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Serious Balance Issue

 
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CdrRogdan
Space Emperor


Joined: Nov 15, 2013

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:48 am    Post subject: Serious Balance Issue Reply with quote

So I downloaded this and thought I would have some super happy fun times. And initially it felt that way. The AI is MUCH improved and building rocket pod fighters is no longer an I win button. Unfortunately much to my chagrin planetary capture/destruction is much harder. At first I thought, hey this is the AI being more intelligent... until I tried to build my own planetary defenses, and via the space simulator could not win!

Nothing I threw at this planet without spending hundreds of times the resources could kill it. From this point I started looking into the actual issue and found that it was two fold.

First planetary cargo amounts are completely absurd. 20,000 kt on a planet is enough for 100 weapons platforms and given that they are units and have no supply or engine requirements allows for super cheaply built and supported defenses, that do not count against the unit limit either, since they are not 'in space'. The second issue (and this is probably worse) is that weapons platforms can use shields.. and since you are facing the 'planet' all those shields add together for one super entity with up to 20,000 kt worth of shields, weapons and regeneration.

Planets launching thousands of fighter simultaneously is also problematic, but.. well god, just try using the space simulator against a full huge planet and see if you can win against your own tech.


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ekolis
Virtual Guru


Joined: Aug 04, 2003
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you tried weapons designed specifically to target planets, such as planetary napalm? Also, missiles will be effective against planets if the enemy neglects to have missiles and PD on his weapon platforms.

That said, planets are supposed to be hard to kill. You will need a large fleet to glass a homeworld! It's not impossible, just very difficult.


That's no space station - it's a spreadsheet!


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CdrRogdan
Space Emperor


Joined: Nov 15, 2013

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Planetary napalms don't have the range to even strike before the ships fall, unless I attack with an armada that is so massive that the game should have already been over from 'colonizing 50%' of the galaxy or some such. Nor is this a homeworld. Even medium planets get 10,000 kt, which is what I have been testing against.

Additionally you say 'if the enemy neglects missiles and pd' ... which is what I'm referring to. The planets of the AI are beatable (though hard) because they don't build them that way. If the human player intelligently designs the platforms, and even designs each with a particular specialty (shields, beams, missiles, pd) the planet can become one huge entity worth 20,000 kt of purely offensive and defensive gear. No supplies, no ordinance, no engines.

Another issue (though less than the other two) is that point defense has a limitation to it's effectiveness to protect a single target. This isn't the case with planets because it is just one big entity. But since ships cannot all group on top of each other, your defenses are limited by the range of coverage of point defense. If flak cannons worked the way they were described to (create a cloud of dust that damages incoming missiles/fighters) instead of simply striking a single target hordes of missiles from a single entity might be less powerful, but it is still possible to add enough shields and regeneration that the planet is literally impossible to breach with equal technology.

Give it a try - use the space simulator and see if you can beat yourself. Let me know if you figure out a way!


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Sabranan
Space Emperor


Joined: Apr 23, 2013

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gamma Pulse Torpedoes skip all shields and they have a range of 200 at level 6, compared to 80 for Planetary Napalm, so they might be a way forward here.

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CdrRogdan
Space Emperor


Joined: Nov 15, 2013

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good call sabranan! That met with some success. I couldn't hit my target value, which was 4x ship cost (or 10x maintenance) but I could breach the defenses with enough of them. I had some success using massive shield depleters as well, but that's a unique tech I think.

As a side note, all other point defense but meson cannons are worthless, with the exception of bomblet missiles if you have low accuracy. Capital missiles are also pointless compared to plasma missiles (or pretty much any missile). Neither of these are 'upgrades', but rather sidesteps.

Making of game of this is fun though. Can you defeat yourself?

Rules:
You cannot exceed the 200 ship limit or the 1000 unit limit
The planet size must be at least small (10,000kt)
You cannot use unique technologies
You cannot replace ships or units for either side (but you can run the same combat multiple times if there are any remaining ships/units)
Your planetary defenses must be capable of handling two different opposition configurations without changing design.
You must allow the computer to handle all combat control.

Goal:
Defeat yourself with 4 times the resources (or 10x fighters/drones) used in offense versus the ammount you used in defense.

Results: feel free to post what met with success and what didn't.


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Sabranan
Space Emperor


Joined: Apr 23, 2013

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking maybe the Tachyon Projection Cannon with the Shield Disrupter might work, the SDís skip all shields/armor and takes out the shields, then the TPCís skip armor and should take care of the weapons. Once done itís just a matter of glassing the planet with normal weapons. The problem here is they only have 70/60 range, but you might be able to mass produce expendable drones for that purpose.

Another way might be to use null-space projectors, at level 6 theyíll hit for between 90-110 damage at range 150, but they skip all shields and armor, hitting the WPís structure directly (high levels of Defence Systems and Armor tech should help them get past PD). It can be placed on drones, but it costs 100 tonnage space so youíre only getting 2 on a large drone at most.

Iím not in a position to test that myself though, Iíve built my own mod of top of BM and Iíve made enough changes to weapons and shields that my results would mean nothing in BM.


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ekolis
Virtual Guru


Joined: Aug 04, 2003
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't Weapons Disruptors target planets? Or did Kwok fix that? If they still can, all you need to do is sneak ONE ship with a weapons disruptor up to a planet, and you should be able to prevent the weapons platforms from firing for long enough to do some damage! Very Happy

That's no space station - it's a spreadsheet!


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Sabranan
Space Emperor


Joined: Apr 23, 2013

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, the Weapon Disruptor has a range of only 50, I suspect any ship carrying it would be destroyed long before it reached the planet.

But if they ignore shields/armor (these weapons might be OP if they can) then stick them on a drone swarm. As long as enough survive the initial barrage in theory you should be able to keep the planet from firing at all. Then follow up with your fleet to do the real damage.


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Zwo_Dvoongar
Space Emperor


Joined: Feb 02, 2011

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Balance in this regard is difficult to assess. No matter how big, no matter how well defended, a planet can be blockaded by a single frigate (set not to engage).

It's a game of empire vs. empire, so the potential to seriously fortify one, or an handful of worlds isn't sufficient to make such a strategy viable. Opposing players can target the smaller worlds and suffocate the empire attempting it.

I'm obligated to caution against getting carried away blockading. Blockading planets increases turn processing times considerably, and getting the number of blockaded planets above about 12 risks having turns refuse to process altogether. Still 2 or 3 blockades makes sense.

The single-entity nature of planets is a concern, particularly with the shields & regens. Short of prohibiting installation on WP's, I don't see much a mod could do. That might seem nice, but in turn it raises balance issues with the Crystalline weaponry.

Generally, anything immobile can be overcome by out-ranging it and breaking formation. The average planet you encounter in Balance Mod won't be all that overpowered.


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ekolis
Virtual Guru


Joined: Aug 04, 2003
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe the planetary napalm should be converted into an ultra long range seeker, so it can only be countered by PD? That's basically what Carrier Battles did... Wink

That's no space station - it's a spreadsheet!


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mwyeoh
Space Emperor


Joined: Aug 20, 2008

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always found sending 300-500 fighters equipped with rocket pods an effective way of taking out such heavily defended planets

2 rocket pods (3 when you reash larger fighters), no afterburners, and pack the rest with some armour


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Sabranan
Space Emperor


Joined: Apr 23, 2013

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Assuming you're using 500 large fighters and therefore can have 3 rocket pods per fighter that's a total potential damage output of 157,500 per volley. Rocket Pods can't be targeted by PD so there's nothing to stop them once they're fired, and that damage output should be more than enough to total any planet.

There's a downside though, Rocket Pods only have a range of 70 which brings the fighters within range of any PD Beams (range 70), Flak Cannons (range 120) or Bomblet Missiles (range 150). Not to mention that a lot of regular weapons can target fighters too, so not all of them are going to make it to the planet. They also only fire every 8 seconds, so if the first volley doesn't bring down the planets PD it's unlikely you're going to get a second shot.


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mwyeoh
Space Emperor


Joined: Aug 20, 2008

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its the alpha strike which matters
Also, you need to ensure you launch the fighters before the battle so its one huge wave.

From experience, although quite a few can be taken out just before first strike. As long as you have the numbers, its fine

The high damage per shot also means emissive armour is ineffective against it


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CdrRogdan
Space Emperor


Joined: Nov 15, 2013

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Using hordes of fighters worked.. that is until I put some fighters on the planet, and they broke the formation, which caused the fighters to get chewed to bits. A thousand fighters probably would have broken through without too many losses, and this strategy is certainly very cost effective (almost 1 for 1). That said I'm not really a fan of cheating to obtain victory. And I presume that launching fighters into space prior to combat is cheating, otherwise fighter bays wouldn't have restrictions on how many can be launched per second.

That is a valid point regarding blockades. And that is indeed what I was forced to do during my first encounter. I guess you could argue that a player could make all their planets invincible at the cost of not being able to support a fleet, and risk being blockaded, but that isn't particularly entertaining for either the attacker or the defender.


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Zwo_Dvoongar
Space Emperor


Joined: Feb 02, 2011

PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Launching groups of fighters isn't cheating in that sense. It is intended that fighters should move around within systems, and only need carriers to transit warp points. Drones can even transit warp points.

The tactic is something nobody's programmed the AI to employ, just like detaching troops ships and bringing them in behind a fleet. Neither are really cheating, but could be considered unfair. Problem is: where does one draw the line, if it's unfair to be smarter than the AI? How would new tactics ever be developed?

Oh, and planets have another disadvantage, which isn't immediately apparent. Unlike boarding pods, troop pods will launch against and penetrate shields. It isn't necessary to beat the planet down in order to invade it. Of course it takes big numbers and plenty of escorts, but if the troop transports can only get in close enough to launch, there's going to be ground combat. (Warning: high militia values can really throw off expectations - invaders won't just be facing what shows on the surface.)

I think ekolis' idea might bear looking into a little. I don't know about ultra long range, but the balance of the present stubbiness isn't beyond question.


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ekolis
Virtual Guru


Joined: Aug 04, 2003
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason for making them ultra long range is so you can bombard the planet without taking damage from weapons platforms, provided the planet doesn't have enough PD (or an orbiting fleet) to prevent bombardment. If the planet has sufficient PD, you would need to get in close and take out some weapons platforms (or drop troops).

Alternatively, you could just increase the range of planetary napalm to roughly the same range as capital ship missiles. That would put bombardment ships out of range of most direct fire weapons (I think wave motion guns might be able to reach); they would only be vulnerable to seekers, orbiting fleets, missiles, and units.


That's no space station - it's a spreadsheet!


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CdrRogdan
Space Emperor


Joined: Nov 15, 2013

PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason it is 'cheating' is that fighter bays have a maximum launch per second, but because fighters can be launched (and can move) in the system map, you can bypass this limitation. There is never any point to add more than one launcher to a given freighter to accomplish this. If fighters were all intended to be launched simultaneously then fighter bays would launch 3 every .0001 milliseconds. Planets should not be capable of launching fighters either, or at least have some limitation on how many can be launched per second, but that is another issue.

Extending the range is viable. It would make the battles primarily point defense. Part of the issue though is that no matter how much point defense you have, you cannot stop all incoming missiles from a planet because ships can only cover what they are in range of targeting. So you would probably have to make the range past missile fire, which isn't particularly fair, unless the planet can shoot it down, in which case you run into this same issue all over again. I suppose I would have to see how it was handled in that other mod.

I did some tweaking to planetary cargo (1000 kt for large) and planetary defenses still defeated four times the offenses. However it swung the other way when I set planetary napalms to target weapons platforms only (shields or no). It seems like a big issue was that structures and population kept getting targeted instead of the actual threat.

On another note, can ships or units be forced to use certain mounts?


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ekolis
Virtual Guru


Joined: Aug 04, 2003
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can't force usage of mounts, unless the base component is simply too large to install and thus requires the use of a scale mount simply to fit on the hull.

That's no space station - it's a spreadsheet!


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Crissa
Space Emperor


Joined: Jan 07, 2006

PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's what I use troops for.

If you design the speeds of the ships right, your battle ships take the brunt while the troop ships pierce the atmosphere, leaving you with troops fighting multi-turn battles on the ground supported by a blockade.

I think that's what's intended, anyhow.

Fighters have two strategies: Squads and emergency launch. Since they can't traverse warp points - or move very far on the star map - you either have a cargo ship transport them or you have a carrier with many ready to launch in waves. Carriers are useful for getting fighters through warp points or across distances to project fighter power into combat you weren't expecting. Otherwise, you can just use fighters as patrol ships in-system.

-Crissa


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