Xenophobe Worldships should be a bit smarter

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JohnBWatson
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Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:59 pm

Right now, a Xenophobe Worldship in any system is all but certain to die without player intervention. It'll fly around for a minute or two, tick off something it shouldn't have ticked off, and then continue fighting until it is dead, landing the player a ton of free endgame loot.

As Worldships cannot self - repair, it's reasonable to say that they should try to flee upon taking critical damage. They should also make an attempt to loot the stations they destroy, given that their loot table includes various non - Xenophobe goods and the station that spawns alongside them is completely empty. Furthermore, they should not wantonly attack Ferians. Even if they do hate all outsiders, the Ferians are effectively animals, and thus it makes very little sense to attempt to destroy them.

Here is my set of suggested Xenophobe AI improvements:

Set relationship with Ferians to 'Neutral'.

Upon taking 50% damage, attempt to flee the system.

Upon destroying a station, loot it.


This change, while simple, would have numerous advantages to balance, immersion, and gameplay:

The player would no longer receive massive amounts of free loot from systems with Xenophobe worldships. Rather than a huge boon to players that many actively try to avoid killing in order to steal their loot, Xenophobe Worldships would become major threats that the player has a great incentive to kill. While it would still be possible to intercept Worldships' loot before they dock, this would become much more dangerous, and could be viewed as a fair gameplay mechanic rather than a gaping exploit. Furthermore, ships housing millions of lives would no longer make suicidal attacks with no clear benefit. Finally, destroying a Worldship would be suitably rewarding. Without the ability to wait for it to wear itself down to nothing or provoke a hive of Ferians, fighting a Xenophobe fleet, possibly alongside a Corporate Cruiser or Star Carrier, becomes an epic battle that could be considered the highlight of one's game. The loot from such a risky and challenging fight would be worthwhile, as well, adequately rewarding any player brave, skilled, and well equipped to take on one of the most powerful enemies in the game.

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Shrike
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Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:38 am

Odd. Usually I find the opposite: xenophobe worldships wipes out virtually every friendly ship and station and stop me from getting easy refuelling.
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JohnBWatson
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Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:20 am

Shrike wrote:Odd. Usually I find the opposite: Xenophobe Worldships wipes out virtually every friendly ship and station and stop me from getting easy refueling.
A major cause of what you describe is due to the extremely underpowered late - game defenses for some friendly stations, which has been noted on multiple occasions by many people. The Commonwealth, in particular, has astoundingly weak defenses towards the end of the game, defending their several million person cities with a smattering of midgame - tier gunships and armor that collapses within seconds. The CSCs, unless it's been fixed, also rarely deploy their Britannias, and have a very lackluster defensive plan in general.

In addition, does anyone have an opinion on allowing all randomly spawned capital ships to turn tail after running low on health? At, say, 25 percent health, any capital ship that's patrolling or guarding a station would make a break for the nearest stargate. It'd make the game more realistic, and make fights more rewarding, as enemy capital ships attempt to save their equipment and crew when it is reasonable to do so.

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Atarlost
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Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:53 am

JohnBWatson wrote:In addition, does anyone have an opinion on allowing all randomly spawned capital ships to turn tail after running low on health? At, say, 25 percent health, any capital ship that's patrolling or guarding a station would make a break for the nearest stargate. It'd make the game more realistic, and make fights more rewarding, as enemy capital ships attempt to save their equipment and crew when it is reasonable to do so.
There's no benefit. It makes combat less rewarding and more annoying and less hazardous.

Less rewarding because you can not kill anything. Less hazardous because everything takes half as long to drive off as to kill since only internal HP are significant for most ships and the armor to internal switchover is always considered 50%. More annoying because you still have to fight for way too long and then get nothing for your trouble.
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JohnBWatson
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Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:27 pm

Atarlost wrote:
There's no benefit. It makes combat less rewarding and more annoying and less hazardous.
Once a capital ship is at 25 percent health, it's fairly clear that the player is capable of killing it. Immersion is improved through an AI that seeks to minimize pointless losses, and does not just keep attacking until it dies. Killing an enemy that is actively trying not to die creates much better and more in - depth gameplay, as the player feels like they killed an opponent, as opposed to feeling like they overcame a brainless obstacle. In addition, this AI alteration would eliminate quite a few exploits built around slowly killing enemies without any threat, like repeated hit and run attacks and kiting.
Less rewarding because you can not kill anything.


Untrue. It's perfectly doable to kill a ship that attempts to flee the system. Having to put in a bit more planning and effort to kill a capital ship is perfectly fair and realistic.
Less hazardous because everything takes half as long to drive off as to kill since only internal HP are significant for most ships and the armor to internal switchover is always considered 50%.
Untrue. There was no internal HP for a significant amount of time, and capital ships were not trivial to destroy. Furthermore, it is exponentially easier to flee from/lure a capital ship than to reduce it to 25% health.
More annoying because you still have to fight for way too long and then get nothing for your trouble.
If you are trying to deter the capital ship and destroy its home station, an additional means of doing so is now provided. If you are trying to kill and loot the capital ship, chase it down and intercept it as it is retreating.

Your main complaint is that making the enemy smarter would make the game too hard. If, despite my counterpoints, this is so, the enemy's stats can be lowered to keep difficulty static. It is vastly more enjoyable to fight an enemy whose danger comes from intelligence than to fight one whose danger comes from it having higher numbers than you.

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Atarlost
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Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:39 pm

JohnBWatson wrote:Your main complaint is that making the enemy smarter would make the game too hard. If, despite my counterpoints, this is so, the enemy's stats can be lowered to keep difficulty static. It is vastly more enjoyable to fight an enemy whose danger comes from intelligence than to fight one whose danger comes from it having higher numbers than you.
Too annoying, not too hard. Changing the numbers can't fix annoying.
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JohnBWatson
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Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:03 am

Atarlost wrote: Too annoying, not too hard. Changing the numbers can't fix annoying.
I don't see how they would be too annoying. It's not like they'd continually harass the player like the ships governed by 'advanced' AI, or pointlessly stun the player for 5 minutes like the Dwarg Master. They'd just give the player an additional tactic to use when attacking stations, and perhaps make late - game a bit less of a monty haul. It's not as if there's a problem with the game not being generous enough with loot.

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sun1404
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Fri Dec 25, 2015 7:44 am

Because currently, players often take on capital ships they need minutes to wear down. If a cap ship charges at the gate whenever its health drops below 25%, the only way you can kill it would be to lure it well past the edge of the system first, which is impossible on ships that are guarding stations.

And in any case, having the enemy flee when it's about to die does nothing but make that last phase of the battle duller. It becomes just chasing the thing and fire at its tail, hoping it blows up before it reaches the gate. I wouldn't prefer that to fighting honorbound capital ships who fights to the death.

Above all, Transcendence is a game, and I don't think it was ever meant to be particularly realistic. Realism enhances immersibility, yes, but if it's going to reduce the excitement, the fun, it should be forgone.
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JohnBWatson
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Fri Dec 25, 2015 2:37 pm

sun1404 wrote:Because currently, players often take on capital ships they need minutes to wear down. If a cap ship charges at the gate whenever its health drops below 25%, the only way you can kill it would be to lure it well past the edge of the system first, which is impossible on ships that are guarding stations.
That's not what I'm suggesting. An uninterrupted charge for the gate would just make any ship with spinal weapons trivial to finish off. Retreating would work similarly to how the patrol AI works, breaking off from the fight to continue its patrol/retreat whenever it is not actively being engaged.

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sun1404
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Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:22 pm

Which would do very little. At that point the player is probably spamming his weapons on the ship, while dodging its fire. It will be in constant aggression and continue the fight as normal, unless the player needs to break off and repair.
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JohnBWatson
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:13 am

sun1404 wrote:Which would do very little. At that point the player is probably spamming his weapons on the ship, while dodging its fire. It will be in constant aggression and continue the fight as normal, unless the player needs to break off and repair.
In the event of station attacks where the attacker isn't targeting the ship specifically, the ship can flee. Ditto massive battles where it will be covered by other ships. It's not meant to completely alter the game, just to add a bit of extra immersion and make things like kiting less gamebreaking.

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TheLoneWolf
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Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:23 pm

Why only to the gate? So if an enemy cap's HP is below 25%, it charges for the nearest station of its faction. If the enemy is guarding a station, it fights to death. If all stations are dead, the enemy has a 50% chance of rushing to the gate, and the other chance of fighting till death.

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JohnBWatson
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Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:59 pm

TheLoneWolf wrote:Why only to the gate? So if an enemy cap's HP is below 25%, it charges for the nearest station of its faction.
What would it do once there? It's still too weakened to continue fighting. It could repair, I suppose, slowly regaining health over time while docked at the station, but that's something to discuss another day, in my opinion.

I prefer keeping it simple, and having the ship continue to fight when severely damaged if and only if the enemy is actively attacking it from within weapon range.

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Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:35 pm

Something like onDocking, spawnReinforcement. That would make sense. The Phobos goes to an Ares Shipyard, and a squad of Tundra spawn. It could be decided with what type of station it is, so Outposts only spawn Sandstorms.

I bet the Ares leaders would eat the Phobos captain alive, if he leaves the system on first sign of trouble, rather than retreating to an Ares station and have a better chance at winning. No one loves cowardly cap ships. Its like if Darth Vader escaped when a shot hit him. And I'm sure he won't do that.

Stationless caps like the Worldship should try to stand down. Its too epic to escape. Or we can do this. If health of Worldship is below 50%, and if asteroids are present, it tries to retreat to those. If there aren't, then it fights as normal. When below 25%, it spawns Fighters out of itself as a carrier and spawns Defenders either like the Fighters, or from the gate, to cut its retreat as it escapes to safety to the gate. Afterwards, when the player returns to the system, the ship may respawn, but with boosted reinforcements. This second time, it won't try to escape.

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JohnBWatson
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Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:59 am

TheLoneWolf wrote:Something like onDocking, spawnReinforcement. That would make sense. The Phobos goes to an Ares Shipyard, and a squad of Tundra spawn. It could be decided with what type of station it is, so Outposts only spawn Sandstorms.
Calling for reinforcements when things are looking bad is a good idea too.

Setting aside simplicity for now, I could see a capital ship in distress retreating to the nearest idle station, and calling the station's guards to assist it(intercepting its target). Once the reinforcements have landed a hit on the target, continue attacking. If there are no stations with guards capable of intercepting the target, or no friendly stations remaining, attempt to gate.

In other cases, similar things may be useful: If the primary weapon has been destroyed, have any ship attempt to gate as quickly as possible. If any weapon is out of ammunition, try to dock at a friendly station and reset weapon ammunition levels. If the primary weapon is out of ammunition and no friendly stations remain, attempt to gate.

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