State of Exploits

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zolobolo
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State of Exploits

Postby zolobolo » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:30 am

After numerous updates now the number and severity of exploits in game mechanics has reduced drastically. Below I will try to recap all that I am aware of:

1. Ship spinning
Done for shield capacity and regen rate optimisation. Shields are generally still OP, and this method still works especially for small ship and larger ones if they lack mounts with forward fire archs (Tinker ships)
Workaround: there is a mod for regen fix from Harpy Eagle which helps
Possible Solution: Common shield segment, more restricted firing arcs on ships, shield capacity nerf, more weapons with Env mod (could be for all Ion cannons like in the rebalance mod)

2. Tinker Ships :)
Rocker/Torpedo regen rate is so strong that these ships practically never run out of munition even when stacked only with rockets which makes them OP as well as a bit boring to play as no other weapon can be more effectively mounted on them
Workaround: PD ships with no armor can combat these easily but does not make Tinkers more fun to play
Possible Solution: Reduce regen rate of rockets by the Tinker Forge so that they run out of munition after 2-3 salvos and can only fire with around 50% capacity afterwards + accordingly teach the AI to not only use rocket type weapons

3. Yoral Topedo Destroyer
On the subject of Glass Canons, takes the medal: Outfitted even with rockets, this design can be deployed alreadytill the end of the early game (100 Turns) and can wipe clean any map of most other designs (especially Arda units as these lack PD capacity). The later is important also as it gives them Plasma torpedo which when combined with the destroyer of the Yoral is an unstoppable killing machine and crazy cost-effective.
Possible Solution: No idea. I love this ship design and the amount of torps is lounched is anchored within the art. It already bugs me when the ship designer shows two torps but the ship can only fire a single on in combat (all the other Yoral ships ironically). Nerfing of torps also does not seem wise. What migt work is to slightly increase PD and Figher efficiency against torps and maybe against missiles so that firing these from a disntance is almost a non-option but not against small crafts as the later are already nerfed

4. Planetary Defenses redesigning
When changing the design of these buildings, the change is automatically applied to all existing buildings which allows an exploit which is very tempting: changing the design whenever an attack is imminent to suit that scenario. The initial building cost of the building does not change with the loadout (contrary to what the designer is showing)
Possible Solution: This migth actually be a bug (though doupfull): If changes would not take immidiate effect but the building would need to be refitted like ships that might work though also lead to much more micro and distract from the main game loop. A modification of this concept might work though: having the refitting take place automatically for free but only with a 4-5 turns delay would effectively prevent effective usage of this exploit as well as be thematically and game-design-wise correct: the planets cannot adopt new technology and adopt againts incoming fleets instantly. Technology could also be offered up to reduce the refit time of these buuldings by 1 turn bringing it eventually down to 3 turns in endgame

5. Scorched Planet Tactic
I have already written abouth this a couple of times and wiping enemy planets clear of pops does still largely work as the AI is having difficulties setting up outposts fast enough to make up for its lost range and then protecting them. Whole attacking fleets can be bounced back this way by wiping out the colonies they rely on reaching their destiantion and having to impotently head back to the nearest (now much furhter away located) colony. Resettling now empty planets is also somewhat easier then having to deal with rebelious elements.
Possible Solution: Pop moral penalty somewhat helps with this and I assume that race opinion in deiplomacy menu is derived from this as well but it is not clear and the effect could be somewhat stronger to deter this kind of behaviour. The concept of

6. Heavy Weapon Sieging
Starbases and Planetary Defenses are sitting ducks against any heavy weapon mount and some minimal PD capacity if they happen to be quipped with rocket type weapons.
Workaround: I usually switch to the enemy faction while CTRL selecting their planet and destroy the Plantary Defense and Starbase to forego the long siege process. The AI cannot be trusted to do this as it will move the attackng ships within tange of the defenses.
Possible Solution: Heavy Weapons mount on starbases, using heavy weapons on Planetary Defenses by the AI and increasing the range of all weapons mounted on bases and planetary defenses would resolve this problem. If unique art would be given to these weapons that would also go a long way of making the preapration of defenses enjoyable and signaling to the player that these have considerably more range then their ship mounted equivalents. It would also make sense to only allow a portion of the weapons to be mounted to reduce the workload of creating new art and leaving out less effective options to help the AI. New art here would also spice up the reasearch menu and could be assigned to tech that does not currently have any art assigned to it yet.


To round it up, here are some of the loving exploits we had to say goodby last year :):

1. Diplomacy Mechanic
The update is not live yet, but hte chnages so far on the DEV branch effectively nullify this mechanic as an exploit. Even when playing as Yoral, the diplomatic aspect can no longer be ignored and playing as the Phidi (sho should rely on this mechnic) it becomes obvious how deep and important this system has become

2. Mercanaries Buying
Thoug the AI still does not buy these ships, both purchase and upkeep cost have been increased considerably preventing this mechanic to be an instant win when utilized

3. Missile Bating
The AI updates have effectively nullified the tactic to draw in all incoming rocket and small craft type salvos into a concentrated PD box

4. Railgun Sniping
Railgun has been nerfed but is stil la decent option to be had

...They will not be missed

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sven
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby sven » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:57 pm

zolobolo wrote:After numerous updates now the number and severity of exploits in game mechanics has reduced drastically. Below I will try to recap all that I am aware of:


Thanks for sharing your list zolobolo :) I agree that the Yoral's torpedo destroyers present a bit of a puzzle. At a high level, the fundamental tactical rules are such that if you get a big enough swarm of ships loaded out with powerful long range weapons, you probably will be able to just roll over the map. Torpedo destroyers are probably the most cost-efficient way to build that kind of long-ranged doom-fleet, and that can make the Yoral feel a bit broken. I think the most obvious fix might be to just increase the costs of the torpedo destroyer hulls, so that building up a torpedo destroyer doom-fleet had a cost that was roughly in line with the cost of doing the same sort of thing using, say, Ashdar escort carriers or Orthin gunships.

Even in a perfect world, I think LR doom-fleets are still going to be a thing that players can do. But it does become a problem when the strategy is so efficient that players don't have much of an incentive to try doing anything else.

Dragar
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby Dragar » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:17 pm

On the efficient long range doom fleet conundrum, it's worth listing the three components:

1. Increasing the cost of torpedo destroyer hulls reduces the efficiency.
2. Mechanics that encourage splitting of fleets reduces the 'doom fleet' aspect.
3. Late game weapons with big bonuses to engaging at close range are a third possibility. (This also makes fast (small?) ships interesting in the late-game again.)

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Re: State of Exploits

Postby sven » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:06 am

Dragar wrote:On the efficient long range doom fleet conundrum, it's worth listing the three components:

1. Increasing the cost of torpedo destroyer hulls reduces the efficiency.
2. Mechanics that encourage splitting of fleets reduces the 'doom fleet' aspect.
3. Late game weapons with big bonuses to engaging at close range are a third possibility. (This also makes fast (small?) ships interesting in the late-game again.)


Your late game close range bonus idea is interesting... And as zolobolo suggests, I'd also include:

4. Adding unique station-based or planet-based super long-ranged guns would make sieges more expensive for a long-ranged attacker. (So even if your 'doom fleet' is winning, it's at least losing a couple ships every time it takes on a well-defended planet, which feels less broken.)

nathanebht
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby nathanebht » Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:52 am

Planet defense is definitely lacking. Planet based weapons should double their range.

Create dedicated slots for each of the weapon sizes. So you can always have some missile defense.

Also irritates me that when I use a shield on a planet def slot, it doesn't regenerate. Think there should be a dedicated shield slot too.

zolobolo
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby zolobolo » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:31 pm

Doubling of range sounds reasonable

I would remove all weapons except heavies and maybe small craft for selection due to their low damage and range (and to simplify the system)

Balance is a problem yes, but there is also a deeper issue of the concept not really being fun: there is a need to enable defence of a planet but it is not an important system, the player is usually on the attacker side, and is difficult to make the preparation and even more dfficult to make the attack enjoyable.

That is why I would use a wide scissor: remove all medium and rocket type weapons as options (rockets are easy to counter from such a distance and the animation takes too long to play out even on faster animation - the same might also be the issue with small crafts). This would make the:
- AI automatically more effective in defense
- Invasions play out faster
- Remove the Heavy Weapon Sieging exploit

The reason why sieging is difficult to make fun is that it is always the same scenario: static and visually identical targets (except for the planet) with mostly the same configuration. The scenario can also not be turned into a constant amortization event on the fleet where planets snipe a couple of ships before they go down. They need to fall without attacker losses when overwhelming force is present else the player will start manually removing small ships before each invasion again: allowing only heavy weapons and increasing range could help this again, as smaller crafts should be less likely to be targeted especially in the distance due to the low hit chance.

Accuracy and damage, when decreasing with range could lead to sniping ships constantly taking damage but not being shot down by 1-2 salvos. Just enough to make sniping a no option, but closing in on the planet increases the accuracy and damage of its guns - a simple mechanic yes, and retreating would prevent losses in such a scenario but that is ok: if there is no starbase or defending ships, the planet can dish out a lot of damage but it is difficult for it to destroy ships alone before they retreat

How to avoid combination of ship spinning and heavy weapon sieging?: Env modifier for Heavy planetary Defense guns per default ;)
Last edited by zolobolo on Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

zolobolo
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby zolobolo » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:37 pm

sven wrote:Torpedo destroyers are probably the most cost-efficient way to build that kind of long-ranged doom-fleet, and that can make the Yoral feel a bit broken. I think the most obvious fix might be to just increase the costs of the torpedo destroyer hulls, so that building up a torpedo destroyer doom-fleet had a cost that was roughly in line with the cost of doing the same sort of thing using, say, Ashdar escort carriers or Orthin gunships.

Yes it would be logical but I have to confess: it is crazy fun to build and use these :)

One of the best things in Yoral and Ashdars is that they can build up combined fleets rapidly and it would be a shame if this aspect would be degraded.

A small increase of wrench should make sense as is (it takes less then 200% of wrench to produce one compared to destroyer), but the small and fast ship counter does sound interesting: the AI likes to rush ahead with its ships anyhow so it would be natural fit for it. Now that two new techs have also been introduced increasing speed, the possibility is there - need to test this out

Rocket based doom fleet < Swarm of fast destroyers or even small craft :)
Plasma torps could still mess up this formula of course as they practically ignore PD and are quite powerful
Last edited by zolobolo on Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: State of Exploits

Postby sven » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:02 pm

zolobolo wrote:Yes it would be logical but I have to confess: it is crazy fun to build and use these :)


I think there is something to be said for not over-balancing. I mean, when I think of some of the classic games I really loved, most of them had real gaps in their balance (Moo2, HOMM3, and AlphaCent all had their share of overpowered techs and exploitable mechanics). Figuring out what was overpowered and then taking ruthless advantage of it was part of the appeal :) Most modern games try harder to achieve "balance", and I actually think they can become less-fun as a result...

Anyways, I'm going to need to do some more Yoral playthroughs myself before I really have a sense of whether torpedo destroyers are "fun overpowered" or "needs a nerf overpowered".

zolobolo
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby zolobolo » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:07 pm

sven wrote:Figuring out what was overpowered and then taking ruthless advantage of it was part of the appeal :).

True that: have you tried playing through X-Com with only tanks (or heavy weapon plattform was it called?) once they became available? No panic, no mind-control, no chryssalid parasites and they would even self heal and sore above the battlefield later on ignoring all close-range attack :)

If you play Yoral again: can I just say: the only difference between destroyer and escort cruiser seems to be that the later has one more turret like mount instead of forward firing arc. Since they cost the same, the escort cruiser clearly outclasses the destroyer by this one aspect: maybe it deserves another PD mount to match the visuals and a corresponding hull cost increase to go with it. Increased hull cost for a cruiser would also make sense compared to destroyer thematically

Yes Yoral Torp destroyer is OP but it also looks great and is massively satisfying to snipe enemy capitals with it - this is one of those exploits I cant keep my fingers from

Dragar
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby Dragar » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:30 pm

I don't mind a few overpowered tools (especially in a singleplayer game with a decent AI) - I'd just like them to be a bit more exciting (cloaking devices; stellar beams; teleportation units) than just torpedo spam. ;)

zolobolo
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby zolobolo » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:37 pm

There might be a mitigation factor for at least when the torp destroyer is combined with Plasma Torpedoes: have a high relationship penalty with Arda Seed when attacking their outposts and thus no tech being sold for a while untill it normalises again.

Thus in exhange for this powerfull constuct, the player cannot utilize Herald sold techs for a long time

zolobolo
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby zolobolo » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:44 am

Ran a couple of games with and agains Yoral to see how broken the torp destroyer build exactly is:

When playing agains Yoral, the AI seems to be using this design quite often which is good. The AI does not seem to utilize the plasma Torp tech on this design (which might be bad luck on their side of not being able to salvage the tech from larvae units) but this is generally an easy task/situation to achive by accident and this puts them on a clear disadvatage against the player even though they are using this ship type

The ship design they do use with convention torpedoes can be countered quite well if the palyer wants to both with bombers and better yet: invisible, fast boarding cruisers

When the player uses the design with or withouth plasma torp, it is pretty much the most devastating thing out there against large vessels, but there is a small attrition due to their flimsy defense so might be written down as a fun evne if slightly OP design

On the plus side: invisible boarding cruisers with shield! proved to not only be a counter against torp destroyers but everything else as well (except for sieging planets). The production costs and limited crew capacity luckily do not make them and instant win just yet: attacking Marauder bases with them and "harvesting" units there and against other mayor empire does: Here I have already suggested to have ships self-destruct below a minimum level of crew wwhen facing boarding capable ships.

This is an exploit as the AI does not use boarding module, only shuttles and does not combine them with cloacking field generator and thus cannnot take advantage of the very effective capture mechanic this combination allows- this is by itself quite powerfull as discussed a long time ago but as long as the AI is also using it, its effect is somewhat contained: with the above ship the player can make full use of the mechanic

Note: disabling shields during cloacking is not a workaround for this: as it would make cloacking fields generally not worth it anymore

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Re: State of Exploits

Postby zolobolo » Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:15 am

sven wrote:[
4. Adding unique station-based or planet-based super long-ranged guns would make sieges more expensive for a long-ranged attacker. (So even if your 'doom fleet' is winning, it's at least losing a couple ships every time it takes on a well-defended planet, which feels less broken.)

Yes the guns might be allowed to be palyed on:
- Planetray Defense buildings (most usefull here)
- Starbases
- Mobile planetoids (but not on super dred to furhter differentiate the two): they would also benefit from them as they would clearly being able to hsot such guns only due to their names but also due to their slow speed, they need them to partake in battles and cause a larger threat to large ships (bot not for small ones)
- Asteroid bases: these desperately need a purpose and would function perfectly well as forward platforms for heavy defensive guns)

The second point is optional, as starbases and planetary Defenses can form an effective defense even if only the later has these guns (though the heavy weapons sniping exploit would remain). Fortress might also be prefered to get the guns over the smaller starbase to differentiate it apart but agian: exploit

What is very important though: when introducing a super long range defensive gun, this should be able to fire on everythig but:
1. Only if they made their first move (so that the attacker does not start its turn being fired upon and can move ships forward first (this is important from a psychological point of view as well as due to the automated fleet setup - player feels they do not have control over the situation
2. Small vessels should mostly have no chance of being hit by these guns, even in close range, should be something line 50% so that the gusn dont function as instant kill for these and most importantly: the player does not need to deselect all small vessels before invading (micro MGMT). If the chance to hit is so low, the AI should target the large vessels first where chances are much more higher to hit the thing which is thematically correct and makes sense as a game-mechanic: These ships present the greater threat to the defending stations and ships and can might have time to retreat, thus also not infuriating the player (having to loose valuable ships to simple siege) or crippling the AI as it breaks its mest ships on small sieges.

The player should be able to autoresolve a siege with overwhelming forces against a minor planet with PD (and no defending no ships), and can count on none of the small vessels being destroyed. The cost of large vessels tanking some damage and need reapairs is acceptable and correct

If attack is initiated on planets with heavy defenses but no ships nor bases:
- Large vessels should tank damage and retreat before destroyed (in some rare cases being destroyed if they get unlucky)
- Medium ships recieve medium to heavy damagae but mostly make it out
- Small ships always make it out retreating when they see that they are outgunned (as they would be targeted last, they would avoid being instant-killed) - if this is not the case, the player would manually deselect all small ships before attacking = micro

If starbases or defending vessels is also involved, small and medium ships lost becomes very much a porbability (this is where starbases would excel in)

If done well, this change could resolve, defense sniping, invasion small ship deslection micro, defense ineffectiveness as well as autoresolution of sieges withouth effecting considerably the performance of the AI when it is attacking, nor causing additional losses to them, but increasing its performance when defending (both agains other AI and agains player) plus give asteroid bases a purpose as the cherry on top

wminsing
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Re: State of Exploits

Postby wminsing » Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:24 am

1. Ship spinning
Done for shield capacity and regen rate optimisation. Shields are generally still OP, and this method still works especially for small ship and larger ones if they lack mounts with forward fire archs (Tinker ships)
Workaround: there is a mod for regen fix from Harpy Eagle which helps
Possible Solution: Common shield segment, more restricted firing arcs on ships, shield capacity nerf, more weapons with Env mod (could be for all Ion cannons like in the rebalance mod)


As I've said before, rather than negate spinning I'd rather see it worked in the balance of combat and have the AI use it. Right now there's very little tactical movement beyond charging into range, and the spinning gives some nuance to tactical movement and positioning. I admit that some ships are much better at exploiting this tactic, but I think the ship weapon mounts and firing arcs could use another rebalancing pass in any event.

-Will

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Re: State of Exploits

Postby Danath » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:52 pm

Clearly we need broadside heavy weapons, with bigger arc of fire than forward mounts as bonus


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