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Author Topic: Ships should not decelerate when you accelerate (or: reverse engine logic)  (Read 9929 times)

Gothars

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As you probably know, ships which manage to surpass their normal top speed via things like 0-flux bonus, Maneuvering Jets, planet passing or collision keep their over top-speed (OTS) until they use their engines.

Actually, it's not a bug. That's just how things work.

Burn Drive follows the same rules. It's just that as part of its sequence, it'll keep the engines active as the maximum speed goes down, thus bringing the actual speed down as well. Which is also intentional, because an Onslaught cruising along at 200+ speed would be silly.

Here are the problems I see with this mechanic:

- If a ship suffers from a flame-out while the Burndrive is active (often happens if it attempts to retreat) it keeps its high speed. That leads to situations where a ship only manages to escape because I shot down its engines, which is somewhat absurd. Also, because of this mechanic Onslaughts do cross the map with 200+ speed (and it looks indeed silly).

- A ship that decelerates because I press the acceleration key is extremely counter-intuitive. That's not only confusing for new players but continuous to feel odd for old hands (survey group: I). Yes, a top speed in space isn't realistic either, but for friction inured atmosphere dwellers like us it doesn't feel (as) wrong.

- Maneuvering Jets (which originally should only increase turn rate) are now better than the Burndrive in the role of speed booster.

- Since the AI doesn't utilize this mechanic, it gives the player an unfair advantage. For example my Conquest is far more mobile than any AI piloted one.


I'd assume Alex would not implement a mechanic as cranky as this without a reason, so what purpose have I missed?


Anyway, here's my suggestion:

It's basically friction while OTS:
Ships gliding OTS decelerate over time until they reach normal top speed.
Maybe they could lose OTS slower if they use their engines to thrust in the right direction, if that feels right. I think the speed loss rate should be dependent on ship size (or normal top speed), so a frigate might be able to glide for a while, but an Onslaught slows down very fast after using the Burndrive.
(Maybe Burndrive duration had to be reduced to compensate for the OTS gliding distance. If it is necessary for balancing that ships drop to "top speed without flux bonus" after using the Burndrive (as they do now), that could be realized via flux generation from the drive.)

That should take care of all the points I mentioned above, and hopefully introduce no new problems (ha!...). The only issue I see atm is that firing your weapons while gliding with 0-flux boost means that you slow down, but since you had to do that eventually in any case to stay near the target it should be OK.

It might be a useful visual hint if the engines stayed (half?-)active while a ship is cruising with 0-flux bonus. They would turn off as soon as you fire a weapon (since the energy is redirected, that's how the bonus is supposed to work after all) and the ship starts to slow down.

What do you guys think?
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 01:27:51 PM by Gothars »
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Shield

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Re: Ships should not decelerate when you accelerate (or: reverse engine logic)
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 12:53:31 PM »

What does OTS mean?
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icepick37

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Re: Ships should not decelerate when you accelerate (or: reverse engine logic)
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 12:58:27 PM »

I'd guess original top speed? Like whatever you highest top speed was last?
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Gothars

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Re: Ships should not decelerate when you accelerate (or: reverse engine logic)
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 12:58:52 PM »

Look at the first sentence: Over top speed.
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icepick37

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Re: Ships should not decelerate when you accelerate (or: reverse engine logic)
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 01:53:26 PM »

Ah. Totally missed that.  X[

I honestly don't like that you decelerate when you're trying to accelerate. I also don't mind it. I'm not sure if there's a purpose to it. He may have mentioned it before, though. This has been talked about before at least.

I WOULD like to see the AI coasting at least a little somewhere. It does feel like you get a huge advantage. It's just for you piloted ship though, so not that huge, really.

Still mulling your suggestion over, but it's not something I reject out of hand (which is rare, haha).
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 01:55:38 PM by icepick37 »
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Gaizokubanou

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Re: Ships should not decelerate when you accelerate (or: reverse engine logic)
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 02:17:08 PM »

- A ship that decelerates because I press the acceleration key is extremely counter-intuitive. That's not only confusing for new players but continuous to feels odd for old hands (survey group: I). Yes, a top speed in space isn't realistic either, but for friction inured atmosphere dwellers like us it doesn't feel (as) wrong.

This is what I thought to be most strange part of this OTS implementation.  Now I'm very much used to it but it is still very very strange.  Your solution sounds great and I don't see any downside to it at all.  Another alternative would be to let ships glide at OTS indefinitely until deceleration, but that would probably make afterburners way too powerful.
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Alex

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Hmm. I like this, I think. It's a pretty clean way to handle things.

There are two reasons not to do it. One is that it would be really, really odd-looking if the ship just slowed down without any visible reason for it (i.e., you fired weapons, whoops, speed drops). That could be resolved by visually firing the thrusters when this auto-deceleration happens.

The other reason would be to keep coasting in the game as a mechanic, but I don't know that it's actually worth keeping. As has been pointed out numerous times, the AI doesn't use it well (when it does, which is not universal), and moreover, there's little prospect of it doing well at that. So coasting just ends up as something the player can abuse the AI with.

I think that burn drive not slowing down if the engines flame out should continue to work as it does, though. The speed decreasing, especially that drastically - without any visuals to sell it - isn't somewhere I want to go. On the other hand, something like delaying full flameout until the ship is no longer OTS might work there.

Right. Will give this a try.

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Wyvern

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Aww.  I like coasting.  It's fun when you get it right.

...That said, I can definitely see the arguments for removing it, particularly the AI not properly using it.  Still, I will definitely miss being able to just casually shield asteroids without any notable drop in speed.  Maybe combine this with a (weaker, maybe 1% or something) version of the zero-flux-speed-boost-up-to-25%-flux perk?  So you can keep full speed with shields up, and only start to slow down when you take a hit to shields?
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Wyvern is 100% correct about the math.

Gothars

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Hmm. I like this, I think. It's a pretty clean way to handle things.

Good, that brings me closer to my steak. :)


There are two reasons not to do it. One is that it would be really, really odd-looking if the ship just slowed down without any visible reason for it (i.e., you fired weapons, whoops, speed drops). That could be resolved by visually firing the thrusters when this auto-deceleration happens.

That is why I suggested that a ship has its engines on as long as it has a 0-flux speed bonus. Probably best at some intermediate exhaust flame length to differentiate it from actively pressing "accelerate".

This way it would follow a consistent logic: If a ship begins to lose its OTS the engine flame will dwindle. The moment you fire your weapons at 0-flux OTS the engine flame will dwindle and you will slow down. If Jets or Burndrive ends the flame starts to dwindle and you will slow down.

Isn't it more believable and intuitive as a visual feedback that engine activity goes down if a ship slows, instead of up? It would also prevent the question: Why the hell are those spaceship designers intentionally slowing down my ship when i could need that speed?

Or did I get you wrong and you were talking about introducing reverse thrusters?


The other reason would be to keep coasting in the game as a mechanic, but I don't know that it's actually worth keeping. As has been pointed out numerous times, the AI doesn't use it well (when it does, which is not universal), and moreover, there's little prospect of it doing well at that. So coasting just ends up as something the player can abuse the AI with.

Just to be sure, you are talking about coasting at over top speeds here, not all coasting? I would absolutely not want to lose all coasting, it's what makes ship movement feel really "spacy" after all.

I think that burn drive not slowing down if the engines flame out should continue to work as it does, though. The speed decreasing, especially that drastically - without any visuals to sell it - isn't somewhere I want to go. On the other hand, something like delaying full flameout until the ship is no longer OTS might work there.

Frankly, I don't get that concern. At the moment, the Onslaught decelerates from 225 to 25 in pretty exactly 1 second. (I'd say with my friction idea it would take longer.) There is nothing in the visuals that would explain that correctly. Your mentioning of the mechanic behind it in the quote in the OP was the first time I did consider that it did not lose speed because of its engine going out (that's what it looks like), but because of it staying on.
I would really not say that a ~200m long exhaust flame's dead is "no visuals to sell it".


So for all points it boils down to the difference of perspective:
What is better to visualize deceleration: thrust in the wrong direction, or the end of thrust?


PS.: I guess you could even introduce a active deceleration effect if you make up some lore for it. Maybe say that P-space friction from the ships hyperdrive sets in after a certain ratio of speed to hyperdrive size has been reached. As a side effect p-particle concentration in the hyperdrive increases and has to be radiated via the ships engines. Or in short: When ever you are forcibly slowing down from OTS your engines glow violet.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 01:27:33 PM by Gothars »
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Alex

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Good, that brings me closer to my steak. :)

:)

Only talking about OTS coasting. (It's "lose" btw, not "loose", in this context.)

As for the "show flame" idea, that only works if the direction of the coasting is the same as the facing of the ship. It'll get
weird if you turn around.

The more rounded flames that you see when moving back/strafing seem a little better here; also because I'd rather show visual feedback for something happening rather than indicate that it is by lack of feedback, if there's a choice. There's also that the rounded flames are uniformly (aside from the "accelerate to slow down" case) used to signal slowdown or acceleration not in line with the facing, so it'd be sending a consistent message, instead of adding a new signal into the mix.

Overall, I think this is rather subjective. I mean, I'm actually not bothered by the "accelerating slows you down" mechanic at all, probably since I'm so used to it as that's how Star Control handled it. So, I don't actually see that as a problem that needs fixing, and likewise with the burn drive behavior, which I could go either way on.

To me, the main reason to give this a try is seeing how it'll affect gameplay to level the playing field. I suspect it may be quite a lot, actually, since we're all probably so used to using this OTS coasting behavior to get an edge.


Aww.  I like coasting.  It's fun when you get it right.

...That said, I can definitely see the arguments for removing it, particularly the AI not properly using it.  Still, I will definitely miss being able to just casually shield asteroids without any notable drop in speed.  Maybe combine this with a (weaker, maybe 1% or something) version of the zero-flux-speed-boost-up-to-25%-flux perk?  So you can keep full speed with shields up, and only start to slow down when you take a hit to shields?

Hmm. Maybe, but why specifically, i.e. how does that make gameplay better? I don't think "X is more convenient" is necessarily a good reason. I could see how "raising shields now means you lose the speed boost" could become an interesting tactical consideration.

You'd also be able to fire beam weapons without losing the boost in this case, provided the flux/second was below the dissipation rate. It's not a trivial change in terms of impact... and not the least of it is taking some of the specialness away from that perk. It allows you to break a cardinal rule, which I think is great to make a perk stand out.
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Alex

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Gave it a try. Preliminary feelings are positive, will leave it in for now and see how it feels.

It's nice that you can no longer back off quite so easily in a larger ship. I mean, you can, but at the expense of keeping both shields and weapons off. It's harder to do a running-away style of engagement, which I never liked to begin with - too gamey, too obviously counterable by "ok, you keep on running, we just won't follow", which the AI doesn't do because getting that particular decision wrong would be ... bad.
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Gothars

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                                          It'll get
weird if you turn around.


I don't know if this was intentional, but: nice typesetting  :)


Gave it a try. Preliminary feelings are positive, will leave it in for now and see how it feels.

Ah, nice (and quick), looking forward to trying it out myself.

I get what you say about the direction and the round flames. Well then, I'll wait and see what you made of it.
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The game was completed 8 years ago and we get a free expansion every year.

Arranging holidays in an embrace with the Starsector is priceless.