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My take on the combat loop SE has taken and should take.

Discussion in 'General' started by PLPM, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. PLPM Junior Engineer

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    841
    I´m not here to advocate for PVP or PVE, but for something that will benefit everyone as far as I believe, I really do believe that this is an important matter that has been neglected and is and has damaged the game up to this point.

    I´m talking about combat in SE and how it plays out. The only engaging part I´ve found of the combat, is the sheer destruction one can conjure into an opponent, be it by massive gattling arrays or kinetic missiles. However, this is not sustainable gameplay-wise, this even though the game has "engineers" in its name, because the nature of this kind of creations is one of lag and clunkiness, yet massive damage potential, they have nevertheless been with us since almost the start.

    This reliance of "outside the box" weapons harms everything gameplay-wise as a sacrifice to awe-inspiring results with PMWs, creating a less than smooth experience due to lag and slowdowns. Even as a proud designer of PMWs, I recognized that it´s too much of an abuse and performance drain to rely on such methods to wage war.

    This is taking a broad view, but it´s even worse in PVE as PMWs create a one-sided armsrace between players and the ship-ai, which, capped at a 600 meter engagement turret range and without access to PMWs, means the player which was already capable to snipe turrets with impunity, is also able to do in a second what an array of turrets would take 30 seconds to deal.

    But removing PMWs isn´t a solution to this, because even if we removed them, we would be actually left worse, the issue comes down to the way vanilla combat plays out, essentially, a slugging match, a battle of attrition; who has the most guns, ammo and if we´re lucky, lack of qualms about ramming the other guy.

    Let me explain, since turrets respond inmediately to threats and engage accordingly, this means that if you´re within 800 meters you are both giving and receiving damage at a steady pace. This means that "default" combat is extremely fast to ramp up to full intensity or absolutely cease to exist after the 800 meters mark, yet, this does no correlate to the fight ending quickly. This has more in common with seeing your old TV slowly die out and be less responsive, than what you´d expect from delicate equipment such as spaceships.

    And finally here lies the answer for me, the combat in SE has it backwards, you make combat a really, really slow buildup, like suspense, but the outcome is high octane and short lived if all the eggs are put into a single basket.

    This means, combat should be layered as you get closer:
    8km, maximum large grid missile range, making for innacurate and sloppy missile harrasment from ships.

    7km is a buffer zone where you decide to commit or not.

    6km, the maximum small grid missile range, you can fire away without much risk, or payoff either.

    5km, maximum range for gattlings, things start to get hot and nasty for small grids on a straffing run.

    4km, buffer zone, still time to just harrass a little and back off

    3km to 1km, absolute turret killzone, either you´re here because you know what you´re doing or you really screwed up.

    Less than a kilometer? too close for large grid turret tracking, giving agile small grids a place to shine within margin.

    This is an idea I´ve put in practice myself with mods, but I really want to hear your take on the way combat plays out on SE and your thoughts on how you could realistically improve it.
     
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  2. Stardriver907 Master Engineer

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    There was a couple of PVP-oriented threads I participated in where I tried to hint at this. "Space combat" in SE tend to be a point-blank slugfest that generally results in a field of debris and no real winner. This is because that's how Keen's staff envisions space combat, and most players are happy to oblige. They want to re-enact the old days of tall ships broadsiding each other to death. This is apparently why all the vanilla weapons have such short range. You pretty much can't engage a target unless you are right on top of it. If you think about it, that's really not even how it works in other space games.

    Keen. PVP players. It's space. You are not fighting in Kansas any more. If you are using anything larger than a frigate you shouldn't even be able to see your target. You should only be able to detect it. Frankly, in space I believe 8 km is too close for missiles, although I'm thinking guided missiles.

    We talk about missile range in terrestrial terms because when you launch a missile on Earth, it will fall out of the sky when it runs out of fuel. Well, we're talking about space combat, and missiles should be smart enough to only use fuel for acceleration and course changes.

    I have no problem with two fighters or two small ships going at it head-to-head. It should not be the same for dreadnaughts. If you are in the habit of going into battle in a giant ship festooned with missile turrets and rocket launchers, you should be doing that as part of a fleet, and there should be a plan. There should be some strategy. It shouldn't be point and shoot.

    There should be radar. Active and passive.
     
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  3. Calaban Junior Engineer

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    907
    There were tentative plans for handheld rifles to have effective range be proportional to tech level... (400m 500m, 600m, 700m) -and note none of them were equal to station turret range...

    But then it was found out no amount of limitation of such a simple scope could ever solve the real problem- which was kamikaze ramming entire ships, after exploiting the spawn mechanics to repeat spawn and kamikaze over and over for free to some victim.

    Keen's apparent vision of combat in their world is similar to NPC ships... 2-3 turrets max. The old Raiding frisbee with omg 4 turrets would have been considered a challenge. If everyone designed warships along those constraints, combat would play out differently. more manageable, opposing ships could indeed limp away only 40% wrecked.. tactical targeting of sub components would be a thing, and insta-confetti would be seen as obtuse.

    Fine and possible in a gentlemans agreement of a space battle, but some players out there just want to wreck your stuff, at any cost. (I suspect daddy issues). then new players are taught the hard/painful way that "this is just how the gamer is, get up to speed"...

    And here we are with no one thinking 2-3 turrets is ever enough.

    So all such notions as silly as limiting how guns work was moot. So, once again, we can blame the 2% Trolls of the community for ruining yet another thing- and future.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
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  4. Stardriver907 Master Engineer

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    3,042
    And let us not forget the endless videos of ships ramming each other that you got to watch while your game was loading ;)

    Honestly, I believe all that "ramming as a strategy" crap comes from the fact that SE ships don't explode. In other games you know you "won" when the other ship explodes into pieces (and probably vanishes completely). That's when you know it's time to stop shooting. There's nothing left. In SE there is always "something left," so you just keep shooting, but it just won't blow up, and you need to see just pieces left, so you ram it to hopefully make at least two pieces of it. But then, even the pieces keep shooting back. Both sides usually give up at this point. If it was a real battle, the crews would go at it but, as you say, respawning complicates things.

    The other thing is that weapon ranges are so short that why bother shooting? Just make your ship the weapon.

    As you know, I'm not about turning SE into a PVP game. I am also all for having things in SE behave as realistically as technically possible. The destruction is realistic. It's Keen's masterpiece. Unfortunately for some, that realism is in conflict with expectations, which often leads to drastic measures. People are building larger ships these days, and they are just not suitable for close quarter combat. They shouldn't be. But CQB is all there is in Space Engineers. There are some forms of long range battle that are possible in SE, but the game does nothing to facilitate it. It's not technical issues, it's just not part of the plan, I guess.
     
  5. May Rears Apprentice Engineer

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    408
    I think part of the problem is the (unmodded) NPC AI is dumb as a box of rocks, enemies simply fly towards you in a straight line until they get in range and fire aiming at power generation first (assuming no decoys are used) whereas a player will try and stay at maximum range and snipe weapons which is more effective. Turrets will also continue to shoot at a piece of a ship blown off instead of the main threat of the rest of the ship.

    A couple more Vanilla weapon variants would be good too, maybe a single barrelled autocannon with a slower fire rate but more accurate and a missile launcher with missiles that do half damage but double the range and a couple of large grid only large calibre guns or torpedoes for capital vs capital action but weak against agile small craft.

    Also I would rebalance small grid ammo to do less damage, maybe half, when hitting a large grid if that is possible and increase the durability of heavy armour maybe by increasing the durability of the metal grid component.

    Mods like Smart Turrets 2 for turret targetting and the AI mods by Lucas in particular the Reavers make the AI far far better and those mod authors should be contacted by Keen to see if they are willing to help. Then you have mods like the jump drive, reactor and fuel tank critical explosions which make engagements far more exciting. I often find myself watching Lucas' reavers taking on other NPCs using spectator cam it makes SE seem more alive.
     
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  6. Ronin1973 Master Engineer

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    4,763
    Well, I'd like to see longer ranges in weapon ranges. But that has a huge cost in CPU as now the search area isn't an 800 meter bubble but a 8000 meter bubble. That also means ten times the amount of objects (missiles and bullets) existing if they are flying out to 8000 meters rather than 800.

    As far as accuracy, I don't think you'd have fudge with accuracy as there is a bit of error built into aiming as it sits. That error is going to be multiplied by a factor of 10 if your target is sitting 8000 meters out... even if you are perfectly lined up on it.

    AI is capable of using its own player made weaponry. However, it's restricted to using raycasts from the camera, a target actively being tracked by a turret, or (if its lucky), detecting the position of the nearest player (GetNearestPlayer). If the grid isn't player occupied, however, you're SOL.

    Putting the mechanics of other games into Space Engineers is possible. But since a lot of CPU is already dedicated to the game running a sandbox world. I don't think you can have your cake and eat it too.
     
  7. ShadedMJ Apprentice Engineer

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    I disagree. They aim at anything that has computer components. That has always been the rule.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. PLPM Junior Engineer

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    841
    When I fumbled with the game, I increased range, projectile speed of missiles and bullets, damage was massively increased, turret rotation speed decreased, rate of fire was increased, ammo size changed, made a distinction between a small grid missile and a large grid one, reload time was increased.

    Testing that on static targets by making straffing runs at them was the most fun I´ve had, only topped off by blowing perfect holes into enemy ships with my PMWs.

    In a small grid you could accurately disable the turrets as much higher projectile speed meant you didn´t have to leave the field of view to lead shots accurately at max speed.

    -The idea was to make less prevalent PMWs (The added 60 seconds of travel time plus more deadly defenses means more time to repel an attack)
    -Absolutely do away with the small ship gattling wall / Welder combo which is simply ridiculous
    -Allow small grids to combat large grids effectively if things align correctly
    -Neuters turret sniping as small grids have a shorter engagement range than large grids
    -Makes tactical decision more meaningful due to slow turret target adqusition, do I make them all face forward and have alpha damage, or divide them in the 6 directions to be able to defend properly?

    If I could have fun attacking a static grid, it means that the AI doesn´t need to be Napoleon to challenge the player, it only needs access to the means to fight effectively and be scary, so you can later overcome that with massive firepower, teamwork, skill, cunning or others ways I haven´t discovered.

    Combat in SE can be extremely rich and engaging, but it needs to be properly set up.
     
  9. Amerikanovich Apprentice Engineer

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    322
    The game has always been very lacking combat wise, what's there capitalizes on showing off the destruction capabilities of the engine, but I think we're past the point where the game needs to be shown off.
    A weapon variant that's missing like a black hole in space-time is a simple cannon, small and large grids, just a slow firing, straight line, artillery style cannon.
    large ships need something other than just close range turrets to work with.
     
  10. SirConnery Apprentice Engineer

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    182
    As fun as it would be, increasing the range of combat chugs up too much cpu resources. The game already barely runs with large battles. I'd like to hear other "complete rebalance" ideas for the game though.

    As a starting point can we first agree that

    1. Armor needs to be more durable.
     
  11. PLPM Junior Engineer

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    841
    I do not agree that upping armor effectiveness is a good starting point :p

    I tried to combat cpu use by increasing speed and reload times, although higger ROF kind of made tihs moot. If we can find a way to limit turrets and weapons by energy requirements or space requirments, so that we can´t have 20 turrets in something the size of the blue ship and massive gattling arrays, that would go a long way to make for a less taxing experience.

    But, shooting 20mm shells at aircraft skin-like blocks of "armor" is already generous, neither them lasting with uranium tipped missiles.
     
  12. Kalantris Trainee Engineer

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    25
    Actually 8km is considered point-blank range even for current "planetary" weapons. Railguns currently tested for the US Navy can hit a target from 350km away and that's a bullet not a guided missile (I mean the bullet is somewhat guided, but still). The problem with extreme ranges however, which you seem to have missed, is that it's not that easy to turn a thruster on and off - they usually just burn all the fuel and that's it. There's no way of pausing the thrust to give the missiles additional range with ballistic travel.

    What seems to be happening here is that the community has outgrown the creators - ships were not suppose to be that big. The largest vanilla weapon mount is 3x3x3. If you create a 200 meter long battleship all of the vanilla weapons just disappear.

    My idea
    • I love the general idea of increasing engagement distance by a fair ammount for large grids especially.
    • It would however require new weapons (especially large caliber cannons, railguns and heavy missiles).
    • I would also love all large-grid ships to be more of a team-controlled effort rather than a pilot with automated turrets meaning all large-calliber guns would have to be controlled manually as groups.
    • That would however require another addition - the targetting computer, which would put markers allowing you to lead shots and would be countered by decoys screwing up the calculations.
    • Large-grid weapons would be completely unable to track or hit small grids and no targetting solutions would be calculated for such targets.
    • All large to small grid weapon fire would be automated anti-fighter flak guns. Those would never target large grids.
    • All large heavy armor should be completely unpenetrable to any small-grid weapons. No damage, period.
    • Small heavy armor should be unpenetrable to non-missile fire from small grids.
    So in effect in small vs small grid combat you'd get dogfights. In small vs heavy small you would have to use missiles to punch through the heavy armor or aim at weakspots. In small vs large you'd get a fast fighter trying to aim and hit weakspots - light armor, gun mounts, windows etc. Large would repel small grids via automated defense systems. Large vs large would be long-range, slow fire speed salvos of multiple heavy guns with targetting solutions and decoys making sure such fire doesn't have laser precision.

    Best regards,
    Kalantris
     
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  13. SirConnery Apprentice Engineer

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    182
    Have you really thought this through? Dogfights with small vs small grids would be really boring. Only shooting missiles. And why would you even build a small grid if you can just build a large grid and be invulnerable?
    --- Automerge ---
    How about we create a new "combat armor" variant. A regular and a heavy version of that too if you wish to conserve realism. The weapons are just too fast at chewing everything to pieces.

    Another gripe of mine is stationary defences. I would like to see at least 3x tougher/better station defence guns. Specialized guns for stations that can't be used with ships.
     
  14. Kalantris Trainee Engineer

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    25
    Absolutely not really. Light armor allows you to build small, nimble and heavily armed fighters. Heavy armor is heavy, cumbersome and slow. You can't hide everything under armor, so a heavily armored small grid would still have weakpoints and the idea of a small grid would be to outmaneouver the heavier ship and cut stuff away - you can just punch a hole using a missile salvo and then start chewing on the insides if you catch my drift. I divided along the lines of regular ship classes.

    EDIT: I also love the idea of different turrets for stationary grids - making them much larger, bulkier and heavily armored.
     
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  15. SirConnery Apprentice Engineer

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    182
    You can easily and hide most of your small grid behind heavy armor, and the heavy armor doesn't really slow down you all that much. I mean, yes it does slightly slow you down but if it makes you invulnerable then where is the tradeoff?

    I just don't see any benefits to the overall game here.
     
  16. Morloc Apprentice Engineer

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    255
    Perhaps as much as 1000x.


    -Morloc
     
  17. Stardriver907 Master Engineer

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    3,042
    I believe guided missiles and drones (what's the difference, you may ask?) are what would be most likely by 2077 as far as long-range combat is concerned. Reliably hitting fast moving targets in space with bullets of any size beyond 3 or 4 kilometers is asking a lot even for a computer. In the game today it's possible to make drones and pilot them remotely, and that's good. The game could use some sort of module or set of modules (large and small grid) for assembling guided missiles with ranges beyond 8 km. Some part of this system would contain a brain that would budget fuel usage the same way we do, and could navigate to a point and wait until it detects a target, at which point it would home in.

    Point being we have been moving away from piloted fighters in real life. By 2077 it's likely the average person would think flying around in a small ship armed with machine guns and rockets against an enemy that has exponentially more maneuverable and, likely, much more heavily armed drones would be a job for death row convicts.

    Also, I don't know if it's just me or what, but I prefer disabling a ship and boarding it as opposed to obliterating one.

    I like the fact that AI turrets are sloppy. A turret that has a human running it is far more accurate. Your opponent might underestimate your ship's capabilities if they assume all the turrets they see are AI controlled. If you build yourself a ship plastered with turrets all run by AI you might find yourself at the mercy of a ship that has just two turrets but they're controlled by humans. A mod that increases AI accuracy would be available to your opponents as well ;)
     
  18. PLPM Junior Engineer

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    841
    The thing with large grid "armor" is that usually.

    What dictates "winning" is destroying the turrets of your enemy, then picking away at their thrusters. No matter how tough the armor, you´ll be out of the fight if you cant shoot back... unless you´re up for ramming.

    That´s why with my ships, I actually didn´t even use light armor, but interior blocks, vents and catwalks. Because that way, by the time the turrets were gone, so was most everything else of the ship, instead of a heavy armor husk that´s more in line with a station.
     
  19. Stardriver907 Master Engineer

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    Has SE risen to this level of accuracy? From what I have seen, what dictates "winning" is total destruction. Have players become more... sophisticated?
     
  20. PLPM Junior Engineer

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    841
    Well, I might have been a bit too positive and kind.

    But that was at least my reasoning for the Meta... besides grav-drives, gat-deathballs and ship-seeking PMWs, for which i just plug my ears and say "I don´t hear you".