Author Topic: Mesons  (Read 6093 times)

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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #120 on: January 02, 2019, 08:47:05 AM »
I know I have covered this before but it is worth re-iterating.

I used to play a 'board' game called Starfire 3rd edition. It was a great game for role-playing and story telling, with a wealth of background material. The mechanics were interesting and fun but not particularly well-balanced in some cases. There were some huge technological leaps for example which gave the side that produced them a great advantage until the other side caught up. The longest AAR I have ever written (almost 1000 pages in Word) was from this game. The editor of Third Edition was David Weber (Honor Harrington, Safehold series, etc.) which explains the focus of story-telling.

Someone else bought the game and created 4th edition. With the best of intentions, that person decided to revise the mechanics to make them more 'competitive'. Rather than the single-player role-play campaigns that tended to dominate, he envisioned two or more people playing competitive games of Starfire, finding the most efficient way to win. He also removed the background material and role-playing aspects from the game as he saw them as unnecessary.

This caused a long and ugly row between the 'role-players' and 'competitive games' within the Starfire community that eventually led to a schism and a lot of bad feelings on both sides. It is also the reason I created Aurora. I am generalising here but the reason the former played the game was that Starfire was ideal for role-playing long campaigns, with each race having a 'personality'. To this group, who were happy to play a campaign for months or even years, who won was irrelevant compared to the fun of the journey, plus the fascinating situations and challenges that arose along the way. Balance wasn't a huge priority because having to deal with the short end of an unbalanced situation was also interesting.

For the competitive games, this seemed a very odd concept. They wanted to test themselves against other human opponents and prove their ships and strategies were the best. Balance was key, so that it was skill of the players that made the difference. They couldn't understand why anyone would choose to create a ship design that they knew wasn't efficient. The explanation that the race designing the ship was operating from a different set of 'knowledge' than the player or that the most efficient design didn't suit the 'personality' of that race was often met with incomprehension.

Both points of view are valid. My current job (Director of Analytics for a multi-billion dollar online gambling company) and my previous one (professional poker player for six years) are very much 'competitive gamer' territory. I lead a large department that has to figure out the best way to spend many hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing, promotion, game design, etc.. We have to be very efficient and very competitive and argue our case effectively with C-level execs.

However, in my own time I am definitely a role-player. I want to create detailed and interesting campaigns where the actions of the 'player' races are based on their own knowledge and personality. For multi-player starts, I try to create widely different design philosophies for the starting races, even if some of those are not great choices from a 'player knowledge' perspective. Those races may even take potentially detrimental actions that are driven by the personality of the race or individual commanders rather than my omnipotent overview, because I am trying to play from their perspective, not mine. If you are not a role-player I completely understand you might think this is a ridiculous way to play a game :)

So, in summary, I am not judging whether role-playing or competitive gaming is the better option. I am simply saying that Aurora was intentionally created to suit the role-players without any real consideration for the competitive gamers. If you judge it based on competitive gamer principles, you could find it very frustrating. Also, the role-player vs competitive gamer argument effectively wrecked the Starfire community at the time, so I really don't want that to happen with the Aurora community.

Finally, if someone wants to persuade me to change something, because of the above you are going to have a lot more chance of success if you base your argument on how it will enhance a role-play campaign, rather than how it affects a competitive match.

 
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Offline Lucifer, the Morning Star

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #121 on: January 02, 2019, 09:54:23 AM »
If it's roleplay specific, I can make a pretty fair argument to keep mesons the way they were. The beautiful thing about Aurora is that you can apply any sort of story you want to any component. Lasers can be roleplayed to work completely differently between campaigns. Therefore, the only constant between these two is the actual mechanics of the game, the true limiter. In this sense, where you can roleplay anything you want as anything, the best option is to have as many different "mechanics" in the game for more roleplaying opportunities. Changing mesons completely removes a possible branch of roleplay. I can simulate the effects of the new meson pretty easily with a combination of microwaves and lasers or railguns. It won't be exactly the same, but it's a fine combination. I cannot, however, achieve the effects of current mesons with any combination of weapon in the game. It therefore removes the entire possibility of that aspect of roleplay. I can call particle beams lasers and lasers particle beams in my campaign, but at the end of the day the mechanics will be the mechanics, and they effect the roleplay simply by how they effect the actual game. Removing the current function of mesons cuts off that aspect of RP entirely, as I said. In addition, if it's a matter of roleplay specifically, the matters of the supposed "OPness" of mesons is irrelevant, as you already said that Swarms are being changed and anyone can choose not to use them. Just like I can choose not to use size 1 missile spam in VB6 Aurora because I find it broken. It is all a matter of RP which weapons you choose, but changing the mechanics of the weapon entirely removes that option from me or any other player.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #122 on: January 02, 2019, 10:32:00 AM »
I think we probably have different perspectives on role-play. Role-play to me means taking a given situation within a given set of mechanics, rules and constraints and approaching it with the knowledge and motivation of someone else. It doesn't mean having every option possible so I can do whatever I like. BTW I'm not saying one perspective is better than the other. I am explaining my own motivations.

Just out of interest I checked Wiki for a more objective definition of a role-playing game: "A role-playing game is a game in which the participants assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterisation, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, they may improvise freely; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the games."

I rarely used mesons as a player in VB6 because they were too effective (like the AMM spam) against an AI that couldn't make the same type of strategic fleet doctrine choices as a player. I did use them to some extent in earlier multi-player campaigns when I was playing every side. Even though the AI in C# should be better than VB6, the NPRs are still not going to radically change their design philosophy in response to threats from players or other NPRs. It is just too complex a system for the AI to ever be as a flexible as a player given the same resources. NPRs are designed to provide a challenge within the story but without a significant numerical or technological advantage, or multiple simultaneous NPR threats, they will still lose to a competent player.

With the new mechanics I can envision situations where I might actually use mesons on player ships to counter specific NPR threats (because they are no longer overpowered). The NPRs won't use a player response to mesons, which would probably be very thick armour at the expense of weapons, so the meson mechanics will work fine in a campaign situation vs NPRs while probably being countered relatively easily in a competitive match. This is even more important for C# Aurora because I hope the new NPRs are good enough that single race campaign against NPRs will be a significantly better than before and I will be doing fewer multi-race starts as a result.

I think we probably have different enough perspectives on game design that we are likely debating at cross-purposes and we aren't really going to get anywhere, so it would probably just be frustrating to continue the debate. Happy for you to respond, but I think it would probably do more harm than good to continue beyond that point.

BTW the new missile mechanics were partially intended to lessen the effectiveness of the AMM spam.
 
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Offline Lucifer, the Morning Star

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #123 on: January 02, 2019, 10:52:19 AM »
I think we probably have different perspectives on role-play. Role-play to me means taking a given situation within a given set of mechanics, rules and constraints and approaching it with the knowledge and motivation of someone else. It doesn't mean having every option possible so I can do whatever I like. BTW I'm not saying one perspective is better than the other. I am explaining my own motivations.

Just out of interest I checked Wiki for a more objective definition of a role-playing game: "A role-playing game is a game in which the participants assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterisation, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, they may improvise freely; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the games."

I rarely used mesons as a player in VB6 because they were too effective (like the AMM spam) against an AI that couldn't make the same type of strategic fleet doctrine choices as a player. I did use them to some extent in earlier multi-player campaigns when I was playing every side. Even though the AI in C# should be better than VB6, the NPRs are still not going to radically change their design philosophy in response to threats from players or other NPRs. It is just too complex a system for the AI to ever be as a flexible as a player given the same resources. NPRs are designed to provide a challenge within the story but without a significant numerical or technological advantage, or multiple simultaneous NPR threats, they will still lose to a competent player.

With the new mechanics I can envision situations where I might actually use mesons on player ships to counter specific NPR threats (because they are no longer overpowered). The NPRs won't use a player response to mesons, which would probably be very thick armour at the expense of weapons, so the meson mechanics will work fine in a campaign situation vs NPRs while probably being countered relatively easily in a competitive match. This is even more important for C# Aurora because I hope the new NPRs are good enough that single race campaign against NPRs will be a significantly better than before and I will be doing fewer multi-race starts as a result.

I think we probably have different enough perspectives on game design that we are likely debating at cross-purposes and we aren't really going to get anywhere, so it would probably just be frustrating to continue the debate. Happy for you to respond, but I think it would probably do more harm than good to continue beyond that point.

BTW the new missile mechanics were partially intended to lessen the effectiveness of the AMM spam.

Ah, I didn't even consider that line of thought. For some reason 90% of the enemies I've fought in this game are Invaders (After dozens of games, even with NPR chance pumped, I've never encountered an NPR) so my PvE combat idea is a little skewed. From that angle, I could definitely see your reasoning, and I guess that we wouldn't be able to tell how good they are until playtesting. Guess we'll have to wait and see
 

Offline Lucifer, the Morning Star

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #124 on: January 02, 2019, 10:54:47 AM »
Just to be curious, will there be potentiality for modding in C# Aurora? Some of us have been tossing around ideas for possible new ideas and alternatives for the game, and it would be cool to be able to implement those.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #125 on: January 02, 2019, 11:10:14 AM »
Just to be curious, will there be potentiality for modding in C# Aurora? Some of us have been tossing around ideas for possible new ideas and alternatives for the game, and it would be cool to be able to implement those.

I don't want to release the source code so any modding would have to be restricted to db changes (as with VB6). That doesn't create a lot of scope though because most of the mechanics are within the code, rather than the DB. Also, I am always wary of modding because I don't want to be chasing non-existent bugs.

I am not releasing the code because this is a hobby for me, so I don't want different versions of Aurora appearing and, in particular, I don't want someone to start charging for those mods or variations. I have put a LOT of work into Aurora and give it away for free, so I don't want someone else to profit from that work. Also, given the amount of discussion on the Discord channels about opening up and changing the source code of C# Aurora, I won't be releasing it until I have put a decent amount of code protection in place to make that as difficult as possible. I'll probably invest in some commercial software to do that.
 

Offline Lucifer, the Morning Star

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #126 on: January 02, 2019, 11:26:05 AM »
Just to be curious, will there be potentiality for modding in C# Aurora? Some of us have been tossing around ideas for possible new ideas and alternatives for the game, and it would be cool to be able to implement those.

I don't want to release the source code so any modding would have to be restricted to db changes (as with VB6). That doesn't create a lot of scope though because most of the mechanics are within the code, rather than the DB. Also, I am always wary of modding because I don't want to be chasing non-existent bugs.

I am not releasing the code because this is a hobby for me, so I don't want different versions of Aurora appearing and, in particular, I don't want someone to start charging for those mods or variations. I have put a LOT of work into Aurora and give it away for free, so I don't want someone else to profit from that work. Also, given the amount of discussion on the Discord channels about opening up and changing the source code of C# Aurora, I won't be releasing it until I have put a decent amount of code protection in place to make that as difficult as possible. I'll probably invest in some commercial software to do that.

Ya, I saw your post about it right after I posted this lol. That's completely understandable, for all the people w/ good intentions you can't stop the few with bad. Now maybe if you can include a way to return mesons to their former glory in the DB for us... ;)
 

Offline Lucifer, the Morning Star

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #127 on: January 02, 2019, 11:36:32 AM »
Also, what's this? You joined the Discord?
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #128 on: January 02, 2019, 11:50:28 AM »
Also, what's this? You joined the Discord?

I've been on the Discord for months, although judging by some of the content, it seems that everyone on there assumes I am not :)
 
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #129 on: January 02, 2019, 11:58:41 AM »
Ya, I saw your post about it right after I posted this lol. That's completely understandable, for all the people w/ good intentions you can't stop the few with bad. Now maybe if you can include a way to return mesons to their former glory in the DB for us... ;)

Well, as you asked nicely :)

There is a field called IgnoreArmour in FCT_ShipDesignComponents (in the C# DB). As things stand, setting that flag to true for a meson weapon will override the new meson mechanics so they still ignore armour. I will try to ensure that remains the case. It's a manual fix, but there if you really need it.
 
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Offline Lucifer, the Morning Star

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #130 on: January 02, 2019, 12:05:40 PM »
The Holy Meson be praised!
 

Offline Desdinova

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #131 on: February 27, 2019, 12:56:34 AM »
What role are mesons supposed to play in the game? I always thought that mesons were supposed to counter beefy, 30-armor-thickness battleships, but these changes make that impossible.

The reason is, each and every layer has a chance of stopping the meson, which the chance of penetration decreases exponentially with each layer added. If you have base layer tech, a shot has a 50% chance of penetrating layer 1 armor, 13% chance of penetrating 3 layers of armor, and only 1.6% chance of penetrating 6 layers of armor. A dedicated beam combatant with 20 layers would have a 0.00009537% chance of penetration. This is with base tech, of course, but it doesn't get much better: at absolute maximum level tech you have a 93% chance at layer 1, 80% chance at layer 3, only a 65% chance at layer 6, and a 23% chance of penetrating 20 levels of armor. And if you penetrate, you only do 1 damage.

The only use case I can see is if the enemy is using medium/light armor but heavy shields. But microwaves would be a better choice in that case because they can easily mission-kill an enemy ship.

My suggestion to make mesons useful would be to start the meson armour retardation tech at a higher percentage, like 80%. Or, make it a chance of evading the armor independent of how thick it is. Or, invert their relationship with shields: mesons penetrate armor as before, but shields are more effective against them. I also like the idea of keeping them as-is but making them rare, precursor tech.
 

Offline Bremen

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #132 on: February 28, 2019, 06:30:23 PM »
The only use case I can see is if the enemy is using medium/light armor but heavy shields. But microwaves would be a better choice in that case because they can easily mission-kill an enemy ship.

Microwaves are a horrible choice against heavy shields, and good against heavy armor. I'd say with these changes mesons become the (new) anti-shield weapon, and microwaves will be the new anti-armor weapon (as I believe they still penetrate armor but not shields). I do kind of agree that the armor penetration chance will seriously handicap mesons against anything with heavy armor, but I think that was deliberate.

Having a weapon that penetrates shields and a different weapon that penetrates armor isn't necessarily a bad thing, either, since it will highly incentivize having some of both defenses on your ships.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 09:06:57 PM by Bremen »
 
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Offline TCD

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #133 on: March 01, 2019, 11:12:54 AM »
There is also the new particle lance which I think Steve specifically designed as an anti-armour superweapon. So the correct answer for fighting heavily armoured battleships in C# may be as simple as "bring a big gun". Obviously you can't mount a particle lance on a fighter but I think that's probably intended!

 
 

Offline Bremen

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Re: Mesons
« Reply #134 on: March 01, 2019, 04:09:09 PM »
There is also the new particle lance which I think Steve specifically designed as an anti-armour superweapon. So the correct answer for fighting heavily armoured battleships in C# may be as simple as "bring a big gun". Obviously you can't mount a particle lance on a fighter but I think that's probably intended!

While the Lance does have impressive armor penetrating abilities, I suspect that the downsides (large size, very low fire rate, high cost) mean it wont be worthwhile enough just as an anti-armor weapon. For lances to be worthwhile you'd probably want a fleet specially designed to play to its strengths (which would mean fast ships capable of kiting, and a focus on particle beams and lances as long range weapons).

Lances are a reason you'll almost certainly want at least some shields on your warships, though.
 

 

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