Experimental balance changes that you'd like to see ( Delayed to Aug16th )

#1

Hey guys,

We’re planning on making a balance patch tomorrow. The idea is to do a bunch of experimental changes to the game balance, especially in terms of small ships flight / combat. We’ll start by significantly increasing linear thrust on the interceptor ( and a bit less on the bomber and corvette, but still an up ) while keeping the same speed caps ( to keep a decent sense of scale ) and see how ships flight and dogfights feel. It will be likely harder to hit an enemy, so it’s likely weapons stats will be tweaked accordingly.

In the same order of idea, turbo boosting will tend to be equalized in the forward direction ( at the moment, the boost factor is higher for side thrusters than the main’s, which as some people noted, means that you could maximize your speed by boosting side-ways ).

If there are other balance changes that you think would be worth testing, please let me know.

The main goal here is to make small ships feel more dynamic while not compromising the sense of scale. These changes are purely experimental. If we find out that the game does not feel better ( especially small ships combat ) we’ll be reverting these changes in the next-next patch.

1 Like
#2

Could the bomber be slightly faster in a straight line? (This might be a case of a higher speed cap - which I know you said you weren’t changing - or higher main thruster acceleration only, not lateral)

Reasons:

  • In a straight line, maybe a bomber could outpace an interceptor (slightly) giving them a little protection.
  • Lining up high-speed torpedo runs could become more of a thing (resurrect a bit of boom ‘n’ zoom).
  • They sacrifice a lot of manoeuvring due to lower lateral thrust so you risk not being able to evade pesky missiles or dogfights (balance).

I’m not saying bombers should become like drag racers, but it might help their flight and tactics feel more distinct from the more agile interceptor. Currently they’re pretty similar, apart from the bomber being somewhat heavier.

In a dogfight, the interceptor should still out-turn it and generally manoeuvre better.

#3

I rather would have seen changes to weapon speed that would make fighting at lower speeds and closer together more viable.
This is the decision that has been taken for this test though so I am looking forward to test it.

I want to point out that every variable influences the whole game play and feel of the game. It’s even harder with I:B as everything is relative to each other and scales are not intrinsically known and can be deceiving. Thus it is sometimes hard to predict what change may have what kind of effect on the perception of players.


As for small ship combat I was pretty ok with the state of it in last patch with the exception of making small ships more viable in larger battles and maybe trying to achieve more cohesion in the formations. Blobs start to quickly merge and brawl while when a battle first start they come in such nice fleets.

I think adjusting turret parameters would be worth testing. Unless it would complicate the other experimental test, but I think it should not as Small ship vs Small ship should not be affected.

I felt like engagement distances of Capitals ships were alright when it came to visual fidelity but often they came in much closer then needed … it’s kind of comical. Sure they are quite nimble and I like that and that’s special. So don’t touch it. :stuck_out_tongue:

I propose testing some different parameters for turrets. Mainly big ones. I think the range of the big turrets isn’t that bad but the projectile speed is much to low to use that range.
I think MK6 and especially MK7 should be slow turning high velocity long range weapons that actually get Less effective when they are closer, not the other way arround! Worth a try?

A further change I would like to see tested is to also decrease turn rate on the small turrets so that close in runs with attack craft are more viable. Capitals have missiles now and as such more then one means of defence against small ships. Slower closer ships are also easier to hit with missiles.
The idea is that bombers can get in closer and maybe even make shotgunning turrets a thing.

Maybe this is not needed as the idea is that a squad should attack a capital with some of the ships acting as distraction for the defences. Still. A group of capitals should be safer then just a single one, I don’t feel there’s much difference there currently.

As of turrets, maybe decrease theirs health too so that a strafing run may take out one or two turrets.

I don’t know what the goal is for survivability of capitals. Either way that would give them a reason to stay in formation and not just let small craft buzz around close to them.

1 Like
#4

It could be worth a try. The question is how slow an MK6 / MK7 should be ? They’re already pretty slow as is. MK6 is 10°/sec and MK7 is 6°/sec ( in other words, to turn around by 180° they’d need 30 seconds ). Sometimes they feel unresponsive because they’re not aligned (yet).

It would be possible in general to make small weapon’s projectiles a bit slower, and larger ones faster. It’d probably be more realistic too. We have to be careful though, as slower projectiles ( especially on the interceptor ) means that for the same distance the projectile will have a higher chance to miss. Reducing the lifetime / max range would not help ( interceptor guns are around 4 km atm, but even at 2 km you’d be missing all the time, and it doesn’t sound right to make the range like 500m ).

So the problem is that if you combine faster thrust and slower projectile speeds, it’ll be extremely more difficult to hit a moving target unless you get much closer ( which will be harder since ships will be faster ). As you said, you can’t tweak these things in isolation, and we have to ask whether we prefer a game with projectiles that mostly miss ( but the ones that hit are deadly ), or projectiles that are easy to land but do less damage.

#5

Projectiles speed is more of the focus here as the slow speed makes the big guns not much effective at longer ranges. The big turrets just shouldn’t be able to track a corvette or destroyer from the close ranges we have now. I don’t think the turn speed of those need to be adjusted much or at all to achieve that. I think most pilots turn the whole ship when someone gets close, that’s much faster anyway. Which is another factor but that tactic has other drawbacks … it’s not just a 1v1 always.

Fixed Small Ship Weapons vs Turreted weapons is another story there. It sounds like they are tied together from how you said it. If that is the case and the projectiles from the fixed guns of the small ships are the same as for the turrets I rather not touch them unless in combination with what you have planned already. Also. Increased ship mobility will have a similar effect as reduced turret projectile and turn rate speed.

That’s why not much changing the small ship weapons to “feel” the raw ship stats adjustment is important.
My suggestion was more for an additional experimental balance change that can go in parallel as much as possible. In mixed battles they will both influence eachother of course but still they can be looked upon and compared in small ship only and capital only battles.

1 Like
#6

The changes sound pretty good, looking forward to the test. 6dof Spaceflight has a shitton of variables and there’s not going to be an easy one-patch answer to every flight tuning concer, though. For example maybe the current accels are fine and the ratio of boost and strafes just needs changing. Strafe boost giving higher acceleration than forward boost definetly has to change, unlike what SC has ever had now we’re the ones with stronger strafe thrusters and it explains some of my issues with dodging missiles, because i was mistakenly boosting using my main engines instead of strafe engines.

SC in particular balances by changing many variables every patch all at once instead of tuning one variable at a time, and they’ve proven how much of a failure that type of piecemeal balancing is over the years as they sometimes hit on some combination of variables that are good, but then fall away from it without ever properly understanding which combination and which proportional of elements felt good. Meanwhile there are a few other small newtonian 6dof space combat projects that have been doing fast iterative combat testing with very good results and have quickly caught up, they even have a better gforce system to add some terrain/positional energy gameplay to empty space. Gforce isnt the only thing that can serve that role, but the game’s going to need something similar like directional thruster heat to get the same level of depth as if other projects have it and IB doesnt, they’ll end up ahead on the dogfighting gameplay depth in the long term.

Its worth putting the time in to perfect small ship combat going forward, once you have it people will be hooked, and given that the game is combat focused and fighters are the bread and butter, yeah, its important. Gameplay tuning is hard and is gonna need to be a continuous process going forward as the game enters EA, with the engine stable and looking pretty great and the UI coming together the gameplay’s gonna need to take the forefront at some point, it’s the core of any game. Its not something one set of experiments can finalize really. There’s also a community of dogfighters who are pretty eager to have a game to replace SC lets say, but the perception right now is that the game is focusing on capital ship combat with interceptors just being “the shitty spawn ship”.

3 Likes
#7

I hope all ships/weapons are Non-fixed weapon, at least less fixed as before.
It’s hard to aim & shot on targets under high ping.

#8

I think these changes will help make fighter combat more interesting, however personally I am more of a capship kind of guy and the interactions there could also benefit from being inspected.
What Lomsor said,

Blockquote
I propose testing some different parameters for turrets. Mainly big ones. I think the range of the big turrets isn’t that bad but the projectile speed is much to low to use that range.
I think MK6 and especially MK7 should be slow turning high velocity long range weapons that actually get Less effective when they are closer, not the other way arround! Worth a try?

This is something I have voiced before on the Discord Server; Looking at capital ship engagements, I think they become way too close to a knife-fight in a shower than you would really want them to. Certainly, it’s cool and very impressive when you have two Cruisers circling one another at one kilometer, battering the other with broadside after broadside, but especially with organized play (eventually) becoming the backbone that holds a fleet together, you presumably wouldn’t want to devolve a combat action into a furball if you are the CO. Increasing effective engagement distance by increasing large-caliber turrets’ projectile velocity would go a long way.
I also would suggest removing most anti-strikecraft capability from Cruisers. Whenever loadouts come into play, I would prefer the Cruiser to be an almost exclusively dedicated heavy weapons platform, to emphasize the screening role that Destroyers and Corvettes should take.
A carrier having close-range PDCs, FlaK, or SRM launchers do make sense, however. Those should probably lean more on intercepting torpedoes rather than actually taking out strikecraft. I think an effective bombing-run on a capital ship should be comprised of more than one Bomber, with some screen to get it into range and penetrate the fleets’ defenses.

But I am rambling on, as we cannot really test fleet-to-fleet engagements right now.
For now, I believe the proposed changes to Strikecraft maneuverability would pair nicely with Lomsors’ proposal of increased projectile velocity for Cruisers at the cost of tracking speed.

3 Likes
#9

For capships I would like to see a slightly increased fov and max camera distance. Also the increased weapons velocity for cap ship big guns to increase engagement distances and longer range until the shot disappears.

For missiles I would like to test less damage output but better aim. Instead of one shotting an enemy a missile should have a higher chance to land but its damage should be more akin to a shotgun at close range rather than a nuke on the head.
Once outfitting comes into play I could imagine having missiles that are weak but hit better and missiles like the ones right now. It could be explained by the explosives to fuel and engines ratio in the missile.

4 Likes
#10

I’d like auto-fire on corvettes. The auto aim manual fire is very awkward IMO.

#11

FYI,

The balance patch is being delayed to sunday. After I implemented gimbaled weapons I ran into lag compensation issues ( or more specifically, client vs server desyncs ). That’s now solved but there are other improvements that I’d like to include in the patch, so it won’t be ready for tonight’s community event.

In terms of balance changes here’s how it looks:

  • Interceptor got a +50% linear thrust increase. Originally I wanted to double the values, but it was a bit extreme. +50% is very significant ( in fact iirc that’s the highest it’s even been since the start of the project ) but it’s not so fast that it feels too fast ( at least that’s my personal opinion from my internal tests ).

  • Bomber got a +30% forward thrust increase but a slight nerf on the side propulsion. So it can reach higher speeds faster, but its strafing abilities are nerfed.

  • Other ships ( corvette + capships ) have no mobility changes. The turn rates / angular accelerations are also unchanged for all ships.

  • Speed cap has been slightly increased for interceptor and bomber but remains the same for other ships ( Interceptor was 360 m/s before, now it is 400 m/s ).

  • Fixed weapons are now gimbaled ( aka. convergence on the target ). Gimbal angle is set to 2 degs. Shooting targets is now much easier ( in terms of having to be super accurate to keep your navigation cursor on the lead reticle, which was quite hard ).

  • Since it’s so much easier to land shots, I had to rebalance long-range accuracy by making the interceptor guns less precise ( aka. increased the random spread ). It’s not super big ( 0.3 degs ) but significant enough to want to attack at close ranges ( although hitting at 1-2 km is still easier than before ).

  • Interceptor gun shots are also now less deadlier ( reduced their damage ) and the interceptor has +50% more hitpoints to allow it to survive more easily. Keep in mind that even with all these changes, an inty can die within a dozen seconds if you don’t pay attention and dodge / boost vs concentrated incoming fire.

  • I nerfed a bit the regen rate of shields. It was pretty high, so sometimes it felt frustrating that you landed a couple shots and the shields regenerated in a few seconds, like nothing happened. Shields regen rate is still significant but not as high as before.

  • I did not reduce the amount of hitpoints on damagable weapons. In fact I increased it a bit for MK5 / MK6 / MK7. The reason is simple: I doubled the hit box size for all weapons ( including small ship’s ). Damaging weapons is now much easier. Another change is that weapons can be damaged even when shields are up. This now gives a good purpose for interceptors to make a difference in battles by disabling capital ships weapons.

I’ll keep the list updated as I keep tweaking parameters.

6 Likes
#12
  • Revamped missiles / torpedoes sockets on the Destroyer and Cruiser. All torpedo launchers are now frontal / forward facing. It was awkward on the destroyer how torpedoes launched vertically. Also, there are now more missile launchers. On the cruiser they have an X profile, similar to the carrier.
#13

Does the 2 degrees mean 2 degrees of autoaim, or just the range based convergence to help with the smaller hitboxes? We did experiment with the former already in the past and i remember major game feel downsides without upsides. SC did it too with all their fixed weapons and it lead to another mass exodus of combat players so if thats the idea it’s definitely not going to get good feedback, especially if it needed random spread to balance for it. The last patch’s smaller hitboxes made ships much harder to hit too, if it already went so far in the other direction, it sounds like it just nullified a lot of gameplay depth outright.

Also, it’s going to be hard to specific impact test flight changes if you completely redo weapon balance and aiming in the same patch. Iterative balancing is important…

3 Likes
#14

How do you propose to do convergence without the weapons being gimbaled ?

I disagree. A lot of those changes are a natural consequence of others and cannot be done in isolation.

If I made a patch with just increasing the mobility of the interceptor, everybody would hate it, because it would make the combat more frustrating due to having more difficulty to reliably hit targets. It only makes sense if it’s accompanied by a weapons balance.

#15

Speaking of weapons:

  • Tweaked projectiles velocities for all weapons. In general: interceptor weapon guns have slightly slower projectiles, while large capital ship guns have faster projectiles ( up to 2.2 Km/s for an MK7 ).
4 Likes
#16

If the weapons only have one way to turn and only a very limited slew, you wouldn’t need a “gimbal” to achieve this, just a tight hinge. The direction is towards the cockpit/camera axis. Actual game Implementation wise, you’d get the range (or the predicted range, based on their current velocity/accel) of the currently targetted enemy ship. Then you draw a vector out from the camera/cockpit the length of that distance, and the weapons aim for the the tip of that vector. It doesnt aim at the enemy ship at all or affect the player’s x/y aiming, it only adapts for the offset of the guns on your own ship according to the distance of the enemy ship. That would allow the weapons on the wings of the inty to converge and hit the small inty mesh without needing to take any control from the player. The key is that its always aiming for a point absolutely in line with the exact direction the player aims at.

[quote=“INovaeFlavien, post:14, topic:8984”]
If I made a patch with just increasing the mobility of the interceptor, everybody would hate it, because it would make the combat more frustrating due to having more difficulty to reliably hit targets. It only makes sense if it’s accompanied by a weapons balance.[/quote]
There’s more than one element that can be tweaked to make targets more reliable to hit though, and even then there’s an assumption it will make combat frustrating but you wouldn’t know for sure exactly what effect it would have without testing it. Changing so many things at once, any aspects of balance that arent understood will still not be understood by the end of it. Many game devs struggle the most with this step, it’s not to be underestimated and most 6dof games in particular seem to assume balancing this stuff is easier than it is.

Maybe even within the flight changes, what we need isnt high accel but a better balance of accels per axis on the ship, perhaps with some weapon velocity tuning. Thats my current best guess, because it’s more than just the accel itself that makes a ship “feel” fast or slow. It’s the combat ranges, and combat ranges are dictated by a huge combination of other factors like how easy it is to close distance then maintain distance from another player and therefore the ratio of strafes, weapon velocities, how much energy the ships have… change a lot at once and it’s hard to pin down what caused what.

1 Like
#17

I do understand the maths, my question was more rhetorical. What I guess I really had in mind is this: does it make sense to have bullets magically deviate from a fixed barrel’s direction ? And if we assume the barrel direction can be adjusted “physically” towards the target range, that means the gun is gimbaled and there’s no reason it couldn’t target anything within its cone.

In other words, it’s certainly possible to implement it, but I question whether that makes sense “realistically” to have a gimbaled weapon whose “rotational freedom” is only used for weapons convergence. If the guns can rotate, and since we can assume we already have on-board AI that automatically adjust the gun to aim towards the convergence point, who wouldn’t want that same AI to rotate the gun towards the actual target ?

Or is the answer “nobody cares, it’s a game, whatever makes sense for gameplay” ?

You should also keep in mind that gimbaled weapons were on the todo list for a long while. So even if we end up introducing a fixed gun with convergence, we still need to test gimbals and this is a good occasion. As soon as the ship upgrade system is functional, we can go back to splitting guns in two categories: gimbals ( low damage, easier to hit, higher spread ) and fixed ( higher damage, need more accuracy ), which was the plan since day #1.

1 Like
#18
  • Blaster damage increased. As many players noted, the blasters were considered next to useless. Kinetic guns are easier to use and guaranteed damage, whether on shields or hull. Blasters however can only damage shields, so if they made as much damage as guns there was no incentive to use them other than ammo vs energy usage.
2 Likes
#19

I don’t mind the idea of slightly gimballed weapons, particularly if it helps convergence. It is currently very difficult to land hits simply because the shots go so straight. As long as the gimbal is small enough to not be like auto-aim.

#20

I did include a realism point. For convergence you would only need a small hinge, built into the design of the ship (and the ship would know what hinges it would need from the start, since it’s just towards the center) for range convergence, while for free aiming you’d need a free gimbal mechanism. But ultimately, if there wasnt a reason, the gameplay would need to come first. It’s not just “nobody cares”: it makes sense to keep consistent logic to things where possible. Instead, it would be an active “gameplay objectively matters more so this would be worth sacrificing”.

If auto weapons are balanced to be bad enough that they can’t nullify the player’s evasive moves then they can work, but otherwise they flatten a skill curve and push people towards more boring ways to play. A game design should push people towards the most fun ways to play but if the equation is “let your guns aim for you to nullify the fancy moves other people do”, and it’s only better to get fixed weapons if you’re already a veteran, it’s self defeating. most people will just stay on automatics for the whole time they play the game. If gimbals have a skill curve, say if they are manually controlled, then they can be tuned so that they are similar performing at the upper skill levels, better for a brand new player, and worse at the middle end. Keep in mind the current players have a lot of veterans… if you balance autoaim weapons so that you’d ever consider them worth using yourself, even after so much playtime, they are way, way too strong. They would need to be bad enough to encourage people off them quickly and combat players will dislike the presence of them in general, as people will feel (and without very careful measures, they will be right) that automatic weapons nullify/delete/make pointless their maneuvering/evasion gameplay.

Also if we’re testing flight, and you want to have both weapons in the future, surely we need to test both types of weapons against the new movement tunings and not just the automatic ones that would make it easier? If anything fixed weapons are more concerning, you can always make autoaim track worse, but it’s hard to make fixed weapons more playable. SC is in that exact trap right now after adding autoaim over everything and leaving fixed unusable, the combat players are mostly gone. with autoaim being the only valid option people just get bored and leave.

2 Likes