Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

General discussion for players of Oolite.

Moderators: another_commander, winston

Post Reply
User avatar
cim
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Posts: 4018
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:19 pm

Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by cim »

One thing I want to look at for 1.82 is equipment and Equipment OXPs, and also their relationship with Ship OXPs. There are a few issues of game balance, inter-OXP compatibility, and interesting player choice that I think we could do better with here, and I think a few slight changes can make the F3 screen a more interesting place for players to visit (with or without lots of equipment OXPs installed). Please have a look and say what you think.

The issues
  • There's basically no way to balance new OXP equipment. Almost by definition it makes the game easier because it gives the player ship a capability which the NPCs can't have. There's nothing wrong with OXPs which make the game easier - but some people might want to write an equipment OXP which doesn't necessarily do that.
    Cost is not a good balancing factor (except for single-use items and mostly not even then) because it doesn't take that long for players to have enough money to buy almost anything. It's useful to extend the early game out, but not beyond about Dangerous rank. Cargo space usage exists but isn't great either - make it big enough to be relevant to a Cobra III, and a Boa can fit it with ease, and an Asp can't use it at all.
  • It's not very practical to make OXP equipment only available to some ships, so it all ends up marked "available_to_all". This tends to make all ships feel quite similar. You can from 1.77 also add a condition script to it, but they aren't quite the right solution for this.
  • There's no reason not to install all the equipment, once you have the money. (Indeed, the more cheap junk you have the better, since it can take the hit for your Naval Energy Unit, but that's not the issue).
Proposed solution
  • Remove the "optional_equipment" section from shipyard.plist and "available_to_all" from equipment.plist. All equipment can be fitted to all ships (though the npc-only flag remains). Make use of condition scripts instead for the core equipment which is restricted (e.g. the Multi-Targeting System requires at least two missile pylons) so it is restricted based on ship properties instead. (Make 'chance' in shipyard,plist just be the chance of the ship appearing - use a different way of determining how much extra equipment to add)
  • Make all equipment sellable, including a configurable sale price, at stations which have the TL to repair it. Pylon weapons continue to be sellable almost everywhere.
  • Add the concept of 'equipment space'. This is distinct from hold space. Some equipment items take up quite a lot of space - ECM, Energy Units, Shield Boosters, Galactic Hyperdrive. Each ship gets a particular allocation of equipment space. Old equipment OXPs would take up a default amount of space.
  • Remove the large cargo bay item. Instead, allow ships (NPCs included) to have a range of equipment space / hold space trade-offs (the Cobra III would get 20 and 35 TC hold spaces, as well as a 10 TC variant, I think. The 20 TC variant should fit all current core equipment; the 35 TC variant might not once you started getting the really big stuff). Old OXP ships would get one cargo bay size and a reasonable default equipment size, with a default reduction in the equipment size in proportion to their LCB size.
    Note the tradeoffs between hold and equipment wouldn't be the same for every ship: the Asp has huge equipment space and no hold; you can give it a small 5TC hold but you lose a *lot* of equipment space to do so because it's a military fighter and fitting in a usable cargo bay is difficult. Conversely the freighters have a huge hold but relatively little equipment space. Converting the hold into equipment space is possible but again has a fairly poor exchange rate compared with an intentional all-rounder like a Cobra or Ferdy because the generators aren't really designed for high-energy applications, so you need to fit a whole bunch of extra capacitors, batteries, power cables and so on along with the equipment racks. Still, if you lose most of the hold you might have enough space for a decent mini-warship.
    The range of equipment space availability would be quite a bit narrower than the range of cargo space availability.
  • Allow some equipment items to have a "resting" energy drain which applies even when they're not obviously doing anything. The two shield boosters are the only core items I think would get this - mild for the normal booster, high enough for the military version that you need an EEU (and even that might not be enough in a ship with terrible base recharge rate), though perhaps a small hit for things like Target System Memory Expansion might also be interesting. If your ship doesn't have enough energy recharge to pay the resting energy drain of an item, it'll automatically shut it down. You can also choose to do this manually, with the cost that you first have to reactivate it before you can use it.
  • The F3 screen will need a bit of a rewrite so that the implications of a purchase on your equipment space and energy recharge are clear.
The idea of this is that there's a few options to balance on now - a Cobra III set up as a trader will probably not be able to fit everything, while alternatively you could convert most of the cargo hold to equipment space and arm it to the teeth - but your trading income is going to be much reduced: piracy or hunting will make more sense.

Powerful OXP equipment could have a resting energy drain and take up a lot of space - so you can install it, but maybe you'll have to take some other items out. (Naturally some people will go for OXP ships with so much equipment space they can install everything, and that's fine)

In terms of compatibility with old OXPs I think it should mostly be practical by setting sensible defaults. Migrating save games across the change will also be possible, though there'll probably need to be an "amnesty" on over-filled ships (you won't be able to install any more equipment on them, of course) rather than randomly refunding equipment until the player is back below the limits. This would certainly be one where taking your save game back to 1.80 from 1.82 is going to be even more unsupported than normal, though.

Extras

These aren't really part of the proposal above, but are some extra possibilities that it could open up, or other equipment-related ideas which seem to fit here, which people have suggested before. I haven't thought them through in much detail yet, because I'd rather see what people think of the concepts first. They're mostly independent of each other.

These open up possibilities where the player might want to - or might have to - refit and optimise their ship in a particular way for a particular mission, or come across an NPC ship with an unusual set up, rather than just buying up items on a checklist. The Cobra III might be able to do everything, but it's perhaps a bit more interesting if it can't do it all at once, or if there's a reason to fly something else.

Or imagine a survey mission where the player has to carry a huge survey scanner and so doesn't have room for much else - or has to protect an Anaconda carrying the same which then has even less room for useful things?
  • Adjust the install/repair/removal times for core equipment items to be more interesting and based - manually - on equipment space size as well ("enlarge cargo bay" should take ages despite being fairly cheap; conversely there's no good reason for a Q-Mine to take almost 100 times as long as a normal missile to put on a pylon (especially when the removal time is already the same!)
  • Steal ideas from Capt. Murphy's old "breakable standard equipment" OXPs and add as pre-installed equipment the scanner/targeting system, primary shield generator, witchdrive and ship's energy banks and generators. Lower damage probabilities than normal apply to each of these items, which each take up a reasonable amount of equipment space. The shield generator and scanner have a resting energy cost (though not much of one in the scanner's case) which can be saved by turning them off.
    Extra energy banks can be bought (if you have the equipment space for them), and the "extra energy unit" becomes just another installed "generator" - and yes, you can add multiple if you have space. The NEU then has the advantage over the EEU of providing a greater energy recharge rate boost for the same equipment space.
    Yes, with this, you could remove the witchdrive (and its fuel tanks) from a ship to save space (or fit one to a ship which wouldn't ordinarily have one, at the cost of a lot of space - would it perhaps make sense to make the non-witchspace ships player buyable too?)
    (I wouldn't want to make breakable anything absolutely essential to get back to a station - so the worst you can end up on is one energy bank - if you're unlucky enough to get all your energy banks shot out before they empty anyway, tough! - no recharge rate on that, and most of your equipment shut down)
  • Increase the cloaking device's running energy drain considerably. To get more than brief use out of this, you need to have your ship fitted with NEUs, and turn off the shields to save energy - which means a painful delay to recharge them when you run out of power for the cloak - but also make it possible to fit out a ship with pretty much nothing but NEUs and the cloak for a real stealth ship.
  • As suggested earlier, we could even include propulsion and turning rates in this - fit a bigger drive, at the cost of some of your limited equipment space, for better flight speed (or downgrade to get some equipment space back). Balancing it with the either/or of equipment space means that there's room for quite a bit more variation from upgrades. I'd probably make these unbreakable, or at least make damage reduce rather than remove their operation.
    Ship's mass should affect the number of drive/thruster units you need for a given performance. Defining this through shipdata rather than letting the game auto-calculate it is probably sensible.
    There probably also needs to be some sort of hard limit (per hull) on the number of these you can fit, so no racing Anacondas.
  • Missile pylons as equipment items taking up rack space? I would like an Asp Bomber variant to be possible where you swap out some of the other kit for a bunch of pylons.
  • Tired of your ECM system getting damaged in a fight? Why not install two? (apart from wanting that space to be used by something else). It wouldn't give any advantages over having one except that you could lose one and still keep going - but obviously it's usually wasted space.
Some of these would probably mean marginal changes to the energy banks and recharge rates of a few core ships - generally rounding things off to the nearest energy bank.

While we're here

These are equipment-related suggestions which don't exactly fit with the theme of equipment/ship balance and customisation but which might be worth a look at while on the subject of equipment.
  • Remove the Multi-Targeting System. The number of situations where it's useful at all is pretty small, and almost all of those go once you have the considerably better Target System Memory Expansion. I used it once to fire a spread of four hardheads in rapid succession at a target's four escorts. All the escorts had ECM, and the combination of four ECM bursts detonated at least one of the missiles - taking down the other three in the blast. I could have spaced the launches out a bit more to avoid that, but then the delay introduced by pressing '-' and '+' to cycle targets with the TSME wouldn't have mattered. (And if you can afford a spread of hardheads, you can certainly afford the TSME)
    It also confuses people - there's a post from a while back where someone expresses frustration on losing target lock after firing a missile (because with the MTS the next missile is currently untargeted) - while they would prefer it to just keep the lock (which it would, if they didn't have it fitted)
  • Currently equipment damage is per-hit: 10 pulse laser hits will do more equipment/cargo damage than a missile, despite being less damaging. Changing it so that equipment damage was proportional to the damage done - and a missile hit might knock out several systems at once - could be more interesting.
  • Start introducing NPC uses for more equipment items, and making NPCs suffer equipment damage if hit. (Since NPCs don't have shields, it's probably easiest just to start causing damage when they're at <50% energy). This might make fleeing enemies the player doesn't have time to finish off actually stay gone, in some cases. The last couple of versions have certainly given NPCs a better chance in a fight - this would potentially bring it back the other way, especially now the AI monitors 'attrition' indicators on ship groups.
  • Introduce a 'disrupted' state for some equipment - less serious than damaged, it just takes it out of action for a few seconds while it reboots or otherwise recovers. Some equipment (e.g. heat shielding) it wouldn't make sense to have this state for and it would default to off for OXP equipment. Equipment disruptions would be considerably more common than equipment damage is.
  • As a graphics change, if the player's ship is hit by an ECM pulse, blur the scanner traces a bit (though it won't actually cause target loss)
  • Should the Advanced Navigation Array have an effect other than letting you route-plan on the map? It seems quite expensive for an item that you essentially only need to use while docked, and which could be entirely replaced with an out-of-game solution. Something like taking a few seconds off the hyperspace spin time for a normal jump, perhaps, so you can run away more quickly in an emergency?

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13805
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Cody »

cim wrote:Make all equipment sellable...
Would that include lasers, and would they take up space and become damageable too?

User avatar
cim
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Posts: 4018
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:19 pm

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by cim »

Cody wrote:
cim wrote:Make all equipment sellable...
Would that include lasers, and would they take up space and become damageable too?
In principle selling lasers makes sense - and if they do take space, it's essential - but some way to stop a Jameson selling their initial pulse laser for trading capital might be needed. (Possibly the way to do that is to make the pulse laser more useful relative to the beam laser, though)

Taking up space ... I hadn't thought about it, but it does make sense that a military laser would require more space than a pulse laser. Encouraging people to only fit starboard/port military lasers if they're actually going to need them does appeal.

Damage ... I suspect completely knocking out a damaged laser would be a step too far and might leave the player rather too vulnerable to lucky shots, but perhaps allow disruption (if that's introduced) to put them offline for a few seconds, and/or damage being to the cooling system rather than the laser itself?

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13805
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Cody »

<nods> In that case, I look forward to selling two or three of my Cobra's four mil lasers (I only use the fore laser anyway), and freeing-up some space for extra kit. I very much like the idea of selecting/balancing one's load-out for different tasks. Overall, a very cool proposal, cim!

User avatar
Diziet Sma
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 6310
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:20 pm
Location: Aboard the Pitviper S.E. "Blackwidow"

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Diziet Sma »

I like the sound of pretty much all that.. including all the 'Extras' and 'While we're here' items.
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1395
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Redspear »

Defining this through shipdata rather than letting the game auto-calculate it is probably sensible.
As long as the new values are easily tweakable (by playing about with the shipdata.plist or similar) then I think these are good ideas.

Considerations:

Tech-Level

Ships and equipment already have a tech-level at which they become available. If that were an indicator of their complexity then it may be that some of the lower tech ships simply can't cope with the high end equipment. I appreciate that in the real world it's often possible to fit some very modern equipment to some extremely low tech vehicles but it could be useful for game purposes e.g. A ship can only equip items of their base tech-level (i.e. at which the ship is available) plus 4 (or some other value).

Inservice Date

Another value we could reference from the elite manual is the Inservice Date.
Taken from the Elite manual, re the Fer-de-Lance:
A sophisticated craft, capable of both limited trading, combat, and leisure function. The spacious hull is mainly given over to sophisticated weaponry, defences and navigation equipment at the expense of cargo capacity.
Along with the Cobra III, the FdL has one of the most 'recent' inservice dates (3100) and maybe justifies having the highest tech available (perhaps moreso than the cobra which 'opted' for cargo instead). [aside]While I'm on the topic of the these two ships, I know there were gameplay reasons for boosting the mkIII up to 0.35 speed but otherwise I think that the FdL would have been the more worthy recipient.[/aside] The Python on the other hand is 400 years older.

Again, hinted at in the manual, the Krait was outcompeted by the Mamba despite very similar performance specs. The Mamba came 83 years later, perhaps its superiority lies in what equipment can be installed. Off the top of my head, I can't remember what was made of this in oolite...

This could also look 'cool' to have listed somewhere within the game (like on the shipyard screen or the F5 screen for example).

Engines and Witch-Jump Range

As discussed elsewhere, there are reasons for a 7LY limit to the hyperspace drives but what if that was only from a top-end hyperdrive and others had lesser ranges?
The Elite manual listed several different names for "Drive Motors" in the guide to ships in service part and they could be used to make less sophisticated hyperdrives available (similar to CommonSenseOTB's idea from a while back, using the different types of lasers from the manual). Couldn't make them too small or it might be very difficult to navigate but I'd have thought that there was scope for at least three different ranges with 7 as a maximum.
This could also support making some of the fighters available to the player (and make the shipyard look a little more colourful as a result).

I could go on but I'll spare you...
•Introduce a 'disrupted' state for some equipment - less serious than damaged, it just takes it out of action for a few seconds while it reboots or otherwise recovers.
Nice :)
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

Switeck
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1998
Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 11:11 pm

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Switeck »

cim wrote:[*]Should the Advanced Navigation Array have an effect other than letting you route-plan on the map? It seems quite expensive for an item that you essentially only need to use while docked, and which could be entirely replaced with an out-of-game solution. Something like taking a few seconds off the hyperspace spin time for a normal jump, perhaps, so you can run away more quickly in an emergency?
How about pre-plotted "escape route" -- even before you hyperspace to a system, it already has your "next" system targeted when you arrive and maybe reduces the "flee time" for that hyperspace jump to 10 seconds instead of 15 seconds? Game balance takes a hit here with quicker escape ability...but even a 5 seconds savings is often far from enough when you start taking hits. Hits when the shield is down could break the jump attempt or cause it to be a misjump.

User avatar
mossfoot
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 827
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 4:07 pm
Contact:

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by mossfoot »

Dunno about reducing the hyperspace waiting time since in fiction it's about making complex calculations or some such.

However, it could perhaps set the safest planet within current fuel range as a default destination. That alone would save time.
Last edited by mossfoot on Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
--
Image
Pilot: Mossfoot - Ship ID: Viaticus Rex (Cobra MKII)
Rank: Competent - Status: Clean

http://www.noahchinnbooks.com/

User avatar
Wildeblood
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 2161
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:07 am
Location: Western Australia
Contact:

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Wildeblood »

cim wrote:Should the Advanced Navigation Array have an effect other than letting you route-plan on the map? It seems quite expensive for an item that you essentially only need to use while docked, and which could be entirely replaced with an out-of-game solution.
It's one item that would be invaluable at any price. If anyone thinks it's expensive and inessential, try playing without it for a while.

User avatar
Wildeblood
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 2161
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:07 am
Location: Western Australia
Contact:

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Wildeblood »

Redspear wrote:Engines and Witch-Jump Range

As discussed elsewhere, there are reasons for a 7LY limit to the hyperspace drives but what if that was only from a top-end hyperdrive and others had lesser ranges? .... Couldn't make them too small or it might be very difficult to navigate but I'd have thought that there was scope for at least three different ranges with 7 as a maximum.
Pleb did that experiment a couple of years ago. The consensus seemed to be that 5, 6 ,7 & "galactic" were the way to go. Any shorter than 5 and the starting game is broken. I'd make this change the top priority around equipment, if it were my decision.

Falcon777
Dangerous
Dangerous
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Dec 14, 2013 5:33 pm

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Falcon777 »

cim wrote:One thing I want to look at for 1.82 is equipment and Equipment OXPs, and also their relationship with Ship OXPs. There are a few issues of game balance, inter-OXP compatibility, and interesting player choice that I think we could do better with here, and I think a few slight changes can make the F3 screen a more interesting place for players to visit (with or without lots of equipment OXPs installed). Please have a look and say what you think.

The issues
  • There's basically no way to balance new OXP equipment. Almost by definition it makes the game easier because it gives the player ship a capability which the NPCs can't have. There's nothing wrong with OXPs which make the game easier - but some people might want to write an equipment OXP which doesn't necessarily do that.
    Cost is not a good balancing factor (except for single-use items and mostly not even then) because it doesn't take that long for players to have enough money to buy almost anything. It's useful to extend the early game out, but not beyond about Dangerous rank. Cargo space usage exists but isn't great either - make it big enough to be relevant to a Cobra III, and a Boa can fit it with ease, and an Asp can't use it at all.
  • It's not very practical to make OXP equipment only available to some ships, so it all ends up marked "available_to_all". This tends to make all ships feel quite similar. You can from 1.77 also add a condition script to it, but they aren't quite the right solution for this.
  • There's no reason not to install all the equipment, once you have the money. (Indeed, the more cheap junk you have the better, since it can take the hit for your Naval Energy Unit, but that's not the issue).
Proposed solution
  • Remove the "optional_equipment" section from shipyard.plist and "available_to_all" from equipment.plist. All equipment can be fitted to all ships (though the npc-only flag remains). Make use of condition scripts instead for the core equipment which is restricted (e.g. the Multi-Targeting System requires at least two missile pylons) so it is restricted based on ship properties instead. (Make 'chance' in shipyard,plist just be the chance of the ship appearing - use a different way of determining how much extra equipment to add)
  • Make all equipment sellable, including a configurable sale price, at stations which have the TL to repair it. Pylon weapons continue to be sellable almost everywhere.
  • Add the concept of 'equipment space'. This is distinct from hold space. Some equipment items take up quite a lot of space - ECM, Energy Units, Shield Boosters, Galactic Hyperdrive. Each ship gets a particular allocation of equipment space. Old equipment OXPs would take up a default amount of space.
  • Remove the large cargo bay item. Instead, allow ships (NPCs included) to have a range of equipment space / hold space trade-offs (the Cobra III would get 20 and 35 TC hold spaces, as well as a 10 TC variant, I think. The 20 TC variant should fit all current core equipment; the 35 TC variant might not once you started getting the really big stuff). Old OXP ships would get one cargo bay size and a reasonable default equipment size, with a default reduction in the equipment size in proportion to their LCB size.
    Note the tradeoffs between hold and equipment wouldn't be the same for every ship: the Asp has huge equipment space and no hold; you can give it a small 5TC hold but you lose a *lot* of equipment space to do so because it's a military fighter and fitting in a usable cargo bay is difficult. Conversely the freighters have a huge hold but relatively little equipment space. Converting the hold into equipment space is possible but again has a fairly poor exchange rate compared with an intentional all-rounder like a Cobra or Ferdy because the generators aren't really designed for high-energy applications, so you need to fit a whole bunch of extra capacitors, batteries, power cables and so on along with the equipment racks. Still, if you lose most of the hold you might have enough space for a decent mini-warship.
    The range of equipment space availability would be quite a bit narrower than the range of cargo space availability.
  • Allow some equipment items to have a "resting" energy drain which applies even when they're not obviously doing anything. The two shield boosters are the only core items I think would get this - mild for the normal booster, high enough for the military version that you need an EEU (and even that might not be enough in a ship with terrible base recharge rate), though perhaps a small hit for things like Target System Memory Expansion might also be interesting. If your ship doesn't have enough energy recharge to pay the resting energy drain of an item, it'll automatically shut it down. You can also choose to do this manually, with the cost that you first have to reactivate it before you can use it.
  • The F3 screen will need a bit of a rewrite so that the implications of a purchase on your equipment space and energy recharge are clear.
The idea of this is that there's a few options to balance on now - a Cobra III set up as a trader will probably not be able to fit everything, while alternatively you could convert most of the cargo hold to equipment space and arm it to the teeth - but your trading income is going to be much reduced: piracy or hunting will make more sense.

Powerful OXP equipment could have a resting energy drain and take up a lot of space - so you can install it, but maybe you'll have to take some other items out. (Naturally some people will go for OXP ships with so much equipment space they can install everything, and that's fine)

In terms of compatibility with old OXPs I think it should mostly be practical by setting sensible defaults. Migrating save games across the change will also be possible, though there'll probably need to be an "amnesty" on over-filled ships (you won't be able to install any more equipment on them, of course) rather than randomly refunding equipment until the player is back below the limits. This would certainly be one where taking your save game back to 1.80 from 1.82 is going to be even more unsupported than normal, though.

Extras

These aren't really part of the proposal above, but are some extra possibilities that it could open up, or other equipment-related ideas which seem to fit here, which people have suggested before. I haven't thought them through in much detail yet, because I'd rather see what people think of the concepts first. They're mostly independent of each other.

These open up possibilities where the player might want to - or might have to - refit and optimise their ship in a particular way for a particular mission, or come across an NPC ship with an unusual set up, rather than just buying up items on a checklist. The Cobra III might be able to do everything, but it's perhaps a bit more interesting if it can't do it all at once, or if there's a reason to fly something else.

Or imagine a survey mission where the player has to carry a huge survey scanner and so doesn't have room for much else - or has to protect an Anaconda carrying the same which then has even less room for useful things?
  • Adjust the install/repair/removal times for core equipment items to be more interesting and based - manually - on equipment space size as well ("enlarge cargo bay" should take ages despite being fairly cheap; conversely there's no good reason for a Q-Mine to take almost 100 times as long as a normal missile to put on a pylon (especially when the removal time is already the same!)
  • Steal ideas from Capt. Murphy's old "breakable standard equipment" OXPs and add as pre-installed equipment the scanner/targeting system, primary shield generator, witchdrive and ship's energy banks and generators. Lower damage probabilities than normal apply to each of these items, which each take up a reasonable amount of equipment space. The shield generator and scanner have a resting energy cost (though not much of one in the scanner's case) which can be saved by turning them off.
    Extra energy banks can be bought (if you have the equipment space for them), and the "extra energy unit" becomes just another installed "generator" - and yes, you can add multiple if you have space. The NEU then has the advantage over the EEU of providing a greater energy recharge rate boost for the same equipment space.
    Yes, with this, you could remove the witchdrive (and its fuel tanks) from a ship to save space (or fit one to a ship which wouldn't ordinarily have one, at the cost of a lot of space - would it perhaps make sense to make the non-witchspace ships player buyable too?)
    (I wouldn't want to make breakable anything absolutely essential to get back to a station - so the worst you can end up on is one energy bank - if you're unlucky enough to get all your energy banks shot out before they empty anyway, tough! - no recharge rate on that, and most of your equipment shut down)
  • Increase the cloaking device's running energy drain considerably. To get more than brief use out of this, you need to have your ship fitted with NEUs, and turn off the shields to save energy - which means a painful delay to recharge them when you run out of power for the cloak - but also make it possible to fit out a ship with pretty much nothing but NEUs and the cloak for a real stealth ship.
  • As suggested earlier, we could even include propulsion and turning rates in this - fit a bigger drive, at the cost of some of your limited equipment space, for better flight speed (or downgrade to get some equipment space back). Balancing it with the either/or of equipment space means that there's room for quite a bit more variation from upgrades. I'd probably make these unbreakable, or at least make damage reduce rather than remove their operation.
    Ship's mass should affect the number of drive/thruster units you need for a given performance. Defining this through shipdata rather than letting the game auto-calculate it is probably sensible.
    There probably also needs to be some sort of hard limit (per hull) on the number of these you can fit, so no racing Anacondas.
  • Missile pylons as equipment items taking up rack space? I would like an Asp Bomber variant to be possible where you swap out some of the other kit for a bunch of pylons.
  • Tired of your ECM system getting damaged in a fight? Why not install two? (apart from wanting that space to be used by something else). It wouldn't give any advantages over having one except that you could lose one and still keep going - but obviously it's usually wasted space.
Some of these would probably mean marginal changes to the energy banks and recharge rates of a few core ships - generally rounding things off to the nearest energy bank.

While we're here

These are equipment-related suggestions which don't exactly fit with the theme of equipment/ship balance and customisation but which might be worth a look at while on the subject of equipment.
  • Remove the Multi-Targeting System. The number of situations where it's useful at all is pretty small, and almost all of those go once you have the considerably better Target System Memory Expansion. I used it once to fire a spread of four hardheads in rapid succession at a target's four escorts. All the escorts had ECM, and the combination of four ECM bursts detonated at least one of the missiles - taking down the other three in the blast. I could have spaced the launches out a bit more to avoid that, but then the delay introduced by pressing '-' and '+' to cycle targets with the TSME wouldn't have mattered. (And if you can afford a spread of hardheads, you can certainly afford the TSME)
    It also confuses people - there's a post from a while back where someone expresses frustration on losing target lock after firing a missile (because with the MTS the next missile is currently untargeted) - while they would prefer it to just keep the lock (which it would, if they didn't have it fitted)
  • Currently equipment damage is per-hit: 10 pulse laser hits will do more equipment/cargo damage than a missile, despite being less damaging. Changing it so that equipment damage was proportional to the damage done - and a missile hit might knock out several systems at once - could be more interesting.
  • Start introducing NPC uses for more equipment items, and making NPCs suffer equipment damage if hit. (Since NPCs don't have shields, it's probably easiest just to start causing damage when they're at <50% energy). This might make fleeing enemies the player doesn't have time to finish off actually stay gone, in some cases. The last couple of versions have certainly given NPCs a better chance in a fight - this would potentially bring it back the other way, especially now the AI monitors 'attrition' indicators on ship groups.
  • Introduce a 'disrupted' state for some equipment - less serious than damaged, it just takes it out of action for a few seconds while it reboots or otherwise recovers. Some equipment (e.g. heat shielding) it wouldn't make sense to have this state for and it would default to off for OXP equipment. Equipment disruptions would be considerably more common than equipment damage is.
  • As a graphics change, if the player's ship is hit by an ECM pulse, blur the scanner traces a bit (though it won't actually cause target loss)
  • Should the Advanced Navigation Array have an effect other than letting you route-plan on the map? It seems quite expensive for an item that you essentially only need to use while docked, and which could be entirely replaced with an out-of-game solution. Something like taking a few seconds off the hyperspace spin time for a normal jump, perhaps, so you can run away more quickly in an emergency?

I'm sorry to be contrary, Cim, but I am one of those people that likes to fly around in an uber ship decked out in a massive number of pieces of equipment, several of them urberfying in nature. Many of your proposed solutions directly limit that. I'd be quite disappointed if that was no longer an option as that would force me to no longer update Oolite. That being said, not everything suggested goes against that idea. The very first proposed solution seems to state that npcs could get any and all oxp equipment, right? Anything that gives npcs more options is definitely cool. The second solution of having everything sellable is ok as well, but all solutions after that go against what I like to do.

On that note, however, the "extras" and "while we are here" items are not necessarily all against what I like to do.
I'm actually kind of surprised that install/repair/removal thing hasn't already been done. I had just assumed that that was the state of things already (though I never buy quirium cascade mines, so I wouldn't have noticed for that particular example).
The breakable standard equipment is...irritating, though it makes sense. I suppose that's why I go uber ironass, no? :wink:
Cloaking device is fine just as it is, thank you very much.
Installing larger/faster drives on the ship? Very interesting idea, though I don't like the idea of equipment space, so I guess it would depend on how it is implemented.
Rack space? ....um, I don't even know what that is, though I can understand the desire for a ship with lots of missile space. Isn't that what the dragon+april pylon reloader is for? I guess it'd be interesting to see other ships have more pylon space available apart from the pylon reloader, just so long as there isn't a new equipment space thing.
I actually don't use the ecm system that much...in fact, I use it more often to save OTHER ships from getting hit by missiles. I have military injectors and a cloaking device for missiles coming at me. However, on an anaconda hauler...yeah, I suppose I could see the use for a second ecm system. I have only just started that save file, so I can't speak a whole lot for that condition (that ship doesn't have the cloaking device.....yet).
Because I use lasers 99% of the time, yeah, the multi-target system doesn't really mean much to me....though I always thought that you had to have that before you could use the target system memory expansion, not that they were two completely functionally different things. Huh...you learn something new every day.
Damage to equipment being done on size of damage definitely makes sense. It would add more oomph to missiles and make them (and all their various and sundry countermeasures) more important. Currently a ship with injectors and military lasers and that extremely useful sniperlock can take down just about anything in two quick full bursts (sans thargoid battleships and the like).
Aye, I think npcs should have access to what you have, with possible exceptions to neus and cloaking devices...or at least make them rare.
Dis....rupted state? Honestly, a ship that is taking damage is likely going to have very quick equipment failure and subsequent death. The laser accuracy increases along with larger, more frequent pirate groups makes the game far more challenging than before 1.8. Thus, survivability has probably already decreased so far that you're probably not going to see disruption very often, or if you do it will likely lead to more damage being taken, thus equipment failure and death.
Ecm blurring? That's cool. :)
Yeah, why doesn't it let you route plan fastest route while already in transit? :( Though a faster countdown would be pretty interesting. That'd definitely be nice for my hauler anaconda, and if implemented on my supercobra? Five second countdown? That's quite interesting, 'specially when I'm playing as a courier. Though, if you're looking for more ideas on it, why not let it conserve an extra light year of fuel on all jumps of 4 light years or farther? Or perhaps even go so far as to introduce an upgraded advanced navigational array (extremely expensive) that let's you go to 8 light years distance (I know that there are plenty of reasons not to increase the light year boundary; I just figured that 1 light year more probably doesn't make too much of a difference, especially since all couriers/passenger carriers/cargo contractors wouldn't use it given the exponential increase in travel time). Or perhaps it could actually reduce travel time slightly by allowing you to home in better on those beacons. Perhaps a combination of all of them (sans the boundary increase, that obviously would require a secondary, extremely expensive piece of equipment)?

In any case, those are my thoughts on the subject.

User avatar
Pleb
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 884
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:23 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Pleb »

Wildeblood wrote:Pleb did that experiment a couple of years ago. The consensus seemed to be that 5, 6 ,7 & "galactic" were the way to go. Any shorter than 5 and the starting game is broken. I'd make this change the top priority around equipment, if it were my decision.
yes this doesn't work out that well. This is 3 lightyears:

Image

This is 5 lightyears:

Image

And this is 6 lightyears:

Image

So changing the distances that the player can jump does affect the game considerably... :|

User avatar
Wildeblood
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 2161
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:07 am
Location: Western Australia
Contact:

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Wildeblood »

Pleb wrote:So changing the distances that the player can jump does affect the game considerably... :|
Yep. Starting the player with 5ly is the way to go.

Being mischievous here :twisted: , for those who play an exploration or trading game, rather than a combat game, an 8ly hyperdrive would be much cooler than the current secret navy equipment.

User avatar
Diziet Sma
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 6310
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:20 pm
Location: Aboard the Pitviper S.E. "Blackwidow"

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by Diziet Sma »

Thanks Pleb.. I was wanting to post those, to point out that even 6LY would break things, but couldn't find them..
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied

User avatar
aegidian
Master and Commander
Master and Commander
Posts: 1152
Joined: Thu May 20, 2004 10:46 pm
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: Proposal for 1.82: equipment balancing and choices

Post by aegidian »

I assume equipment with a resting energy drain will need to have a minimum energy level property (1 bank) at which they'll shut off rather than cripple the ship.
"The planet Rear is scourged by well-intentioned OXZs."

Oolite models and gear? click here!

Post Reply