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Author Topic: Bounty Balance  (Read 2482 times)

ElPresidente

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Bounty Balance
« on: May 13, 2021, 04:46:12 AM »

I'm playing with double bounty and it still feels like I'm not paid nearly enough.

The enemy almost ALWAYS outnumbers you by a wide margin (I have a fleet of 5 battleships, 6 cruisers, 8 destroyers, several frigates nd TONS of support ships and it feels like the enemy has a lot more Deployment Points than me), and even the biggest bounties have a payout that is quite simply NOT worth it.

The entire balance is based on the premise that you will not loose a single ship. That is both unrealistic and stupid. Ships die, they get flanked, the AI makes stupid moves and dies.

When the costs of repairing my ships and getting supplies is greater than the bounty reward, then the value of bounties is put in question.
Getting rid of a SINGLE D-mod on some higher-end ships can be obnoxiously expensive. I have to do several bounties to get enough money to repair ONE ship.

Something like the insurance mechanic from Nex is needed, or much, MUCH beefier rewards. Trading is 20 times as profitable as bounties.
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SafariJohn

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2021, 04:58:37 AM »

Random bounties or bounties from contacts?
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ElPresidente

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2021, 05:12:51 AM »

Random bounties or bounties from contacts?

Random.
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Megas

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2021, 05:31:23 AM »

It is a problem once named bounties reach 150k, and it becomes more exaggerated once bounties exceed 250k.  And all bounties aside from the token 50k one are all of the same difficulty, sometimes getting there before the player is ready.

A fleet overpowered enough to eat endgame bounties left and right will accumulate money and story points quickly, but the moment your fleet loses a capital, you need the rewards of two or three endgame bounties to fix it.  Player who loses Ziggurat and wants to restore it can pay over 1.5 million credits to fix it.  Talk about AD&D style level drain.

The biggest problem of bounties is not game balance, but verisimilitude or world building.  Who would do these bounties if the player did not exist?  NO ONE!  NPC bounty hunters with similar capital and officer spam fleets as the target bounty would either refuse to do the bounty or do it and get ruined and put out of business if not totally wiped and killed.  It is like the bounty commissioners are snickering and waiting for some fool to spill their blood and treasure for almost nothing.

Named bounties have nothing over station bounties.  50k to 80k for a two-section station that is roughly as strong as a 150k named bounty.  Also, it is much more rewarding to chain-raid the station for supplies, fuel, or drugs.  Player with lots of attack strength can raid for 1,500 supplies per raid, which is worth about 150k (or more if you sell at core worlds with a shortage).

In short, for a game that wants to push player toward combat, it discourages that very thing unless the player is overwhelmingly overpowered to the point that flawless victory is nearly assured.  (Players who want a challenge are bored; players who want to feel like an overpowered god will enjoy stepping on bugs.)  Losses are generally very painful.  Painful to the point that it is faster to reload and try again than it is to play on and recover.  Industry 4 can mitigate losses to an extent.  Field Repairs slowly wiping out d-mods, while Derelict Contingent wants d-mods to get stronger.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 08:47:12 AM by Megas »
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2021, 08:49:46 AM »

I wonder if it would be better if random bounties didn't go over a threshold (~150-200k maybe) and high end bounties were exclusive to contact missions.
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Megas

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2021, 09:14:43 AM »

I wonder if it would be better if random bounties didn't go over a threshold (~150-200k maybe) and high end bounties were exclusive to contact missions.
Does not solve the problem that only a god (i.e. the player's fleet) can take mid to higher bounties without getting killed or financially ruined if the hired dog is too dumb to live.  Does not matter if they are random or if player visits a contact.

150k can be overwhelming early if player does not upgrade fast enough and/or min-max for combat.

Endgame bounties are fine once player has a decent endgame fleet, even if it cannot kill Ordos.  The problem is getting only endgame bounties when player still has a midgame fleet (or player getting only midgame bounties when he has mostly frigates and did not get Wolfpack Tactics).
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Argentj

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2021, 09:37:44 AM »

I agree:  these could use a pass in the next spiral.  Enemy fleet composition to reward ratios are poor, the scaling of bounty size to your fleet is off, and the erratic nature of dispensation is also off.

For the first few months, though, they are great if you are a combat fleet.
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SCC

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2021, 10:38:27 AM »

I wonder if replacing or supplementing bounties with "do a thing and fight or sneak past a fleet guarding it" tasks could work. Dead drop already kinda works like it, but only kinda, the enemy fleet only comes later and you don't have to fight it at all, even though it homes in on you.

Megas

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2021, 10:44:32 AM »

Underpaying as named bounties go, bar missions are worse.  Do a 50k to 80k job (dead drop, warehouse raid, etc.) then get a 150k to 220k equivalent hunter or revenge fleet after you.  Bar missions make named bounties look generous (they are not).

Sometimes, those hunter/revenge fleets stick around for a long time and can ambush players much later after the job is done and forgotten.

I have learned to avoid those missions like the plague.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 10:47:38 AM by Megas »
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2021, 11:42:09 AM »

I wonder if it would be better if random bounties didn't go over a threshold (~150-200k maybe) and high end bounties were exclusive to contact missions.
Does not solve the problem that only a god (i.e. the player's fleet) can take mid to higher bounties without getting killed or financially ruined if the hired dog is too dumb to live.  Does not matter if they are random or if player visits a contact.

150k can be overwhelming early if player does not upgrade fast enough and/or min-max for combat.

Endgame bounties are fine once player has a decent endgame fleet, even if it cannot kill Ordos.  The problem is getting only endgame bounties when player still has a midgame fleet (or player getting only midgame bounties when he has mostly frigates and did not get Wolfpack Tactics).
I do think it address this issue, 150k fleets are definitely very manageable for most mid game fleets, and certainly for anything with even a single capital ship. They can be reliably beaten with no losses and 150-200k is enough that it's worth doing them even for late game fleets. The high tier contact bounties are supposed to be special challenges that are given to player because they are a specialist so it makes a lot more sense that you might see super difficult fighters there.

The question of how soon the player gets offered 150k bounties is a completely independent question about bounty scaling which isn't tied to the question of what the maximum random bounty tier should be.

I also wouldn't mind if some mega bounty hunter fleets similar to a player mid-late game fleet would fly around just for flavor/world building.
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Thaago

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2021, 03:16:04 PM »

Bounty payout being worth it depends heavily on how concentrated and powerful the player fleet is and to be honest on player skill, both in combat and in fleet building. 300k multi capital bounties can be done with a couple of cruisers + half a dozen destroyers + support ships (and not current power strategies of Dooms/phase ships/Derelict contingent either, just normal non-SO ships) because they aren't nearly as dangerous as their ship numbers suggest. They tend to have low quality loadouts and officers, at least compared to endgame bounties.

My first piece of advise would be to audit the fleet and figure out what ships are needed and what are wasted. Having a decent number of ships on the field is really important to stop from getting swarmed and distracted; having deadly ships on the field to quickly kill enemy capitals by means of force concentration is really important. Those 2 aspects need to be balanced in a maximum budget of 240 DP, with how battles and skills work at present. Personally, I have found for current balance that either 1 or 2 capital ships (or equivalents) is the right number and more is sub optimal. Too many cruisers is also bad: gotta have a decent number of ships! The fleet you mentioned - 5 battleships, 6 cruisers, 8 destroyers, etc - is so large that even half of it can't all be deployed at once, its losing fleetwide bonuses so every ship is weaker than it could be, and many ships probably do not have officers unless the player is spending cash and story points (and real world grinding time) on mercenaries. It also really expensive to maintain: a lean, concentrated fleet can scavenge twice the supplies it spends fighting from the enemies it kills without issue (though having a few shepherds along to boost post battle salvage helps there).

My second piece of advice: have second line ships and treat them as such. Its true that bounty payouts for endgame fleets are less than the cost of repairing a capital, and even cruisers are pretty expensive. But destroyers and frigates are cheap and its also not the end of the world if they get a D mod or 2 from being blown up: they aren't meant to be high performance killers like officered ships, they are there to act as support ships to the officered ones. When its acceptable for a cheap ship to be blown up 2 or 3 times before they have enough D mods to be truly worthless, the marginal loss starts to get really low. Have one of these second line ships set to escort each large ship that you don't want to get blown up, and make sure that the fleet setting for non-officered ships is aggressive or higher (3 ticks). Escorts with these setting will swing around to the "front flank" area of their escortee ship and take a lot of pressure off, even if they aren't laying down all that much fire. Most of the time losses will come from these low performance, cheap, and disposable support ships rather than the expensive ones.

I wonder if it would be better if random bounties didn't go over a threshold (~150-200k maybe) and high end bounties were exclusive to contact missions.

I would not like this. 150-200k are fights on the level of first few destroyer purchases or even tutorial fleets (for the weak pirate ones, bit of RNG there) for player who specialize in bounty hunting. I like the contact system in general, but I don't want to have to grind through 10-20 bar missions to get a decently important bounty contact.
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Amoebka

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2021, 03:23:43 PM »

Bounty payouts are just all over the place.

A 3-module orbital station with defending fleets is 50k.

A d-modded Mule with 3 frigates is 50k.

A 20 ship cruiser ball is 150k.

An underworld system patrol bounty of 3 lashers is 150k.

There are bounty types that are worth doing, and ones that aren't.
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Locklave

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2021, 03:30:23 PM »

Top pay bounties encourage you to use cheese OP ships/builds.

It's not balanced around a normal fleet/normal builds. It's balanced for people cheesing frigate buffs/officer Tempest SO spamming and such. It's balanced for try harders, or at least that's how they feel to me. Maybe I suck? w/e.

Enemy fleet has a captained Doom in it for 250k+, hard pass, thanks but no thanks.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2021, 03:32:12 PM »

In my experience 150-200k fleets are 10-15 cruiser fleets or single capital with decent support, or at least that's what I was suggesting as the upper limit. That's definitely not doable with a tutorial fleet unless you're cheesing with phase ships or something, and I don't think it's practical for a destroyer fleet unless you've got a lot of ships.

Also, I agree balancing around the most optimized loadouts/skills/officers is not necessarily a good idea for 'normal' difficulty. I really hope difficult settings get added soon.
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Megas

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Re: Bounty Balance
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2021, 04:49:41 PM »

250k+ is when I start seeing twelve Conquests, or about eight Onslaughts or Legions.  Tri-Tachyon may have two or three Paragons or Astrals and a bunch of phase ships.  Same old capital spam from last release, with new officer spam on top of it (and the new officer way to determine DP distribution), so fights are more top-heavy and oppressive than before.

Fighting phase ships seems more tolerable when I can out-cheese the AI with the Phase Mastery and Systems Expertise on either Harbinger or Doom.  Ziggurat also beats them up.  My last fleet before I stopped was Ziggurat, Radiant, and two or three Dooms.  They mowed down nearly every human fleet flawlessly.  Unfortunately, they do not work very well against big Ordos (unless I chain-flagship those Dooms myself instead).
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