Testing Economic Balance Changes

A forum for chatting about in-development game features.

Moderator: luciderous

akkamaddi
Posts: 147
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:11 am

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby akkamaddi » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:22 pm

sven wrote:There's still a few things that need fixing before this can move over to vanilla (like the "lost transports" bug you encountered).


:mrgreen: Thank you!

nathanebht
Posts: 118
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:48 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby nathanebht » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:33 pm

Started two games as Tinkers with version r38550, 88 star, box shape map on hard. Both times I've concluded that I've lost. The lack of natural population growth seems to be the cause.

I didn't get lucky with other useful races early in either game. So no natural population growth that I could borrow. By the time I run into other empires, I'm noticeably behind on tech and ship production.

It takes a long time for the Tinkers to get a new colony productive and I run out of money to buy a first manufactory.

User avatar
sven
Site Admin
Posts: 1556
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:24 pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Contact:

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:19 am

nathanebht wrote:Started two games as Tinkers with version r38550, 88 star, box shape map on hard. Both times I've concluded that I've lost. The lack of natural population growth seems to be the cause.

I didn't get lucky with other useful races early in either game. So no natural population growth that I could borrow. By the time I run into other empires, I'm noticeably behind on tech and ship production.


Yeah, 'Hard' is feeling authentically hard. My own experience is that if I'm careful with my influence spending, I can usually get at least one of the AIs around me to form an alliance, and the various benefits of that, plus generally careful play, are usually enough to get a win.

That said, it is possible you're just getting very unlucky with starting condition RNG. If you'd upload a save from a game that's felt impossible, I'd be curious to take a look at the histories.

nathanebht
Posts: 118
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:48 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby nathanebht » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:31 am

Completed a Phidi game with version r38550, 88 star, box shape map on hard. That game wasn't difficult at all. The Phidi have so many advantages. And it seems like every game they start out surrounded by water worlds.

Then completed a game as Gremak with version r38550, 88 star, box shape map on hard. Had 3 or 4 very good planet finds at the start and that made the early part of the game fairly easy.

There was a 2 or 3 difficult ship battles in the middle which were exciting. If the AI was more competent in their ship designs I think I wouldn't have been able to win those battles. The AI frequently adds too much anti-missile in its designs. After those battles that empire was easily taken and the game was won. Uploaded it, game_8610.

Had saved one of the Tinker games where I concluded I lost. Uploaded, game_8611.

I find that hard difficulty is generally a good experience but that the race pick is a big factor. If you can't make friends then you'll get attacked early when the AI is out producing you. If you can survive to the mid game with a good size empire then you've won. The AI can't compete after that.

Of course I'm not a new player so you might get much different feedback from them.

User avatar
sven
Site Admin
Posts: 1556
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:24 pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Contact:

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:24 am

nathanebht wrote:Had saved one of the Tinker games where I concluded I lost. Uploaded, game_8611.


I played for a few hours from this starting position, and it is certainly a difficult one. I think you had a very strong start, given the relatively poor initial worlds. But declining to form an embassy with the Imperials as soon as you had the chance was probably a mistake. I'm guessing that your game plan was perhaps to conquer the Imperials early, but what you couldn't know was that Imperial's starting position was far, far better than yours. Given that, I'm fairly sure that winning any early game conflict against them is impossible. If there is a winning strategy here, it's probably to bend over backwards in an attempt to ally with either the Imperials or the Orthin, and then cooperate in taking over some of the other AIs. (In my playthrough, the Humans and Phidi got into a war against the Imperials, and I could then join that, on the Imperial's side, with the potential to expand into human space.) And yes, it may well be that the only way to pull this off is to surrender Toliman if/when the Imperials ask for it.

nathanebht wrote:I find that hard difficulty is generally a good experience but that the race pick is a big factor.


Yeah. Phidi, in particular, have some very strong mechanics that you can leverage to just absolutely steamroll on hard. I considered nerfing Opil after a few cakewalk Phidi playthroughs, but, Arioch talked me out of it. Discovering how to play well as Phidi is fun, and if experienced players decide that it makes the game too easy -- they can always try Phidi on Brutal, or just play a different race.

nathanebht wrote:If you can't make friends then you'll get attacked early when the AI is out producing you. If you can survive to the mid game with a good size empire then you've won. The AI can't compete after that.


Yeah, there's always been a sortof "inflection point", where the game switches from being exciting to feeling like you're just grinding out a forgone conclusion. What I'm liking about this balance is that the inflection point usually happens deeper into the game, and so there's a chance that you'll actually get to use later game techs in conflicts that matter.

nathanebht
Posts: 118
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:48 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby nathanebht » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:15 pm

Thanks for looking at game_8611. I don't like spending a lot of Influence early as the AI sometimes just changes it's mind. Then your out of Influence and also in a bad place.

I'd suggest nerfing Opil, and/or make it more available around the map.

The game is certainly more variable after all the economic changes. Its great that its still being patched.

nathanebht
Posts: 118
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:48 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby nathanebht » Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:14 am

Played three Human games with version r38568, 88 star map on hard.

The first game was with abundant native races and abundant habitable planets. The start was ok and it took a while to expand. This game took many turns to win and I was using some of the late game techs. Very enjoyable. I'm not sure warp inhibitor was working when I used it in several systems.

The second game had a bad start and I concluded early on that I lost. A large enemy fleet appeared over a key planet that completely outclassed my stuff.

The third game I went abundant native races and normal habitable planets. This was also good fun. The AI empires viciously battled each other as I built up my fleet and colonized all of my available planets. Two empires were wiped out with no involvement from me. After war was declared, I started taking enemy planets but found it impossible to defend everything. The AI too often likes to bomb planets to extinction but capturing is so much better.

User avatar
sven
Site Admin
Posts: 1556
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:24 pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Contact:

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 am

nathanebht wrote: I'm not sure warp inhibitor was working when I used it in several systems.


I'll take a look -- warp inhibitors are rarely used, so there's a reasonable chance a bug has gone by uncaught here. Thanks for mentioning it.

nathanebht wrote:Played three Human games with version r38568, 88 star map on hard.


Glad to hear you've had generally good experiences.

For my part, I played a human 88 star hard map the other night (with default habitability and native race settings), and it was probably one of my all time favorite SiS playthroughs. I used the fairly well known trick of making boarding pods my first research goal, and building up a little fleet of captured pirates. It didn't feel too overpowered, but, it did put me in a position to expand more broadly than I might have otherwise. I managed to avoid major wars for most of the early game, but things got really interesting around turn 160, when a Yoral/Gremak alliance came within a hair of wiping me out. I won after 214 turns, just as my first Dread Stars were joining the fleet.

The next big game mechanic revamp we have our eyes on is terraforming, and now that the mid and end game is becoming more meaningful (on Hard/Brutal, anyways), I'm increasingly confident that we may be able to implement revamped terraforming rules in a way that adds something positive to the gameplay.

zolobolo
Posts: 1233
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby zolobolo » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:35 am

sven wrote:The next big game mechanic revamp we have our eyes on is terraforming, and now that the mid and end game is becoming more meaningful (on Hard/Brutal, anyways), I'm increasingly confident that we may be able to implement revamped terraforming rules in a way that adds something positive to the gameplay.

If you implement the new race utilizing this side of the techtree right off the bat it becomes relevant for sure ;)

Nice direction on the Human Missile Cruiser: Could even be stacked up to 2X2 in my opinion (and Yoral back to 4X2 ;))

gaerzi
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby gaerzi » Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:14 am

nathanebht wrote:The AI too often likes to bomb planets to extinction but capturing is so much better.

In my last game as the human, I got the yoral as my neighbor to the west, and they quickly decided to invade me because they thought me weak. I had delayed the inevitable a bit by appeasing them when they asked for one of my planets (that, fortunately, was not situated at an important point) and also by sending ships to most systems they wanted to colonize, telling them it was human space, but agreeing to let them take it as they always insisted. (Amusingly enough, this happened in one system they had already colonized, too: they sent a colony ship to another planet in that system, I had my scout, I told them it was human space, and I got the bonus for agreeing to let them colonize a second planet in their own system. As fun as that was, it might be worth addressing.)

So when the war started in earnest, I had pretty much no way of fending off the yoral combat fleet and its dozens of torpedo spammers. However, I did build a combat fleet of my own, putting warp enhancers in all vessels. I also built a bunch of outpost transports. This gave me an edge in terms of range, so teh conflict was basically the yoral sending a massively overkill mission to destroy one of my outposts, while I was sending a mission to sterilize a yoral world. Eventually, I got to a position where the yoral could no longer reach any of my worlds (using a sparse galaxy, so the I solidified the border along a "natural boundary" line, there was no unsettled system between us but a gap wide enough to require range extenders), including the former yoral worlds I decided to take over instead of just burning them to a crisp, so between the heavy losses they took, the little damage they did, and their inability to strike further, they sued for peace and then we became best buds. No contested border thanks to the gap, they still thought fondly of me for "allowing them to expand" in their own territory or "agreeing to their demands" even if I took it back later, and they couldn't attack, so they offered trade agreement, research agreement, and then alliance.

I decided it fitted well with the Yoral's rough and tumble nature: give them a bloody nose and they decide you're an alright guy.

thed29
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:36 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby thed29 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:41 pm

Really liking the Orthin change as well. Simultaneously buffing the ion artillery and bringing the siege mount down to 2 x heavies has given a role for ion artillery that fits in with the Orthin fluff. Previously it just didn't make sense to choose ion artillery over plasmas for damage or rails for range.

It also now gives the Heavy Cruiser a bit more love, as I feel like the gunship just overshadowed it previously.

SgtArmyGuy
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:43 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby SgtArmyGuy » Wed Oct 23, 2019 3:58 pm

First of all, thanks for enabling the use of capital letters in outpost system names! That really made my day!

Uploaded game 8691 for review. Humans on Brutal.

Based on this and other two recent games, I'm seeing a pattern of:

1) Phidi becoming really strong for some reason, possibly because of the use of early-game mercenaries. They used to be a marginal race, building mostly fleets of scouts, so this is a drastic change from before (they still keep building up those scouts, so not everything has changed - what's up with that?) They're also pretty trigger-happy on declaring wars if you get violent with your neighbors: in the game before this, I started an early-game war on the Tinkers, only to be invaded by the Phidi because of "violence is not the answer" (read: "We'll LIBERATE the SHIT out of you! 'MURICA!!!") That was kinda funny, but cost me the game right there and then. :roll:

I'd keep an eye out for these guys, so they don't become too strong. I like their new role as the galactic superpower of peacekeepers, however (read: "Peace, OR we'll LIBERATE the SHIT out of you! 'MURICA!!!") Something to build upon in the future, or an accidental "feature" of the current Phidi AI? :P

2) The Orthin have WAY too much shielding in their ships. If I remember correctly, there was an agenda on clearing the dumb, OP builds from the player/AI arsenal - well, these guys seem to be regularly wielding four Battle Shield systems by early mid-game, ramping up a whopping 960 points of shields! There is absolutely nothing that can go through that at that stage of the game, considering the fact that the damn things are always full of PD weaponry to exclude the use of massed missiles against them. The Orthin tech faster, they get more shields than anybody else on their ships, and are basically indestructible in large stacks.

The only viable tactic seems to be to force them to split up their fleet and destroy individual planets. If they don't split, I'm screwed. I lost one game because their fleet was sporting military transports and kept occupying every planet I had. They made a beeline for my central systems, and that stack of shields made them impossible to stop. In the game I uploaded, marginal success was achieved through the use of Battleships for boarding (you can do that despite the shields). That is not much of an option against all that superior firepower, though. I had to sacrifice my entire fleet in an epic battle to stop a handful of Orthin ships, and buy my way to peace a few turns later.

Because of these things the Orthin have a very special, nasty vibe to them, which I'm not sure I completely dislike. There's always room for one slightly OP race to make them extra-threatening for offering that final challenge on Brutal. They're hovering somewhere in the gray zone of being too tough to kill to be fun anymore, though. If they decide to smack you, there's not much you can do about it - the only winning move is not to play. I'd keep an eye out for their power level, as well.

User avatar
sven
Site Admin
Posts: 1556
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:24 pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Contact:

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:00 pm

SgtArmyGuy wrote:Uploaded game 8691 for review. Humans on Brutal.


This is a really impressive game. Nicely done!

SgtArmyGuy wrote:They're hovering somewhere in the gray zone of being too tough to kill to be fun anymore, though. If they decide to smack you, there's not much you can do about it - the only winning move is not to play. I'd keep an eye out for their power level, as well.


Yeah. I would go further, and say Brutal maps in general often feel like they're somewhere in that "grey zone" right now; winning is possible, maybe, but you need both a bit of luck and really consistently impeccable play. I'm still having fun on 'Hard', myself, but Brutal is there for players who want to push the limits.

The Orthin have really benefited from these economic changes -- teching aggressively is just a much better strategy now than it used to be, and the Orthin are better at it than anyone else. In my experience, they don't *always* end up dominating games, but, they do often end up as one of the scariest threats.

That said, the Gremak and Phidi were both incredibly dangerous in this game as well -- if you'd ever had to face either of their main fleets directly, it would have been a disaster. So I'm not certain the issue here is so much "Orthin are OP" as it is that winning as humans on a Brutal map is just exceedingly hard. Which is maybe one to file under "working as intended"?

SgtArmyGuy
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:43 pm

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby SgtArmyGuy » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:29 pm

sven wrote:That said, the Gremak and Phidi were both incredibly dangerous in this game as well -- if you'd ever had to face either of their main fleets directly, it would have been a disaster. So I'm not certain the issue here is so much "Orthin are OP" as it is that winning as humans on a Brutal map is just exceedingly hard. Which is maybe one to file under "working as intended"?


Only the Orthin have four system slots on their ships that are consistently filled with shields from one game to the next. :roll:

But yeah, probably working as intended. I keep forgetting Brutal is supposed to feel a bit broken to begin with...

One more topic of general feedback that came into my mind: for one reason or the other, I never seem to reach late-game (tech-wise) in any of my playthroughs. Am I winning too fast, or teching too slow? I mean, I have literally never seen Dreadstars or other top-tier tech. The furthest I've ever made in the tech tree is Stargates, and after building a few, the game was again over.

One possible explanation for this follows.

My recipe for victory is the Cloning tech coupled with one or two big alliances. After reaching a certain number of conquered worlds (and cutting down the population of other races in the process), the Council Victory basically just drops into my lap. Cloning brings in the pop, and alliances provide the missing extra votes. The real problem is that the tipping point is reached immediately after the first big war is won: my enemies go down in pop, and I go up (and with good invasions, the number of pop gained is equal to the loss of others). The relative change in population between the two empires is enormous. And as you gain even more planets to colonize in the process, you can just breed yourself to victory after the initial war. Against big empires and with enough Influence, you can even snatch-and-grab remote worlds without any real risk of counterattack before the war is already over (which happened to the unlucky Gremak).

Maybe a re-check on the victory conditions of Council Victory is in order? I mean, the general situation in the galaxy can still be damn interesting at this stage (for example in that last Human game I uploaded, there were still strong empires with strong fleets on the board). However, you just win because you have the most pop. Adding some sort of "achievements" for the new galactic emperor to reach before coronation could be in order - these victory conditions would needed to be hit in order to reach total political domination. Once again I'd suggest throwing in those much-needed political events to do this. "Force a state of peace in the galaxy", "Create a joint command structure with your allies", "Negotiate peace with your two allies that have a political incident", "Gain control of a system that was the location of the historical Emperor's throne", etc. Something that you pay with the political Influence points, something that requires you to spend resources/worlds/time, or you go to war for. Or a random combination of these.

And yeah, I know I can just keep playing after winning, but that seems kinda pointless. There is no longer an end goal even if the game state itself is interesting. You don't keep playing chess just to remove all your opponent's pieces off the table - you want something to focus on.

But yeah, my issue is that I don't ever get to use the other half of the tech tree. That makes it feel rather redundant. Could a drastic drop of the tech costs of late-game stuff be the other answer, or am I just "playing wrong"?

User avatar
sven
Site Admin
Posts: 1556
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:24 pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Contact:

Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Thu Oct 24, 2019 3:44 pm

SgtArmyGuy wrote:I never seem to reach late-game (tech-wise) in any of my playthroughs. Am I winning too fast, or teching too slow?


Maybe some of both? Your playstyle is very aggressive, so I think you tend to either win fast or lose fast. On Hard, at least, slower approaches that involve more diplomacy and teching can work well too; but I'm actually not certain if it's possible to do anything but rush the AI on Brutal -- their tech advantages are strong enough there that playing a slower game may be effectively impossible. I'll need to play (or watch) more games to get a better sense of what strategies are really viable on Brutal right now.

SgtArmyGuy wrote:The furthest I've ever made in the tech tree is Stargates, and after building a few, the game was again over.


I have hit Dread Stars a few times, though that's just because you can score big tech discounts from the derelict colony at Ephelos II (or other derelict specials), that make it affordable to research relatively early. The intention behind the tech balance is for players to finish the game before they get too deep into the late game techs (though special events may drop a few in your lap early).

SgtArmyGuy wrote:Maybe a re-check on the victory conditions of Council Victory is in order? I mean, the general situation in the galaxy can still be damn interesting at this stage (for example in that last Human game I uploaded, there were still strong empires with strong fleets on the board). However, you just win because you have the most pop.


Yeah, I think it's something we may need to think about. I've had games where I've come within a vote or 2 of "winning" via council vote, even while it was clear that the balance of power was still very much up in the air. And in your game, it did feel like you were robbed of an epic final confrontation between your alliance and the Gremak/Orthin.

As you say, we could introduce a bunch of more complex mechanics to try and address the situation, but, I wonder if just changing the heuristics behind AI voting might be sufficient. Right now, the AI only looks at pop totals when making it's decision about whether or not to support an allied player -- but, arguably, it should be checking other variables as well. For example, should the Phidi really have supported you for Chancellor in that game, even though their fleet was significantly bigger and more powerful than yours?

On the other side of things, maybe there are situations where your opponents should refuse to accept the results of the election, and form a competing alliance. (Arguably, this should have happened in your game as well -- given that the Gremak still had a huge fleet on the board.)

Neither behavior would require big changes to the current rules -- they're really just smaller AI tweaks that would add a bit of nuance and variety to the way council voting plays out. But I think both could help cut down on cases where you feel like the council victory is ending the game prematurely.


Return to “Testing”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

cron