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RE: Weapons Balancing

 
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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/6/2014 12:36:58 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Aeson
I also don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing that some species make suboptimal decisions in their ship design templates, as it makes those species different from all the other ones that went full-blasters or something like that.


At the moment about half of the races use beams and two-thirds use torpedoes. In the AI Improvement Mod I'm hoping to provide more of a mix amongst the races. At the moment the plan is for about a quarter of the races to use Beams and a quarter will use Torpedoes while the other races will focus on a mix of the rest. I'm also testing the idea of some races focusing on Fighters.

So when playing you will then need to consider how to counter that particular AI weapon type because their ships will be filled with them and their research will target them. I've never bothered with counters when playing Distant Worlds so far. And in addition the allies of your enemies will often be focusing on entirely different weapons ...

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/6/2014 1:59:21 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/6/2014 6:08:45 PM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

When you read this, note there are some changes in the OP to reflect other Battle Arena tests. Your views on other topics?

Regarding your recently-redacted proposed buff to Pulse Wave Cannons, I tend to feel that the Pulse Wave Cannon is more directly comparable to the Shatterforce Laser than to the Titan Beam, due to both its location in the tech tree (including upgrades) and its range and DPS profile. That said, comparing the Pulse Wave III to the Titan Beam II, it looks like the Pulse Wave Cannon is superior in anything other than perhaps its armor penetration capability - better DPS over the entire range band, lower energy requirements (both per shot and per second), and less of a range penalty, in exchange for just barely less base shot damage (and the two weapons should have equal per-shot damage at 200 range, which means that beyond that point the Pulse Wave Cannon III ought to have superior armor penetration to the Titan Beam II, on top of its other superior statistics). The Titan Beam III is the first blaster that looks strictly superior to the Pulse Wave III, but the Titan Beam III requires significantly more research to get than the Pulse Wave Cannon III (even the Titan Beam II requires significantly more research than the Pulse Wave II, for that matter).

Pulse Wave Is look to be superior to Shatterforce Is and IAB Is in every way except their energy cost, having superior DPS and per-shot damage than either out to 300 range (at which point the Pulse Wave I and Shatterforce I have equal per-shot damage, and no more than 20 range left before they can't fire anymore). Pulse Wave IIs also seem to be superior to the IAB II and Shatterforce II, with superior per-shot damage to the IAB II at ranges greater than 100 and superior DPS to either, and the Shatterforce II's per shot damage never exceeds the Pulse Wave II's at any range (aside from the 370 to 380 range band where the Shatterforce can hit the target but the Pulse Wave cannot). Pulse Wave IIs also look to be superior to Titan Beam Is in every way except per-shot damage at ranges less than 300, and strictly superior beyond that range.

As a result, on paper it looks like the Pulse Wave doesn't really need a buff in comparison to the weapons that fit in the same range band at any stage in the game, unless it's not considered fine for the much more research-expensive Titan Beam III to be a somewhat better weapon. In my opinion, it looks like these are in a decent spot.

As for what you've got in the original post at the moment: I'm not sure how I feel about boosting the Shaktur FireStorm. Aside from the Massive Rail Gun, which is a fairly crappy weapon, it's the only weapon in the game that provides both bombardment capability and ship-to-ship combat capability, and unlike the Massive Rail Gun, it's already a worthwhile weapon in either role. The Plasma Thunderbolt III is already much more expensive in research to obtain, requiring one generation-2, one generation-3 two generation-4 and two generation-5 techs as well as one generation-6, one generation-7, and one generation-8 tech, as opposed to the Shaktur FireStorm III's requirements of one tech in geneeration-2, one in generation-3, one in generation-5, and one in generation-7. If it's okay for the Titan Beam III to be superior, on paper, to the Pulse Wave Cannon III even though the Pulse Wave III doesn't have the secondary bombardment role, I don't see why the Shaktur FireStorm III should be equal to the Plasma Thunderbolt III on paper or in practice. In terms of research invested, it's much closer to being comparable to the Plasma Thunderbolt I and appears, on paper, to be superior to that weapon over the full shared range band; even compared against the Plasma Thunderbolt II it appears strictly superior at ranges less than 250 and has better per shot damage out until about 300 range.

The phaser lance change seems fine, though that might push the phaser lance into being too superior to the phaser cannon, due to much better range and very similar DPS combined with much better per-shot damage. Not sure how I feel about the rail gun changes; it seems to me that when the Impact Assault Blaster and Shatterforce Laser are introduced is about when rail guns should start failing. I'd think having that matchup be about a 50-50 shot for either side seems reasonable if both close to close quarters, but I really don't think that any of the rail guns should be competitive against Titan Beams.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 2:46:56 AM   
buglepong

 

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All i want is for rail guns to not suck

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 2:49:58 AM   
Rhikore

 

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Ice, I salute you good Sir.
I was going to do this for a mod Im trying to get started on.
The work is much appreciated. I just hope that, in balancing, a parity in utility and uniqueness is maintained.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 9:49:54 AM   
Icemania


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Rhikore, I agree, it is important to ensure the balance is not shifted too far the other way hence the testing and dialog. What is not shown in the posts above are the many other tests where I’ve optimised the damage values to produce the desired outcome. For example the original proposed change I had in mind for Phaser Lances make them strictly superior whereas for the refined damages there is the balance I’m seeking … these are the results that I am posting.

Aeson, thanks once more for your input, it’s appreciated. With Racial Weapons where we differ is on Philosophy. The idea I’m applying is that others can catch-up to Racial Weapons but it requires plenty of research effort; however, even with that effort you cannot exceed them as this would make Racial Weapons obsolete late game.

With the Shaktur Firestorm, as shown in the testing, Plasma Torpedoes are strictly superior late game … even when the ships are placed right next to each other at the start of the battle which should favour the Shaktur Firestorm. With the proposed change there is a balance depending on circumstances.

What would probably change the Shaktur Firestorm conclusion is the ability to set the AI Ship Design Templates to “Point Blank” (which doesn’t currently exist). Indeed, more broadly, I consider this change essential to make any Short Range Weapon competitive. Some smarts in Tractor Beams would help as well (which doesn’t currently exist). For example, if I had a ship with Phaser Lances, which have 0 loss within range, the Tractor beam should hold the enemy just inside full range … so my damage is at maximum while the opponents damage is minimised etc. These proposed changes could improve AI Battle Performance a lot.

With the Pulsewave Cannon, the change I had in mind was very small, which is why I didn’t mention it in the OP and only in Post 3. Specifically what I had in mind was a change of 0, +1 and +2. I’m yet to test this in the Battle Arena as it was low priority.

Please note that with the AI Improvement Mod, the AI Research Orders will ensure they get to mid-tier weapons very quickly, and they also won’t waste much time getting to Titan Beams / Plasma Torpedoes etc. In that context Rail Guns become obsolete almost immediately with the current damage levels. With the proposed change Titan Beams have the advantage (strict for larger ships, mixed results for smaller ships depending on circumstances) but the balance has already started shifting through the mid-tier.

I wasn’t planning to use Phaser Cannons in the AI Improvement Mod as there is no final tier for Phaser Cannons so they will be at a disadvantage late game. So I also don’t have any optimised Ship Design Templates to use for testing.

As a final note for all, when I provide the Wednesday AI Improvement Mod update, anybody should be able to do this exact same testing using Game Editor. Quameno use Beams, Wekkarus use PulseWave Cannons, Boskara uses Shaktur Firestorm, Kiadian uses Torpedoes, Dhayut/Sluken use Rail Guns and the Securans use Fighters. Ignore the Gizurean as they use Beams and hence need Bombardment Weapons. This will include all of the proposed Weapon Damage Changes. Your help with testing to further refine these proposed changes would be welcome and also anything else you notice in the Ship Designs that could be improved.

Cruiser testing is my favourite. And again please ignore Capital Ships for the moment.

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/7/2014 11:41:21 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 10:55:30 AM   
Icemania


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So ... what about fighters? This is probably very AI Mod specific as I'm designing races that have a Fighter focus.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 11:56:09 AM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

Aeson, thanks once more for your input, it’s appreciated. With Racial Weapons where we differ is on Philosophy. The idea I’m applying is that others can catch-up to Racial Weapons but it requires plenty of research effort; however, even with that effort you cannot exceed them as this would make Racial Weapons obsolete late game.

With the Shaktur Firestorm, as shown in the testing, Plasma Torpedoes are strictly superior late game … even when the ships are placed right next to each other at the start of the battle which should favour the Shaktur Firestorm. With the proposed change there is a balance depending on circumstances.

I think we're just going to have to disagree, then. I see no reason why it'd be a problem for the special weapons to be outclassed by the final upgrade in a much more expensive tech path, especially when it's still fairly comparable to the penultimate upgrade.

Also, if I'm reading the post correctly, your test shows that Plasma Thunderbolt IIIs are superior to Shaktur FireStorm IIIs in game, in addition to on paper. In my opinion, this is not a problem. Shaktur FireStorm IIIs cost much less research to obtain and have the ability to bombard planets and on paper appear to be comparable to Plasma Thunderbolt IIs within 400 or so range and better than Plasma Thunderbolt Is out to about 500 range, and unlike the other bombardment weapons are not utter garbage in ship-to-ship combat. Plus, even though the Plasma Thunderbolt eventually outclasses it as a ship-to-ship weapon, Plasma Thunderbolts still cannot be used to bombard planets, which leaves the Shaktur FireStorm III one role even in the late game in which it out-does the competition, that role being the combat capable bombardment ship.

quote:

So ... what about fighters? This is probably very AI Mod specific as I'm designing races that have a Fighter focus.

I do not at present have any strong opinions on fighters, aside from a lingering suspicion that the missile bombers are not really worth developing - they're essentially a completely separate branch of the fighter tree, and are not a prerequisite for any of the other parts of the fighter tree or anything else that I can remember, whereas you have to get at least the early torpedo bombers if you want to keep going up the main branch of the fighter tree, and I don't recall the missile bombers seeming particularly outstanding. It might be worthwhile, if possible, to try to separate out the three fighter types into three separate carrier bays so that the player has better control over what is actually carried in their carriers and so that you can set up a computer faction that likes to go heavy on the missile bombers with a small torpedo bomber group and a smaller interceptor group, and you might want to try tying the missile bomber line back into the fighter tree a bit more. If I recall correctly, the computer will default to building fighters and bombers in equal numbers on your carriers, and there's no way that I know of to change this; manually setting the carrier's fighter complement only worked until it started losing fighters the last time I played with it, and there isn't a policy setting I know of that lets you control what gets put into your fighter bays. I think, though I'm not certain, that the bomber used is always the most recently researched of the missile and torpedo bomber.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 2:32:03 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Aeson
I do not at present have any strong opinions on fighters, aside from a lingering suspicion that the missile bombers are not really worth developing - they're essentially a completely separate branch of the fighter tree, and are not a prerequisite for any of the other parts of the fighter tree or anything else that I can remember, whereas you have to get at least the early torpedo bombers if you want to keep going up the main branch of the fighter tree, and I don't recall the missile bombers seeming particularly outstanding. It might be worthwhile, if possible, to try to separate out the three fighter types into three separate carrier bays so that the player has better control over what is actually carried in their carriers and so that you can set up a computer faction that likes to go heavy on the missile bombers with a small torpedo bomber group and a smaller interceptor group, and you might want to try tying the missile bomber line back into the fighter tree a bit more. If I recall correctly, the computer will default to building fighters and bombers in equal numbers on your carriers, and there's no way that I know of to change this; manually setting the carrier's fighter complement only worked until it started losing fighters the last time I played with it, and there isn't a policy setting I know of that lets you control what gets put into your fighter bays. I think, though I'm not certain, that the bomber used is always the most recently researched of the missile and torpedo bomber.

Some observations.

Looking at the tech tree you can stick solely with either Missile Bombers or Torpedo Bombers without limiting general Fighter technology development. The Missile Bombers provide much greater range while Torpedo Bombers provide more damage. You'll also need some of the relevant Missile and Torpedo technologies developed, making them expensive to research fully (even if only focused on Missiles or Torpedo Bombers).

I've setup the Securans to use ship templates optimised for Fighters so they can be used for testing.

Firstly I used two Securan Empires with one focused on Missile Bombers and the other on Torpedo Bombers at Final Technology levels. The outcome was that when combat started at short range the Torpedo Bombers won, when combat started at long range the Missile Bombers won.

I then matched the Securans against the Quameno with Titan Beams and the Securans were easily defeated in all cases.

If the number of Fighters per bay was increased to 6 (from 4), Titan Beams were still dominant. However, I managed to score some Fighter victories at Titan Beam (I) v Advanced Missile Bombers by staying at range (there is a range difference of 170 which closes to 60 at Final Technology making it trickier particularly given the typical AI ship behaviour).

Fighters look underpowered so far.

That said, I don't play the game with Fighters and would like input from those that use them.



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/7/2014 3:47:56 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 4:46:50 PM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

Looking at the tech tree you can stick solely with either Missile Bombers or Torpedo Bombers without limiting general Fighter technology development. The Missile Bombers provide much greater range while Torpedo Bombers provide more damage. You'll also need some of the relevant Missile and Torpedo technologies developed, making them expensive to research fully (even if only focused on Missiles or Torpedo Bombers).

Torpedo bombers are required for one of the techs in the main branch of the fighter tree; it's the third tech or so. Missile bombers are not required in any such way, so even if you want to focus on missile bombers and missile technology you have to get at least the first torpedo tech and a couple torpedo bomber techs. If you want to focus on torpedo bombers, there's no such need to go out of your way and pick up a bit of tech in missile bombers.

Also, fighters are excellent base defenders because of the range that they engage at, and are very useful for swarming down enemy bases or supporting a heavy ship in close combat with the opposition. I don't think they're a great stand-alone weapon unless you're trying for stand-off ranges, but they aren't that bad as a support weapon. They're more comparable to missiles and torpedoes (at long range) than they are to something like a Titan Beam in close quarters.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 8:24:20 PM   
sayke

 

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Icemania - As a data point for your consideration, I just wanted to note that I personally play with a mix of missiles and fighters, along with whatever other racial techs I can steal, and I have Destroyers as a ship class dedicated to getting up close, boarding, and capturing. My ships are fast and tend to be able to kite effectively. This lets me hit and run, mowing through stations and other fixed or slow defenses.

I really do appreciate the careful and systematic effort put into your analysis thus far, though - both with weapons and races! Cheers

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 8:57:06 PM   
PsyKoSnake


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania

I've asked whether it's possible to configure this so that the AI can select the strategy most appropriate to their Primary Weapon type for the AI Improvement Mod.




Who did you ask?

I dont think there is a way right now, but it should be added in a patch, if we want better AI, they need to know how to use there weapon.

< Message edited by PsyKoSnake -- 7/8/2014 12:43:25 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/7/2014 10:23:00 PM   
Airpower

 

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Icemania, your work here has inspired me to do some testing on weapons on my own. I have a different testing methodology in mind, and also I'm going to simply be gathering data and creating "beat at X category" lists, and not drawing any recommendations or conclusions from the findings. Just trying to grow the community's body of knowledge. Really great work here so far, and thank you for the inspiration. :)

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/8/2014 2:34:08 AM   
Rhikore

 

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Air and Ice, and anyone else interested *Cough Erik and Elliot Cough*:
Would love to see a a dichotomy in the Rail research Line, A la Guass Rifle from Battle Tech/Mech Warrior.
In other words, the Shotgun of the Railgun world. Shorter range, Massive Damage over a wide area.
In game-play terms I could see this playing out as a bonus vs Armor. Reactive Armors are weak to force over large areas, due to the arrangement of plates, and overall functionality.
Losing half of your port armor in one shot could be kind of scary..

< Message edited by Rhikore -- 7/8/2014 3:35:53 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/8/2014 9:50:49 AM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: PsyKoSnake
Who did you ask?

I dont think there is a way right now, but it should be added in a patch, if we want better AI, they need to know how to use there weapon.

I have sent a PM to Erik to Elliot.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Airpower
Icemania, your work here has inspired me to do some testing on weapons on my own. I have a different testing methodology in mind, and also I'm going to simply be gathering data and creating "beat at X category" lists, and not drawing any recommendations or conclusions from the findings. Just trying to grow the community's body of knowledge. Really great work here so far, and thank you for the inspiration. :)

Cool, look forward to seeing the results!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Aeson
Torpedo bombers are required for one of the techs in the main branch of the fighter tree; it's the third tech or so. Missile bombers are not required in any such way, so even if you want to focus on missile bombers and missile technology you have to get at least the first torpedo tech and a couple torpedo bomber techs. If you want to focus on torpedo bombers, there's no such need to go out of your way and pick up a bit of tech in missile bombers.

Not any more ... I've modded it! Otherwise it harms my plans to have some races use Fighter/Torpedo Bombers while others use Fighter/Missile Bombers.



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/8/2014 10:50:55 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/8/2014 10:48:35 AM   
johanwanderer

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania

...
I then matched the Securans against the Quameno with Titan Beams and the Securans were easily defeated in all cases.

If the number of Fighters per bay was increased to 6 (from 4), Titan Beams were still dominant. However, I managed to score some Fighter victories at Titan Beam (I) v Advanced Missile Bombers by staying at range (there is a range difference of 170 which closes to 60 at Final Technology making it trickier particularly given the typical AI ship behaviour).

Fighters look underpowered so far.

That said, I don't play the game with Fighters and would like input from those that use them.


I use fighters a lot, but not in anti-ship roles like that. For me, they're extended range weapons meant for sieging stationary or slow moving targets. Given that fighters have to be rebuilt after shot down, and ~11-12.5 in size, compared to 4-5-6 for beams, fighters are easily countered by beam in one-on-one matchups. If you want to compare them, I would compare fighter vs. torpedoes, even though fighters can be shot down, while torpedoes cannot.

To sum up, I think fighters are supplement to the other weaponries, and not meant as equals. Every race gets to use them, after all.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/8/2014 11:18:00 AM   
Icemania


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Yes as mentioned earlier any Fighter Improvements are probably more for modding. That said, I'm having fun watching a race swarming with Fighters ...

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/8/2014 12:05:56 PM   
Icemania


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The latest AI Improvement Mod update is now available for anybody who wants to do their own testing with weapon focused races using optimised designs. Note that it includes the latest weapons changes.

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/8/2014 5:18:43 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/9/2014 11:08:45 AM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: sayke
Icemania - As a data point for your consideration, I just wanted to note that I personally play with a mix of missiles and fighters, along with whatever other racial techs I can steal, and I have Destroyers as a ship class dedicated to getting up close, boarding, and capturing. My ships are fast and tend to be able to kite effectively. This lets me hit and run, mowing through stations and other fixed or slow defenses.

I really do appreciate the careful and systematic effort put into your analysis thus far, though - both with weapons and races! Cheers

sayke, you raise a really good point ... weapon combinations. So far I've been focused on a single weapon per race in the AI Improvement Mod. It takes a lot more time to research two weapons rather than one so there has be a strong advantage to make up for that. For some, like the Kiadian that use Torpedoes, there seems little point combining it with other weapons. But for other weapons a mix maybe the better option.

With Fighters/Missile Bombers you have to research a good part of the Missile tree anyway. Missile bomber max range is 620 versus 990 for Assault Missile max range. This sounds like a really good combination! What other combinations would you all recommend?

On another note, as I've been very Torpedo focused (and a little Beams in the early days), I have to say that playing with the various weapons has been fun. I'm testing with the Haakonish at the moment with a customised Research Build Order and Design Templates for Gravitic Weapons. Any suggestions for the AI Improvement Mod from those that use them a lot?


< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/9/2014 12:09:03 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/9/2014 12:46:36 PM   
DeadlyShoe


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I find that fighters are good very early when ships are slow. Then they are crap for a long time because they improve very poorly with tech while ships get faster and faster. They only become decent again when gravity well generators show up, as combat tends to get pretty spread out and the long range of fighters is advantageous.

Unfortunately, really big #s of fighters tend to cause some brutal framerate choke in my experience.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/9/2014 9:40:20 PM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

What other combinations would you all recommend?

I've always felt that phasers + blasters looks like a good, if research-expensive, weapon combination. Phasers and blasters have roughly the same range, blasters help make up for the poor DPS of phasers, and phasers help the blasters with armor penetration. For that matter, even the energy requirements of each weapon look like a good match, as far as how they impact the reactor load - blasters tend to require more of the reactor output than they require of the energy storage, while the reactor requirements on phasers are basically reversed. Since phasers are the more specialized weapon in this pairing, you're not going to add enough of them to seriously reduce the ship's overall DPS profile, and the phasers will also help flatten the DPS profile out a bit (though this is not necessarily a good thing). From one of my posts in the Guide to Armor thread using a 4 phaser lance, 10 titan beam mix and adding a hyperfusion reactor into the size computation, you get numbers that look like this:
Alpha Strike Damage per unit size
Range:                      000    100    200    300    400    500
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Titan Beam (alpha)          4.24   3.65   3.07   2.48   1.90   1.32
Titan Beam (cont.)          4.01   3.46   2.90   2.35   1.80   1.24
Phaser Lance (alpha)        2.97   2.97   2.97   2.97   2.97   2.97
Phaser Lance (cont.)        1.62   1.62   1.62   1.62   1.62   1.62
Mix                         3.73   3.38   3.02   2.66   2.30   1.95

Continuous DPS per unit size
Range:                  000    100    200    300    400    500
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Titan Beam (cont.)      2.86   2.47   2.07   1.68   1.28   0.89
Titan Beam (alpha)      2.07   1.79   1.50   1.21   0.93   0.64
Phaser Lance (cont.)    0.77   0.77   0.77   0.77   0.77   0.77
Phaser Lance (alpha)    0.71   0.71   0.71   0.71   0.71   0.71
Mix                     2.12   1.87   1.61   1.36   1.10   0.85

The ratio of 10 Titan beams and 4 Phaser Lances was chosen to match a single hyperfusion III reactor's output and storage terms to the requirements of the Phaser Lances and Titan beams rather than any sort of better criteria for choosing the mix, but you can see that the mix gets some of the best of both worlds in terms of DPS and alpha strike. Obviously, as the above numbers include the size of the reactor in the per-unit size values, you will have different values for different reactors, and different reactors may also change the ratio of blasters to phasers somewhat.


Another pairing is the 'obvious' alternative to the missiles + missile bombers pairing: torpedoes + torpedo bombers, since you're going to have the torpedo techs anyways, though I don't know how the ranges match up off the top of my head. Regardless, carriers would naturally want a long-range weapon if you're going to arm them, because at 40% of their space required for fighter bays they're not going to be the most effective ships in close-quarters even if you use the full 50% bonus to maximum size (which has downsides; outside of the fighter bays, the effective maximum size of a carrier is only 90% of the size of an escort/frigate/destroyer/cruiser/capital ship, and the full-size carrier will need 50% more thrust if it is to be as fast and as maneuverable as the smaller full-size warships).

I don't really see there as being any particularly obvious pairings with torpedoes, as torpedoes have fairly even requirements as far as reactor output and storage go. Missiles + Torpedoes might be okay to use up some of the storage inaccessible to torpedoes due to the static requirements on the ship's output; torpedoes + phasers look similar, as far as making use of available reactor capacity goes, though this adds the issue of range mismatch between the weapon systems (still, since torpedoes are better at close range, you might just want the ship to close to 'all weapons' or 'point blank' anyways), and torpedoes at close range are additionally fairly good against armor even before adding phasers. Missiles + Blasters might be a good pairing for a halfway decent long-range ship that can be fairly scary in close-quarters, but has the issues that come with mismatched weapon ranges.

Pairings that look like bad choices to me are Phasers + Missiles as both weapon systems require relatively large amounts of reactor storage capacity but have rather low reactor output requirements (although phasers may help make up for the poor anti-armor performance of missiles), and torpedoes + blasters as you're much more likely to have spare reactor storage than spare reactor output since torpedoes have fairly balanced requirements for both storage and output, which means that you'll have a fraction of your storage capacity about equal to the ratio of your static requirements to total reactor output to spare if you go for as many torpedoes as can be supported by the reactor, and adding blasters to this will only increase the amount of excess storage capacity. Blasters also don't really add much to torpedoes and are a more expensive research branch than either missiles or phasers, at least if you're looking at the end of the tree. Rail guns, in my opinion, have too little range to make for a good pairing with anything other than blasers and phasers, and their ability to bypass a target's shields might be as much a liability as anything else because damaged components make enemies flee when you might rather the opponent stay and get destroyed. Still, a small battery of railguns might be decent on a standoff design, to try to get ships that close with it to back off.

< Message edited by Aeson -- 7/9/2014 10:42:28 PM >

(in reply to DeadlyShoe)
Post #: 50
RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/10/2014 12:18:10 PM   
Icemania


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I've implemented the Missile/Missile Bomber combination for the Mortalen and it looks good from a test game.

Given I've increased Phaser damage, Phasers should be more balanced now, in which case the Phaser/Beams combination is of limited value.

Anybody using Tractor Beams as part of their combinations?

What are the community views on Death Rays and Area Weapons?


< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/10/2014 1:18:02 PM >

(in reply to Aeson)
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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/10/2014 5:49:29 PM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

What are the community views on Death Rays ...

I would think that Death Rays were not really meant to be balanced. After all, a weapon capable of blowing up a planet through a planetary shield and destroy the planet with a single blast probably has more than enough power to blow through anything you can put on a ship or space station. They require significant amounts of space for both the weapon itself (140 size units) and the reactors to support its energy requirements (400 energy per shot, 47 energy per second - the storage requirement is the issue here, not the output requirement, and while you'll eventually be able to meet the storage requirements with a single HyperFusion reactor, you're still looking at at least two reactors worth of storage for a single Death Ray with anything else). It's also not the most reliably available weapon in the game, its range is somewhat low for a high-end blaster (440 range, somewhat less than the Shatterforce III or Titan Beam II/III, and much less than any but the early torpedoes), and if I recall correctly it's rather inaccurate against ships. While its DPS per unit size is not incredible (1.51 at point blank, down to about 0.5 at 440 range, or comparable to the Shatterforce Laser III and much worse than the Titan Beam II/III), this hardly matters, as I don't think I've ever seen anything survive being hit even once by it. The next most damaging non-superweapon has more than 10 times less damage per shot and additionally takes more time to fire, while the Titan Beam III has a little over 60 times less damage per shot, with a similar damage decay rate when accounting for the shot power difference (60 Titan Beams lose 240 damage per 100 range as compared to the Death Ray's loss of 270 damage per 100 range while having a similar salvo damage to the Death Ray's single shot damage).

quote:

... and Area Weapons?

Area weapons aren't really intended for use within fleets, in my opinion. They're more the kind of weapon you put onto a lone tank unit to send in ahead of the fleet and do a bunch of damage, then withdraw that ship as the main fleet comes in to deal with the newly-damaged enemy forces. They're also not meant for one-on-one combat, as they're a low DPS per size unit weapon when hitting only a single target, which makes your current test setup where you spawn a single cruiser to fight a single cruiser not particularly fair for the area weapons. Each level of area weapon is nevertheless a fairly consistent improvement over the previous version, but they need to be hitting at least three targets to have a similar DPS per unit size to blasters. Best use for these really is as a kind of raider that jumps in, fires off some shots into the crowd around a spaceport or something like that, and then withdraws when its shields start getting low, with a fleet of more normal warships or a replacement raider jumping in to continue the attack. It might be worthwhile combining these with the area gravity weapons to clump enemies together.

Personally, I don't use these because they're not a good fleet weapon, and I only really want to manage groups of ships rather than lone attack vessels, and they're not really a good choice for an escort ship.

quote:

Anybody using Tractor Beams as part of their combinations?

A tractor beam or two is always helpful on ships whose weapons are better at short range and for keeping enemies from fleeing, particularly in combination with some form of jump denial, and can help your ships survive. They're a useful utility component that would be reasonable to add to just about any ship, with the only drawback being that they're a separate research branch from any weapon system other than graviton beams.

quote:

Given I've increased Phaser damage, Phasers should be more balanced now, in which case the Phaser/Beams combination is of limited value.

Phaser/Blaster still ought to have superior DPS to pure phaser and superior armor penetration to pure blaster, if the numbers given in the original post are the numbers you're using. While exactly how much of an improvement over either it will be depends on the exact mix used and on the targets engaged, I don't know that I'd call that 'limited value.' 1.01 DPS per unit size on the Phaser Lance III is still a lot less than the DPS of the Titan Beam II at anything less than 350 range, and given that blaster damage is unchanged, blasters still have a bit of trouble against armor at long range.

It's also not particularly more research intensive than missile/missile bomber/fighter, nor is it like every species would need to use it.

(in reply to Icemania)
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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 12:57:47 AM   
Icemania


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At the moment I have no Area Weapons in the AI Improvement Mod (although I do have Area Gravity Weapons for races that are Gravitic Weapon focused). I do like the strategy you have suggested but unfortunately no way to implement it at the moment.

With Phaser/Blaster combination, yes it would have superior DPS to the Phaser+, but the Phaser+ has the superior Armour bonus. The test results of the Phaser+ showed more of a mix in the winner versus Blasters, which was my desired outcome given the Phaser lost in every test at default. That said, even with the Phaser+, it still favoured Blasters, and after watching it in-game the currently proposed buff to Phasers looks a little undercooked.

With the Death Ray it's wasn't the planet destroying Super Laser I was referring to. The damage is 1800 and there will be plenty of ships in this mod that would not be destroyed if it hits. That said, I see that the DPS you've referenced is for the Death Ray and indeed I don't use them in-game due to the low DPS. To bring them back into the game as a viable alternative I'm considering a Damage and Range buff.

Tractor Beams I haven't tested enough yet. As an example, if they were put them on ships which are Missile focused, what they should do is keep the enemy ships away, so that the enemy DPS is minimised, while the Missiles remain effective. That strategy should apply even when the Missile Ship is stronger than the Opponent. Indeed if the Tractor Beams pulls the weaker Opponent closer, it could provide an advantage to the weaker ship ...

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/11/2014 2:17:04 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 4:01:19 AM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

With the Death Ray it's wasn't the planet destroying Super Laser I was referring to. The damage is 1800 and there will be plenty of ships in this mod that would not be destroyed if it hits. That said, I see that the DPS you've referenced is for the Death Ray and indeed I don't use them in-game due to the low DPS. To bring them back into the game as a viable alternative I'm considering a Damage and Range buff.

Oops, I got those two confused. I could swear you used to be able to design a planet-killer using one of the weapons found in a ruin in Legends; I'm almost positive that I once designed a cruiser that I accidentally blew up an enemy colony with while I was attempting an invasion. Maybe they changed that, or maybe I'm just misremembering things.

I will point out, however, that the Death Ray has the best alpha strike of any single-target weapon in the game - if you can afford the reactor space to power it. Even adding an additional 16 size to it to account for a HyperFusion Reactor to cover it, you're looking at well over double the point-blank alpha strike of any other weapon in the game (11.5 for the Death Ray versus the 5.17 of the Shaktur FireStorm, with the next runner-up being 4.83 from the Titan Beam), and while this falls off to 3.75 alpha strike damage per size unit at 450 range it is still better than the phaser lance, which is the runner up at 3.55 alpha strike damage per size unit at 450 range. The weapon's DPS may not be great, but it really does have an incredible alpha strike (seriously, the Death Ray's alpha is like being hit simultaneously by 62 Titan Beams, even if its DPS is only like that of a Shatterforce III), and that alpha strike comes at so little cost to reactor output that you can easily add in other weapons to make up for it. There's something to be said for burst damage when it comes in the quantities that Death Rays give you.

Beyond that, 585-1800 damage at the beginning of the battle is worth 74-87 Titan Beam III-seconds of Titan Beam III DPS at the same range, and you can only squeeze ~20 Titan Beam IIIs into the same space as the Death Ray, and given that any ship that mounts a Death Ray is almost certainly going to be a large warship anyways, you can always give it a big battery of Titan Beams to fix the ship's DPS issues while maintaining that enormous alpha strike. 585-1800 damage is a pretty hefty head start on breaking through the shields, and unless you're only using Death Rays on your ships the overall DPS per unit size of the ship shouldn't be that seriously affected (and even so, Death Ray DPS per unit size is comparable to Shatterforce Laser III DPS per unit size, over the full range band; while IABs out-do it at short range, you have to wait until Titan Beam IIs before you get something that has both a similar range and enough DPS per unit size to not be comparable over the full range band). To put this another way, let's say I have two different ship designs - one with 50 Titan Beams (300 size units of weapons) and one with one Death Ray and 27 Titan Beams (302 size units of weapons). Using Titan Beam IIIs, the pure-Titan Beam design has an alpha strike of 550 damage at 450 range, up to 1450 damage at 0 range, while the Death Ray + Titan beam design has an alpha strike of 882 damage at 450 range (well, really 440, but close enough) up to 2583 damage at 0 range. At 0 range, the Death Ray + Titan Beam ship has 771 DPS, while the pure Titan Beam ship has 1036 DPS, while at 450 range the Death Ray + Titan Beam ship has 281 DPS as compared to the pure Titan Beam ship's 393 DPS. For the first one to four seconds, the Death Ray ship has a lead in damage dealt, and this time difference will get larger if you add additional Titan Beams into the mix (how practical that might be is another question; even for a large ship, 300 size units worth of weapons is a fairly significant amount). That's using the Titan Beam III, which has the highest DPS per unit size of any weapon in the game. Using the Titan Beam II, the time advantage at 0 range is already up to almost 7 seconds. This is not an insignificant advantage, especially when you consider that it's fairly likely that you'll be able to cause the enemy ships which take the opening volleys of the engagement to flee, giving you a good shot at attaining numerical superiority in the area.

Death Rays are emphatically not a stand-alone weapon, unless you want to stack enough of them to have such a large alpha strike that nothing can survive it. They are, however, not a bad weapon to toss in with a similar-range weapon to improve the alpha strike to give an early advantage.

< Message edited by Aeson -- 7/11/2014 5:00:45 AM >

(in reply to Icemania)
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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 4:26:24 AM   
Icemania


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Good point on the alpha strike as there does need to an advantage given the research required to get them. In the AI Improvement Mod I'm ensuring most races will research Death Rays once their Primary Weapons are fully researched and then put one Death Ray on Large Spaceports and Capital Ships. The Insect Races can all build World Destroyers once they have the research.


< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/11/2014 5:26:26 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 5:53:22 AM   
Rhikore

 

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Interesting that this would be the topic as I came to post...

Ice, I was thinking about the combination of Missiles, Fighters/Bombers and Assault Pods.
The convergence of individual technologies seems to implicate this strategy.

The main idea that brought me here was the apparent synergy between Devastator Pulse and Assault Pods, or more so slow-firing high alpha weapons in conjunction with assault pod technologies.
Have you done any testing in this vein?

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 6:01:45 AM   
Aeson

 

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Death Rays are not available for research in the standard tech tree unless you're playing with the Ancient Galaxies theme active. If you want to change it so that they are available for research in the standard tech tree in your mod, you can certainly do that, but you should be aware that the 'default' balance of Death Rays in the unmodded game needs to be something that other factions can compete with using standard tech, as in the unmodded game Death Rays are only going to be available to the faction that found the ruin first and anyone who managed to buy or steal the tech from them (and since it's an enormously expensive tech, if I recall correctly, it's rather difficult to acquire completely through espionage, and rather expensive to buy unless you've got some contested bases and colonies or some high level techs you can trade for it).

I'm also not really certain how I feel about making planet killers available through research, as far as game balance goes. The game doesn't really offer any real counters to the Super Laser, and being able to leave your entire army at home to defend your worlds while your space navy goes off to blow up high-value enemy colonies is rather difficult to counter, particularly if the planet killer can be mounted on an otherwise decent late-game warship. If I can deploy 10 or 15 cruisers each armed with a planet killer to an enemy colony, I can pretty much guarantee that that colony is going to be destroyed, almost regardless of how well-defended it is. Additionally, looking at it from the defending side of things, the computer's design for a planet killer needs to be visually distinctive - if I want to save my colony, I need to be able to see which ship(s) in the enemy fleet are planet killers, and I need to be able to see that quickly. As a result, things like the Devastation Moon and World Destroyer are good, because they don't look like anything else and even if you've never seen them before the name certainly gives you a clue as to what they're there for. Something where the visual style is more appropriate to the faction probably isn't as good, because it's not going to make me go "what is that thing" when I first see it, nor is it going to be as easy to spot even once I know it exists. They also need to be deployed in numbers that aren't unreasonable to defeat, and they need to be used in a way that doesn't make it impractical for the other factions to defend against them. The current planet killers also have the advantage that there's never more than perhaps four of them in existence (on a Huge map; the number available seems to be related to map size), so even if I have all of them I cannot just send 1 to each major enemy colony and see how much damage I do with what could be a relatively inexpensive and replaceable investment for a large late-game empire (if Super Lasers are still available in one of the ruins, this changes slightly, as there could then be a faction or two which can build as many planet killers as it wants to).

(in reply to Icemania)
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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 6:42:05 AM   
Icemania


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For test purposes Death Rays and Super Lasers have been added to the tech tree into the AI Improvement Mod (not yet in the public version).

From the test I did earlier today, World Destroyers become available as a standard design / image template once the appropriate research is complete, so no need to worry about them being on Cruisers. That said, I'll have to check that a human player can't do that manually, and if they can ... maybe on option is to increase the size so it's not possible. World Destroyers are fairly vulnerable and can be easily defeated with even a small late game fleet and long range scanning to ensure there are no surprises. The only time I've lost a World was the first time I played the Ancient Galaxy storyline.

I certainly don't intend to change Death Rays by so much that they become gamebreaking.

Essentially the idea with both of these weapons is to see if there is a way to spice up the late game.

I'll doing some testing and see what happens.

(in reply to Aeson)
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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 6:43:18 AM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhikore

Interesting that this would be the topic as I came to post...

Ice, I was thinking about the combination of Missiles, Fighters/Bombers and Assault Pods.
The convergence of individual technologies seems to implicate this strategy.

The main idea that brought me here was the apparent synergy between Devastator Pulse and Assault Pods, or more so slow-firing high alpha weapons in conjunction with assault pod technologies.
Have you done any testing in this vein?

No testing on this yet but I would like to work Assault Pods into this so will give it a try.

(in reply to Rhikore)
Post #: 59
RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/11/2014 8:34:37 AM   
Icemania


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I really like the idea of playing an Insect race and purging the galaxy!

I did some testing and Aeson's concern here was valid ... you can manually add Super Lasers to any design once Super Laser technology is available.

I tried to increase Super Laser Size to 2000 so that Super Lasers could only practically be used on a World Destroyer, thinking it would be the only design that could be built to the larger size. However, once Super Laser technology is available, you can increase the size of any ship up to Size 4500 ... so that didn't help.

Maybe Elliot can assist here. A solution would be to have a single World Destroyer design which can be built to Size 4500 but all other ships must remain within the conventional Size 1500 limit. If this was implemented then the increase in Super Laser size would prevent it from being used on any other design.

I also noted that you could also upgrade the World Destroyer design up to Size 4500. I like the idea that I could add more shields or weapons and customise my World Destroyer, but so long as the restrictions above were in place.

With Death Rays, I tested Cruisers Ackdarian v Ackdarian, and changed one design to use a single Death Ray, while the other added Torpedoes, both optimised for a particular size.

I did 6 tests and the ship without Death Rays won every round even when the Death Ray hit in the first round. The only way the Death Ray ship could have won would have been multiple sequential hits which did not happen in any test (and due to the limited range and accuracy would be unlikely).

I then repeated with an increase in Death Ray damage to 3000 and range to 1000. In the first test, the first shot of the Death Ray hit and took down half of the enemy shields, but the battle evened out (due to the other ship having more Torpedoes), both ships were damaged massively but the Death Ray won ... just ... after a second hit. The second test went to the Torpedo ship ... again just. The end result after 6 tests was 3-3, it really depended on the number of Death Ray hits.

If another Empire is lucky enough in-game to get Death Rays from Exploration, you can catch-up, but with a significant investment of effort. Personally I'm quite happy with that but understand others may have a different philosophy.



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