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RE: Weapons Balancing

 
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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 7:05:08 AM   
Icemania


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Okay, it's my favourite weapon so it hurts to ask this very loaded question ... do you think Plasma Torpedoes need a nerf?

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 11:12:40 AM   
Keston


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Standoff Missiles (piles of them on 500 pt specialized missile cruisers), Assault Pods and the odd Tractor Beam on Frigates and Destroyers, Hyper Deny on Destroyers vs. enemy ships, and Carriers (including fighter capital ships prior to getting Carrier tech), with heavily researched missiles and a smattering of short-range weaponry is my current Keskudon force mix, shaped by circumstance and a simple "hit first from far away" engagement strategy (missiles also don't use certain key resources).

My key winning element, though, is the large, fast-sprint heavily protected Marine Dual Assault craft that capture planets. They have enough weapons to knock down a weak adversary's shields on their own for boarding using pods so are always busy. Standoff helps make knocking down planet defenses, or at least keeping them busy, easier.

I'm not going to argue that capturing ships is a great tactic for non-Pirates, but I like capturing the better tech capital ships with superior tech for use and smaller warships for research retirement, and the pods help capture stations as well. It is in character for Keskie "enslavers" - and being in character is a consideration.

Escorts given to the AI are quite fast and include a gravity weapon in order to quickly dent and discourage raiders by causing internal internal damage.

Based on the energy posts, standoff ships in theory should permit successful escape or hyper out despite a narrower energy margin for non-capitals. The carriers are slow but shielded with ample energy supply to hyper out under fire, with mostly defensive armament plus a few long-range missiles for Standoff when not set on Evade.

------------------------------------
Different tactics, and a better understanding of combat mechanics, might lead to better and more sophisticated designs (in particular, I am missing seeing the advantages of torpedoes other than on fighters when missiles provide better standoff, and short-range weapons are better up close - is there a simple logic to this?).

A high alpha-strike/assault pod/hyper deny tactic sounds interesting.

------------------------------------
The World Destroyer is a single-purpose ship. Good design would optimize it for that purpose, and the need for escort or conventional damage or defense in a task force with a world destruction mission (don't need bombardment, certainly) would be met by assigning appropriate forces to the task force.

"This single world super-destroyer is a replacement for an entire battle fleet" is the kind of eggs-in-an-armored basket promise the baddie who makes it lives to regret.

-----------------------------------
I wish we could have task forces that are components of fleets, allowing better administrative, organizational, and tactical flexibility - and a more realistic feel.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 12:58:10 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Keston
Standoff Missiles (piles of them on 500 pt specialized missile cruisers), Assault Pods and the odd Tractor Beam on Frigates and Destroyers, Hyper Deny on Destroyers vs. enemy ships, and Carriers (including fighter capital ships prior to getting Carrier tech), with heavily researched missiles and a smattering of short-range weaponry is my current Keskudon force mix, shaped by circumstance and a simple "hit first from far away" engagement strategy (missiles also don't use certain key resources).


The problem is that we are all used to playing against an AI that is tactically inept.

At Full Tech the Torpedo Cruiser has superior DPS to a Missile Cruiser through to near maximum range (despite the lower energy requirements from Missiles so I could add more Missiles than Torpedoes). I did some testing tonight and was surprised to find a Full Tech Missile Cruiser usually defeated a Full Tech Torpedo Cruiser when left to the AI ... even when the Torpedo Cruiser started at Point Blank (which should favour the Torpedo Ship due to superior short range DPS).

The main reason is that the AI Ship Designs are all set to "Standoff" (Opponents > 30% Stronger) / "All Weapons" (otherwise). As a result the ships moved away from each other which put the Missile Ship at the advantage.

But when the Torpedo Ship was set manually to "Point Blank" in the Ship Designer, the sensible tactic against Missiles ... it won. That is, unless the Missile Ship had superior speed allowing it to stay at long range.

If Elliot could give us the ability to configure this in the Ship Design Templates then the AI could be configured to give you more of a fight. Particularly given the Empires in the AI Improvement Mod will focus it's research on Torpedoes ... while you research Missiles, Assault Pods, Tractor Beams and Fighters.

We could also use this capability to provide more racial character in some cases. For example, Boskara Torpedo Ships might be set to Point Blank, while Ackadarians maybe more All Weapons. The races would fare differently against different opponents e.g. the Boskara would struggle against Titan Beans but be strong against Missiles, while the Ackdarian would be strong against Titan Beams but be weak against Missiles.

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/13/2014 2:05:35 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 3:12:40 PM   
Icemania


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I've tested "All Weapons" for ships focused on a single weapon, for a variety of weapons, using a stationary target and Hyperdeny to gauge range. As far I can tell the ships generally aims to stay at about 80% of range for the primary weapon. This is probably fairly reasonable for Rail Guns, Phasers and Missiles that are all zero loss weapons.

But again for Beams the ship will sit at a range where limited damage is done which essentially takes them out of the game as a competitive option for the AI. Due to the high DPS at short range I could also choose to put a few extra engines on Beam ships at the expense of some weapons. Another great setting to have available for Modding in the Design Templates would be "Flee When". For example an aggressive race like the Sluken.

If we could put that combination together, all of a sudden Beams become far more useful.


< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/13/2014 4:23:30 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 3:38:15 PM   
Icemania


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Found a setting for "Never Flee" in the Policy Files.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 3:58:02 PM   
DeadlyShoe


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uh yar its one of the more interesting racial policies.

i like to set some races to never flee, especially the defensively minded and insectoid ones.

never flee/ point blank gets very silly very fast because of ship detonations, i dont recommend it

< Message edited by DeadlyShoe -- 7/13/2014 4:58:35 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 4:01:25 PM   
PsyKoSnake


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania

Found a setting for "Never Flee" in the Policy Files.



Does this prevent ship to Standoff?

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/13/2014 6:37:37 PM   
feelotraveller


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania

I've tested "All Weapons" for ships focused on a single weapon, for a variety of weapons, using a stationary target and Hyperdeny to gauge range. As far I can tell the ships generally aims to stay at about 80% of range for the primary weapon.


That is an interesting factoid.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 12:51:36 AM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

Okay, it's my favourite weapon so it hurts to ask this very loaded question ... do you think Plasma Torpedoes need a nerf?

Not if you can play with the design files to get the computer to close in the way it should with weapons like Titan Beams. A Titan Beam design ought to be able to destroy a torpedo boat at close range with its ~50% higher theoretical DPS. However, if the computer really does try to engage at 80% of the maximum range, it might be helpful to either boost the Titan Beam a little by reducing its damage loss or somewhat weaken the Plasma Thunderbolt so that they're less good close in than they currently are but remain about the same at long range, because at the moment 80% of the Titan Beam's maximum range is roughly the DPS/size unit break-even point between it and the Plasma Thunderbolt. DPS values and damage per shot values, given as Titan Beam:Plasma Thunderbolt damage per second per size unit (Titan Beam:Plasma Thunderbolt damage per shot per size unit), for the I/II/III versions of each at 80% of the Titan Beam's maximum range:
   I.   0.895:0.613 (1.253:1.960)
   II.  1.067:1.123 (1.493:2.247)
   III. 1.319:1.337 (1.847:2.673)

It must be remembered that the Plasma Thunderbolt II and III require about 50% more reactor output than the Titan Beam II and III do, though at the point you're playing with these this probably isn't that much of a limitation, and anyways Titan Beams require greater reactor output per size unit (by a factor of two when comparing the Titan Beam to the Plasma Thunderbolt I, though only 25% more when comparing Titan Beams to the Plasma Thunderbolt II/III) so Titan Beam theoretical DPS per size unit suffers more when you start adding in the supporting components. Regardless, it looks like 80% of a Titan Beam's maximum range is roughly its break-even point, as far as damage per second goes, when compared to the equivalently upgraded Plasma Thunderbolt. If the ships chose engagement ranges on 'all weapons' dynamically based on the opponents faced, this is probably a good spot for the relative standing of the two weapons. Since your tests say 'all weapons' more or less sets engagement range to 80% of the maximum range of the shortest-range weapon on the ship, then it depends on how the two fare against one another in game, and I would tend to say that if Titan Beams routinely lose to Plasma Thunderbolts on default engagement settings, then the relative standing of the two weapons should be adjusted so that they just about break even (i.e. close starts = Titan Beams win, standoff range starts = Plasma Thunderbolts win, in between is a toss up). Missiles beating torpedoes at 80% of maximum range while torpedoes wipe the floor with them at close range is probably about right as far as the balance between those two weapons go, so I don't really feel there needs to be any adjustments made there.

quote:

I've tested "All Weapons" for ships focused on a single weapon, for a variety of weapons, using a stationary target and Hyperdeny to gauge range. As far I can tell the ships generally aims to stay at about 80% of range for the primary weapon. This is probably fairly reasonable for Rail Guns, Phasers and Missiles that are all zero loss weapons.

80% of the maximum range can be fairly reasonable for the weapons that lose damage with range, depending on the match up. For example, with blasters versus railguns, most blasters have sufficient range that 80% of the blaster's maximum range puts it outside of the railgun's range, and includes a decent amount of leeway for range loss due to maneuvers without costing the blaster all of the damage it can lose (for most blasters, 80% of the maximum range is roughly midway between the equivalent-tech rail gun's maximum range and the blaster's maximum range, which is in my opinion a reasonable location for a ship with a range advantage that suffers reduced damage at greater ranges to stay - it gives the ship a little bit of maneuvering room to respond to whatever the opposing shorter ranged vessel does without risking coming into firing range or allowing the opponent to temporarily move out of firing range while keeping the weapon damage to a reasonable level). I'd make a similar argument for torpedoes/missiles versus blasters and railguns versus blasters or torpedoes. The only times that it's advantageous to close with an opponent is when closing:
   a. brings the enemy within the range of your ship's weapons
   b. lessens the damage per shot and/or damage per second disparity if in the opponent's favor
   c. increases the damage per shot and/or damage per second disparity if in your favor.

Thus, closing the range is a good idea for blasters attacking torpedoes/missiles and a good idea for torpedoes attacking missiles. Most of the rest of the time, sitting out at 80% of maximum range, while not necessarily optimal (torpedoes in particular could probably do with closing to ~50% of maximum range versus similarly upgraded rail guns), is a decent idea. Even in blaster versus blaster or torpedo versus torpedo fights, it's not really that great of an idea to close the range unless you already have an advantage, as shorter ranges mean that there's less time to react when the shields/armor start failing (though aggressive or incautious species should probably be more prone to closing in like this, while cautious and passive species should be more prone to stay further back; intelligence should ideally also be a factor in deciding whether or not it's appropriate to close the range, with stupid species making less appropriate choices than intelligent species).

< Message edited by Aeson -- 7/14/2014 1:52:26 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 4:00:30 AM   
feelotraveller


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Another thing to consider with regard to range (and balance...) is what the aim of the battle is. Standoff can be fine if you just want to chase the enemy off (or they will not flee for one reason or another) but if your aim is to destroy their ships then getting in close gives you a much better chance since you will get more shots in once they try to flee, as well as often having a higher DPS. But it also means that your ships are more likely to get destroyed...

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 9:55:03 AM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DeadlyShoe
never flee/ point blank gets very silly very fast because of ship detonations, i dont recommend it

I just tested again to be sure but the ship detonation effect seems minor. Could you post some tests demonstrating this?


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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 10:10:17 AM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: PsyKoSnake
quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania
Found a setting for "Never Flee" in the Policy Files.

Does this prevent ship to Standoff?


As I understand there is no impact. The ship can Standoff against Opponents but it will not run away i.e. when Shields are Low which is the current norm for the AI.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 10:46:22 AM   
Icemania


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quote:

Okay, it's my favourite weapon so it hurts to ask this very loaded question ... do you think Plasma Torpedoes need a nerf?

quote:

ORIGINAL: Aeson
Not if you can play with the design files to get the computer to close in the way it should with weapons like Titan Beams.

Agreed! Unfortunately we don't have that option in the design templates. Hopefully Erik and Elliot will consider it. In the meantime I'm warming to the damage loss change idea in particular and will do some more testing.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Aeson
Thus, closing the range is a good idea for blasters attacking torpedoes/missiles and a good idea for torpedoes attacking missiles. Most of the rest of the time, sitting out at 80% of maximum range, while not necessarily optimal (torpedoes in particular could probably do with closing to ~50% of maximum range versus similarly upgraded rail guns), is a decent idea.

Agreed! However, if this setting is opened up to modding, I expect it would be for each design template i.e. without considering the opponent.

For any race using Beams or the Shaktur Firestorm, I was planning to set them to Point Blank, while the other weapons remain at "All Weapons". At the moment that means the Boskara, Shakturi, Gizurean, Sluken, Quameno and Wekkarus.

I think I'll shuffle around the weapons with the Quameno since they are a Passive race. The Wekkarus standout though also being a passive race. Maybe Wave Weapons should have reduced loss (say from 3 to 2) so that "All Weapons" becomes feasible.

For the Insect Races I now have them set to Never Flee in the Policy files. Any others?

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/14/2014 11:49:17 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 11:31:05 AM   
Icemania


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Tested Sluken Titan Beam Cruisers (so speed advantage with Starburners) and they got hammered by Kiadian Torpedo Cruisers ... even starting at Point Blank range ... with "All Weapons" used as the default AI tactic. So I reduced the damage loss per 100 from 4 to 2 and it still got hammered. Then I reduced the damage loss per 100 to 0 and it still got hammered! I reduced the damage loss in both components.txt and research.txt to be sure. Here is a screenshot ... if you look carefully you can see the Titan Beams fading in strength at "All Weapons" range. It looks like the "range" forces the weapon to drop off to zero at it gets near maximum range despite the loss setting. My 80% estimate for All Weapons may also be a little low.

It's simply the wrong tactic for this weapon.

Now if I nerf Torpedoes, in part I'm making the weapons more similar, so they can both handle the same tactic.

We need the Point Blank option in the Design Templates.

The Sluken also are not going to run away to this range when they start Point Blank and have the advantage ... indeed Starburners actually hurt them as they moved more quickly to the wrong range ...



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/14/2014 12:54:07 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 11:42:40 AM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
Another thing to consider with regard to range (and balance...) is what the aim of the battle is. Standoff can be fine if you just want to chase the enemy off (or they will not flee for one reason or another) but if your aim is to destroy their ships then getting in close gives you a much better chance since you will get more shots in once they try to flee, as well as often having a higher DPS. But it also means that your ships are more likely to get destroyed...

This is why I consider Beams / Shaktur Firestorm with Point Blank and Never Flee very well aligned with the 5 Insect Races.

Beams also aligns with their goal to research Super Lasers eventually ...


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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 4:02:36 PM   
Aeson

 

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quote:

Here is a screenshot ... if you look carefully you can see the Titan Beams fading in strength at "All Weapons" range. It looks like the "range" forces the weapon to drop off to zero at it gets near maximum range despite the loss setting. My 80% estimate for All Weapons may also be a little low.

Just remember that a pursuit battle is about the worst possible type of engagement for estimating the actual range between the two ships engaged. The instantaneous distance between the two ships may in fact be 80% of the shorter weapon's range, but depending on the speed of the ships involved you may be looking at ships that can move ~50-100 range units in the time it takes the blasts to catch up to the lead ship. The pursuing vessel is effectively closer to the guns of the lead ship than the lead ship is to the guns of the pursuer; if these vessels are physically separated by 80% of the Titan Beam's maximum range, this may be pushing the pursuing vessel's Titan Beams close to or potentially beyond their maximum range while bringing the pursuer further into the torpedo vessel's range. It might be worthwhile rerunning the tests with ships modified to have only a single weak engine for propulsion (e.g. a single Ion Thruster on a size-500 ship, more or less a cruise speed of 0) to see if the problem was the range advantage granted to the lead ship in a pursuit engagement. If it turns out that the range disadvantage from having to chase the torpedo ship was the problem, then perhaps Titan Beams and other blasters should have their projectile speed increased.

quote:

This is why I consider Beams / Shaktur Firestorm with Point Blank and Never Flee very well aligned with the 5 Insect Races.

Point Blank/Never Flee aligns well with something reckless and aggressive and stupid, and possibly with something reckless and stupid or something aggressive and stupid that isn't very cautious; it only aligns with something aggressive and reckless if that something isn't intelligent. Reckless and aggressive and stupid is not, however, an accurate descriptor of all five of the insectoid species; Gizurians and Slukens are aggressive but cautious, and so are probably less likely to both never flee and engage at close range, while all but Gizureans are at least slightly intelligent. Gizureans, being stupid, might never flee once they've decided to engage, but being 'quite cautious' may not close to point blank for the fight. Dhayut, being aggressive and reckless, may close to point blank, but since they're not stupid they may be willing to flee once they start losing (but given that they're reckless, their losses ought to be heavier than a more cautious or less aggressive but equally intelligent species before they withdraw).

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 4:45:04 PM   
Icemania


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I was conscious of the chase during the testing but it was very difficult to avoid. The Torpedo Ship wants to move away to a longer range, while the Beam Ship wants to move to a closer range, as dictated by "All Weapons". The chase behaviour is due to the tactic. I tried increasing Projectile Speed substantially and there was the same outcome again due to the range and drop off in damage that I mentioned before.

With race tactics the difficulty is that with Beams, in order to get to close range, you have to expect to absorb enemy fire against weapons such as Torpedoes. If you flee too early, you give the enemy the advantage and indeed this is where I've seen some of the most lopsided battles in testing. This is not an act of Intelligence for that race.

So using your examples in these tests, the Gizureans would get slaughtered because they stay at All Weapons range. The Dhayut would get slaughtered because they would Flee too early (the relevant flee settings are either never, shields at 20% or shields at 50%).

Consider it another way. If the Gizurean understand their own weapons so they know that being too Cautious would not work well, so they choose to follow their aggressive tendencies. The Dhayut know that if they get down to 20% shields and start to flee it may well lead to their own destruction (particularly given all of my AI designs include hyperdeny due to it's strategic importance to finish engagements).

I'd like to preserve and enhance each race characteristics (e.g. by focusing research on specific Wonders etc) but there are inherent conflicts between some of those characteristics that allow some interpretation to choose the better overall tactic.

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/14/2014 5:49:19 PM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 8:47:20 PM   
Werewolf13

 

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Gotta admire your effort Ice but I just gotta say: If everthing is perfectly balanced then there is no point in choosing one thing over another: Its all balanced. Every thing is equal regardless of choices made so just roll the dice and let the chips fall where they may when it comes time for a weapons choice to be made - the outcome won't matter. Perfect balance.

Seems like the makings of a most boring gaming experience.

_____________________________

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/14/2014 11:56:45 PM   
DeadlyShoe


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quote:

I just tested again to be sure but the ship detonation effect seems minor. Could you post some tests demonstrating this?

try it against large space ports ;)

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 4:10:32 AM   
lordmoore


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Keston
-----------------------------------
I wish we could have task forces that are components of fleets, allowing better administrative, organizational, and tactical flexibility - and a more realistic feel.


Agreed!


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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 6:27:49 AM   
buglepong

 

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No, you can play what you like for a change. At least if every weapon has a different character, itll be more interesting. I would say that even now some weapons are too similar, some are just plain crap and the different branches of middle tier weapons are done in the worst way possible (more range or more firepower, but end up with one endgame route anyway)

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 6:46:16 AM   
Icemania


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Werewolf, don’t confuse balance with making every weapon equal … they aren’t … nor do I want to make them equal. The weapons retain their strengths and weaknesses. Some weapons give you an advantage early game, some weapons give an advantage late game and so on. Strategy differs depending on the weapon. The intent here is to ensure all of the weapons are competitive and have a clear role in the game.

The weapon that I’ve used in almost every game is the Torpedo as it was often superior. My mental model was “Why would I play using weapons that are inferior almost immediately?”.

As a result of the testing and the changes already made in the AI Improvement Mod I’m really enjoying using a variety of weapons in-game. I have a renewed respect for Missiles, even without any changes to damage. Beams with the right tactic are far more lethal. Rail Guns and Phasers become worth playing again. A Missile/Fighter/Missile Bomber focused race is interesting to play.

The benefit is not just for the human player. The AI races use a lot of Beams and Torpedoes. In the AI Improvement Mod I’ve added a lot more variety in Weapons between the races which you will see in-game. You won’t be laughing so hard when you see ships with Rail Guns, because the weapon damage is improved so that it doesn’t become inferior quite so quickly, the AI research is focused and the AI ship designs are far larger and optimised for that weapon particularly as the game develops. I don’t recall ever seeing Gravitic Singularity weapons in-game, but now you will. No default race has a focus on Missiles/Fighters/Missile Bombers, but now some do. All races with a special weapon will focus on that special weapon.

In short, the only reason I’m doing any of this is to make the game more interesting and fun.

< Message edited by Icemania -- 7/15/2014 7:47:55 AM >

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 7:39:06 AM   
Rhikore

 

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Lol, Ice, I almost made that post for you

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 9:15:59 AM   
hewwo

 

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So... maybe a bit premature to ask, but how about a hyperdrive/reactor/fuel/etc. balance mod? Locarnus' approach was not really my cup of tea because of all the added techs. I just want the existing options to make a bit more sense (especially reducing the range of the gerax hyperdrive compared to the warp bubbles)

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 2:13:35 PM   
Icemania


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Go for it hewwo.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 3:11:03 PM   
Francoy


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Icemania you could use the mod Energy Techtree Rebalanced v0.1.
I use it in my mod, and i find that it reduce the hyperdrive just fine.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 4:16:22 PM   
Icemania


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How would it be used to improve the AI? It seems outside of the scope of the mod.

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 4:16:25 PM   
hewwo

 

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Ha, yeah I know I should be doing some modding myself instead of just moaning about it on the forums, but I'm currently doing a six month stint at tokyo university for my PhD, and I just really can't get myself to spend time behind my laptop when I really should be out exploring weird Japanese things :)

However, I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines!

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RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 4:33:05 PM   
Icemania


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Japan rocks. Literally. Make you sure get that "nothing happened" look down pat during earthquakes so you don't look like a tourist. Of course, that composure won't help when the kids come along. A quote from our last holiday in Japan: "Dad, the world is ending, ahhhhh!" ...

Anyway we digress.


(in reply to hewwo)
Post #: 89
RE: Weapons Balancing - 7/15/2014 6:47:32 PM   
lurchi


Posts: 319
Joined: 6/10/2014
From: LV-223
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: hewwo

So... maybe a bit premature to ask, but how about a hyperdrive/reactor/fuel/etc. balance mod? Locarnus' approach was not really my cup of tea because of all the added techs. I just want the existing options to make a bit more sense (especially reducing the range of the gerax hyperdrive compared to the warp bubbles)


Did you take a look at my slow gamestart mod? It does exactly that, I nerved both range and speed of Gerax and made it more expensive. Since warp bubble is now longer in use it's a bit better than vanilla.

You can find it here: matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3632884


(in reply to hewwo)
Post #: 90
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