The Combat Post Mortem

Running a little late here, apologies for that…

There’s been a lot of discussion about combat since the beta, especially with the general concept of ‘mutual destruction’, and people with smaller fleets massively outperforming larger fleets score wise. This post is a general breakdown of what is happening in these cases.

One thing that should be noted, is that after evaluating various results and outcomes, combat is working as coded and configured. For better or worse everything is fortunately correctly working, but there are obviously some issues that may need addressing.

Firstly I’m gonna cover the kill differential that happens between small vs larger fleets. There was an important note during my previous post titles ‘Combat changes, and you’, which reads the following:

This creates an interesting scenario where a tiny fleet can end up with a LOT more to shoot at than the larger fleet. As an extreme example (making up some numbers here to reinforce the point), if a fleet has a single fighter that can kill 20 bombers, that fighter will be easily killed by the 20billion score fleet and that fleet will get the relevant combat score, but in the interest of ‘fairness’ the fighter will STILL go ahead and kill 20 bombers, which while logically and programmatically makes sense, is unlikely to be seen as ‘fair’ by the person losing a crap load more ships simply by virtue of having a larger fleet.

There are multiple ways to try and fix this, most require a combat rewrite, but for notes sake:

  1. Modify fleet ‘strength’ based on opposition (so in the above case, nerf the ■■■■ out the fighter)
  2. Create better ‘Rounds’ of combat, where ‘destroyed’ ships don’t get a chance to shoot back
  3. Modify targeting behaviour, so that ships are less likely to focus their most effective targets…

Now, Point 3 above brings us to our second problem with combat, and that’s simply ship targeting leading to mutual destruction.

In almost all cases, ships will primarily target the ship they are most effective against, Fighters will target Bombers, Bombers will target Frigates, Frigates will target Fighters, etc etc. There are a couple of cases where this technically isn’t true, but that’s not important for this post, but as a concept this seems logical for how combat should play out…

This causes an interesting issue, in a lot of cases ships have a roughly 2:1 damage ratio (based on score, see above mentioned thread) against their preferred target, so this can lead to a situation where a fleet with a relatively good spread composition of ships could potentially be putting out well over 2x it’s score against another fleet (and in some cases if you’re lucky with ship counts, potentially 4-6x!), so you can end up with a fleet substantially smaller than the size of another fleet pulling out mutual destruction, just by virtue of all these numbers coming together.

Conclusion
So both of these problems come from roughly the same cause, ‘combat effectiveness’ against certain ship classes, as well as the ordering of battles. Now to be completely honest, I have no perfect way of solving this pre-beta, some people would fairly argue that I’m spending too much time on this problem, which is resulting in everything else is being slowed a bit, and hell, combat balancing and configuration was a problem for years during DGs first run (ignoring some of the rose-tinted goggles floating in front of a few peoples faces). So my plan is relatively simple for the beta:

1- Massively tone down the score:score ratios of ships vs ships.
While not a solution, this will scale down a lot of the BRs that seem completely unreasonable, placing a hard cap between 0.5 and 1.5:1 score ratio will result in ships hitting much closer to their weight class, this will make things seem fairer for the most part, if not a little more boring for the time being…

2- Tweak the combat order to be more representative of a ‘real’ fight.
Imagine two fleets in space, what the composition and layout of these fleets would be, and how they would actually attack each other… A destroyer is extremely effective against a battleship (currently 3:1 score ratio) but it wouldn’t immediately have access to shoot at the battleships, there would be other ships between them which it’s potentially less effective against, so it doesn’t make realistic sense that they could just flat out fire at BTS without having to at least clear some stuff out the way… I’m gonna try and tweak the battles to take some of that into account.

3- During the beta, engage the community on possible ways to do combat
This one will probably also include some small cash bounties for ANYONE who participates to a reasonable level (to be defined later), I’m going to put together a small java framework which allows for easy combat execution and publish it to github to allow people to experiment with code and try to find cleaner or more acceptable ways to perform combat. I’ll also look into accepting submissions from other languages or alternate methods, to see if there’s a way that we can collectively come up with an acceptable solution to the problem which is fair to all. Hopefully we’ll collectively come up with something I can look into building into the game going forward if a consensus is reached.

While none of these solutions are perfect, it should at least ensure that the 3 month beta run goes much more smoothly than some of the speed games have, and everything is a little more enjoyable for all.

Thanks!

3 Likes

I am a huge fan of your proposal to point 2.

Creating situations where ships don’t necessarily shoot at what they are best at first, but rather what is an immediate threat/in their way.

Creating a stronger strategic need to screen cruisers and BTS with medium sized warships, as well as having your own fighter screens to protect your bomber squadrons.

It will led to larger ships surviving more (and therefore doing more damage longer term) therefore I would definitely suggest toning down the power of say the battle ship Vs say bombers and fighters (battle ships maybe being the rare exception to your rule as maybe Thier heavy weapons can effectively target other big ships earlier).

But I kind of love the idea of retreating my cruiser and BTS fleets once their fighter and frigate screens are dead.

Really cool idea, will be interested to see how it plays out.

Also the third point is a great idea to open up the space for the community to contribute to and maybe inovate towards a novel idea that might work really well. (I mean it might not, but it’s a great approach to take).

Best of luck!