Some discussion on balance changes

General discussion about the game.
karadoc
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Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:01 pm

Some discussion on balance changes

Postby karadoc » Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:28 pm

I'm looking forward to the Enhanced Edition, not just for the new content but also to see how the developers have chosen to adjust the balance of the game. I think it's fair to say that not every strategy / ship / weapon is equally powerful in FTL - and that's ok, but I think it's also fair to say that some of the imbalances reduce the fun of the game by reducing the number of viable strategies and stuff like that. For example, I don't think it's a big deal that Burst II is better than Burst III; but I do think it sucks for the game that missile weapons generally aren't worth using at all.

So, just for the hell of it, I thought I'd post a few simple thoughts for some relatively minor balance changes I've got in mind. I'd be interested to hear if other people agree or disagree.

--

I feel that missiles are very weak compared to every other kind of weapon (including self-teleporting bombs). The two main reasons are that the ammo is very expensive, and that defence drones are very effective at shooting the missiles down.

So... two small change to easy the pain a little bit:
  • Increase the firing cooldown on Defence drone I from 1 second to 3 seconds. (And the drone should not be immediately ready to fire when it is activated.)
  • Decrease the purchasing cost of missiles from 6 scrap to 3 scrap.

One thing that has been kind of bugging me recently is that although there are quite a few different viable methods of defeating enemy ships, I feel like I'm kind of compelled to use teleporters all the time, because they are relatively lot cost and very high reward. I've thought about it a bit, and I've decided that it would probably be better for gameplay reasons if there was no scrap bonus for defeating a ship by killing its crew.

That scrap bonus is good for flavour / realism, but in terms of gameplay I think it's bad because it is pushes players to use a particular strategy. Not only are teleporters very effective for getting past shields and defence drones to defeat otherwise well-defended ships, but the reward for defeating ships in this way is actually higher! So regardless of what kind of ship you want to focus on, it is always advantageous to get teleporters early and to use them to win battles as often as possible for the loot bonus - so that you can afford more upgrades and weapons later on.

--

I reckon that teleporters either need to be far more risky, or just not have a scrap bonus reward. One idea to make them more risky would be to make it so that enemy ships could sometimes 'dodge' the teleporter, in which case the units simply would not be moved. That would add a fair bit of risk, because if the teleporter failed to recall some low-health units, those units could be in trouble... But on the other hand, it's generally possible to prevent units from being attacked indefinitely by just moving them back and forth between room, so a failed teleport may just add more tedium than risk. Furthermore, that change would have no impact on all the fights where a single boarding party can defeat the ship without needing to be recalled, and it would have more impact on the fact that defeating ships in this way is still the best thing to do for the scrap advantage.

So, somewhat reluctantly, I think the best option is to simply remove the scrap advantage.

  • Reduce the scrap reward from ships defeated by killing the crew so that it is the same as the scrap for destroying the entire ship.

Finally, I think it's pretty cheesy that crystal boarding parties can teleport in and lock-down a room before the enemy can get properly set up. ... so one last change:

  • Crystal men's 'lock down' ability changed to start as uncharged after each jump rather than charged.
Iranon
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Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:33 am

Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby Iranon » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:24 am

I don't think getting rid of the scrap bonus for taking ships intact is a good idea. Balancing higher rewards vs. an approach that quickly neuters the enemy ship adds variety, and is good to keep the weapons varied in feel - raw destructive power vs. aptitude for crew kills.

Teleporters make taking ships intact too easy though. I'd like something like giving teleporters a (100-15*enemy shield level)% chance for each attempted teleport... a chance of only teleporting one crewmember would add some very real risks.
karadoc
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby karadoc » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:05 am

Iranon wrote:I don't think getting rid of the scrap bonus for taking ships intact is a good idea. Balancing higher rewards vs. an approach that quickly neuters the enemy ship adds variety, and is good to keep the weapons varied in feel - raw destructive power vs. aptitude for crew kills.

Teleporters make taking ships intact too easy though. I'd like something like giving teleporters a (100-15*enemy shield level)% chance for each attempted teleport... a chance of only teleporting one crewmember would add some very real risks.

The thing is, as much as I like that the bonus adds some flavour to the game, I think the incentive is too strong. It's not any more difficult to kill the crew than it is to destroy the whole ship, and so by having a scrap bonus incentive for killing the crew basically just means that's what people will try to do whenever possible. For that reason, I think it actually decreases the variety in the gameplay.

On the other hand though, if boarding the enemy ship was significantly more risky then I'd be ok with the bonus. I think it could be made balanced, but it would require changing a few things. Removing the scrap bonus is kind of a shortcut.

I reckon the key thing that would be required to balance it without removing the scrap bonus is that there needs be a real risk of losing your units. So there needs to be something that creates danger for them, and there needs to be something that prevents you from reliably teleporting them out of danger. I reckon your suggestion (or my other suggestion) would probably work ok, but I worry that that alone might not be enough. I reckon we'd also need to increase the chance of enemy ships having upgraded doors, so that it isn't always possible to just run around the enemy ship willy-nilly until the teleporter is ready.

As long as it is possible to board and retreat from enemy ships without seriously risking your crew then I think the scrap bonus is bad of the game, because effectively creates a disincentive for using anything other than teleporters.
AkantorJojo
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby AkantorJojo » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:05 pm

OK, I think in terms of balance there is lots to discuss.
So I will comment on your ideas and also present some of mine :D.
Only important thing to know is: so far I've played only on Easy and have not Unlocked/Played the slug and mentis cruisers.

Personally I like the Idea that you can see, that different enemies rely on different tactics. And the nature of tactics is, that they always have a counter tactic and also always counter an other tactic; simple and old rock-paper-scissors principle.
So especially in the beginning of the game your start equipment is not able to face every enemy ship as you are able to play only one tactic meaning that you will encounter ships that counter you and force you to jump away.
Unfortunately that is something I rarely experience!!!
Also the AI often is just stupid; not timing the use of their lasers or boarding really stupidly. Sometimes I think I could have still won the battle if we (the enemy and I) switched ships, just because the AI does not know how to use his setup. This leads to my first two points:

-Increase the rock-paper-scissors principle and make players really think about jumping away
-Improve the AI to frighten the player more! This also supports the above point.


Next we can face the 'boarding-advantage-problem':
This could well be solved by the above changes ;) but there is still more that could be done:
Make it a difference in terms of a choice and not an improvement.
*Boarding: less scrap but more valuables: fuel, missiles, drone-parts, chance of crew-member, chance of weapon(which in the end is scrap; often)
*Destroying: more scrap but less valuables; almost no chance of crew-member and low chance of weapon

Further boarding could made be more dangerous by Improving enemy ships a little bit (Doors, anti-personal-drones), and the AI trying to destroy the teleporter to prevent 'backporting'...
Or by adding a new defensive system that is made to prevent boarding and offers abilities like lockdown, or heal-bomb, or improved-combat-damage. I'm looking forward to 'the big Update' and how this works out.
So we are down to some points:
-Improve AI (Again)
-better equipped enemy ships
-New anti-boarding systems?


Another thing to consider is, that the today setting of ships perfectly supports boarding: you have four system that can be manned and so you have four members left that can be trained as boarders; is pairs or even as a group if you have the respective ship.
With the Update this will change as you may want to man more systems than you can with a eight-man-crew consisting of 2-4 boarders. This could further be supported by allowing multiple manning: e.g. you could man the weapons with two members both getting experience and increasing the recharge rate. Same for shields. Also allowing a manned cloak (cool down and evasion rate) or manned Drone-control (you can set priority targets and the drones will try to attack those) can make things more interesting.
So the points here are:
-More manned systems to prevent 'the perfect eight' crew.

Then there are some aspects about the races that I want to see changed/improved:
First I really like the crystals and the fact they have a special ability, so I thought of more special abilities for all the other races. But before I get to them some other little things.

I noticed, that there are two races I almost never use:
Humans and Slug.
SO I asked myself: why?
And the answer I fairly easy: Both do not offer anything really helpful.
Sure none of both have disadvantages, but most of the disadvantages of other races are easily outranked by their advantages and the right use of them.
So I felt like both of them need slight improvement.
For the humans my solution is very simple but I think brilliant:
Humans need less experience to complete every skill (e.g. to get combat rank-up the only need 6 instead of 8 kills)
Why Is this good? Well this way the still are 'weaker' then all the other races if compared to this races strength, but as the time in 'a fly-through' is limited making skills is an important part and can not always be reached.
For slugs I don't have a really good idea. I just feel the 'slug-sensors' are way to weak as the are not useful most of the time(even without sensors it's easy to deal with introducers (look on door movement and systems being attacked) and if you played for some time you know how many people are on enemy ships, and where they are).
So what about slugs reduce the attack speed of who ever they attack by maybe 10%
Other would be they reduce movement speed of enemies; either the whole room or just their 'pray'.
So here we have:
-Humans need less EXP to get lvl ups
-Slug get another light bonus


Getting to the special abilities of other races:
Zoltan: provides one additional energy for x seconds. (maybe 15?)
Engie: Can instantly repair a system. (1-3 points, maybe depending on the system); alternatively: repair-speed doubled
Rock: can negate ion damage or if there is no ion damage on the room they are in they become rocks for a few seconds; meaning they cant attack, but also cant take dmg (but still be attacked)
mentis: gain attack speed bonus
Human: gain an additional tier of every ability the have (goes up to t3) for a short period of time
slug: mentally control an enemy for a short time. (like the announced system for the update is able to)
crystal: as they already have an ability they need a 'passive' bonus, I thought of 10% less damage taken or 10% damage taken is reflected (they still take it but the enemy also does)

-improve diversity of all races



So far this are just some 'minor' ideas and suggestions I have.
Let me hear what you have to say :D
AkantorJojo
Red Rocket
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby Red Rocket » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:23 pm

I agree that boarding is OP and the bonus scrap is not helping too.
To keep things a little realistic, just a bonus for fuel, rockets and drones could be better.

Another idea I had is to make boarding on a enemy ship dangerous.
Lets say in 5-10% of bourding TO a enemy ship, the entire boarding party would only appear with 50% health.
So you don't randomly lose a crewmate, but fighting the enemycrew would be way more risky, even more if 80% of enemy ships would level 2 doors or up.
With a high level teleporter it is possible to get your people back, but the enemy ship gets more time to fire their weapons.

Getting your boardingparty back shouldn't have this effect, that would be just evil.

But maybe the chances that are coming make boarding more dangerous.
Mindcontrol, stundrone etc, we'll have to see.
leopardenthusiast
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby leopardenthusiast » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:35 pm

AkantorJojo, the Crystals from your suggestions sound horribly overpowered. They already have Lockdown, resistance to oxygen deprivation, 125 health, and only 20% less speed than everyone but Mantis and Rockmen, do they really need more?
AkantorJojo
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby AkantorJojo » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:40 pm

Didn't know about the oxygen thing, never came across it.
And, yes maybe you are right. They are incredible strong already.... I just wanted to add something to every race :D .
So what do you think about the other stuff?
leopardenthusiast
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby leopardenthusiast » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:58 pm

AkantorJojo wrote:Didn't know about the oxygen thing, never came across it.
And, yes maybe you are right. They are incredible strong already.... I just wanted to add something to every race :D .
So what do you think about the other stuff?

The Zoltan ability sounds like a nice idea, but it suffers from a major problem - when do you need one extra power bar for only 15 seconds?

The Engi ability sounds pretty good for when your guns get damaged and you need them fixed instantly, but they already repair fast. They don't really need to be better.

I didn't really understand the Rock ability, care to explain it?

The Mantis are still excellent fighters, but more so with their ability. I think it'd just be annoying and hard if enemies could use it, and it'd make dual Mantis AI boarders a complete joke even outside the medbay so long as you had two Mantises if they couldn't.

The human ability actually sounds like the most practical of them, as you could use it on your pilot and engine guy as a weak emergency cloak. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The Slug ability depends on how useful the mind control system ends up being. It could be excellent, it could be terrible.
zeek
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby zeek » Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:04 pm

I could see teleporters getting some balance changes. I like the idea of a new system to repel boarders. Maybe something that does damage over time like "poison gas" or something or they could just vent their ship and have a "O2 suit" augment giving their crew like 1 minute of oxygen a piece so they could vent the whole ship. It would make boarding rather risky because you wouldn't even know that they had the augment until you got to their ship. With only level 1 teleporter you'd surely die before having the chance to beam back. With level 2 you'd barely survive if you manage to not take damage from their crew. Depends on races of your boarding party of course but something like that could add a good amount of risk.
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Re: Some discussion on balance changes

Postby 5thHorseman » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:30 pm

leopardenthusiast wrote:The Zoltan ability sounds like a nice idea, but it suffers from a major problem - when do you need one extra power bar for only 15 seconds?

Cloaking is the obvious one. Get extra power, cloak, wait 15 seconds and then leave the room to go power something else :D It already works with the Zoltans, this would just work better.
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