Fighters Combat

#1

This will be a post regarding fighters and their abilities/role on the battlefield.

With things like HUD, Squad menu, Weapons loadouts, weapons and missiles balance pass on the mid term schedule i can’t make substantiated suggestions, only suggestions about QL ( quality of life ) things, until i get the chance to try them.

What i can comment about with facts is the flight ability of fighters.

For this i’ll keep in mind their role on the battlefield while i break it further.

Their role as i have seen is both offensive and defensive in nature, and their target group involves all of the ship categories ( depending on their “bite” ability of course ) so, how well do they perform on these tasks flight wise?

Offence.

Against fighters.
The ttk (time to kill) is at a good level and rewards tactical thinking, team gameplay and awareness.
But once on a 1 vs 1 situation the lack of accelerations degrades combat to a mere DPS exchange, instead of an outmaneuver/outsmart dogfight.

Against medium ships.
Here the weak ( for small fighters ) accelerations doesn’t show for about 50% of the fight, up until the point that the medium ship strat backing up.
Then the maneuvering weaknesses of the fighter is surfacing, making it essentially a moving target practice instead of a potential threat.

Against Capital ships.
Here we can’t expect a real 1 vs 1 dogfight of course, so we will focus on the 1 vs 2-4 aspect against anti-fighter turrets that big ships have.

And again, i can’t help it but feel that instead of going on a controlled deck guns run against these turrets, I’m going on a 50/50 chance to
a) hit the deck
b) drift lazily after the run while I’m being lit up
c) die on the approach while i go slow in order to have some form of maneuver precision.

Defence.

Against fighters.
As we said on the offence section, the lack of accelerations is automatically turns the fleeing fighters scale to a 90/10 chance to be killed by the guy he is fleeing.
And i won’t even mention the odds of a 1 vs 2 fighters situation.
Or the missiles on your tail.

Against medium ships.
With the potential of 4 missiles and torpedoes, while getting shot from a backing up medium ship being the normal thing to see in every battle, again the fighter becomes a deathtrap instead of a tool to use by players.

Against Capital ships.
Your only defence is to NOT go near them!
While the logical thing would be to be able to go in and out with control and confidence for single passes.

Finishing thoughts and suggestions.
It’s apparent to anyone that focuses on the fighter gameplay that ships are a little too driftie right now.
Leading to all the issues mentioned above.

So accelerations should imho go up in some form.
What i suggest is to give fighters a good acceleration boost when “power on engines” is on.

And if the delay action behind every consecutive boost press is intentional to make it also shorter when “power on engines” is on.

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#2

Hi, Kreion!

I, in general, support your concern.
Flying fighters feels sluggish - it takes too much time to cancel the velocity.
The strafing ability is minuscule, which is more appropriate for a bomber.
Ideally, I see a fighter as a small but mean little creature - too weak to kill anything larger than a corvette on its own, but able to spoil some blood of cruisers and destroyers, e.g. crippling their deck guns.

I hope they will increase the acceleration noticeably. Perhaps, devs could introduce some blacking out, when certain g-limit is exceeded as a balancing act.

#3

I want to point out that if you increase accelerations and increase the speed cap accordingly, then you’re back to square one: lots of momentum and needs time to cancel the velocity to turn around.

Therefore it only makes sense to increase accelerations while keeping the same speed cap.

If you increase accelerations, the “time on target” ( aka. how long your target stays in your visual field and weapons range ) is reduced drastically, which means hitting enemies becomes far more difficult and you spend much more time adjusting your course and trying to get closed to your enemies.

So increasing accelerations is a double-edged sword. We tried in the beta and it lead to many other balance issues.

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#4

Hi Flavien, thanks for taking the time to reply.

I’m well aware of the fact that the perception of motion in 3d space is reletive to the object you’re moving to or from.

So of course i speak specifically for the velocity range between 0m/s and the 460ish m/s of the overcharging mode.

In that range i think a 30 - 40% increase on the accel and the ability to use boost without the delay function between each button press would made all the difference in the world.
While the increased inertia from this accel increase as you correctly noted on the higher velocities would ( in a sense ) autobalance itself, forcing the players to be more aware of their throttle.

You’re afraid people will become frustrated by the difficulty to stay on target persistently.
But the time to kill balance of the game is pointing towards a more maneuver favouring flight model.
Lastly, unfortunately i wasn’t present earlier, so can’t comment about it.
But giving the ability for more maneuvers on the Engines P mode and boost would also be a balanced factor, as these are situational mechanics and not base flight.

Finishing, a quick look on discord and here will tell you that people find fighters a little sluggish.

For my credentials this is a video of my 6 year analysis on the same subject for Star Citizen, were I’m currently under NDA as one of the Evocati testers.https://youtu.be/KJTCcOW28fI

#5

Yes increasing speeds has the opposite effect what we would think it would do.
I liked it better when the boost was stronger and the un-boosted acceleration was lower. It felt more nimble IMO. Engagement speeds are already too high currently. It leads to overshooting and keeping range becomes a pain.
Boost should be stronger but shorter.

I like the suggestion not to have the boost delay (if there is one, but it feels like it needs half a second to activate).
Increasing rotational speeds would be enough alone to make it more nimble.

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#6

The experimental acceleration changes made the inty virtually indestructible against anything but lucky shots from any other ship, and made inty vs inty fighting to consist of ambushing, “turreting”, or retreating. This made the corvette woefully incompetent, as well as basically any cap ship point defense, including flak. As fun as flying the inty was with massively buffed accelerations, I think the slower paced combat is a better starting point.

It’s also not just increased accelerations, it’s also the entire weapons balancing.

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#7

Dear Flavien,

I was not in Beta, so I’m not in a position to argue with you.
I’d like to stress that the interceptor is the base class of the game - it gives the first impression, so to say. And I think it won’t be an overstatement to say that game’s success and popularity will depend on whether or not flying this ship is fun.
I’ll give a quick example. On the other day, I joined a half finished match, where half of both teams were flying capitals. As a novice player in an interceptor I could do very little in large battles.
Not having much more to add to this discussion, I’ll conclude by saying that I encourage you to experiment more - after all early access is specifically for this.

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#8

Less of a suggestion per se and more like me banging my head together with everyone elses’.

I can see the problems that come with increasing acceleration on it’s own.
How about slightly increase the acceleration on the inty and make it’s hitbox/shield radius larger while boost is active and for a short while after? That way you get the ability to go from -500m/s to +500m/s when you’re on the edge of the combat zone to get back in the action quicker (without any negative effects), then, while dog fighting you’re easier to hit if you use boost.

Is that even doable?

#9

One of the issues is that we recently ( 3 months ago ) implemented a mesh (per-triangle) based projectile intersections. Prior to that, projectiles intersections tests were done with the bounding box of the ship. The interceptor’s “hit box” was then twice as big and higher accelerations / engagement ranges were more do-able.

I’ve been considering going back to a hit-box model for the interceptor. It would still be mesh based on the client side ( visually ) but the damage model would be based on a larger hit box on the server side. The interceptor would be easier to shoot at from a larger distance, so boosting ( pun intended ) its accelerations would become possible once again ( as well as adding back the non-gimbaled weapons ).

#10

I see.
Wouldn’t be more preferable quicker and easy, to just give it a small increase on accel now?
And to counter its increased maneuverability to buff its DPS and “maybe” reduce HP slightly?
Less time on target - more DPS on weapons ( fewer projectiles for same damage % ) - “maybe” less HP

But again i must say.
The life expectancy on a fighter is REALLY low on a 1 vs 1 right now, and the gamplay is 80% 1 vs x
Please try first a small accel buf under Eng P mode and boost with the current autogimbal weapons mode.
And let the greater now player base to give you the feedback you need.

#11

I am grateful for peoples opinions and how they feel about the ships. Please continue sharing your subjective experience.

What I am a bit baffled about are the suggestions.
I agree that Interceptor gameplay should be fun and it should feel free. Yet. There isn’t just one way to achieve that. We thankfully live in a complex world where every aspect of the game influences the perception.

The interceptor (probably) had the highest acceleration ever, over it’s whole lifespan in this game, just before early access. There was a huge discussion about this here:

There was a totally 100% different aproach that was also tried:

In the above post I also, in detail, tried to outline what all the factors are that influence the “feeling” of fighting in these ships. From, yes, ship engine power all the way to turret tracking rates and projectile speeds and so forth.


Maybe you agree with me, maybe not, but I want to see if this explanation for the “feelings” most people have is accurate.
It does not have to be “ship feels slugish” = “ship is slugish”. We have to be sure what is the cause of “ship feels slugish” in order to be able to discern possible ways to make it feel better.

I think what is happening is that people try to fly the ships as good as they can, they are in a combat situation after all.

And they go to the limit … to their limit. To the limit of the ship and its weapons. Full power. Fighting on the limit is hard. And hard feels slugish.

Honestly. I think it has more to do with the combat situation being challanging rather then anything else.

Fast relative speeds. Short windows of engagement. Short weapon ranges. Low hit probability. Small targets. Very stressful …

And then you want to make it easier by getting closer to the target … you power up the engine, and what happens? It doesn’t save you. So the “ship feels slugish”.


The suggestions I have seen concerning this issue are either: Increase ship manoeuvrability, which i believe would lead to people going further to the limit to then before. Intensifying the issue. Approaching 800m/s pass speeds and subsequently probably asking for longer weapon ranges and accuracy.

The speeds are crazy currently guys. Most of the engagement time I am matching speed with the target I try to engage instead of duking it out in a cool strafefight arround the engangement range border.


We have two very extreme differences tested now. Sadly not totally comparable due to gimbaled weapons being introduced in 0.5.1.0 too. I hope that is sufficient experience for Flavien to make the apropriate changes.


As for small and hard to hit targets. My opinion here is make them come together closer … and or … mini flack cannons.

Also. Why do we talk about “making the hitbox bigger” when currently the interceptor weapons are gymbaled but with some spread? Isn’t it more straightforward to lower the spread if what is to be achieved is higher hit probability?

I rather want to see my enemy though … I like the close in combat.

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#12

It’s not about perception though.
It’s about hard facts and gameplay.
Currently the interceptor is too slow on accelerations and that leads to excess drift, which makes them easy targets.
We’re not talking 100% faster accelerations here, just the option to momentarily increase the potential maneuvers by trading DPS and energy.

#13

I disagree with you.
The excess drift is because, in my opinion, people are going much too fast.
Drift is due to momentum. Momentum comes from mass and velocity. Velocity comes from acceleration.
Acceleration can both remove and add drift. It doesn’t just go one direction and is only capable of removing drift. That’s what I am trying to say.

I am ok with boosting the turbo as it does give players rather quick boost of agency compared to more power to go to limits constantly.

Thing is that, sadly, there’s also another thing that might be somewhat related …
Going to the limit of the energy meter. Which can also feel quite similar to when not being able to match speeds.

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#14

Because the “fixed weapon” that you guys want for skills isn’t compatible with both high accelerations ( that we have now, compared to 2 months ago ) AND mesh projectile intersections.

Three things: fixed weapons, high accelerations, mesh projectile intersections. I have found in my tests that one of these three has to go to make the game playable with the fixed weapon. The combination of all three makes it impossible to hit anything with the old fixed weapon. Unless you’re very close ( < 500 m range ), but due to the high accelerations you do not stay that close to your target that long. I’m just telling you the results of my testing so far.

I don’t doubt that a few people like Mattk would find a way to make it work eventually, but I doubt it’d feel good for the vast majority of the players. To me it certainly felt worse than 2 months ago back when we had the fixed weapon, slower accelerations and a hit box.

That’s one of the reasons I haven’t reimplemented it yet, because after the change to higher accellerations ( that even new players are complaining about being too slow now ) and mesh intersections, there’s no way to just turning back the fixed weapons and it all works like before.

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#15

Boost already almost quintuples your acceleration for a short period of time and decays to “double” the standard acceleration as long as you keep boosting.

That means you’re in the 20 to 9 gs of acceleration while you are boosting ( interceptor’s standard acceleration rate is close to 4.5 gs ).

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#16

i was specifically talking about the question that came up in this thread, unrelated to any fixed weapon discussion we had before.

Thank you for sharing your results though and I can imagine that it turned out that way. I have seen you note this problem before and I see the struggle behind it.

Personally I don’t find gymbaled weapons such a disgrace yet see and agree with other community members that they degrade many aspects of what we had before. I think it’s not just nostalgia speaking. We were at a pretty good place in the past. More then a year back. Much has changed, one of the biggest things being the hitbox thing. I may have helped to degrade the Interceptor combat and I somewhat feel bad about it … yet the changes I proposed should have counteracted the hitbox Problem …

Kind of tempted to say to gradually tweak the fighter combat stats but from reports from other community members such iterative changed have turned up quite bad in other games.

I would say it is good enough for now until weapon load outs become available.
As I said above. I can see that you have collected the experience from the test and will use it wisely.

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#17

I think the feeling of nimbleness could be achieved by boosting the boost but lowering the overall acceleration quite a bit.
Lower acceleration to 70%, reduce the boost time, by that I mean that the boost should deplete much faster but should result in the same speeds.
Imagine this is the ship flying a straight line and constantly boosting when available:
Old:
…>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>…>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>…
New:
… … …>----->----->----->… … … …>----->… … …>----->…

:rofl:
It would make changing directions quicker I believe.

#18

If it’s a 3 way triangle between the ship hitbox, accels and fixed weapons, i think the hitbox is the choice, the game felt better to me when that was a thing but it is fairly undesirable to have an innaccurate hit section, it will mess with subtargetting (shooting out engines, inty weapons and such) later on. but unless that’s necessary there are some other reasons the inty might feel a bit slow.

Boost does give a large accel bonus now (i wasnt aware that it initially was a 4x accel bonus, i did know it decayed to around 2x with time but 4x is a lot) but using it has gotten a bit chunkier, you cant burst it as quickly or reliably as before so sometimes the player presses shift and they dont feel that “oh fuck” acceleration that makes the inty feel fast. Because of the ramp down there would have to be some system to make sure if you boost again after it already decayed, it is still decayed, but the cooldown delay itself should be removed to preserve the snappy feeling of tapping boost and getting an immediate response.

Some of the boost stats from the game files
EnergyTurboCost 20.0
TurboThrustRate 2.0
TurboTimerDecay 2.0
TurboInitialBoost 2.5
ThrustScale X=“1.0” Y=“1.0” Z=“0.9”
The last one, thrustscale i beleive means that on the (Z in this engine, iirc)front/back axis, it is only .9 of the boost of the other axes. Im not sure having front back be lower boost makes sense, i think its worth considering setting that Z to like 2.0 and just seeing how it feels to have really strong forward/back boost. There are other games that had that for a short period and i remember enjoying those patches. The logic behind it is that a strong forward boost can help close distance in combat situations when used right. When used wrong obviously it makes it worse, but in the current accel balance i dont even feel there is a “right” way to use boost accel that will reliably get to that short range for combat (against any player), and it being impossible as long as someone holds backstrafe i feel is worse than it just being hard.

What i can’t find in the game files is the current engine overcharge multipliers per side. It feels like engine overcharge should at least be faster even if base accel is held constant. It’s kinda hard to tell sometimes when my engine overcharged right now if i dont know i toggled the setting.

One of the biggest sources of “my ship feels slow” is that the ships are very distant from eachother during fights and tend to slingshot out very easily. Long combat ranges means everything looks further, and when you thrust things move less on your screen, that is a huge source of feeling slow. to shrink combat ranges down maybe reducing projectile velocity a tad is worth a test. I was also thinking maybe one of the formation modes could be used as a default assist on enemy players newbies target, as a way to lead them closer under assist

Its also worth playing with the strafe ratios, there are essentially 3 variables to play with there, forward accel, side/up/down accel, and backwards accel. a well tuned ratio there will tend to keep people closer together in combat, which will make people feel faster while also allowing more interesting manuevering. Hard to say exactly what ratios would be best for battlescape right now, but definitely something to play with.

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#19

Tweaking boost is definitely something possible, and easy. For now we’re focusing on the more urgent balance issues ( ramming, station defenses, credits too easy ) but we’re definitely going to do a new weapons / movement balance pass before ship upgrades are implement and the fixed weapon comes back, as it’s pretty much a requirement anyway.

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#20

Kreion: That’s a well done video. I really appreciate the visuals. A post could not convey that knowledge.

I hate jousting in fighter games and circle fights aren’t much better. I agree with your observation on how 1v1s degrade to DPS exchanges. I have fun because I can respawn fast.

Also note that in the video SC has a ton of visual clues; blackout and redout, asteroids, debris, and a huge artificial horizon. IB is beautiful, but is a notch lower on nearby visuals that would indicate movement–hence, “this feels sluggish”. A small HUD line/number change isn’t going to convey movement–external cues will.

I prefer a WW2 or Star Wars type dogfight mode. Newtonian physics are neat except in a missile engagement zone. The advantage goes to the missile when the target velocity goes to zero; it’s smarter to run away until the missile times out or loses lock.

On the other side of this equation is that IB isn’t 1v1 or 4v4 match; it’s a brawl without an asteroid field to hide in and a lot of missiles on the field–as you noted.

I look forward to seeing how this evolves.

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