannon has a tag to stop if from firing at fighters on autofire and perhaps that tag could be shared to a few more guns, but for the most part medium and (sometimes large) weapons are excellent tools for killing fighters.

A few are good at killing fighters, but when AI/autofire slowly traverses slow turning guns to waste flux at fighters that they probably won't hit when there's enemy ships nearby it just causes ships to get flux-locked and blasted and in a stupid and frustrating way - both because you lose ships to it and because it's abuseable as all hell against AI. Imagine playing a naval game and battleships randomly turn their main batteries away from enemy surface targets because some fighters are flying by.
There is no justification for this kind of issue to still be in the game after a decade either. Why can't gun groups have target priorities? Why can't ships have target priorities?
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Flying Dice

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2021, 01:17:24 PM »

I don't really see it as being as much of an issue as the OP suggests. Fighter spam is subject to the same limitations as several other things (like torp spam): it doesn't scale infinitely. One carrier is good. Three carriers are great. 30 carriers are going to get blown up by an equivalent-DP fleet from a serious opponent. Higher-end ships are stronger defensively against fighter spam, have better PD, and tend to have more fighter coverage themselves. Fighters will rip through low-tier trash when massed, but against massed good direct-fire ships they can't keep the enemy battle line off of the carriers without a good chunk of the fleet being direct-combat itself.

At most I'd suggest a few more variants with more OP allocated towards PD.

(This is entirely ignoring that carrier spam is the most boring, passive way to play and I can't imagine anyone enjoying it for very long.)

I wonder how would giving all fighters ammo, thus requiring that they periodically return to carriers and give their targets a breather, affect this issue. Has anyone tried it?
This is functionally what fighters themselves are; the "reload" is the time it takes for the ship to produce new ones after they get blown up.

I disagree with this just because some of those guns are really great fighter killing weapons. The current plasma cannon has a tag to stop if from firing at fighters on autofire and perhaps that tag could be shared to a few more guns, but for the most part medium and (sometimes large) weapons are excellent tools for killing fighters.

A few are good at killing fighters, but when AI/autofire slowly traverses slow turning guns to waste flux at fighters that they probably won't hit when there's enemy ships nearby it just causes ships to get flux-locked and blasted and in a stupid and frustrating way - both because you lose ships to it and because it's abuseable as all hell against AI. Imagine playing a naval game and battleships randomly turn their main batteries away from enemy surface targets because some fighters are flying by.
There is no justification for this kind of issue to still be in the game after a decade either. Why can't gun groups have target priorities? Why can't ships have target priorities?
Use your targeting key. All non-PD weapons on autofire will prioritize the targeted enemy ship over all other targets so long as its inside their firing arc. Don't leave your important high-flux weapons on autofire. Focused fire is vastly more efficient than letting every weapon fire at will anyways, the only time I wouldn't do it is when there's such a substantial disparity that it doesn't matter, like flying a fully kitted-out Paragon into a cloud of pirate frigates.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2021, 01:20:46 PM by Flying Dice »
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2021, 01:34:18 PM »

30 carriers are going to get blown up by an equivalent-DP fleet from a serious opponent.
This is how it should be, but it is not true in practice.

I remember someone managed to beat a full remnant fleet (multiple radiants etc) with pure drover spark spam, there is a video of it in the comments in this thread https://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=16371.15. En mass, fighters can concentrate fire to an arbitrary extent while warships cannot. If the fighters can kill things quickly, then they don't die and snowball through everything making all the fighter replacement mechanics mostly irrelevant.

I do not do this because it is boring, but it is definitely the most effective strategy from an objective standpoint.


Forcing fighters to reload occasionally even if they don't die might help that a lot, I'd like to see the results. I'm also interested to see how the gaurdian PD performs against fighters after the buff. It would also be cool to see the devestator changed to be more anti-fighter oriented. I feel like it could fit that role if the AI tags were changed. Making warships better against fighters is an equally valid mechanaism for balancing them.

Use your targeting key. All non-PD weapons on autofire will prioritize the targeted enemy ship over all other targets so long as its inside their firing arc. Don't leave your important high-flux weapons on autofire.
The AI autofires everything and turns off auto fire to hold fire. The player cannot control that behavior in their fleet.
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Thaago

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2021, 01:49:53 PM »

Quote
...
I do not do this because it is boring, but it is definitely the most effective strategy from an objective standpoint.
...

I don't really agree with this. Its certainly an effective strategy, but lots of fleets can kill multi-ordo remnants. There are a few downsides as well: it takes a while to grind enough spark chips and, if I remember the video correctly, its a very slow battle that sometimes requires retreating and re-engaging.

The biggest issue with fighters IMO (and was pointed out in the thread linked) is that the AI just doesn't deal with carriers or fighters all that well. When playing against them the player can work around it with orders, but we'll just have to wait and see if enemy fleets will effectively engage player carriers in .95.
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SCC

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2021, 01:53:52 PM »

This is functionally what fighters themselves are; the "reload" is the time it takes for the ship to produce new ones after they get blown up.
Forcing fighters to reload occasionally even if they don't die might help that a lot, I'd like to see the results.
The idea is that even an invincible fighter has to come back and rearm every so often. Currently, if fighters don't die, they stay on the field and give no respite to their targets, which decreases their losses, which allows them to fight for longer and so on — assuming you achieved the critical mass.

Helldiver

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2021, 02:47:47 PM »

Use your targeting key. All non-PD weapons on autofire will prioritize the targeted enemy ship over all other targets so long as its inside their firing arc. Don't leave your important high-flux weapons on autofire. Focused fire is vastly more efficient than letting every weapon fire at will anyways, the only time I wouldn't do it is when there's such a substantial disparity that it doesn't matter, like flying a fully kitted-out Paragon into a cloud of pirate frigates.

Inside firing arc isn't the issue, which is why I wrote "nearby" and not "in range" - don't assume that people can't play the game. A ship is close but not yet in range or within arcs and all guns controlled by AI or on autofire will shoot at fighters if they can causing much flux, guns pointed in random directions and even backwards and so on, regardless of you targeting/locking on the ship or the AI being aware of it.

"Don't leave your important high-flux weapons on autofire" doesn't fix the issue. It does nothing for AI ships. And why shouldn't we be able to use high flux weapons on autofire? Because the targeting logic is dumb and uses all but one gun as an anti-fighter gun at all times the moment fighters enter range before a ship does? The player should never be stopped from using a feature as a work around to bad AI or targeting logic.

Fighters causing many ships on the receiving side to constantly misuse their guns and flux is one of the reasons why they are so effective against AI and frustrating to watch for the player. Next update will reduce overall fighter power but targeting logic will still be an issue.
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hydremajor

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2021, 03:06:10 PM »

so the way things are worded you make it sound like fighters can respawn however many times they need to in combat after being shot down...

if that is the case I suggest a loss of armor everytime they do respawn OR an increase in respawn time everytime with the first respawn being the only exception

If I'm wrong about how this works, sorry but absolutely despise CR so much I basically swore off the game since it that got thrown in ....
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Megas

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2021, 03:54:49 PM »

if that is the case I suggest a loss of armor everytime they do respawn OR an increase in respawn time everytime with the first respawn being the only exception
That is the point of declining replacement rate.  The problem is it is not too hard to keep it at max at all times, with carrier skills and Expanded Deck Crew.  The Expanded Deck Crew hullmod is so good that it is an ITU-equivalent for carriers, and it will be heavily weakened next release.  (I do not like Deck Crew because it discourages pre-0.8a gunship loadouts; better to overspecialize on fighter power on carriers and leave them mostly unarmed.)  Also, carrier skill bonus will degrade if there are too many fighters.  (Although it could be like 0.65a Logistics where more was usually better despite the penalties.)
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Daimon

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2021, 12:59:47 AM »

If we step a step back and consider what this actually means in a lore sense, it's nothing to be afraid of.
Fighters might simply be the best weapon system available. If you consider that battleships on earth got bigger and bigger until they became so expensive and easy to counter that smaller vessels took over as the backbone of fleets (notably carriers and small destroyers). Massive tanks got replaced by drones, too.
Under this premise, I have no issue in having superior fighters.
On the other side, bigger space ships have other advantages, like more efficient drives (technically bigger ships are quicker than smaller ones, but I can deal with this error since small=agile is so often repeated) and being able to handle super sized weapons (which are a bit pointless against smaller enemies though)
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Chikanuk

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Re: How do we balance fighter spam?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2021, 02:41:18 AM »

We dont need to fix it.
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