Balancing Iocrym sentinels

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Xephyr
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Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:43 pm

gunship256 wrote:If the device could also fire at and hurt the player, it would be more of a challenge to intercept the sentinels when they're on their way to destroy a station.

If a variation of the Iocrym repeller were given more range and a lower fire rate, the new weapon could be usable for point defense.
I think this would be fair, but only if it worked from the front of the ship (something like a 90 degree arc), because then it would force you to dogfight if you're using matter weapons.
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sun1404
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Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:43 am

I think no ship can circle around the Sentinels faster than they can turn.
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Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:53 am

Also, defending only their front wouldn't be very useful to them while they're targeting something other than the player, such as a research station.

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JohnBWatson
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Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:57 am

PM wrote: That makes no sense. Ships in Transcendence can only move forward. This is not other games that allow strafing or backpedaling. Without an Omni weapon, the only way player can kite in Transcendence (and Star Control and some retro 80s arcade games) is to thrust and drift away from target, rotate to face target, slow down to maintain speed (if necessary), then fire until it dies.
Thus, movement is achieved without thrusting, as I described.
If player fails to kite properly, then the wall will catch up and smash the player.
That's not possible without explicit intent to allow it to catch up. It's spectacularly hard to imagine someone 'failing' thrusting away and then holding down the fire button.

In any case, any ship that attacks the player directly many times over the course of a game should not fight in such a way that the easiest, simplest, and most intuitive way to beat it is by holding down a button for thirty seconds. As I said before, it's an extreme case of an enemy with high defense and low offense, something George has stated that he wishes to avoid.

As far as I can see, any change that will make it harder to kite and kill the Sentinels, will inevitably affect the difficulty of protecting the stations from them. To stop the player from kiting them, you must either increase their mobility, or decrease the player's freedom of movement while fighting them. Unless the change only apply while the Sentinels aren't targeting a station, then it will surely make defending them harder.

Anyway, I still like the idea of rapid short-ranged jump drives, though it would be hard to explain why they don't jump to the stations. It would give the Iocrym a unique advantage in combat not seen from anything else, and should give a good exotic alien feel to them.
I actually was going with the idea that they wouldn't use the drives when attacking the stations, justified by a desire to avoid excessive use of power. If that's not a strong enough explanation, it'd certainly be reasonable to include another variant created for the exclusive purpose of attacking the stations, which does not have a jumpdrive(or whatever other alteration to the Sentinels is decided upon).

What about a point-defense device? It would give the sentinels a shield against being attacked with howitzers and force the player to either use a beam weapon or plasma cloud or come in close with a rapid-fire weapon.

If the device could also fire at and hurt the player, it would be more of a challenge to intercept the sentinels when they're on their way to destroy a station.

If a variation of the Iocrym repeller were given more range and a lower fire rate, the new weapon could be usable for point defense.
Unfortunately, I don't think that would work, as almost every weapon, energy or not, has significantly higher range than the Sentinel's ~20ls. It'd also make the Lamplighter ineffective against them, which might undermine its purpose.

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Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:01 am

JohnBWatson wrote:
What about a point-defense device? It would give the sentinels a shield against being attacked with howitzers and force the player to either use a beam weapon or plasma cloud or come in close with a rapid-fire weapon.

If the device could also fire at and hurt the player, it would be more of a challenge to intercept the sentinels when they're on their way to destroy a station.

If a variation of the Iocrym repeller were given more range and a lower fire rate, the new weapon could be usable for point defense.
Unfortunately, I don't think that would work, as almost every weapon, energy or not, has significantly higher range than the Sentinel's ~20ls. It'd also make the Lamplighter ineffective against them, which might undermine its purpose.
That's a good point. How about a 100 ls range point-defense weapon that fragments but has a relatively large failsafe - say 40 ls?

The weapon could be set to target beams, missiles, and ships. If it has a large effect size like the Nandao bolt cannon does, it could stop multiple beams with one shot and still fragment when it reaches the player.

The player would have to either use a cloud-type weapon like the APA or else get very close to sentinels in order to avoid getting hurt by the PD weapon.

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Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:13 am

gunship256 wrote: The player would have to either use a cloud-type weapon like the APA or else get very close to sentinels in order to avoid getting hurt by the PD weapon.
Something with a long range and a significant failsafe radius could work - a weapon with said characteristics would be a fairly clean and simple fix for the Sentinels that I could see being implemented without much difficulty.

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Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:51 pm

Sentinel is not "high defense, low offense". It is "high defense, and very high offense". If the target is in range (however short that range is), it dies! If not, it is safe. Player must kite the sentinels to beat them, if he is the target and does not have a virus cube to paralyze them. If he does not, he dies quickly! It is simple as that.

Being forced to kite sentinels is not necessarily bad, considering that player could probably just overpower almost anything else earlier in the game (by skipping them until acquiring overleveled equipment, if desired). With Iocrym, player cannot get overleveled equipment to stomp them. With recent balance tweaks to consumables, enhancing weapons to +150% is limited to ion/thermo, which Iocrym resist strongly (meaning those weapons need high enhancements to be useful against Iocrym).

Kiting is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. For fast and agile ships like Wolfen, sure, kiting is somewhat effortless. For slower ships, like EI500, kiting takes effort. If the enemy beings to catch up, that EI500 or other slow playership may have difficulty escaping in time. One more thing: those with inertialess drive must shut it off to drift (at slower base speed).

If another Iocrym ship gets added to support sentinels, sentinels do not need to deploy it (although they can). It can be deployed by an outpost or the command ship (much like Sentinel waves).
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Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:13 pm

JohnBWatson wrote:
gunship256 wrote: The player would have to either use a cloud-type weapon like the APA or else get very close to sentinels in order to avoid getting hurt by the PD weapon.
Something with a long range and a significant failsafe radius could work - a weapon with said characteristics would be a fairly clean and simple fix for the Sentinels that I could see being implemented without much difficulty.
PM wrote:Kiting is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. For fast and agile ships like Wolfen, sure, kiting is somewhat effortless. For slower ships, like EI500, kiting takes effort. If the enemy beings to catch up, that EI500 or other slow playership may have difficulty escaping in time. One more thing: those with inertialess drive must shut it off to drift (at slower base speed).
There's another option for the weapon. It could be set to target ships only and be made to track. The point isn't really to stop kiting, right - only to make the process difficult? A tracking shot that fragments when it reaches the player if the player is far away would seem to accomplish the goal of forcing the player to come in closer.

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Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:31 pm

Player does not need to get closer to sentinels if he is the target, except to freeze them with virus cube. Sentinels' firepower is high to overwhelming.

If player is not the target, he has a hard enough time destroying waves before they kill stations. Once waves grow big enough, it becomes impossible to stop the Iocrym from destroying stations.

Sentinels are the Zangief (from Street Fighter franchise) in Transcendence - you let those mighty glaciers get close to their target, that target loses a big chunk of health or dies.
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Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:40 am

That's true; it would be uphelpful to make it TOO hard to kill sentinels.

I do think it would be fun if sentinels were able to shoot back from a distance, though. What if the auto-defense weapon were weak compared to the fracture cannon? It could be balanced as a level 9 omni weapon. I assume that as an essentially linked-fire weapon, DPS would need to be adjusted as George describes.

Code: Select all

const Metric BALANCE_LINKED_FIRE_BONUS = 25.0;              //  Bonus to balance if weapon is linked-fire.
I thought about making it a launcher instead, but the launcher wouldn't auto-target the player if the sentinels are going for the research stations.

A linked-fire turret also wouldn't work, as it would only auto-target if the player were within 30 ls.

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Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:26 am

I kite the Sentinels by moving in the same direction as them, in the same line as them. Then turning and slowing myself as required. When I'm the same speed as them, I can easily kill them while staying safe.

PD still doesn't work. Imagine a player's reaction on find an ancient advanced race that uses rigged PD :/

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Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:50 am

You mean it doesn't work because the idea won't make the sentinels balanced, it doesn't work because it doesn't make gameplay better, or it doesn't work because it's incompatible with game lore?

A long-range PD device that's essentially a linked-fire weapon seems like it would be a pretty powerful advantage for a ship to have. The relatively large failsafe might be balanced by the weapon's relatively long range. I haven't run any numbers yet, though.

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Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:27 am

We are yet to see more of the Iocrym ships. Then we can decide where the Sentinel fits in, and what it lacks for its role. I attempted an analysis a while ago. Idk if it was viable or not, but the Sentinel seems fine to me.

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JohnBWatson
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Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:43 am

PM wrote:Sentinel is not "high defense, low offense". It is "high defense, and very high offense". If the target is in range (however short that range is), it dies! If not, it is safe.
Offensive power factors in whether the weapon has any chance of hitting. For Sentinels, that chance is nonexistent except against people deliberately taking hits or those who are unaware that they are armed.
Player must kite the sentinels to beat them, if he is the target and does not have a virus cube to paralyze them. If he does not, he dies quickly! It is simple as that.
Is that a desirable mechanic? Should an exploit that provides no excitement or challenge be (effectively) the only way of defeating an enemy ship?
Being forced to kite sentinels is not necessarily bad, considering that player could probably just overpower almost anything else earlier in the game (by skipping them until acquiring overleveled equipment, if desired).With Iocrym, player cannot get overleveled equipment to stomp them.
The same could be said for any late game enemy. That's not a bad thing in any capacity.
Kiting is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. For fast and agile ships like Wolfen, sure, kiting is somewhat effortless. For slower ships, like EI500, kiting takes effort. If the enemy beings to catch up, that EI500 or other slow playership may have difficulty escaping in time.
It's pretty trivial for all of them, to be honest. That aside, even being broken against two of the three playerships wouldn't exactly be desirable.
One more thing: those with inertialess drive must shut it off to drift (at slower base speed).
That seems to be the entire point of that item - useful for a specific set of tasks, but not for others.
If another Iocrym ship gets added to support sentinels, sentinels do not need to deploy it (although they can). It can be deployed by an outpost or the command ship (much like Sentinel waves).
Quite true. My proposal on that was mainly built around thwarting the issue of the player being pushed out of range by (or isolated from) the other ship, but that might not be an issue in practice.

As far as the long ranged weapon goes, I'd start by just adding a *omni turreted secondary weapon with a high failsafe in the same manner as any capital ship turret, and then adding features from there.
Last edited by JohnBWatson on Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:07 am

What virus cube? Luminous cube?

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