Author Topic: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions  (Read 1807 times)

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Offline Cosinus (OP)

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Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« on: December 21, 2020, 07:21:11 AM »
So this thread is about invaders, which some people consider Spoilers. You have been warned. TLDR: Don't enable invaders.

So I wanted to play a fresh game of the newest Aurora version. Looking at the new features added in 1.11 and 1.12, one of the new features are Rifts. "Great" I think, this gives me an excuse to play with invaders turned on. So I setup a game, planning a long campaign with the intent of testing a lot of stuff.

Enter the year 57 of my campaign: Mysterious aliens are sighted... in Sol. The researchers initially classify them as "Sol aliens" and try to establish communications, but their faces turn to horror as they refuse communication and start slaughtering freighters around Jupiter.



So yeah, this is the situation. Invaders turned up... in Sol. I play on 20% research speed, which means I am just researching Magneto Plasma Engines, while the invaders run around at 11km/s. You might think "This is clearly broken" and you would be right. I tried to fix the game with SM mode, but apparently you can't delete enemy fleets in SM mode.

So just for fun I spawn in 50 heavy cruisers, which fire 10 volleys of 1000 Anti ship missiles each on the invader fleet. Unfortunately, despite my 29km/s missiles having a 34% hit chance against 10km/s ships they have a 0% chance to hit against the 11km/s invaders. Maybe they have ECM, but 0% chance seems a bit harsh. Out of 10000 missiles, 0 are intercepted by point defense, 0 hit their target. With this, I consider the savefile bricked beyond repair, which is unfortunate, because I would have liked to continue it. Some of you will probably say "Losing is fun", but this is not really true, if there is nothing you can do about it. Well I guess I could have stayed in Sol until I researched Antimatter Engines, but this seems even less fun and also good luck with that on 20% research speed...

Here are my suggestions:
  • Invaders can't stay in their current implementation, or no one will enable them. To show how ridiculous they are, think of an option in Civ, where after 100 turns the Barbarians get 10 Main Battle Tanks somewhere. No matter what kind of tech level you have achieved, whether it's knights or musketeers, you will be completely wiped out by that and the only chance to survive it is to hope they spawn far away from you. I hope you can see that such an option would be terrible and no one would enable it if they knew what it meant.
  • In my view, Invaders are supposed to be an endgame challenge, like the endgame crises in Stellaris: https://stellaris.paradoxwikis.com/Crisis
    This is evident by their high tech level, which you need to match in order to fight them.
  • In order to work as an endgame threat, they should obviously only appear in the endgame and not while people are still in the Ion Engine age. The appearance of invaders or rifts could be set to a year (which changes depending on research speed settings), number of ancient constructs awakened or simply the amount of research generated. E.g. as soon as >50% of empires generate X Million Research points, Invaders can spawn.
  • Another factor is the distance, in which the invaders spawn. Just as you can set a minimum distance for NPRs in the game settings, initial invader spawn locations should have a minimum distance to Sol by default. They can obviously invade Sol later, just like any other system.

I hope I could convince you, that invaders are broken in their current state and that they need some changes. I'm open for discussions.
 
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Offline kilo

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2020, 07:55:52 AM »
That sounds like fun and reminds me of my first game in the VB6 version. I had the pleasure to find a stable wormhole in the first system I explored and after a decade they decided to end me. They brought a few doses of instant sunshine right to earth. Tough smeg...

If their ECM capabilities are close to what they were in VB6 your results are not surprising. They had something like ECM 8.

 

Offline vorpal+5

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2020, 09:55:21 AM »
I'm not sure I understand. They spawned in Sol ?

Probably they should be precluded from spawning x LY from your HW, as a game parameter.

Also ... not using missiles seems mandatory. Theoretically, could you have fielded beam ships moving at 12 kkm/S?
 

Offline Cosinus (OP)

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2020, 10:51:06 AM »
I don't exactly know where they came from. I first considered them in Sol. There is a small rift 2 systems from Sol, so they probably started there. But ultimately it does not matter where they initially spawned, the point of the post is that there is no method of defending against them at this tech level. Good luck building viable beam ships going that fast at Ion Tech. They should not spawn until certain conditions are met.
 

Offline misanthropope

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2020, 11:04:17 AM »
invaders aren't one of the beginning-only decisions.  you can leave them off until the condition of your choice is met.
 

Offline Lord Solar

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2020, 11:57:20 AM »
I mean you are 56 years in; the 20% research speed probably has a lot to do with why you don't have good tech.
 

Offline SpaceMarine

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2020, 12:26:05 PM »
Title is a bit misleading honestly, of course invaders arent balanced for a low research rate start, because its impossible to "balance" for every single setting any player can possibly have, your best bet if doing a low research start is to  turn them off until your finally established as an empire.
 
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2020, 12:45:12 PM »
The invaders are not intended for a game where you are still on Ion engines after 56 years. If you want to play low research games, I suggest disabling Invaders.
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2020, 12:52:25 PM »
Here are my suggestions:
  • Invaders can't stay in their current implementation, or no one will enable them. To show how ridiculous they are, think of an option in Civ, where after 100 turns the Barbarians get 10 Main Battle Tanks somewhere. No matter what kind of tech level you have achieved, whether it's knights or musketeers, you will be completely wiped out by that and the only chance to survive it is to hope they spawn far away from you. I hope you can see that such an option would be terrible and no one would enable it if they knew what it meant.
  • In my view, Invaders are supposed to be an endgame challenge, like the endgame crises in Stellaris: https://stellaris.paradoxwikis.com/Crisis
    This is evident by their high tech level, which you need to match in order to fight them.
  • In order to work as an endgame threat, they should obviously only appear in the endgame and not while people are still in the Ion Engine age. The appearance of invaders or rifts could be set to a year (which changes depending on research speed settings), number of ancient constructs awakened or simply the amount of research generated. E.g. as soon as >50% of empires generate X Million Research points, Invaders can spawn.
  • Another factor is the distance, in which the invaders spawn. Just as you can set a minimum distance for NPRs in the game settings, initial invader spawn locations should have a minimum distance to Sol by default. They can obviously invade Sol later, just like any other system.

I hope I could convince you, that invaders are broken in their current state and that they need some changes. I'm open for discussions.

In my low-research games I usually plan to turn on Invaders manually once I've located an Ancient Construct since these stay in the game even with Invaders turned off. This is generally a decent benchmark both in terms of player tech (i.e. if you can beat a decent Precursor fleet and take their planets) and relevant lore, since the Constructs are needed to hold off the Invaders. This seems like a reasonable condition to be added to the current Invader generation code so they will not spawn in until the player has reached a certain capability, rather than just arbitrarily early before anyone can handle them.

I also do think the Rifts should occur in a system where the player has been and is aware of this happening, which allows the player to make preparations and account for the Invaders in their planning instead of being blindsided by a fleet of overteched ships suddenly materializing in Saturn orbit. If the player knows a rift is forming that can be a cue to be less aggressive towards NPRs knowing that they need a sizable fleet detachment able to deal with Invaders. Maybe a bit less realistic than getting blindsided but probably more fun for most players I would bet.
 
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Offline Zincat

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2020, 02:35:55 PM »
I don't feel the need to make the invaders easier.

In fact, I'd argue that they need to be made harder. Attack with larger amount of ships etc, at least after many years have passed.

A good solution for low research rate is indeed to simply activate them once you have reached a certain level.
 

Offline vorpal+5

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2020, 12:52:48 AM »
I can understand Steve position, still I believe that the Invaders should have a part of their strength dynamically tied to something. He rejects that this could be tied to the player strength, and I'm ok with that, it's a design which equals another. But perhaps their strength can have a part based on:

- age of the universe (meaning since when the game started)
- since how many years they spawned


so strength would be X + Y, Y being the variable part, with a base power (X) ?

Also, are they more and more numerous as rifts are opening? That would be good. Or are rifts just an entry point for a pre-determined strength? If the former, I imagine active NPR opening rifts (by exploration) would be a nice "Doomsday clock".
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2020, 03:22:04 AM »
I can understand Steve position, still I believe that the Invaders should have a part of their strength dynamically tied to something. He rejects that this could be tied to the player strength, and I'm ok with that, it's a design which equals another. But perhaps their strength can have a part based on:

- age of the universe (meaning since when the game started)
- since how many years they spawned


so strength would be X + Y, Y being the variable part, with a base power (X) ?

Also, are they more and more numerous as rifts are opening? That would be good. Or are rifts just an entry point for a pre-determined strength? If the former, I imagine active NPR opening rifts (by exploration) would be a nice "Doomsday clock".

Look away now if you don't want spoilers...

The chance of a rift forming is already tied to the length of the game (more years in game = more chance of rift).

The size of the invader forces is tied to the size of the largest rift (larger rift = larger forces), which indirectly means larger forces will appear as the game progresses. However, those forces may distributed between multiple rifts if they exist.
 
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Offline vorpal+5

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2020, 04:15:53 AM »
I looked into the Abyss.

Then the Abyss looked back!  ;D

Thanks Steve. I did not mind being spoiled on an 'overall' mechanic, it gives me the certainty it can be a race against the clock and that's what I like, to feel tension and a kind of Damocles Sword above my head. Only with that can I maintain my interest in a game.
 

Offline Cosinus (OP)

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2020, 06:46:50 AM »
I can understand Steve position, still I believe that the Invaders should have a part of their strength dynamically tied to something. He rejects that this could be tied to the player strength, and I'm ok with that, it's a design which equals another. But perhaps their strength can have a part based on:

- age of the universe (meaning since when the game started)
- since how many years they spawned


so strength would be X + Y, Y being the variable part, with a base power (X) ?

Also, are they more and more numerous as rifts are opening? That would be good. Or are rifts just an entry point for a pre-determined strength? If the former, I imagine active NPR opening rifts (by exploration) would be a nice "Doomsday clock".

Look away now if you don't want spoilers...

The chance of a rift forming is already tied to the length of the game (more years in game = more chance of rift).

The size of the invader forces is tied to the size of the largest rift (larger rift = larger forces), which indirectly means larger forces will appear as the game progresses. However, those forces may distributed between multiple rifts if they exist.

Thanks for the replies. Would it be too much effort to factor in research speed somewhere in this formula? Or prevent rifts from spawning until a condition like one I mentioned in the OP is fulfilled?
 

Offline misanthropope

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Re: Invaders are broken - a cautonary tale and some suggestions
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2020, 08:39:59 AM »
the effects of research modifiers on actual tech development are a good bit more complicated than one might reasonably suppose.  in a game with pure exponential overall growth over time, a multiplier to research rate would have the effect of adding or subtracting time [wrt RP rate, not accumulated RP].  is aurora's growth exponential?  man, idk.  pop growth never was and is now even slower and more complicated.  at least in the early game industrial capacity grows faster than exponential, so the natural rate of deploying new research facilities is highly circumstantial and complicated.

if the invader appearance roll is a pure save-or-die event, it's not good for your game whether it's .1% or 10% per annum.  i really think balancing all possible options configurations even roughly for invader appearance is a point mass.  you can put whatever you want into it, you ain't gettin nothing back.

edit: possibly making sure the invader rate is coupled to the time *since invaders were turned on* and not since campaign inception would be good.  if it takes you 300 years to get to magneto's plasma, you say, "ok let's stick in my toes in the deep end", you're prolly not really ready or wanting the incidence rate you're going to actually get.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 08:45:35 AM by misanthropope »
 

 

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