Author Topic: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls  (Read 533 times)

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Offline nakorkren (OP)

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Right now beam fighters work because enemy ships can't kill target them fast enough. The bottleneck is fire control capability, not weapon capability. That's ok. It's realistic, and it makes fighters viable.

Where I struggle is there's not really a good explanation for why missiles are handled differently than fighters. If a single BFC running point defense weapons can target an infinite number of missiles, why can't it handle an infinite number of fighters who are larger (easier to see) and moving slower?

In general Steve has tried to eliminate differences in rules that exist just to make things work. This (and commercial vs military engines) are one of the few remaining like that. Does anyone have an idea of how to unify the fire control ruleset in such a way that beam fighters are still viable, missile offense/defense is still fairly balanced, but there's no logic hole in why BFCs can handle swarms of missiles but not more than one fighter at a time?
 

Offline nuclearslurpee

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2024, 12:10:21 AM »
One possible explanation:

Missiles follow relatively predictable flight patterns in somewhat of a regular formation pattern from a fair distance, so automated point defense computers can set up a firing solution enabling a BFC to track fire across the path of multiple missiles in a single increment.

TN ships, including fighters, follow unpredictable flight paths due to the combination of human piloting and more emphasis on being a difficult target, and fly in formations with much larger and less regular spacing (spacing of a few km would fit within Aurora's typical distance scales with no problem). Therefore it is not feasible to track fire across multiple ship targets in a single increment or burst of fire.

I will freely admit that these are not airtight explanations, but hopefully examples to show how one can devise a roleplay justification for the game mechanics. I don't think the mechanics will change here, since one-BFC-per-target is unworkable for missile defense and multiple-targets-per-BFC is a big nerf to beam fighters while reducing strategic depth (i.e., no longer is there any reason to have more than 2 BFCs of the same type unless you really want a lot of redundancy). Thus the better solution is devise some reasonable headcanon about it and carry on. It is the same situation as when we ask, e.g., why kinetic-kill missiles are not a possibility in Aurora.
 

Offline Xkill

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2024, 03:22:54 AM »
Right now, fighters are functionally in a sort of limbo between missile and ship and that causes the discrepancies. From what I understand, the game defines "ship" as anything that is not a missile, whether that is a battleship flying solo or each of the 300 fighters swarming around in a formation (whatever shape that may be), even if they end up looking and behaving a lot like a missile salvo.

I believe part of the problem is that the changes to beam weapons that made beam fighters powerful right now weren't quite thought of with the beam fighters in mind. And then came the modifications to defensive missile combat changing the logic from "fire controls vs salvos" to "shots vs missiles". In the former, large numbers of salvos are super deadly for the same reason beam fighters seem so OP now. None of that really took fighters into account. They can use their guns (shots) against missiles or ships just like any other ship, but in a much cheaper, disposable platform.

While conceptually I don't see much reason to treat fighters all that differently from missiles - taking into account the extremely fast and accurate nature of Aurora beam combat, practically necessitating some form of evasive maneuver on approach, translating that into a workable mechanic for a game within the existing framework is something else entirely.

A real solution to this seems difficult to achieve. Perhaps using the fighter tag to make fighters similar or equal to missiles for targetting purposes, using the same rules as PD uses now for missiles? Beam fighter are kind of like reusable missiles that replace a warhead with a gun anyway... It does seem kinda gimmicky though and would be quite the nerf, like Nuclear pointed out.
I personally have taken to using FACs instead of fighters as a compromise. The mechanics make a lot more sense with them due to slower speeds and lower numbers of "ships" allowing the NPRs to handle them more believably.
 

Offline alex_brunius

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2024, 05:49:43 AM »
Right now beam fighters work because enemy ships can't kill target them fast enough. The bottleneck is fire control capability, not weapon capability. That's ok. It's realistic, and it makes fighters viable.

Where I struggle is there's not really a good explanation for why missiles are handled differently than fighters. If a single BFC running point defense weapons can target an infinite number of missiles, why can't it handle an infinite number of fighters who are larger (easier to see) and moving slower?

In general Steve has tried to eliminate differences in rules that exist just to make things work. This (and commercial vs military engines) are one of the few remaining like that. Does anyone have an idea of how to unify the fire control ruleset in such a way that beam fighters are still viable, missile offense/defense is still fairly balanced, but there's no logic hole in why BFCs can handle swarms of missiles but not more than one fighter at a time?

How about beam fighters with a single larger caliber reduced size laser that aims to outrange any massed beam PD (such as point blank Gauss or 5sec reload Railgun)?

That could still be viable for offensive use, and if they are faster than enemy beamfighters using gauss/rail it should in theory be a slaughter as well in FTR vs FTR engagements.
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2024, 05:56:52 AM »
Fighters are ships and follow the ship rules. Missiles are single shot weapons with a single use drive and a lot of restrictions on their use because they have zero, or minimal, on-board intelligence. They don't have anything like the huge flexibility of ships, so they make a much more predictable target.

I know beam fighters are powerful - I have been saying that for years :) The recent missile changes were a way to make missiles more competitive vs energy-armed ships (including fighters), although a lot of players still think missiles are OP as well, so its probably more balanced now.

The reason beam fighters are doing well against NPRs, is that as a result of the missile changes I reduced the fire control numbers for NPR ships to allow more room for weapons, without considering the impact on fighters. I need to review automated designs for the next version and give the escort classes more fire controls. Players can make their own decisions on the optimal number of fire control, but that is less of an issue except in multi-race starts, vs the swarm or when the NPRs get fighters.

EDIT: I've made the changes to NPR fire controls, so they will be more effective for the next version (and for any new NPR designs in my current campaign).
« Last Edit: July 08, 2024, 06:11:06 AM by Steve Walmsley »
 
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2024, 05:57:53 AM »
Right now beam fighters work because enemy ships can't kill target them fast enough. The bottleneck is fire control capability, not weapon capability. That's ok. It's realistic, and it makes fighters viable.

Where I struggle is there's not really a good explanation for why missiles are handled differently than fighters. If a single BFC running point defense weapons can target an infinite number of missiles, why can't it handle an infinite number of fighters who are larger (easier to see) and moving slower?

In general Steve has tried to eliminate differences in rules that exist just to make things work. This (and commercial vs military engines) are one of the few remaining like that. Does anyone have an idea of how to unify the fire control ruleset in such a way that beam fighters are still viable, missile offense/defense is still fairly balanced, but there's no logic hole in why BFCs can handle swarms of missiles but not more than one fighter at a time?

How about beam fighters with a single larger caliber reduced size laser that aims to outrange any massed beam PD (such as point blank Gauss or 5sec reload Railgun)?

That could still be viable for offensive use, and if they are faster than enemy beamfighters using gauss/rail it should in theory be a slaughter as well in FTR vs FTR engagements.

I've been using 1000 and 2000 ton fast interceptors with a particle beam/lance in previous games. I'm likely to create a spinal laser equivalent in my current campaign. The weapon failure rules make them a little less powerful than they were.
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2024, 03:04:26 PM »
Since I like multi-faction games allot I can say for sure that the balance are just about right. If a faction know that small fast beam armed combatants is a possibility there is a way to defeat them as it is just a matter of design. In general small beam armed fighters are not that powerful as they will just be countered by turreted beam weapons and missiles specifically made to intercept them. If the fighters are armed with lots of fast shooting low range weapons to defeat the missiles they will not be able to outrange the beams on the ships, if they are armed with slow firing long range weapons they will not beat the missiles.

It is all about the balance... the main strength of fighters are generally speed and size which means they can dictate the engagement on their terms.

In one instance factions started to bring small corvettes at about 2-3000t size, either in hangars or tractor beams. These were anti beam fighter platforms and point defence against missiles if necessary. It is always better with a bigger beam ships than a small one. A 3000t ship can be as fast as a 200t ship, in fact a bigger engine will likely be much more efficient at it, you then have armour protection and room for more effective weapons.

But a 300t fighter with a Railgun can as easily as any other ship destroy a missile ship with no missiles left or any unarmed commercial ship and will do so very cheaply. That in my opinion is why beam fighters are good to have, they give you options. Missiles are quite expensive and you only want to use them if you know you can overwhelm an enemy defences and knock them out. Using missiles in drawn out fight of attrition will likely end in disaster for you. Beam fighters also come sort of in the same category as missiles... they can just be a waste if they go after the wrong target and end up an even more expensive cost than throwing a barrage of failed missiles, but they also can save you huge amount of resources if taking out the right targets.

The AI designs are as Steve said not designed to go up against beam fighters due to how the targeting against missile works, this does not mean there is an issue with the mechanic. It is just an issue of design. Most factions in my games tends to spread out the beam weapons on all their combat ships even if they have some dedicated beam ships as well, but that also means there will be allot of fire controls naturally in most fleets. The current design of the AI is a result of every ship being a highly specialized ship and for targeting missiles you don't need that many fire controls.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2024, 03:08:32 PM by Jorgen_CAB »
 

Offline nakorkren (OP)

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2024, 03:34:50 PM »
Note, I actually wasn't criticizing beam fighters as overly powerful. To Jorgen's point, I think they're well balanced right now, particularly for multi-faction (although I rarely play multifaction).

Right now missiles and larger ships benefit from decoys, but fighters do not (minimum decoy launcher size is 5HS or 25 tons, which is almost small enough to be useful, but not really, and a single size 5 decoy missile won't help much for a fighter of ~250tons or more). What if decoy missile effectiveness wasn't linear, but instead scaled significantly and inversely with size, AND make it applicable to incoming beam fire in addtion to missile fire? That would make them much more effective for fighters and much less effective for very large ships. That makes sense logically (are you really going to convince a missile that a 2nd giant 100kton dreadnaught magically appeared over to the left of your original target?) and would give fighters some protection from beam PD-type weapons similar to missile's ability to use decoys. Then to offset that and keep the current balance, allow BFCs to target multiple targets, you just don't get to control which weapon fires at which target. That's acceptable for PD and anti-fighter weapons, but you'd want to be more specific with large weapons, so you'd only assign one target to those types of BFCs.

Thoughts?
 

Offline Alsadius

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2024, 05:56:53 PM »
Note, I actually wasn't criticizing beam fighters as overly powerful. To Jorgen's point, I think they're well balanced right now, particularly for multi-faction (although I rarely play multifaction).

Right now missiles and larger ships benefit from decoys, but fighters do not (minimum decoy launcher size is 5HS or 25 tons, which is almost small enough to be useful, but not really, and a single size 5 decoy missile won't help much for a fighter of ~250tons or more). What if decoy missile effectiveness wasn't linear, but instead scaled significantly and inversely with size, AND make it applicable to incoming beam fire in addtion to missile fire? That would make them much more effective for fighters and much less effective for very large ships. That makes sense logically (are you really going to convince a missile that a 2nd giant 100kton dreadnaught magically appeared over to the left of your original target?) and would give fighters some protection from beam PD-type weapons similar to missile's ability to use decoys. Then to offset that and keep the current balance, allow BFCs to target multiple targets, you just don't get to control which weapon fires at which target. That's acceptable for PD and anti-fighter weapons, but you'd want to be more specific with large weapons, so you'd only assign one target to those types of BFCs.

Thoughts?

Oh, the missile is quite aware that there's no magic second dreadnought. The question is which one's the real one, and which one's the fake? And that's one where I can see spoofing working.

Offline nuclearslurpee

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2024, 05:57:56 PM »
(are you really going to convince a missile that a 2nd giant 100kton dreadnaught magically appeared over to the left of your original target?)

That's not how a decoy works. A decoy works by convincing the missile that two dreadnoughts appeared in the same place and then evaded in two different directions - the "trick" from the missile's perspective is not to ignore the "second one" but not having any way to know which one is the real "first one".

Aurora doesn't represent this with perfect accuracy (IRL, something like an AN/SLQ-25 Nixie is passively towed and would be in-situ well before a torpedo was fired) but it does a reasonable job. The decision not to model physical towing of decoys was made by Steve to reduce unnecessary micromanagement.

Quote
Thoughts?

Mechanically, this sounds like adding a bunch of extra steps and complications to solve a "problem" which doesn't really exist. As several other people have said, the current game balance works quite well in this area, creating an interesting strategic decision about how many fire controls to mount on a given ship class for anti-fighter purposes (and, as Steve said, the problem for NPR balance was not the mechanics, but the NPR ship design code, which is easily tweaked). The apparent inconsistency between targeting of missiles and of fighters can be explained by a personal headcanon if it is really bothersome. Given this, why add multiple complications with potential for creating a balance problem where none currently exists?
 
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Rule delta in handling of fighters vs missiles by fire controls
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2024, 06:03:56 PM »
There are also various chaff and decoy launchers against missiles which are launched when under attack, and things like blip enhancers to make a helicopter or escort look like a target worth a missile to a missiles seeker head