Thoughts On Hard Mode

General discussion about the game.
geldonyetich
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Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby geldonyetich » Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:57 pm

Well, I'm certainly enthusiastic enough about FTL to have seen a great many, "Lets Plays," and I had the following ideas for improvements that basically boil down to making this already-challenging game even harder:

  • Do not allow seeing what enemy rooms are (e.g. weapons systems, shields) unless you have upgraded scanners or see them firsthand with teleported crew. Just scanning is a little too easy - perhaps block scanning with shields so you at least need to bring them down first. Just remembering enemy hulls may be a little too easy - randomize room placement a bit from ship to ship. The goal is to make it harder to pin down key systems without removing the ability to selectively target rooms.
  • Prevent damage to weapon systems from completely taking down enemy weapons - the issue being that keeping enemy ships perpetually unable to fire on you is a lot less challenging than taking some kind of fire, even if it is reduced to one or two weapons.
  • When in a sector with the rebel fleet, take periodic environmental damage from supporting rebel cruisers. This would be handled similarly to solar flares, but only affecting you and not just restricted to fires. A shield-piercing missile or two every minute would probably get the message across that this is not the safest place to stick around.
  • Spending too long, unpaused, at the same beacon will cause the rebel fleet to advance without jumping/waiting. The goal is to put a sense of urgency on how much time you can spend repairing/ect after a fight. Ideally, there would be some kind of on-screen indicator showing how much time you have left.
Personally, I like where "normal" is right now, without these changes, so it is my thinking that this would make for a good "hard" mode.
fall_ark
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby fall_ark » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:02 pm

Agree that there's not enough sense of urgency right now.

Timer should only be on if there's actual repairing work going on. Otherwise no need to punish inactivity.

geldonyetich wrote:[*]Do not allow seeing what enemy rooms are (e.g. weapons systems, shields) unless you have upgraded scanners or see them firsthand with teleported crew. Block scanning with shields. Randomize room placement a bit. The goal is to make it harder to pin down key systems.


This might be too much trouble to implement. Plus it's only logical that ships will have fixed models.

[*]Prevent damage to weapon systems from completely taking down enemy weapons - the issue being that keeping enemy ships perpetually unable to fire on you is a lot less challenging than taking some kind of fire, even if it is reduced to one or two weapons.


And what if you have 2 shields and they only have 1/2 burst? Would you rather the game magically let the enemy pierce your shield as well?
If anything, it's the AI's targeting and timing that should be improved. We already have different types of Boarding AI, maybe there should be specific types of Weapon AI as well. Not just "fire weapon when cooldown is 0".
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geldonyetich
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby geldonyetich » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:37 pm

fall_ark wrote:Timer should only be on if there's actual repairing work going on. Otherwise no need to punish inactivity.

Include healing and oxygen replenishment or anything else that takes time to do, and I'd say that's fair enough. I'd chalk that up to logically suggesting that time spent unpaused doing nothing is simulated as being paused.

fall_ark wrote:This might be too much trouble to implement.

Their call, not mine. I will say that single-player, 2D games have a bit more freedom to tweak the systems than your average MMORPG, but simultaneously I recognize that simulating individual system visibility on enemy ships is a whole new system.

fall_ark wrote:[Regarding having weapon systems destroyed just take the enemy down to 1-2 weapons instead of completely disabling them:]And what if you have 2 shields and they only have 1/2 burst? Would you rather the game magically let the enemy pierce your shield as well?

Nah, I imagine being down to 1 or 2 weapons would scale just fine. I suppose if you wanted to assure shield penetration, the enemies could sort their weapons to put missiles and bombs first. But I'm not going for completely nerfing the viability of targeting their weapons, just reducing the effectiveness of that tactic on "hard" mode.

From what I've seen in "Lets Plays," I think this is a semi-serious problem the game has. It's just a tad overly powerful of a tactic in general, effectively mitigating any threat the enemy generates by simply keeping their weapons pinned down faster than they can repair it, and only really counterbalanced by some ships having drones and boarding parties. The developers themselves probably realized this, which is why, in the last sector -- well, lets not go into spoilers.

Yet, Normal mode still manages to be a difficult fight indeed, so reserving this for a "hard" mode would probably be ideal.

fall_ark wrote:If anything,

My suggestions haven't been busted down to "anything but that" level already, have they?

it's the AI's targeting and timing that should be improved. We already have different types of Boarding AI, maybe there should be specific types of Weapon AI as well. Not just "fire weapon when cooldown is 0".

Clever AI that launches better volleys would be a substantial challenge, indeed.

I think this was omitted deliberately because the alternative would be unplayable no matter what you did. Imagine if (for example) the AI was smart enough to time its weapon volleys to overwhelm your shields and always have its remaining shots focused on perpetually keeping your primary means of attack down, preventing you from ever charging an attack. :shock: Assuming this is happening in fights from the very first sector, you couldn't survive more than 2-3 jumps of that.

So they don't, but you can - think of this as your "better captain" edge. The federation wouldn't trust just anyone with moving messages vital to their cause, now would they? Maybe your ship has been outfitted with some unique individual-system-targeting gear, too.

Still, it would be good to see this AI employed on special fights against "ace" encounter captains, such as those involved in unlocking ships, as chances are you'd have the necessary upgrades to overcome being pinned down by the time you encounter them.
Acid_Trees
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby Acid_Trees » Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:35 pm

I don't like the idea of adding new mechanics to a theoretical hard mode. It should be similar to the jump from easy to normal mode. I think messing with the AI would be the primary way to increase the difficulty, things like:

geldonyetich wrote:I think this was omitted deliberately because the alternative would be unplayable no matter what you did. Imagine if (for example) the AI was smart enough to time its weapon volleys to overwhelm your shields and always have its remaining shots focused on perpetually keeping your primary means of attack down, preventing you from ever charging an attack. :shock: Assuming this is happening in fights from the very first sector, you couldn't survive more than 2-3 jumps of that.


would certainly be the kinds of difficulty I'm looking for :D. Right now, getting through sector 1 with less than 3 hull damage on average...

EDIT: Also, having the ships run away more often when logical, such as if their weapon systems are down and on fire, rather than waiting until their hull is down to 1 hit point.
Watashiii
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby Watashiii » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:09 am

The time machine could have it's limits. When you pause, it starts losing "energy" and you need to play the game while it replentishes. That way, you couldn't be too relaxed, even when pausing

This mechanic would also be useful for multiplayer battles since nobody could stall the game for too long
geldonyetich
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby geldonyetich » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:55 am

Acid_Trees wrote:I don't like the idea of adding new mechanics to a theoretical hard mode. It should be similar to the jump from easy to normal mode.

I think the main reason I'm recommending it is because I do want the option of using those mechanics but they're tough enough that they make the game too hard for normal mode, which is already hard enough to give even the most experienced players an unsure chance of success.

geldonyetich wrote:I think this was omitted deliberately because the alternative would be unplayable no matter what you did. Imagine if (for example) the AI was smart enough to time its weapon volleys to overwhelm your shields and always have its remaining shots focused on perpetually keeping your primary means of attack down, preventing you from ever charging an attack.


would certainly be the kinds of difficulty I'm looking for :D. Right now, getting through sector 1 with less than 3 hull damage on average...

I like a challenge, but I'm pretty sure this would bridge the gap into "impossible," and that doesn't suit my definition. The thing is, it doesn't take much weapons to pull this off, and it very much turns the fight into "he who shoots first, wins" scenario. If you have a weapon preburner, very skilled crew, and low recharge weapons you might be able to get the upper hand, but you'll generally start off with none of the above, and of you miss and the enemy doesn't then the hunter and hunted reverses very quickly.

EDIT: Also, having the ships run away more often when logical, such as if their weapon systems are down and on fire, rather than waiting until their hull is down to 1 hit point.

Good call here. If the enemy AI recognized perpetually down means to attack as a reason to run, and attempted to run before it attempted to surrender, this would force the player to retarget the engines, which give the AI a chance to repair it means to attack.

The time machine could have it's limits. When you pause, it starts losing "energy" and you need to play the game while it replentishes. That way, you couldn't be too relaxed, even when pausing

This mechanic would also be useful for multiplayer battles since nobody could stall the game for too long

Good mechanic for multiplayer (which this currently-single player game does not have) but sucks for single player, because what if you have to get up and do something for a minute? Being forced to save because pause can't be trusted to pause indefinitely is awkward.
fall_ark
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby fall_ark » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:39 am

geldonyetich wrote:
it's the AI's targeting and timing that should be improved. We already have different types of Boarding AI, maybe there should be specific types of Weapon AI as well. Not just "fire weapon when cooldown is 0".

Clever AI that launches better volleys would be a substantial challenge, indeed.

I think this was omitted deliberately because the alternative would be unplayable no matter what you did. Imagine if (for example) the AI was smart enough to time its weapon volleys to overwhelm your shields and always have its remaining shots focused on perpetually keeping your primary means of attack down, preventing you from ever charging an attack. :shock: Assuming this is happening in fights from the very first sector, you couldn't survive more than 2-3 jumps of that.

So they don't, but you can - think of this as your "better captain" edge. The federation wouldn't trust just anyone with moving messages vital to their cause, now would they? Maybe your ship has been outfitted with some unique individual-system-targeting gear, too.

Still, it would be good to see this AI employed on special fights against "ace" encounter captains, such as those involved in unlocking ships, as chances are you'd have the necessary upgrades to overcome being pinned down by the time you encounter them.



Basically :) Maybe such AI will only manifest when you have a huge advantage, like 3 shields against 1 oneshot laser, 1 twoshot laser and 1 missile. The enemy will try to time their attacks (missile to shield then 3 shot laser to shield) so they have a chance to hurt you instead of just giving you shield/engine exp.

Make it happen once a while, just to knock you out of your comfort zone.

And maybe some scripted events should happen mid battle instead of beginning - "You don't know how they get through your Zoltan shield" is not that big a threat because their other weapons can't hurt you yet. Boarding parties are always more trouble when there's one or two rooms on fire/needs repairing.

And why do enemies often teleport into your system-free room, or even that place just near the airlock? Hmm...




Watashiii wrote:The time machine could have it's limits. When you pause, it starts losing "energy" and you need to play the game while it replentishes. That way, you couldn't be too relaxed, even when pausing

This mechanic would also be useful for multiplayer battles since nobody could stall the game for too long



The game already stops when the window is unfocused. There's no need to force extra rules on how long you can pause.



Acid_Trees wrote:EDIT: Also, having the ships run away more often when logical, such as if their weapon systems are down and on fire, rather than waiting until their hull is down to 1 hit point.


Having them FTL away while you have two crew fighting in their pilot room is horrible though. Maybe they shouldn't be able to FTL while they don't have control of the pilot room.
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geldonyetich
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby geldonyetich » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:30 am

fall_ark wrote:Having them FTL away while you have two crew fighting in their pilot room is horrible though. Maybe they shouldn't be able to FTL while they don't have control of the pilot room.

Is that still happening in the latest version? If so, I'd bug report it. If you can't jump away when your pilot is being fought off station, neither should they.
fall_ark
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby fall_ark » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:48 am

geldonyetich wrote:
fall_ark wrote:Having them FTL away while you have two crew fighting in their pilot room is horrible though. Maybe they shouldn't be able to FTL while they don't have control of the pilot room.

Is that still happening in the latest version? If so, I'd bug report it. If you can't jump away when your pilot is being fought off station, neither should they.


Lost my Rock & Mantis duo that way :cry: I'll try to trigger it next time to make sure. Though that thought alone causes me to shudder a bit...
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Towser
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Re: Thoughts On Hard Mode

Postby Towser » Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:08 pm

That's kind of a drag, especially since you can't keep a "lock" on the ship that jumped away to go in pursuit... :?

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