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Author Topic: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships  (Read 2756 times)

Realm

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Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« on: May 31, 2021, 09:50:27 PM »

To pre-face, Explorarium Drones are currently extremely unappealing choices when you're running the Automated Ships skill. They generally underperform compared to Remnant counterparts of similar cost (and even versus crewed ships of similar cost), and the only strong case where you'd consider using them would be in early game if you manage to get the skill before fighting any Remnants til that point.

To that end, I spent some time thinking about how you would make them more appealing: What if the DP of Explorarium Drones simply didn't count against the limit of the Automated Ships skill? AI Cores in them would still count against the skill as usual, but this means that if you're feeling funky, instead of a Radiant with an Alpha Core that dominates the battlefield - at the same CR limit you could do something silly like 5 Ramparts with Alpha Cores, being brought in one after the other as they fall in battle. Or, more reasonably, you could field 3 Alpha'd Ramparts and have a trio of below-average Cruisers with powerful Officers bringing them more up to speed.

This would both suit the lore given that these droneships are old, modular and designed for fairly independent operation - as well as offering an alternative playstyle for Automated Ships that focuses more on Quantity over Quality (Explorarium vs Remnant). Plus, it would bring a greater emphasis on droneships in your fleet without making the player overpowered, as the fleet limit that exists would serve to prevent bringing an 'infinite' amount of no-Core droneships (as well as that they're fairly abysmal vessels without Cores in them already).
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KDR_11k

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2021, 12:16:40 AM »

I think that would clash with the way officers decide how large your DP share is at the start of a battle.
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Dread Pirate Robots

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2021, 11:12:54 AM »

I like this idea a lot, I think it's too bad that currently there's no real way to use explorarium ships, or at least not in the relatively large numbers where it would be the most fun to use them. It seems like one of the playstyles that Alex is trying to encourage through skills is one where you use relatively low quality ships, and you don't care very much if they die. Explorarium ships feel like they should be a great match for this playstyle (because the ships are really bad and die all the time) but currently they don't really work. I don't know how "derelict contingent" is going to end up in the balance patch, but I'd love it if you could make a bunch of explorarium ships work alongside other regular low-tech ships in some sort of... pirate robot fleet.
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Alex

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2021, 11:18:35 AM »

I'll just say, I'm looking at what it'd take to make them useful in some way with AS. I mean, the frigate-sized ones are probably mostly on the outs regardless, but the bigger ones could have some play in them. It's hard to see them being a top-tier choice, but if they were at least viable, that'd be a fun extra option to have.
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Dread Pirate Robots

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2021, 12:07:59 PM »

I'll just say, I'm looking at what it'd take to make them useful in some way with AS. I mean, the frigate-sized ones are probably mostly on the outs regardless, but the bigger ones could have some play in them. It's hard to see them being a top-tier choice, but if they were at least viable, that'd be a fun extra option to have.

I definitely wouldn't expect them to ever be top tier, but it would be great if, like you said, they were viable as part of a junk fleet. I think in order to make that work, you need to be able to use a bunch of them, which this suggestion helps with. I think that you also need to be able to ignore them dying (since they're going to die a lot no matter what), and they might need to be a bit tougher too (otherwise they might die too fast to actually accomplish anything). Derelict Contingent probably accomplishes those last two currently, but who knows about the new version.

Also you could get the mothership to drop a blueprint package so you can keep using them in the later game.
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Alex

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2021, 12:12:33 PM »

Largely mirrors my thoughts, yeah. One thing I was thinking is perhaps AI cores could cost based on the cost of the ship they're in. The derelicts having no cost I think might just mean "you only use the largest one". Their impact on DP would need to be adjusted, though (which, I mean, fine - can't trust them for tactical advice!)

Also you could get the mothership to drop a blueprint package so you can keep using them in the later game.

Ah, that's an interesting point, with them otherwise being a limited resource! I mean, you could work around it with Reinforced Hull etc, but still.
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AcaMetis

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2021, 12:20:48 PM »

I'd personally like to see derelicts be turned into, basically, Low Tech Remnants. Different, but viable in their own way. It'd give players a way to do the whole "armor tanking" thing without having to orphan entire neighbourhoods in the process every time, because drone ships don't use crew anyway.
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Dread Pirate Robots

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2021, 12:37:39 PM »

The problem with that is that they play very different roles in the game. Derelicts are supposed to be a "low level enemy", something that beginner players can easily beat up on. On the other hand the remnant play the opposite role, and end-game enemy for experienced players to take on as a challenge.

That said, I do think that the game is in a better place now in terms of things to do for beginner players, and the derelicts feel a little too easy, so I wouldn't mind seeing a general buff to derelicts - although I have no idea how to make ships without shields "work". The burn drive change will help. Maybe have them slowly regenerate armor? That would seem fitting with what they are.
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MesoTroniK

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2021, 02:51:40 PM »

What if they all got... Rugged Construction built-in?

Avanitia

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2021, 02:57:16 PM »

What if they all got... Rugged Construction built-in?

Sounds pretty good - if they are going to explode (and they definitely will), they would get a lot of d-mods, so that helps.
Maybe even some kind of EMP resistance, even if small, to prevent them from being utterly destroyed by single Ion Cannon? Not sure about this one to be fair.
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writeru

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2021, 03:08:17 PM »

Lore wise they are disposable ships used to win battles of attrition, not decisive victories.

Makin them cheaper would indeed be interesting, but it's hard to portray this "battle of attrition" in a single battle. Lore wise they were used to wear down the enemies during months/years.



Im wondering if another possibillity could be interesting: Make them defend your colonies. Basically you can pay money to deploy drones to defend your stations, but unlike patrol fleets they do not regenerate once destroyed (they are pretty much disposable, lore wise) and you must keep paying to make more. This would really give a meaning to the "war of attrition", it's litereally your colonies who give you money, and you're using this money to construct drones that will make up extra defenses. It's literally your industry wearing down the enemies.  If you get low on money, no more drones.



And, basing off on that, maybe we could also pay to have a drone fleet following our own, your drone fast picket could enter battle as a independent ally not controlled by you (matches the flavour of being drones, and also extra help, so they don't cost you DP), but again, they will cost extra supplies and money to keep, and if they are all destroyed, you have to visit one of your colonies again to bring more drones with you. 



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IonDragonX

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2021, 03:42:22 PM »

What if they all got... Rugged Construction built-in?

« Last Edit: June 01, 2021, 03:47:12 PM by IonDragonX »
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Realm

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2021, 06:16:50 PM »

I think that would clash with the way officers decide how large your DP share is at the start of a battle.
This already happens with the second popular use of Automated Ships, spamming Gamma Core Glimmers.

Largely mirrors my thoughts, yeah. One thing I was thinking is perhaps AI cores could cost based on the cost of the ship they're in. The derelicts having no cost I think might just mean "you only use the largest one". Their impact on DP would need to be adjusted, though (which, I mean, fine - can't trust them for tactical advice!)
Only using the largest one would still have the inherent limitation of Ramparts being all-around 'far worse Dominators' (point for point when deploying them in battle), off-set only by the power of whatever AI Core you install in them. Without Cores, they're really kind of bad. I really wouldn't mind if Derelicts being free to the AS limit came at the cost of Cores contributing less to battle DP, given that Automated Ships already somewhat treads on the value of Officer Management.

The medium ones might still be appealing for a player who wants to deploy a couple destroyer-sized frigate-priced distractions with maybe Gamma or Beta cores, given that the Berserker can fit a lot of firepower for it's cost (especially with s-mods) and the Bastillon has some limited potential as a PD escort drone. Either way if someone wants to fill out their fleet limit with cheap little spammable Domain Drones, it wouldn't exactly be an efficient/powerful use of that limit anyways compared to just bringing some high-end frigates.

What if they all got... Rugged Construction built-in?
This and the blueprint idea would both be cool!

Overall: I don't want to make these drones statistically better in battle, at least not in any way that'd affect how the AI uses them, I just want them to be be somewhere close to a viable option for the player. I came to the thought of 'free vs AS dp limit, barring the added cost of AI cores'  because you're still choosing to use a tier 5 skill to bring sub-par vessels into battle - mitigating the benefits of the AI Cores you use in them, while leaving you with just crappy un-officered (though uncrewed) ships for any drones you don't install cores in.
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Dark.Revenant

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2021, 06:38:32 PM »

I feel the primary issue with them is that they’re heavily overcost in terms of Deployment Points; you’re giving up a slot that a far, far better ship could have taken.  If Derelict ships were assigned DP values closer to their actual performance, in conjunction with measures like Rugged Construction and perhaps a discount to the AI core assigned to them (maybe -2?), they’d be more competitive.
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Realm

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Re: Make Explorarium Drones 'free' for Automated Ships
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2021, 04:14:56 PM »

I feel the primary issue with them is that they’re heavily overcost in terms of Deployment Points; you’re giving up a slot that a far, far better ship could have taken.  If Derelict ships were assigned DP values closer to their actual performance, in conjunction with measures like Rugged Construction and perhaps a discount to the AI core assigned to them (maybe -2?), they’d be more competitive.
I'm fine with them retaining their current sub-par DP and battle stats, if only because both SP and Cores can bring them more up to speed - and that using Automated Ships for having a lot of cheaper, sub-par ships with Officers compared to the intense quality of a couple Remnant vessels sounds fun. It wouldn't be far from the challenge of using Pirate vessels, or Pather vessels - sure, most of them suck anyways, but that doesn't discourage me from wanting to build a fleet of them.
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