On battlescape's missiles

#1

The way missiles work right now is frustrating, and i’ve becoming more familiar with the exact "why"s so here’s an obnoxiously detailed post about it with some suggested improvements.

Range Multiplies Targets: Mass Missiles

Being a high range weapon is a good role for the missile in a game where there’s high velocities and massive distances. It’s also a very easy, very low skill floor weapon anyone can just lock and fire without effort. In a battle, anyone within 12km of anyone can reach out and lob them, and this is often a large number of players, with every ship type having them. This has become more apparent now that we have large playercounts.

If you are chosen on a battlefield just expect to see massive waves of missiles chasing you around at all times, you will not have time to do anything but dodge, chaff, and hope you have a corvette nearby to resupply that chaff or you are just dead in a bomber, corvette or interceptor. Most of the time this strategy is very effective at volleying all small ship opponents off the field without ever having to get into a gunfight when a team notices they can do this.

Countermeasures countering massed missiles

The solution to this in my mind is making missiles scale worse when spammed en masse against single people. The way chaff works lends itself to resolving this, the idea with chaff is that you can take out many missiles with a single countermeasure if they are volleying you simultaneously, but the issue is ingame the missile spam easily becomes a continuous stream just from 2-3 people focusing on it. The lifetime of chaff is so short that you can’t take down more than one volley from one ship, even a single interceptor can stagger fire the 2 volley missiles just slightly to require each missile take another chaff.

If one chaff stayed effective for a long time with one deployment (if you stay near it), it would help this. Missiles are an easy, long range weapon, at least there should be some required awareness on the people firing them to spread out the volleys across time and other targets if they see their target deploying countermeasures. The effect of this kind of chaff buff would be mostly felt when getting mass spammed and would effect 1v1 less.

Bonus: interceptor actually intercepting Role

As a bonus, It would also give the interceptor an actual viable interception role against torpedoes. Right now if there’s a bomber torpedoing from short to medium range there isn’t time to shoot down the torpedo, at best you can stop a second torpedo from being fired if you’re already perfectly positioned to kill the bomber.

With long lasting chaff, you could see a bomber combing, anticipate a torpedo and setup a chaff screen timed to block torpedos, or even catch one after it was fired more reliably, a chaff might actually last long enough so that a torpedo detonates on the chaff rather than just getting distracted momentarily and then returning to it’s original target. May want to remove chaff from destroyers depending on how strong this gets.

Inconsistent Missile and Chaff Behavior

missiles

Right now missiles don’t seem to have a heading, only a velocity. You may think “but thats weird, i’ve seen missiles arcing around to chase targets” which is it appears to me to be that the absolute velocity is used as the heading. This has problems in battlescape in particular. Ever be flying backwards while firing missiles? They will actually arc around to face a different direction before flying in the direction you shot them. If there’s an opponent chasing you the missiles can drop behind them then accelerate right into their tail pipe without having to turn at all. If you do line it up ‘correctly’ with high absolute forward velocity you can nearly instakill people with the missile launch at around 1-2km: there is no time to chaff. it seems like missiles need to “turn” way less to continue their tracking at higher absolute velocities.

Some people have said you just need to boost dodge but the reality is that often people fire missiles under conditions that are just really easy to avoid, with massive relative velocities or incorrect absolute velocities (see paragraph 1 about not having a direction). If you fire them just by matching ‘strafe’ velocity while having a decent closing velocity, the chance someone can dodge them manually is little to none, but i think missiles should always be dodgeable manually as a last resort. In the absolute velocity system it seems hard to accomplish this, though, just reducing tracking would make the missiles way worse than intended in all other situations than the optimal velocity.

Sometimes, missiles will detonate on the player but do no damage at high speeds, as if they detonate one frame behind at the high velocity and their damage falls behind due to the related network concerns.

chaff

Chaff is inconsistent when there is time to use it. So what about chaff when it does work? Missiles will move to track chaff if they detect them, and then detonate on the chaff cloud if they actually get near it. But in 90% of cases, if you launch the chaff too early the chaff will expire before the missile has time to track to it, and not detonate, and then just resume tracking. If you chaff later, the chaff will throw off the tracking a bit but almost never detonate on the chaff, maybe miss the player and sometimes come back for a second run. If the missile is launched under certain conditions this “early” vs “late” condition seems to intersect and there isn’t a timing you can launch chaff with that will defeat the missile, at best you confuse it and it expires or comes back for a second run. Sometimes though, the chaff seems to get ignored and it will just hit you anyways, even with a chaff+boost dodge. This seems to happen at high (500-1000+) absolute velocities and it’s inconsistent when it does happen so im not sure why.

Longer chaff times would help open that “early” vs “late” window and probably resolve the inconsistency there. Im not sure what the deal is with missile heading being it’s velocity but it does seem to cause some issues here, it’s probably a lot more work to change than just making chaff lifetimes longer.

TL;DR: make chaff lifetime crazy high. Somehow resolve the missile tracking inconsistencies due to absolute velocities.

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#2

Excellent post.

I think missiles play, looks and feeling in IB are the best from any other space game by far.
The problem is more on the things that use missiles and are targeted by them, than the missiles themselves.

HUD and some mechanics need to be more functional and balanced first in order for us to be able and judge them correctly.

My proposal is to try and balance missiles by giving more tools and power to the INT, and by seperating the one button click to launch a couple of them from 4 or 6 at a time.

INT balance suggestions.
-When on Eng P mode have energy requirements for boost be 20-35% less.
That way you have a true maneuverability mode that seperates itself from weapons mode through the use of the same pool.

-Give ( as you said ) more countermeasures to the player 30+
and give them at least 50-100% more life time.

-Introduce seperate aiming and lock mechanism for bombers, a dedicated missiles and Torp aiming mode that needs weapons OFF to function.

☆Maybe introduce a new countermeasure type like the chaff SC has, when it used to break lock and tracking for a few seconds when a player used it.
Something like that but limited liķe flares are now ( only 5 or 10 per ship )

Missile play is almos perfect now in IB, HUD and ships are lacking the ways to allow proper avoidance consistency imho.

My suggestion is to push for more and higher life countermeasures, more maneuverability to be able and get out of the way faster.
And a true missiles/Torp aiming and firing mode for BMB.

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#3

A dedicated missile mode aiming mode sounds like it has good potential. I do think battlescape has better missile play than SC, ED and most other games but it also risks overwhelming gunplay, it looks like the majority of small ship kills on the field right now are missiles being lobbed from a long range, which i think gets a bit more boring for most involved than gunfights.

I think tying engine overcharge mode to lowering boost energy has a slight issue, that it means anytime someone boosts they are best switched to engine overcharge. That would motivate a macro to instantly switch to engine overcharge when pressing boost, and switch off when release. so far the overcharge system has avoided any kind of macro-motivators (things that are no brainers and you just need the extra button presses for) and i think thats part of why the overcharges actually feel pretty good in general.

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#4

Good observation about macros.
The only way to avoid them is to not give them a reason to exist in the first place.

As for miss play i suggest a step by step process.

First step: Higher life time for flares.

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#5

I actually disagree with most of this.

chaff doesn’t last long enough

It lasts long enough to insure that a boost+strafe+chaff means you’re not hit for one pass. If you’re not spamming chaff, you still have plenty left for when missiles/torps come back around.

if you’re “chosen”, it’s a hail of missiles

You have no speed limit. You can accelerate backwards and match their speed. If anything, they’re going to be underpowered if PD is added and especially if ECM/Decoys are added in a proper support role.
I’ve been “chosen” in a cruiser, and wasted DOZENS of enemy torpedoes by going backwards while shooting missiles at them.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, blowing up one torp next to another with missiles generally blows up the other.
Cruiser and Carrier has tons of missiles to take out gobs of torps and mines… if you don’t just sit there like an idiot when multiple people are focusing you. If you DO sit there while being focused, no duh you should die.
This game also has something few other games has, which is the ability to warp a carrier/cruiser in front of another to block the fire out of pretty much no where. This lets you take turns recharging shields. But you rarely need to, as getting 1k credits is still pretty easy…

The only problem here is the targetting. We need an easier way to pick out targets when there are lots of torpedoes and mines overlapping each other.

an ability to catch multiple missiles/torpedoes

This should only be on a dedicated support ship with its own decoy torpedoes; the power to defend against multiple ships should also take multiple ships.

ints can’t intercept torpedoes fired close

I had initial frustrations with this as well, but if a bomber or cruiser is so close to be firing torps faster than they’re intercepted… why don’t you have allies near you to converge on them? They’re probably severely out of position. There is great safety in sitting back with other AI cruisers in your own, firing those torpedoes at range, with the downside being that they’re easily intercepted.
This, again, I think can only be solved with a dedicated ship with decoy torpedoes. If someone is so close that their torps can’t be intercepted with an interceptor, nor someone’s missiles shooting at it or their own guns reliably, then they’re so close that it only make sense that a more dedicated support ship should only counter that well.

Int IS strong against torps and mines from long range. It’s fine how it is. It shouldn’t just invalidate mass focus fire of torpedoes and mines or ones from up close as that’s not the only thing the inty does.

#6

He was talking about missiles vs small ships, not torps vs capitals though.

#7

Small ships can dodge them… Like really easily.

You just need to not be going away from them, and then to boost 90 degrees and chaff as they close in. Pretty much how every game is. I don’t get it.

I think UI needs to be improved so it’s easier to see where they’re coming from, but that’s it.

#8

You can dodge some missiles with little to no effort, but others not so much. The thread explained how inconsistencies in the missile mechanic change to create these different situations. “just accelerate backwards” is a really silly reply given the specifics of what i said, lol. Far from “just sitting there”, im sure i move at somewhere near the upper end of whats possible in the interceptor :stuck_out_tongue:

Given that you think “warping another carrier in to block the missiles with your hull” is a viable strategy im not sure we’re operating on the same wavelength here.

#9

Great have fun Dodging for the next 15 minutes because there are tons of missiles on the battlefield, because every ship has them.

The issue isnt the missiles themself but the abundance and ease of use of them.

They dont take skill and are the go to weapon atm. Especially the Cruiser is a one man army, it can hunt destroyers, corvettes, bombers and interceptors with ease while its role should be more defined to anti station/cruiser/destroyer

#10

They do take skill. They are pretty much guaranteed to miss if you do not match your prograde with the targets prograde plus some added velocity when firing, as mattk50 described in his opening post.
Except he said that’s a bad thing.

I do agree with that issue, though, that missiles don’t seem to have an actual heading for the missile themselves. They behave more like those bending rails in Panzer Dragoon Orta.

Maybe I currently don’t have a problem with missiles because of how much people like to use their cruiser and bomber missiles against other cruisers, instead of switching targets. It does stand to reason that larger ships could have slower lock times against smaller ones. But that doesn’t so much add skill as more rock-paper-scissors.

#11

Skill and knowledge shouldn’t be confused, once you are told the right way to fire them there’s not much of a learning process involved in this case. it’s like telling someone you need to aim with the crosshair at the center of the screen, it’s just an “oh okay”. We even have a button for matching speed. You also somewhat misunderstand my point, it’s not a bad thing that there’s a right way and a wrong way to fire missiles. My point is that once you take this simple step, the defense against them falls apart. The balance isn’t there yet.

Missiles used offensively are a very low skill mechanic by design. That’s fine, but it does mean that they need to be given roles that don’t outcompete everything else. In certain other games missiles are mainly for disabling engines for example. Here i think missiles should add to the mental load during a dogfight and add extra concerns to how you should evade but not be the end of 90% of dogfights, basically. Missiles can add real depth to the decision making process like that, and also fills the “offense is generally easier/stronger than defense” rule of game design.

Maybe you don’t have a problem with missiles just because you haven’t fought players using them as described yet, people are still figuring out the game after all. When it gets bad you will just be spending all your playtime dodging missiles which is a waste of time for everyone involved.

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#12

The locking sounds still take a while for newcomers to notice and the only other notification of a lock on the top left can be easily missed.

I wish there was a more visual representation of locking. Like having a 3D trajectory line go from going straight to more closely calculating the path to target on every tick.

This final trajectory line should stick and continue updating until the lock is lost. It would also help understand how relative velocities will affect the missile. Losing a torpedo due to unaligned velocity is a heavy cost, when the bomber has so few of them.

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#13

Your suggestion is awesome, some kind of rendered 3d trajectory line would probably be one of the most visually interesting missile lock systems i’ve seen if pulled off well. Lot of potential to be intuitive too.

Part of the issue here is that relative velocity doesnt decide how the missile acts by itself: absolute velocities often matter more (in the current implementation)

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#14

One thing I want to point out is that the capital ships current missiles are currently the same kind than the interceptor/bomber’s: light missiles.

This is only a placeholder; the goal for them in terms of design was to add “heavy missiles” which are much slower and more powerful, to be used against other capital ships. They wouldn’t be effective against nimble ships. They’re not implemented yet because of the lack of cap ship’s anti-missiles system, but they will be in the “close” future.

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#15

I don’t think it’d work too well. Locking is automatic and you constantly lose / re-acquire the lock, which means that trajectory line would be “in your face” pretty much half the time you are fighting. Pretty sure it’d get annoying very quickly.

I had the same problem when people suggested implementing a direction vector for capital ship’s heading. I originally implemented it as a 3D arrow on the HUD, and it was so much in your face ( despite not even being that big on screen ) that I got annoyed by it within a few minutes. That’s why I switched it for an icon instead.

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#16

How will “heavy missiles” be differentiated from torpedoes if both are designed to be guided heavy weapons against heavy ships?

Anyway some other things.

I have. It’s my own fault for letting them match their prograde to mine at a higher velocity. That’s easily avoidable.
One of the most destructive things I find is simply the interceptor’s chainguns. With weapons overcharged, that shreds through a Corvette with shields down faster than even the Bomber with its 6 missile launchers does since int gets in position to not miss better.
Like maybe missiles are OP if you pretend no other weapons exist… but there’s other powerful weapons in the game, and I feel they’re fairly well balanced except for weapon overcharging.
My biggest issue that I can’t help by playing better and can only really blame the game for is that it’s difficult to target missiles. Targeting needs to be improved so it’s easier to select a missile over other things, and when you destroy one missile it should target the next one automatically if there is another close by.

And to respond to this again: if everyone is focusing you, you can just waste them by flying away from them… while your allies are spreading out their fire in a way that’s not worthwhile to do. Great, the wasted missiles/torps focusing you and your side didn’t, so you win.

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#17

And to respond to this again: if everyone is focusing you, you can just waste them by flying away from them… while your allies are spreading out their fire in a way that’s not worthwhile to do. Great, the wasted missiles/torps focusing you and your side didn’t, so you win.

And now back to reality where missles can track for quite long and from very long ranges, so you can run but they will just as easily switch to the next sucker why you are still running.

What is your next advise ? “Don’t spawn at all, that’s the best counter because they didn’t get to kill you !”…

When I’m in a cruiser I can effectively deny any interceptors from playing in that fight.

Good thing the current missles are just a placeholder , I just wish they went without missles until they got the correct one in.

#18

Again, you don’t seem to understand that everyone “choosing” you and wasting fire on you that won’t even hit when you are free to focus on dodging it IS being useful. It’s eating weapons that others don’t.

People don’t want to reverse and fly away when they’re taking a minor amount of damage. Those people stay to fight, and continue to do damage.
As much of a funny meme it is for bombers to engage at a distance and fly in while launching torpedoes so they instakill a cruiser, for example, it’s really a horribly inefficient tactic and someone who isn’t blind can just warp out. These non-problems don’t need to be “fixed”. They might bother new players, but they add depth and you quickly learn to deal with them.

I find it extremely odd that I even have to attempt to explain the nuances of basic fleet engagement mechanics. Just play the game …

#19

Against one target who you have targeted and are watching, maybe it’s avoidable? Do remember these are 12km weapons, they are mass-fire weapons. You aren’t going to avoid matching velocity with everyone on the battlefield, and obviously the one person you have targeted you’re probably matching velocity to them since that’s also the goal for gun usage, this paragraph is just silly.

If you think guns are OP again we really are not on the same wavelength. Everything you post sounds like it’s from the perspective of a capital ship or corvete pilot who just spams missiles at everyone in range and hasn’t felt the spam in inty or bomber much. It’s over a full energy tank from the interceptor’s blasters to drain shields or multiple full heat bars, in fact the inty’s ability to fight corvettes has been severely nerfed since before the EA release. but single volley killing an inty doesnt offend you… aight.

Maybe you’re the one that needs someone to explain fleet mechanics to you. Lets start with the basics, you have a fleet of 20 people. How long do you think it takes them to all get to ~1km for gun usage? Trick question, they won’t all get there. Even if they all perfectly perform a gun-worthy intercept, they will arrive at different times. Chances are by the time the latter half arrives the target has already fled or dead. Now how does that work for missiles? None of that even comes into play, everyone just spams simultaniously from 12km, targets the next person, spams again, targets the next person and so on. You advocate splitting targets. Why? This strategy will kill the enemy team faster because there’s no intercept time between target switches. For splitting targets to be valid, for “distracting the whole enemy team” to be valid, there has to be a distraction. swapping, locking and firing for two seconds then having the person be occupied with dodging missiles for 20 seconds and diverting attention back is not a distraction. The only player being distracted and then killed is the player being targetted.

In short: One of the most important abilities for fleets actions Range, it acts as a multiplier. It’s obviously not much of a direct analog but there’s a reason most larger fleets in EVE specialize towards long range weapons and smaller fleets specialize towards shorter weapons. Fleets multiply the power of range by allowing more efficient direction of concentrated fire.

Anyways, we just got a patch that increased chaff count and doubled chaff duration. If my original post was correct in understanding the missile system, we should see chaff being way more reliable at killing missiles! that should open a window for actually defeating the missile even if fired at low relvel with a abs vel in the right direction. Will have to test things out this weekend.

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#20

@innociv I don’t think we are playing the same game.

Lucky the dev already stated that the current missles will be taken away from the cruiser.