Ventari and device damage

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george moromisato
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Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:01 am

I would like to address this issue in 1.04:

http://wiki.neurohack.com/transcendence/trac/ticket/457

But I'm interested in ideas and opinions first.

One way to address this is to introduce a new concept: ionization. When a device is "ionized" it basically behaves like a damaged device. Ionization, however, wears off after a suitable period of time (whereas damage is permanent unless repaired).

There are some obvious advantages to this mechanic, but also some disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that it introduces a new concept, which adds complexity to an already complex game. [Moreover, the complexity is added for a single enemy.]

Another issue is that this might nerf the Ventari too much. By contrast, EMP, which is lower-level weapon would be much deadlier.

There are a couple of alternatives for "fixing" the Ventari:

1. Add more items that can repair devices. This option also has the benefit of being useful even if you don't meet the Ventari. [The drawback is that these items cannot be too common or else you could make a lot of money by looting and repairing damage items.]

2. Add more armor that can resist Ventari damage.

3. Change the Ventari disruptors so they have varied effects (one of which is device damage). For example, when hit by a disruptor, the effect could be one of the following (randomly):

60%: Device is disabled
30%: Device is temporarily degraded (consumes more power or is weaker)
10%: Device is damaged

I would love to hear reactions to these (I am most interested in how you think this will affect game balance). And of course, I would love to hear additional ideas.

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Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:47 am

1) I would really like to see a way to repair weapons, particularly if it was at a Tinker, or in later systems, as some kind of device that you can use. Something that would be interesting is an installable device that uses "repair rods" as a one-shot fix to repair things. You could then control how many of these rods spawn, and how much they cost etc.c

2) Armour - it confuses me to be honest. All the different types of resistants is fine, but there is no easy way to tell what damage the enemy is doing, unless you know all the different types of damage on colour alone.

3) This sounds interesting and is slightly more rogue-like, using random effects. If you were to degrade a weapon, I would choose to make it weaker.

But, we are going to all this trouble for one single enemy. It seems like the easier option would be to remove this enemy all together, or incorporate the fixes and make sure there are more of this type of enemy (or similar) to make it worth you while.

Oh. Question - does "ion" damage have a random chance to incapacitate a ship, or is that only EMP? And you mention "ionisation" - is that same as when I get hit by a Heliotrope/Barbary?

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Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:57 am

Since you started numbering with more repair we'll call ionization option 0.

I like option 0, possibly with some tweaks to ventari firerateadjust if they're found to be too weak after the change. I don't think added complexity is much of a problem in and of itself. Device damage is already a mechanic that only appears for one enemy, and if it weren't as devastating it could be used more. EMP is less deadly than you think. Sustain is an effective countermeasure to EMP and EMP does no damage to armor. Device damage doesn't prevent armor damage. It's also harder to get immunity to, even if a few more armors were given ion effect immunity.

Option 1 is in my opinion the wrong tool for the job. It's too far reaching for a problem isolated to a single enemy unless it's desirable for its own sake. For example Ares launchers become a guaranteed drop in Point Juno, all but obsoleting all other late game launchers. Reactors become reliably lootable. More Ares weapons can be repaired for sale to the Teratons. Dvalin becomes a lot easier as well. Some of these may be good things, but they need careful consideration. Depending on rarity it also either trivializes or fails to solve the problem. Worse, any sweet spot between those will vary depending on the luck of how many Ventari stations are generated in a game.

Option 2 helps, but still means nearly all experienced players will be using ion effect immune armor, just that there are more options. It helps, but doesn't solve the fundamental problem: the effect is too big. Either you're immune or you're crippled and probably killed.

Option 3 doesn't help much. Even if the odds of device damage are reduced the odds of having your devices still approach unity the longer you fight. This is the same reason resistant but non-immune armors are nearly irrelevant.

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Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:15 am

I'd say make device repairing easier.....tinkers, drydocks and weapons dealers should all be able to repair the stuff they sell (or everything up to....L6 or L7....in the case of tinkers, who sell scrap)
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Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:59 am

Count me in for one vote for making devices easier to repair, maybe at drydocks, tinkers, and other misc shipyards. To mitigate concerns of repairing drops for lucrative profit, just make the cost to repair some percentage (say 70-90%) of the cost of a non-damaged item would be in the shop. This way high-value items are still harder to obtain (in working order), yet there is value in picking up damaged versions of them. You could keep the other ways to repair weapons around, as they'd still offer the same game dynamic as they do now.

Hell, you could even make it cost the same as a working variant of the drop. - it would provide a good way to experiment with different weapons without having to replay 100 times and/or build a shrine to the RNG gods.

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Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:15 am

With regards to the options you listed:

1) I agree with Atarlost on this one. The consequences are far reaching. If you do add it in and make them very rare it does not really fix the problem either. You would just get a bunch of "I skipped the Ventari because I could not find any Item Repair Kits". Adding new "must have" items to the game does not seem like a good solution to this problem (adding in item repair as a general solution might not be a bad idea... it should just be considered separately)

2) Instead of making new armors I would make Ion Effect Immune coating more common.

3) I like it. Perhaps decrease the chance of item damage to 2%. If it were that low players would be encouraged to 'chance' it, which is always fun. Add on a bit of coating, resist or immune, and your chances are starting to look good.

Another solution is to add another level of 'damaged', perhaps named 'disrupted'. Seeing as an ion weapon would most likely damage the electronic circuitry, one could imagine it would be easier to fix than a physically broken weapon. You could then add in a few options for fixing disrupted items.

You could also introduce a new device that added ion reflect to the shield.

I think I would go with a cross between 2 and 3. Keeps the balance more or less the same and keeps the player on his toes.

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Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:03 am

I don't like permanent device damaging weapons, because it is broken from both a player using it and a player being shot at perspective. Not even the reduced chance.

I would go for the option I originally proposed, which would be option 0, and work on tweaking it so that it would be workable, without over-nerfing the ventari (who do need some bit of a nerf)

What I think could be done, is rather than 0-7 being chances for disruption, make the 0-7 specify a modifier, which when combined with the normal damage output of the device returns a duration value that will cause a randomly selected device on the target ship to be ionized for said period of time (and some way to control this too; as in, chance of ionization).

--------------

1) Making things that repair items isn't really a complete solution, and actually adds unwanted complexity, IMO moreso than ionization, which actually when working as a replacement for disruption, is a much better mechanic, at a very low complexity cost (for the user, not so much engine-side)

2) Nice, but... still, it's like #1

3) I don't much care for this, for the reasons atarlost said. It would not be all that effective.
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Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:22 pm

Okay, first off, I like the term "disruption/disrupted".

Second, we already have a form of device disruption. It happens when we use a defective display enhancement ROM, and our display is "disrupted" temporarily.

So, thirdly, I see no reason why a weapon could not similarly affect one or more devices, chosen at random, and be termed "device X disrupted".

Fourthly, just because the Ventari are the only current enemy to use disrupters does not mean that modders cannot create other weapons that can do similar damage (for instance, a modified EMP mine).

Fifthly, I also see no reason why, under certain circumstances, an already disrupted device could not have the period of disruption increased by being hit a second time by the disrupter (or other disruptive weapon), and if hit more than some number, start to take real damage. This would, in a way, be similar to each device being hardened or shielded, to whatever extent, against disruption, and when that shielding fails, then the device takes damage just like the armor of the ship takes damage once the shields fail.

So, I support device "disruption" and "device disrupted" in both language and mechanics (assuming mechanics similar to what I stated here).

Also, I support some purchaseable means of repairing devices while not docked at a station, in similar fashion to armor repair bots and nanite repair paste.

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Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Thanks to everyone for the feedback--very helpful as always.

I decided to implement the temporary ionization/disruption mechanic (option 0) and switched the Ventari to use that (the old mechanic is still available, but is now unused in the game).

I made one tweak: if an ionized device gets hit again, its ionization time increases. Beyond a certain threshold, the device is permanently damaged. [In practice this will be rare. A device would have be hit three times in short succession to cross the threshold.]

The new mechanic will be in 1.04--I'll be eager to hear actual playtest feedback then.

A couple of other thoughts:

1. There is one other instance of temporary device damage: the Steel slaver's cyberattack disables all weapons temporarily. Perhaps this should be changed to a cyberattack that ionizes all weapons. [This would still allow weapons to fire, but with large chance of misfire, etc.]

2. I think there is still a need for more ways to repair items, but (as everyone points out) it needs a little bit more thought.

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Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:18 pm

Sounds good!

1) I think it looks good as-is IMO, from a background sort of view. But I would not be surprised if the sung had a physical weapon that could cuase mass-disruption of a ship's systems for a very short duration.

2) Late game non-energy weapons suffer the most. However, I think a good fix without the need to add anything new would be the ability to repair items with enhancers that are not currently installed.
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Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:34 am

As an aside, why not make manufacturer-specific enhancers (EG: makayev enhancer) prevent (or HELP prevent) device damage on the weapons they're affecting? Logic is that a device that optimises the weapon can also be used to manage self-repair systems.
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Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:50 am

I am still a very strong supporter of repairing weapons. It makes absolutely no sense from a canonical or game point of view that in all the great glory of space travel and super-powered weapons that fire beams of light and particles....that they can't be fixed when broken except by rare divine artefacts... :?

I believe it should be a property of a dry-dock or a weapons facility or even Tinkers. Use a percent system to work out how damaged the weapon is and for every 1%, it will cost X credits to repair based on the level of the weapon.

I'm not suggesting even "repair kits" or something - even games like X3-Terran Conflict, EVE, or pretty much any other space game allows weapons and stuff to be reapired.

Transcendence already allows Armour to be repaired, and even Shields "repair" by recharging, even once they are depleted. So why not weapons?

It needs to be in the game, period.

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Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:45 am

Having the repair mechanism only affect installed items is much more balanced, whether it be a station service, installed device, or a consumable item.

This prevents players from repairing all the high level items in their hold and selling them. In addition, since you can never install a damaged item, it will only apply to pre-installed equipment that GETS damaged while installed.


Installed Device

If the repair mechanism took the form of an installed device, this would also increase the cost of repairing items:
  • a) initial device cost and installation
    b) fuel/power upkeep costs
    c) taking up a device slot
    d) only affect a certain level range of items
The major drawback to this is that the repair device itself could become damaged.


Repair service

My second choice would be to have the specialty stations repair only their own items, as previously suggested, with the requirement that it only apply to installed items. Also, having a generic station that can repair any item up to a certain level for a higher cost.

In this scenario, when an item becomes damaged, the player must decide to either backtrack to revisit a station and have the item repaired or scrap the item and replace it. In most cases, it will be cheaper to simply replace the item and only rare items will be repaired.


Consumable Item

A consumable repair kit is the least ideal incarnation for this mechanism. The item would either be too rare or too common in shops or wrecks and you would need multiple different items for different level applications.

In this scenario you are effectively either immune to device damage or screwed, depending on the RNG and how many appropriate item repair kits you manage to find/buy.
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Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:47 am

Prophet wrote: Repair service

My second choice would be to have the specialty stations repair only their own items, as previously suggested, with the requirement that it only apply to installed items. Also, having a generic station that can repair any item up to a certain level for a higher cost.

In this scenario, when an item becomes damaged, the player must decide to either backtrack to revisit a station and have the item repaired or scrap the item and replace it. In most cases, it will be cheaper to simply replace the item and only rare items will be repaired.
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Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:06 am

Prophet wrote:Having the repair mechanism only affect installed items is much more balanced, whether it be a station service, installed device, or a consumable item.
Given the extremely limited supply of enhancers, and their value in stacking them, only someone who has essentially already won the game could exploit that. Or someone who has been blessed with a very lucky playthrough.
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