Damage Adjustment Curves

Post ideas & suggestions you have pertaining to the game here.
Post Reply
george moromisato
Developer
Developer
Posts: 2877
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 9:53 pm
Contact:

Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:49 pm

The current damage adjustment curves mean that low-level damage types (like laser) become obsolete against high-level armors. I like the mechanic, mainly because it lets the player quickly progress against low-level enemies, while keeping high-level enemies dangerous.

Nevertheless, the downside is that low-level damage types become useless and thus decrease diversity. If you can only use a few damage types at a given level, then you have lower diversity of weapons/armor.

What I suggest, therefore, is to have a bi-modal curve which keeps the curve the same for lower levels but flattens out at higher levels. Something like this:
DamageAdjCurves.png
DamageAdjCurves.png (34.43 KiB) Viewed 324 times
This chart shows the effective armor HP multiple for laser damage at various levels. The blue line is the current armor damage curve. At level 1, armor takes 1 HP of damage for 1 HP of laser damage. But level 6 armor takes 1 HP of damage for 7.1 HP of laser damage. Effectively, laser damage has been cut by a factor of ~7.

Because the curve is so steep, laser becomes obsolete around levels 7 or 8.

My proposed changes (the gray line) track the current curve at early levels, but flattens out before going exponential around levels 12 or 13. This means that laser damage will be weaker but still viable all the way to level 10 or 11.

[NOTE: The curves for other damage types will be similar. For kinetic, it will be the same as laser. For particle/blast, it will be the same, but offset three levels to the right (starting at level 4). For ion/thermo it will be offset six levels to the right.]

Derakon
Commonwealth Pilot
Commonwealth Pilot
Posts: 85
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:53 am

Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:12 pm

My general attitude on this is a) the game should accurately tell the player what's going on (this is not IMO a game about discovering how the game mechanics work), and b) the game should be flexible so that modders can do what they like with damage types, resists, etc. For (a), it's not clear to me currently if the resists shown in the dock screen take into account level-based modifiers. If they do, fine (though I still think they should be displayed as "percentage damage reduction", not "effective HP bonus vs. this damage type"). For (b), I understand it's not currently straightforward for modders to carefully control exactly how a given piece of armor behaves.

Would it be possible to encode the damage curve into "base stats" for armor of each level, and then have the specific armor pieces "inherit" from those stats? So e.g. the base level-5 armor would have 67% laser damage reduction encoded in the data files, and all armors that are level 5 would pick up those stats automatically without having to do anything besides say "I am a level-5 piece of armor". However, if we wanted a given piece of armor to be more vulnerable (or more resistant of course), then it could override the inherited value.

As for the bimodal curve, the principle sounds reasonable, but I think the shape could maybe use some tweaking. Something like x - .2x^2 + 1.31^x, where x is level. That's effectively linearly-reducing effectiveness for a few levels, then a flat plateau, followed by exponential decrease in effectiveness. I think that would be a little easier to grasp for players, mostly because of the linearity in the early phase and then the flatness of the plateau after that. You could "chunk" resistances into 25% increments (that is, no armor having e.g. 133% resistance, only 125% or 150%) to make the curve more uniform.

User avatar
JohnBWatson
Fleet Officer
Fleet Officer
Posts: 1374
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:17 pm

Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:20 pm

It's worth looking at a some real situations here. Right now, what this would affect is the dropoff in effectiveness of some weapons towards the end of the UT, in particular the omni turbo/xray and the Dual Flenser. Right now, these weapons take long enough to kill a Sandstorm that they're a moderate threat to anything slower than a base Wolfen(which can just outrun/kite them), and a good wakeup call to the endgame. If said weapons don't have that falloff, the Sandstorm effectively never becomes dangerous.

The other major effect here is that the Iocrym lose a lot of the suspension of disbelief that they had, as mid - level weapons start effectively harming them. While a Chasm squadron could render the Iocrym blockade impotent, they're still well defended enough that they can ignore the efforts of some of the lesser high level guards, and that a player needs an endgame - tier weapon to destroy their command ship, either a mid-high end thermo/ion weapon or a plasma/antimatter WMD source. Under the proposed design scheme, lesser damagetypes become viable here, and the Iocrym blockade takes another big hit to credibility.

It's also worth noting that high level damagetypes are already effectively underpowered due to lack of enhancers and enemies' resistance to conventional equivalents being low enough that the damage dropoff isn't worthwhile. If their slower damage dropoff, already somewhat underwhelming, loses even more of its value, many of them will be without the niche they had, which, given their cost and rarity, is already very small.

On the other hand, there are also advantages. Several fairly common guards in endgame systems become less impotent, early - mid game enemies can still damage the armor of a backtracking high level player, and, in general, fewer attacks are completely useless. This fits the theme of Transcendence well, and makes the presence of most freighters in the Outer Realm more believable without giving them weapons that would unbalance their loot and look absurd on something that's not a warship.

Overall, it's a viable change, so long as care is taken to keep things that should threaten underleveled players threatening. Making ships that would be newly vulnerable to early weapons a bit faster and deadlier would keep up the difficulty curve and maintain their credibility. Giving the Iocrym extra resistance against damagetypes they expect to encounter(anything up through thermo, possibly excluding Ion) and letting them do a bit more than tank damage would further develop their character as a faction and keep up the significance of a final boss fight. Adding some downsides to early weapons that players might want to keep a bit longer than they should, such as lower range or accuracy, would add character and diversity to the game's array of weapons while maintaining the upgrade curve and opening a niche for more expensive, higher level variants that downplay those flaws. A lot of the game's balance relies on the curve being as it is, but it's possible that gameplay could be improved by giving some ships that rely on the current system some qualitative advantages to replace the quantitative ones being lost.

This is an extreme longshot, but would it be possible to have the adjustment curve formula be modifiable? The ability to test it with several configurations might help discussion here.

While mods already exist that do that, their scripts are a bit more complex than swapping out a formula, and would need to be changed extensively for differently shaped curves.

User avatar
Shrike
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
Posts: 2705
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:27 am
Location: Scouting the borders of sanity (there's a lovely view of the abyss).

Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:16 pm

@Watson: You can mod the damage curve, but only for an adventure that already has a custom one specified (IE: Not any of the stock ones).


In terms of the bimodal resistance....it seems perfectly reasonable to me. It aids in quite a few things, including:

-Making the CW Fleet a *little* more practical (since TeV9s will work better on the Ares)
-Making civilian craft with low-tech weapons make a little more sense (they're still outgunned, but can do the odd point of damage here and there) [As a rule, civilian craft shouldn't generally have military weapons]
-Opening up options for faction weapons.
-Making certain secret stuff in the dev wiki theoretically possible in the game


Keep in mind also that at the same time that the hitpoint multiplier is going up, the number of hitpoints is also going up very quickly. You may wish to create a second graph using the standard hitpoint values and plotting the average amount of damage needed to do one point of actual damage (with the old rounding this was an absolute barrier, now it's based in probability). When compared with the standard armor HP for each level, that gets the actual performance of a weapon.

Generally, an 'obsolete' damage type can be balanced on the gun (eg: taking more power than a comparable 'current' damage type, or massing a lot more, using extra slots, etc), so allowing them to do damage works well.

The same is true of later damage types not being all that powerful...it's fixable by adding in extra equipment (or a lore handwave).
Your friendly local genderqueer weapons designer & forum moderator. My pronoun is "They".

User avatar
JohnBWatson
Fleet Officer
Fleet Officer
Posts: 1374
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:17 pm

Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:19 pm

Looking at the curve, it seems like the TeV9 would have about the same effectiveness against the Ares as before.

I wonder - would it work for damage curves to be a bit flatter initially, rather than towards the middle? This would make the lower level armors more viable(as they wouldn't be obsolete right off the bat vs. Advanced Reactive), increase the importance of shields early on(which aren't so important right now unless you're running solar armor past St. Kat's), and get rid of the problem of alien armors taking significant damage from weapons that shouldn't reasonably be able to touch them.

Combine such a change with a backwards shift of all the curves and higher damagetypes become immediately more viable - particle beam weapon, EIPC, and other weapons that rely on being desirable due to lower resistance would actually be used.

PM
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
Posts: 2241
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:54 am

Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:50 pm

Derakon wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:12 pm
My general attitude on this is a) the game should accurately tell the player what's going on (this is not IMO a game about discovering how the game mechanics work), and b) the game should be flexible so that modders can do what they like with damage types, resists, etc. For (a), it's not clear to me currently if the resists shown in the dock screen take into account level-based modifiers. If they do, fine (though I still think they should be displayed as "percentage damage reduction", not "effective HP bonus vs. this damage type"). For (b), I understand it's not currently straightforward for modders to carefully control exactly how a given piece of armor behaves.
I always keeping reading the damage mods as damage reduction, not hit point modifiers. I get vulnerabilities wrong until I remember to read them as hit point modifiers, not damage modifiers.
Download and Play in 1.7 Beta...
Playership Drones v7 (Beta): Acquire and command almost any ship in Stars of the Pilgrim or Eternity Port.
Drake Technologies (Alpha): More hardware for combat in parts 1 and 2!
Star Castle Arcade: Relive classic arcade gaming in a new Transcendence adventure!
Godmode v3 (WIP): Dev/cheat tool compatible with D&O parts 1 or 2.

shanejfilomena
Fleet Officer
Fleet Officer
Posts: 1411
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:43 pm
Location: Alaska

Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:51 am

PM wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:50 pm
I always keeping reading the damage mods as damage reduction, not hit point modifiers. I get vulnerabilities wrong until I remember to read them as hit point modifiers, not damage modifiers.
Speaking from the Player's point :
The current 1.7 makes use of some strange effects on shields that used to be great & everybody else's armor is stronger then the Player's unless you rocket the Hades out of them.

Player usable Armor & shields have to be adjusted to keep up with whatever you do with the rest of the critters.

I am not really seeing that in 1.7 ... I see the Player and myself trying to second guess which shield and armor would keep the ship going without Insurance.

So, I don't think we need more Items / devices : I simply think these damage changes need to be reflected in the Player's need to survive, not simply in the survival of everybody else.

the needs of the One does outweigh the needs of the many
Flying Irresponsibly In Eridani......

I don't like to kill pirates in cold blood ..I do it.. but I don't like it..

Post Reply