Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

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harpy eagle
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Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby harpy eagle » Thu May 03, 2018 12:32 am

Lately I've been thinking about the recent nerf to anti-missile range. It's quite a drastic change, they seem to have a shorter range now than even defense lasers (7 vs 9). Although being missiles they don't suffer accuracy penalties at long range, they still can't fire at trackers that other PD would be able to potentially hit. actually they do, even if the range drawer doesn't show it.

What if instead of just being another flavour of point defence, anti-missiles filled a different niche entirely?

The idea I have is sort of inspired by real life naval defences, where missiles are used to shoot down incoming targets (such as anti-ship cruise missiles) at medium and long range, but close-in weapons are used as a last line of defence at short ranges where missiles are less effective.

In game terms anti-missiles would fill the role of area coverage. The idea is that having longer range allows ships equipped with anti-missiles to provide overlapping coverage of each other and the rest of the fleet. Whereas direct fire PD is only able to effectively cover the equipped ship and it's immediate vicinity.

In order to get the two types of PD to really complement each other though, we need to make sure that direct fire PD maintains it's role of close-in defence. It's not perfectly clear how to do this, but one idea I have is that, in exchange for their increased range, anti-missiles lose the ability to reaction fire at incoming trackers.

Anyways, the desired outcome is that researching anti-missiles would give you a very useful tool that complements the basic direct-fire PD, but you would still get the best benefit from mixing the two.

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sven
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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby sven » Thu May 03, 2018 6:20 pm

harpy eagle wrote:Lately I've been thinking about the recent nerf to anti-missile range.


So, my rough intention with anti-missile vs. defense laser ranges is more or less as you describe. i.e., to have antimissiles better at medium/long range coverage, and PD's more effective at close-In interceptions.

Where I've perhaps confused myself here is that there are 2 different senses in which either of these weapons have 'range'. There's the range at which a weapon autofires against incoming missiles (defined in triggered_attacks.lua:autofire_at_range), and then there's the max range at which a weapon can fire while under manual control.

Prior to my nerf, there was something of a bug in the core autofire logic -- the manual attack range of antimissiles was 20.9, but, the autofire range was ranges.medium==9.9. That meant that manual fire anti-missiles had far better interception ranges than auto-fired antimissiles. I can't think of a good reason why that should be the case, so I'm assuming it was just a mistake on my part.

(PD weapons also have a different manual fire max range than autofire range, but, that at least has some justification behind it -- as the close-in PD weapons get significantly different to_hit chances when fired manually at max range.)

harpy eagle wrote: It's quite a drastic change, they seem to have a shorter range now than even defense lasers (7 vs 9).


Yes, in a rush to fix the "bug", I think I over-did this nerf. I'm going to tweak the numbers yet again (r37500); so that while the manual fire range of antimissiles will be much less than it was, the autofire range will actually be increased a bit. I'm not *certain* that's a great idea, but, I do think we want antimissiles to have a distinctly different tactical niche than other PD weapons, and so giving them a strict range advantage makes some sense. I suspect we might want to nerf AMs in some other dimension make up for that though. (Maybe reduced effectiveness against fighters would make some thematic sense?)

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harpy eagle
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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby harpy eagle » Thu May 03, 2018 7:57 pm

I had another idea, as an alternative if the other options don't work out.

What if anti-missiles had an inverted range ladder? That is, if they actually had worse accuracy at short range? The range display could be modified to show this intuitively.

If we then gave anti-missiles the same range as other point-defence weapons, they would then complement direct-fire PD in a literal way: The range bracket in which direct-fire weapons has poor accuracy, anti-missiles would have good accuracy, and vice versa.

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Arioch
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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby Arioch » Thu May 03, 2018 11:08 pm

That would seem rather gamey, as it would be the complete opposite of what you would expect according to how anti-missiles work.

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harpy eagle
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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby harpy eagle » Thu May 03, 2018 11:19 pm

Arioch wrote:That would seem rather gamey, as it would be the complete opposite of what you would expect according to how anti-missiles work.

I'm not sure I understand. Why would one expect that? A weapon that has reduced chance to hit in close range seems plausible.

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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby Arioch » Thu May 03, 2018 11:25 pm

harpy eagle wrote:I'm not sure I understand. Why would one expect that? A weapon that has reduced chance to hit in close range seems plausible.

Missiles lose accuracy over range as their velocity (and therefore inertia) increases and their fuel supply decreases. It doesn't make any sense that a missile would gain accuracy with range.

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harpy eagle
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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby harpy eagle » Thu May 03, 2018 11:46 pm

Arioch wrote:Missiles lose accuracy over range as their velocity (and therefore inertia) increases and their fuel supply decreases. It doesn't make any sense that a missile would gain accuracy with range.

Missiles have finite acceleration and course corrections are far more costly at short range, so that doesn't seem unconditionally true, though.

You're right that at longer ranges missiles have less fuel for course corrections. In atmosphere, anyways.

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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby sven » Thu May 03, 2018 11:56 pm

harpy eagle wrote:
Arioch wrote:That would seem rather gamey, as it would be the complete opposite of what you would expect according to how anti-missiles work.

I'm not sure I understand. Why would one expect that? A weapon that has reduced chance to hit in close range seems plausible.


For my part, I'm less concerned with plausibility than about the kind of gameplay it would create. Optimizing the effectiveness of your point defense weapons vs. incoming missiles/fighters is already a pretty fiddly process, and adding a mechanic that penalizes you for firing at close ranges with certain weapon types would only make is more so. We're always trying to balance competing goals here -- rewarding some amount of micromanagement helps keep the tactical game interesting, but, too much makes it tedious. My own hunch is that there's already more than enough micro in the PD/missile interactions.

So if we were to add a weapon that inverted the normal range to hit penalties, my instinct would be to make it an anti-ship weapon. (Arioch, or other hardcore military sci-fi types, could tell us if there's a suitable precedent for a weapon that might have this kind of profile.) But, again, my hunch is that if we do make a weapon that works best at longer ranges, players should be using it to shoot at relatively high-value targets like ships, stations, or planets -- not missiles or fighters.

On the topic of new weapon types -- A true AOE weapon is another piece I think we'd all like to see added to the game, there my main concern is that most template weapons would be *exceedingly* effective against missile/ fighters. Perhaps that's just physics though, and we'd be making a mistake to try and bend the game rules to design around it.

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fonzosh
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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby fonzosh » Fri May 04, 2018 6:12 am

I would like to see PD going between x-y range and anti missiles only working on y-z range. That would achieve the desired effect of anti missiles being the long range shield and PD the last line of defence.

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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby Dragar » Fri May 04, 2018 10:31 am

sven wrote:On the topic of new weapon types -- A true AOE weapon is another piece I think we'd all like to see added to the game, there my main concern is that most template weapons would be *exceedingly* effective against missile/ fighters. Perhaps that's just physics though, and we'd be making a mistake to try and bend the game rules to design around it.


Can you add some 'scatter' as to where the template lands? That might resolve this problem.

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Re: Area Coverage vs Close-In Point Defence

Postby zolobolo » Fri May 04, 2018 4:16 pm

I suspect your original approach Sven of why autofire range was shorter is to preserve ammo and not have the whole fleet expand it on incoming fire that can be taken care of other PD elements at short range. Ensuring that extra long range is only available when manually targeting ensures that only those missiles are actually intercepted that the issuer of the command rally wants else: all incoming missiles would deplete all the AM ammo of the fleet without the layer or the AI being able to do anything about it

If the above intent is true, the system has been working as intended
I found it always to be working properly and the two types of PD options to be perfectly supplementary. Never went overboard using AM due to their considerable limitation regarding ammo as well as due to other relative minor disadvantages (no RF module, no shield penetration etc...)


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