Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Discussion and information relevant to creating special missions, new ships, skins etc.

Moderators: winston, another_commander

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:57 am

This was going to be posted under suggestions until I thought it would be easier to make a working demo.

Long post ahead...

Continuing my series of pompously titled oxps, I'm looking at lasers this time and I believe I can make them more fun.

Why Change?

The Beginner's Experience (the pulse laser):

  • A beginner in a Cobra III is likely to face worse ships in greater numbers and some of those are likely to have greater weapons. Although escape is often possible it is a laborious affair with nearly half the scanner being out of anyone's range
  • The beam laser is far superior to the pulse laser and can make short work of the player early game. Being longer range than the pulse laser a novice pilot is often better not engaging in the first place. Not fun when running at the first flash of yellow.
  • Fast as it is, the Cobra III can't usually escape from Sidewinders or Asps (with the former being a fairly common assailant and a difficult target)

Summary: You need to run a lot which would be fine except that it takes so long to do so.

The Novice's Experience (the beam laser):

  • Once you have the beam laser targets with a pulse laser become much easier opponents. You still can't expect to regularly win combats when outnumbered (which you frequently are). Although you can meet police or a combat in progress, you are not followed by escorts nor do you have pirate accomplices and so the role of 'player' remains one of the most vulnerable
  • Whilst a rear mounted beam laser can be especially potent it's an unfortunate strategy to have to gain kills by running away (both counterintuitive and less exciting)
  • It's an easy weapon to overheat (as it should be given it's other properties) but pirates rarely seem to make this mistake. The player has to learn to make it work (good design) but rarely has safe opportunity to do so (less good)

Summary: You have a much better weapon now but you don't get much chance to exploit it. You still need to run a lot due to the prevalence of pirate packs and likely due also to threat assessment mechanics

The Veteran's Experience (the military laser):

  • Quoting cim (from an admittedly old post),
    The military laser is far too good to give to NPCs, but once the player has even one (on the aft mount, preferably) it becomes virtually impossible to lose most fights regardless of enemy numbers because of its extreme range it's not necessarily particularly fun to fight like that.
  • Sniping is a popular tactic but at double the range of the beam laser it means that you can pick the toughest adversary and remove them from the fight fairly easily (and probably another of their allies) before they can close on you
  • Large packs are required in order to present any kind of a challenge but almost always the player is the only one with a military laser. This both contradicts 'non player centric' design and makes the weapon seem underpriced and too commonly available

Summary: If you're cautious enough then combat becomes much easier. The jump from beam to military is enormous: double range AND double power. Arguably this is exactly the advantage that the player needs most of the time but the range advantage on a rear mounted laser is overpowered. Rear lasers encourage not only sniping but 'shooting gallery' sniping where most targets can't get near you unless you let them.


Observations:

  • The scanner is very large and determines both mass-lock (and therefore escape) and range, nearly half of it being exclusive to the military laser
  • Pirate packs are near ubiqitous as a solution to every player having some kind of a challenge - but for those without a military laser almost nowhere is safe
  • Rear shooting is a problem in that it rewards caution over skill and with a longer ranged weapon is potentially dull

Suggested Changes:

That nearly half the scanner is only reachable by the military laser is extreme, especially given the time it can take ships to cross this distance. This 10km domain should not be exclusive IMHO and yet sniping is both popular and for some even fun (more so from the front than the back I would argue).

Canonicaly the military laser is twice the range and power of the beam laser and it's nice to stick with canon if we can so why not grant the extra range to the pulse laser?

Ingram Model 1919A4 Pulse Laser is recommended for all positional laser mountings, but is especially effective for rear-shooting.

The problem, as highlighted by another_commander in the rescaling thread, would be that the beginning player would be rewarded for rear mounting a pulse laser and picking off targets all too easily. The soultion could be a very simple one: only grant the beam laser to the faster ships. For example:

Image

Now pulse lasers are actually quite useful, not overpowered and yet have a role to play in a pirate pack without challenging the superiority of either the military or beam lasers.

Note that the threshold value (RSS) of 0.35 exludes anything slower than a Mk III from using a beam laser (by default) and so that range exploit is unlikely. Bump it up to 0.36 and every ship with a beam laser can potentially gain on the starting player.

Remaining Problems:

There is an issue with regards to auto_weapons (i.e. non-player weapon selection by role) and even to weapon choice amongst slower player vessels but I'll come to that later.
Rear sniping with the beam laser is not as attractive an option but this tactic remains exploitative for the military laser.

Unless:

Image

So a rear mounted weapon of any type is useful but not explotative unless you're flying a faster vessel and they tend to favour the high powered, shorter ranged weapons. True the military laser completely outclasses the beam laser but there's no way under normal circumstances that the player is starting with one (or that the non-player ships generally should be allowed one).

The beginning pilot would be more likely to give combat a try (or at least be able to practice shooting) and the miltary laser could still get some sniping in versus incoming pulse fire (more exciting too). However, there is perhaps too much range advantage for the pulse laser versus the beam.

Is there a way to challenge the military laser's dominance without compounding the problem?

How about this:

Image

We now have six laser colours encompassing all of the primary (red, green, blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta, yellow) colours of the RGB colour model; all distinctive and clear to those without colour blindness.

So much for cosmetics, what do these new heavy pulse lasers add to gameplay? Imagine shots from larger, less mobile vessels, intermittently fired from great distance; trying to dodge incoming fire in the hope of closing in to where you can make your superior rate of fire pay off. Sounds cool but what about exploits, balance and the like?

Just as the range bonus to the pulse laser grants it some kind of a chance versus a beam laser the heavy pulse presents at least a minor challenge to the military laser.

The anaconda and the python are far too slow to mount a beam laser (and military lasers are too dangerous for most non player ships) but shouldn't these mighty vessels have something more powerful than a pulse laser at their disposal? Get their rate of fire right and the sniping player with a military laser now has a reason to head towards the target rather than away from it. Perhaps they should only be available to the largest player ships or imagine them on capital ships... We'd now have room for oxp behemoths to snipe at the player!

The beam laser is really a dogfighting weapon now but it's quite potent at that range and the mining laser is perhaps a passable weapon when pressed into service, as it was intended to be:

Kruger Model ARM64 Sp. Mining laser is highly recommended as both a trade and combat addition.

But what about player progression, upgrading your weapons?

Many ships aren't really suitable for a beam laser anymore and there weren't exactly a glut of weapons to chose from in the core game in the first place. Well, canonicaly there was more than one kind of pulse laser, so why not something like this?

Image

You now have a reason for ships to favour different weapon types beyond pure economics. There's strategy too: beam laser on the front perhaps but are you sure you don't want a pulse on the rear? Want to upgrade your laser? There are now 3 varieties of each and you're more likely to choose a different type than before.

Note the potential use of an auto_weapons type system as well as simple posibilities around mining.

How would a standard non-player distribution of weapons look?

Perhaps something like this:

Image

Traditionally the beam laser made the pulse laser obsolete and then the military laser did the same to the beam (by an even bigger margin). That suited the original elite much better than it does oolite IMHO and I think this might be a way to keep the flavour of the original weapons without some of the inherent problems.

There's almost certainly quite a bit of tweaking to do but I'm in the process of putting an oxp together for people to try. I'd be very interested to hear what anyone thinks either pre or post release.

[Edited to add OXZ to thread title]
Last edited by Redspear on Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined

Post by Redspear » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:07 pm

If the beam laser now seems rather niche, it could also make an excellent choice for an escort vessel.

If escorting a ship with a bolt laser, then any assailants are at least under fire while the escorts close in. Once they do, multiple beam lasers can be brutal at close range.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined

Post by Redspear » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:47 am

Ok, so here it is, the test oxp.

It should give a good idea of how laser combat will look however it's only v 0.1 as there's likely a lot of tweaking to do, not least with regards to:

  • Bolt Lasers - the new laser type is designed to shake things up a bit but, with the longest range of any laser, it needs to be threatening rather than deadly
  • Ranges - I've spaced them out fairly neatly but there's no guarantee that is how they will work best
  • Allocation - which ship gets which laser has huge gameplay implications and only hours of gameplay is likely to reveal a good blend
  • Pricing - Exactly how useful is a bolt laser in most situations? How many combats really begin at extreme range? These factors and others are not entirely clear at present
  • Names - although purely cosmetic, it's nice if the names match the ships they were supposedly allocated to in the elite manual. I've tried to do that but it depends in part on ship grouping and that may change with testing
  • AI Response - How well adapted are ship AIs to this level of change? Likewise, other gameplay balancing elements such as encounter numbers may not be well suited to this combat model

A couple of significant change from the charts above:

  • Shifted the non-escort speed threshold for beam lasers to 0.36, thereby moving the Mk III into the pulse laser category (MegaBlast for pirates)
  • Thinking beam lasers a little shortchanged, I've now granted the range bonus they recieved for increasing tech in increments of 10% rather than 5%.

Available from the in game manager.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
phkb
Commodore
Commodore
Posts: 2313
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:37 pm
Location: [p]laying [h]ard and [k]icking [b]utt somewhere in G7...

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by phkb » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:08 am

I think you're missing a "Config" folder inside the OXP. The equipment.plist, shipdata-overrides.plist and shipyard-overrides.plist files are at the root level, but should be in the "Config" folder.

Edit: And a question: After reading your original post, I kind of assumed there would be restrictions on what lasers could be installed on certain ships, but after looking at the config files, the changes appear to be more along the lines of setting default equipment levels, both in player-purchased ships, and in NPC's. There doesn't appear to be any restriction on, say, buying a Sidewinder and plonking a military laser on the front. Is there an intention to restrict laser purchases to certain ship types, or just to control defaults? (Note: this is not a complaint, just wanting to understand).

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:28 am

I think you're right! :oops: I don't think I did add a Config folder.
I did do a quick test however and the lasers did show up for sale.
Do some systems not require a config folder?

Re restrictions...
That is likely to come later, certainly with regards to bolt lasers. Setting the defaults is more about not granting a ship a laser which it is ill suited to use. Mostly that equates to not giving a slow ship a beam laser because any player in a faster ship could then control the range and then we'd have the 'fish in a barrel' situation even with a pulse laser.

Defaults also grant a laser type (if not a tech) that a pilot of such a ship might actualy want in at least some situations.

Also missing at present are the special asteroids that yield precious metals or gem stones.
Bolt laser is likely to become slower but more damaging.

Thanks phkb, I'll put a fix together as soon as I get a chance.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:42 pm

v 0.2 available

  • Config folder included this time :roll:
  • Thargoid lasers included (although only one will currently be observable)
  • Ranges altered as follows:
    • 100% - Bolt lasers
    • 60% - Pulse lasers, longest range Thargoid laser
    • 50% - Military and mid-range Thargoid laser
    • 40% - shortest range Thargoid laser
    • 30% - Mining lasers, longest range Beam laser
    • 25% - mid-range Beam laser
    • 20% - shortest range Beam laser
  • Bolt laser recharge and power adjusted

While it's true that the better military lasers make the beam lasers obsolete (outclassing them in range as well as power), such weapons are rarely employed by non-player ships. So the beam laser niche exists as both a significant (but not deadly) short-range threat to the player and as a useful upgrade from a pulse laser for fast player ships.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
Damocles Edge
Deadly
Deadly
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:57 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Damocles Edge » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:09 pm

Only just installed this oxp and wanted to ask a few questions

1. Is this oxp intended to supersede and replace New Lasers? I noted that the in game oxp manager would not permit installation of this oxp with New Laser present and that the lasers that I had under New Lasers (DeXM-trope 'DoomLens' ) did not seem to carry across to this oxp with my existing save game. I'm currently using a bolt laser at 8k (can't recall the name, sorry) on the rear of my anaconda

2., I am wondering about the new mining lasers (class a,b,c) and how they relate to cannons which can mine - I'm currently using Kruger Twin Artillery Cannon from Laser Cannons oxp and am wondering whether I would gain any benefit from a separate class a mining laser on my port / starboard view or whether my existing cannon will mine equally well under this oxp?
I should add that I'm also using your missile combat reimagined and weapon laws oxp's.

I think to get a better appreciation for the oxp I really need to start a new game from scratch.
:!: Just a note on that thought - Am I alone in thinking that the Cobra MK3 is insanely good at just about everything (especially as it only costs 150k and either needs nerfing or replacing with another starter ship (thereby making the Cobra Mk3 an aspirational ship at around 300k to 400k ?
Anyone else think this or is it just me myself and I on the kindling to be burned as a heretic? :lol:
O.C.T.D (Oolite Crash Test Dummy) Hmm Hmm Hmm Hmm......

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:30 pm

Damocles Edge wrote: Only just installed this oxp and wanted to ask a few questions
Thanks for trying it out.

Damocles Edge wrote: 1. Is this oxp intended to supersede and replace New Lasers?
This one is more experimental and changes the relationship between the core weapons whereas new lasers works around the standard relationship. Consequently they will get in each other's way and in some instances overwrite each other.

If this one were to become popular enough then I might adapt new lasers to work alongside it.

Damocles Edge wrote: 2., I am wondering about the new mining lasers (class a,b,c) and how they relate to cannons which can mine - I'm currently using Kruger Twin Artillery Cannon from Laser Cannons oxp and am wondering whether I would gain any benefit from a separate class a mining laser on my port / starboard view or whether my existing cannon will mine equally well under this oxp?
I don't use laser cannons and so I'm unfamiliar with how they work. The mining properties of each of my mining lasers are not fully implemented yet as I will need to create the special asteroids yielding the more valuable splinters.

Damocles Edge wrote: I should add that I'm also using your missile combat reimagined and weapon laws oxp's.
Great! Useful to have feedback on how they interact.

Damocles Edge wrote: I think to get a better appreciation for the oxp I really need to start a new game from scratch.
Totally agree. To see how they interact you need to experience a pulse laser in a starter ship and then go from there.

Damocles Edge wrote: :!: Just a note on that thought - Am I alone in thinking that the Cobra MK3 is insanely good at just about everything (especially as it only costs 150k and either needs nerfing or replacing with another starter ship (thereby making the Cobra Mk3 an aspirational ship at around 300k to 400k ?
Anyone else think this or is it just me myself and I on the kindling to be burned as a heretic? :lol:
Again, I agree. It was pretty hot in the original elite but then you couldn't buy other ships. Meanwhile in oolite it's had a significant speed boost which was arguably needed to solve two new problems regarding non-player centric design:
  • Traffic can now head in the same direction as you thereby potentially prolonging masslocks indefinitely
  • Pirate packs won't avoid you just because you're new and in a safe system, therefore escape is a necessary strategy

I designed Masslock Compensators to address the first problem and Indestructible Injectors to address the second

The other significant change (although not directly related to speed) is that of persistent wormholes - you can't just hyperspace out of trouble without being followed. So far I have not addressed this design feature.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
Damocles Edge
Deadly
Deadly
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:57 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Damocles Edge » Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:43 pm

Many thanks to you Redspear for your quick response to my queries.
I think concerning my query concerning mining ability, I would guess that canons operate no differently to traditional mining lasers in this respect (just that they deal much more damage and so asteroids require fewer hits).
And so I would guess that the future plans you have concerning "special asteroids" will require use of a mining laser originating from this oxp

Thanks again to you
:)
O.C.T.D (Oolite Crash Test Dummy) Hmm Hmm Hmm Hmm......

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:29 pm

Damocles Edge wrote: And so I would guess that the future plans you have concerning "special asteroids" will require use of a mining laser originating from this oxp
Not necessarily. The asteroids will likely have a certain damage per hit threshold; so any mining laser meeting that requirement will be able to trigger the event.

Damocles Edge wrote: Thanks again to you
:)
You're welcome :)
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:47 pm

One issue with combat is AI decisions on whether or not to engage with the player. As I understand it, an assessment is made with regard to the player's capabilities.

Am I correct in thinking that the laser's threat_assessment value is known to the AI?

With this oxp the ability difference of the lasers is less extreme so there may be a benefit to reducing some of the threat levels.

In the standard game I find that the AI errs on the side of caution when facing pulse and (to a lesser extent) beam lasers only to become very pro risk versus military lasers. So just when the AI should be more cautious it becomes less so.

The changes here should make the AI sightly less vulnerable vs military lasers so maybe reducing the threat assessment of pulse and beam lasers further would increase the proportion of combats that the player is likely to win.

That would likely mean more combats but also more victories and more rewards (bounties). Once you can afford fancy new equipment the risks of damage start to balance out those more accessible bounties.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:35 am

v 0.3 available.

Changes:
  • Added missing enties to shipdata-overrides.plist
  • Removed instance of Cobra Mk I with a bolt laser :shock:
  • Deactivated auto_weapons setting for all core ships
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
montana05
Deadly
Deadly
Posts: 244
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 3:54 am

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by montana05 » Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:21 am

Redspear wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:47 pm
One issue with combat is AI decisions on whether or not to engage with the player. As I understand it, an assessment is made with regard to the player's capabilities.

Am I correct in thinking that the laser's threat_assessment value is known to the AI?
The AI decision to flee or attack (as much as I know) is based on the:

threatAssessment

This method was added in Oolite test release 1.79.

function threatAssessment(full : Boolean) : Number

Returns a number indicating the relative strength of the ship. If the 'full' parameter is true, additional information will be considered as part of the assessment which would generally only be known by ships which know this ship or have seen it in combat. Otherwise, only data which could reasonably be expected to be common knowledge based on the class of the ship will be included.

For example, which weapon facings are available is part of the basic assessment, but what forward laser the ship has is part of the full assessment.]


So if even police ships hesitate to attack you your strength became pretty high :lol: (like always please correct me if I missed or misinterpreted something)
Trying to survive behind the controls of a Caduceus Psi XT in Alpha test :lol:

User avatar
Redspear
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 1332
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by Redspear » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:15 pm

Ah, so it's only a full assessment that applies here. Question is, under what circumstances does such an assessment take place? Would appear to be more logical when deciding to flee (already faced lasers).

Thanks montana05, I'll see if I can find out more.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

User avatar
montana05
Deadly
Deadly
Posts: 244
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 3:54 am

Re: Laser Combat Reimagined OXZ

Post by montana05 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:59 am

Redspear wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:15 pm
Ah, so it's only a full assessment that applies here. Question is, under what circumstances does such an assessment take place? Would appear to be more logical when deciding to flee (already faced lasers).
While trying to get a better feeling for "my" ships I logged the assessment every time an attack happened, needless to say that, as enthusiastic as I was, some escorts had a higher threat than a capital ship. :oops:
Trying to survive behind the controls of a Caduceus Psi XT in Alpha test :lol:

Post Reply