Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

General discussion for players of Oolite.

Moderators: another_commander, winston

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

Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by cim »

Combat balance in 1.80 does seem to be something that's not quite right, at both a tactical (can they hit you) and strategic (do they bother attacking) level, especially for new commanders. Obviously, that's something to fix for 1.82. There are a couple of ways you can help with this at this stage:

1) I've put together a little OXP which does some balance adjustments to 1.80 - download here. In summary, it reduces the number of NPCs with beam lasers (and especially aft beam lasers); makes NPCs slightly less skilled, and makes small NPC pirate groups more likely to engage so a beginning player has something to fight. Comments on whether it makes much difference - especially from people who are finding 1.80 too difficult - would be useful.

2) What I could do with is some harder data on how tough people find the current fights. So, whether you think the combat is too hard, about right, or even too easy in 1.80, please consider submitting your results for some standard combat scenarios to the Combat Balance Survey. It'll probably take 20 to 60 minutes to play through the five scenarios to find your limit, depending on how well you guess to start with.
EDIT: note that for the "use your own ship" part of the survey, you'll need to find a TL:10 or better world to get the Combat Simulator to be available.

Kanthoney's work on changing how the NPCs work out where to aim so that evasive action is more effective seems promising at this stage and should also make 1.82 easier. There are plenty of other areas that could be changed, but I'd rather get some more information on how the current combat is working first.
Last edited by cim on Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1519
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Redspear »

Hi cim, when do you need these scenarios testing?

I might get a chance at the weekend...
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

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

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by cim »

I'm expecting it will take a week or two to get enough data from it to start drawing conclusions, so no hurry.

User avatar
Venator Dha
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 329
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:26 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Venator Dha »

cim wrote: 1) I've put together a little OXP which does some balance adjustments to 1.80 - download here. In summary, it reduces the number of NPCs with beam lasers (and especially aft beam lasers); makes NPCs slightly less skilled, and makes small NPC pirate groups more likely to engage so a beginning player has something to fight. Comments on whether it makes much difference - especially from people who are finding 1.80 too difficult - would be useful.
Some feedback on my impressions on these modifications:

Firstly:
I would rate myself as a competent pilot; that I didn't find the start of 1.80 too difficult; it did however require a change in tactics; multiple hostiles became very dangerous; I use only core ships and don't have OXPs that I believe give me an increased advantage.

For the test I have been flying two ships:
Nuncius T'He: Comptent: AspMkII "Eyesight for the Blind IV" fully equipped as possible: Courier role.
Jamerez: Harmless: CobraMkIII "Venator Dha" forward pulse laser (& injectors after Onrira): New start: Trader role.

Impressions:
Nuncius T'He hasn't really seen any difference except for not meeting anyone with a rear laser, but can't be certain if this is a real difference.

Jamerez has jumped and survived 21 times: Lave-Leesti-Diso-Leesti-Orerve-Oresqu-Onrira-Erlaza-Onrira-Larais-Teaatis-Larais-Onrira-Erlaza-Zaalela-Ensoreus-Xeesle-Bemaera-Isinor-Qutiri-Aronar-Aesbion
He has been targeted in 8 systems (twice in Diso) (underlined): Engaged in combat in 6 systems (italics): Destroyed hostile(s) in 5 systems (Red): 6 kills in total (2 in Diso).
His tactics in all cases: Turning and running at first sign of trouble (don't use injectors if present - it's a combat test after all - with one exception at Ensoreus). If caught to turn & fight - in all cases 1:1 - hostile ship destroyed before/as other hostiles caught up. Once clear Taurus drive to station.
In most of the fights Jamerez took heavy damage and survived having lost one or both shields and at least 2 energy banks. In Ensoreus his combat log has
3 contacts. Hostile Cobra MkI "Dawson's Saurian". Turned & ran. 1 contact left: Krait "Libretto of the Iridescent Fiend of Xeesle", Engaged lost front shield and 2TC L&W. Krait "Libretto of the Iridescent Fiend of Xeesle" turned and ran out of scanner range then returned; Engaged and destroyed Krait "Libretto of the Iridescent Fiend of Xeesle". The 2 other hostiles Cobra MkI "Dawson's Saurian" & Gecko "Dreadful Fate" returned. Engaged: lost front shield, and 5TC L&W; nearly lost aft shield, energy low. Turned and injected away. Taurused away.
He does not believe that he would have survived combat with multiple hostiles before purchasing injectors.

My Feeling is that the changes are good, they make the early part of the game more survivable for someone with Oolite experience in 1:1 combat situations. The tactics required for 1.80 are still present. The problem is still there for those who are new to the game and/or more gung-ho in combat, multiple hostiles will still kill you quick. I don't see this as a bad thing. I would not like to see the start being made much easier than it is, but can understand if others would; personally I like the steep starting curve.

Hope this helps with the balancing :D

Edit: I of course mean Torus Drive, not Taurus Drive :lol:
Taurus Driving through the galaxy since... .

User avatar
phkb
Commodore
Commodore
Posts: 2692
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:37 pm
Location: [p]laying [h]ard and [k]icking [b]utt somewhere in G7...

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by phkb »

In the combat training, I'm finding that, with a base Cobra and a pulse laser, I barely beat one harmless Sidewinder, unless I crash into them. I can get behind them, hit them once or twice with the laser, then they spin almost completely around and I might get a couple more hits on them before they swing past me. Then I have to swing around to get on their tail again and the whole process starts again. The fights last for a long time, 5-10 minutes (even more) for each ship (unless I run into them!), based on how little I seem to be damaging them.

The unqualified ships, though, don't jink around as much, and often fly in a straight line, which lets me get behind them and slooooly stab at them with my pulse laser. When they jink, they don't seem to turn all the way around to get a bead on me. They just swerve a bit, which makes lining up subsequent shots much easier. I can dispose of them relatively quickly even with a pulse laser.

I guess that means my "Deadly" rating in my main saved game means, well, pretty much nothing. I'm only good with military lasers and injectors.

<pauses a moment to stare off into the middle distance in search of the meaning of life>

User avatar
Smivs
Retired Assassin
Retired Assassin
Posts: 8408
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:31 am
Location: Lost in space
Contact:

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Smivs »

phkb wrote:...unless I crash into them.
Ha, I think ramming is a perfectly valid tactic. In fact I became 'Deadly' by ramming a Cobby Mk I :D
Commander Smivs, the friendliest Gourd this side of Riedquat.

User avatar
Venator Dha
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 329
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:26 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Venator Dha »

Smivs wrote:
phkb wrote:...unless I crash into them.
Ha, I think ramming is a perfectly valid tactic. In fact I became 'Deadly' by ramming a Cobby Mk I :D
The last log entry for Jamerez (found floating in space) says
Torused towards sun. 7 Hostile contacts: Fer-de-Lance "Malignant Whisker of Tiedied" Drop your cargo or die. Injected clear. Torused towards sun. 7 New Hostile contacts: Mamba "Captain Blood's Skull V": Drop cargo and surrender. Injectors & turned & ran taking fire. Krait "Onager II" closed on injectors. Lost aft shield. Turned to engage Krait "Onager II": Fatal Collision with Krait "Onager II"
The end of a promising pilot :cry:
Taurus Driving through the galaxy since... .

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

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Falcon777 »

I downloaded both of the oxzs and started a new commander, but nothing happened. Because the oxzs have to be downloaded outside of the game, I presumed that I needed to place them within the add ons folder. Am I mistaken? Is there perhaps another reason why this isn't working for me?

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13939
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Cody »

Did you go to F4 after starting the new commander? The combat simulator should be listed there.
Give me five, I'm still alive
Ain't no luck, I learned to duck

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

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Falcon777 »

Aye, just started a new one again and checked that out, nothing listed like that. I have specialty cargoes, cargo contracts, parcel contracts, passenger contracts, explorer's club, and edit ship registration.

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13939
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Cody »

Hmm... try removing the Combat Simulator oxz from AddOns, and then installing it via the oxz manager. That's how I have it.
Give me five, I'm still alive
Ain't no luck, I learned to duck

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13939
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Cody »

Ah, there is a problem with the Wiki being slow/not loading at the moment, and the Combat Simulator requires the Ship Storage Helper*, and that is hanging in the manager (I think because of the Wiki problem). Try again later, perhaps.


*This is why it wouldn't work for you, I expect - and the OXZs should work fine in AddOns.
Give me five, I'm still alive
Ain't no luck, I learned to duck

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

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Falcon777 »

Thanks, I got it to download and the menu popped up. 'ppreciate the help!

Edit1:

In addition to the info presented on the survey, I'd like to state that I adamantly disagree with not using your missiles when the only equipment that you have is your pulse laser. If you want to test yourself and become a slightly to somewhat better pilot...sure, knock yourself out in the combat simulator. However, if you are playing through the game as a newcomer or someone that wants to just start over, using your missiles is very much a vital part of survival. That is why I used my missiles during the test, and the numbers given in the survey reflect that. The only exception to that is when I used my own ship. I don't need missiles for my own ship because of how many defensive measures are in place. Newcomers don't get those defensive measures, which is of course perfectly fine. Fighting with only a pulse laser and three missiles fighting against someone that is very accurate and has a beam laser requires you to either have very good piloting skills or to use your missiles. I have fairly decent skills but I'm not great. So, naturally, I can defeat one enemy with missiles. However, the recharge rate on the beam laser combined with the sheer maneurverability of the sidewinder leaves a new player with no other recourse. The combat simulator includes options for ships apart from the sidewinder, but the survey didn't include any other kinds of ships (sidewinder escort is still a sidewinder), so I didn't test the other ships. That might actually be a downfall to the survey as most ships a new player will face against are probably not a sidewinder, which in turn will make targeting them easier. On the other hand, most ships a new player will face will have beam lasers, so the majority of the survey kind of doesn't cater to new players; that is odd if you ask me. I would expect experienced players to be able to iron ass up their ship and handle much of what is being thrown at them in the current set up of the game....but I guess that's what the last part of the survey is for. Meh.

In the end I'd say that combat is right at where it needs to be. New players are freely given a resource to use to keep them going (missiles) while an experienced player has the capability of testing himself to see just how good his dogfighting skills are (and the option and time to improve himself since he's no longer struggling to figure out the economy). To be perfectly honest, I'm not even really sure that the problem for new players is the difficulty of fighting enemies, but rather the difficulty of learning how to play the game without getting completely frustrated by the learning curve. Fighting enemies and doing it well is part of that, but the game is deep enough right off that bat that to a new player that doesn't have a clue what he's doing he's probably going to feel like he's been thrown into the deep end of a pool with his only knowledge of how to swim being holding his breath to float and then trying to doggy paddle. And as far as that is concerned, the training demo does an incredible job of mitigating that. It doesn't give exact specifics concerning trading, per se, but it does do a great job towards teaching players all the basics of flight. Once a player has those down and has the knowledge that trading is best done between agricultural and industrial worlds (which is, of course, included in the training demo), all one really needs for the beginning of the game to go by very quickly is to know exactly what commodities to trade in. If they learn about the trick of avoiding the space lanes (which, of course, is controversial), then the beginning of the game goes by VERY quickly.

In any case, I'm glad that I could help with the survey. Sniping ftw! :)

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

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by cim »

Falcon777 wrote:In addition to the info presented on the survey, I'd like to state that I adamantly disagree with not using your missiles when the only equipment that you have is your pulse laser.
Indeed: these are tests of particular situations, not advice on how players should fly. One of the possible decisions for a new player is to sell their missiles for an extra 70 credits of trading capital ... and while some here are strong proponents of that, I really wouldn't recommend it.

However, you only get three of them, and they're expensive enough to replace in the early game that if you use them freely to take out a pirate band on your first trip, you'll have serious problems with the band on your second trip. (Similarly, if you use the missiles aggressively, you won't have anything to defend yourself with when a Cobra I or Gecko returns the favour) So the balance of combat with lasers is I think more important.
That might actually be a downfall to the survey as most ships a new player will face against are probably not a sidewinder, which in turn will make targeting them easier.
Yes, that's true. On the other hand most ships much bigger than a Sidewinder are also more dangerous for one reason or another, and there are plenty of common pirate ships in that sort of size range. While I could have run a much wider range of tests, it's already asking people to set aside a fair amount of time. What I wanted to test is:
- how does pilot skill affect the combat, all else being equal
- how does the difference between pulse and beam laser affect the combat, all else being equal
All else being equal requires keeping the same ship hull, and the Sidewinder is the only one in Combat Simulator with both pulse and beam variants.

Depending on how well this survey goes in terms of responses, there may well be other combat surveys in future which use different ships.
On the other hand, most ships a new player will face will have beam lasers
In 1.80. One of the questions to be answered is whether that should still be true in 1.82.

(The reason the tests which varied the NPC skill were carried out with pulse lasers is that the easier basic fight gives more room to pick up variations)

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

Re: Combat balance - 1.80 and 1.82

Post by Falcon777 »

cim wrote:Indeed: these are tests of particular situations, not advice on how players should fly. One of the possible decisions for a new player is to sell their missiles for an extra 70 credits of trading capital ... and while some here are strong proponents of that, I really wouldn't recommend it.

However, you only get three of them, and they're expensive enough to replace in the early game that if you use them freely to take out a pirate band on your first trip, you'll have serious problems with the band on your second trip. (Similarly, if you use the missiles aggressively, you won't have anything to defend yourself with when a Cobra I or Gecko returns the favour) So the balance of combat with lasers is, I think, more important.
The trouble comes in from the fact that as trading is done now anyone that has half an idea of what he's doing has a good chance to get equipped with a beam laser before he runs into any serious pirate problems. Injectors are even easier to acquire. This then leads to players naturally avoiding the one type of laser that absolutely requires good piloting to survive with; thus producing fewer people that have experience dogfighting using a pulse laser. I'd personally be surprised if among those that regularly use military lasers to snipe there was a majority number of people that could do better than I did (my piloting isn't amazing, but it isn't weak either; the time where I fought off four enemies at once among the harmless category, I actually only destroyed one enemy with my missiles and killed two more with my lasers, barely getting caught by that last sidewinder). Among those that regularly close to dogfighting distances, my numbers are probably fairly poor since that isn't my fighting style. This is, I suspect, where your test might not be fully circumspect. I would personally suspect that beam lasers will matter more to the player that regularly snipes than the player that regularly gets into dofighting distances. I would also imagine that the former has less experience dodging enemy lasers and as such is less likely to survive the more difficult parts of the test. This is partially exacerbated by the simulator since it doesn't place the enemy grouped together at a distance like you would actually find in the game, instead forcing the player to dogfight instead of having a chance to snipe.

I guess what I'm getting at with so many words is that your survey probably ought to include one more question: "What is your preferred fighting style: dogfighting in close quarters or sniping at long distances?" Including that question will probably help to determine how important beam lasers are to a fight.

Otherwise, cool stuff. I think I'm going to use the simulator to help improve my dogfighting skills.

Post Reply