Unbalanced ships

General discussion about the game.
Jerjare
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Unbalanced ships

Postby Jerjare » Tue May 06, 2014 3:55 am

All the ships in the game have a theme. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. But there are a few that are underpowered. My issue with these underpowered ships is that the primary strategy is to sell the crappy stuff asap and buy decent equipment. I feel like doing that is an indicator that the ship is imbalanced. A bad ship shouldn't have to resort to making itself into a handicapped Kestrel just to get through 8 sectors and beat the flagship. Here's my biggest albatross:

The Vortex. Most players will sell all 3 drone schematics and the augment, so they will have the scrap for better upgrades and weapons.

The Vortex was meant to be a drone ship, but unlike the torus was designed around shipboard drones. Only problem it's this is a poor replacement for crew. Here are this ship's Primary problems:

Shipboard drones can't damage event ships: all the drones are defensive in nature. Their only advantage is being able to operate in a vacuum. (And with the addition of the lanius, that's become a bit redundant)

Drone Reactor booster is bad: in fact it's probably the worst starting assignment in the game. It only affects shipboard drones too.

Only one crewmember: While autopilot has gotten better, your still stuck at the helm most of the time. You're really dependent on crew, and either you get crew along the way and the drones become redundant, or your such with drones the whole time which is not power efficient and wont help weapon/shield recharge or evasion.

Also bad is no sensors, 1 bar of engine, and low dps. Compare it to Mantis B which to make up for no weapons has a 4 pad teleporter, boarding and defense drone, and 2 shield bubbles. (And keep in mind even though it has no weapons, it still has the weapons "subsystem" with 1 bar so it only needs to find a 1 power weapon)
Jerjare
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Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby Jerjare » Tue May 06, 2014 4:07 am

People say Stealth B and Rock A are bad, but these both have their own niche:

Stealth B is capable of 1 shotting many ships in the first 2 sectors. It's starting equipment can be upgraded to improve its survivability.

Rock A is limited by missiles, but not enemy shields. You can keep the launchers to use as an auxillary weapon later on to bypass 3 or 4 bubble shields.
project_mercy
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Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby project_mercy » Tue May 06, 2014 5:08 am

I actually usually do OK with the Vortex. Yes, it's kinda crappy to start, but at the same time, you have like 80 scrap worth of crap to vendor at the first shop you see (combat drone, heavy ion cannon, drone booster, possibly the 2nd repair drone). So, to that end, its not actually all that bad. If you find a decent gun in the first sector, you can pretty well rock on with it almost as easy as the Torus. It also depends on how lucky you are at finding free guys.

I would say the one failure of it is the heavy Ion. It's just a really terrible gun. Charge time should really be 12 seconds, or possibly 11.

While I put it on the "not very good" pile, it's definitely not in my "WORST.SHIP.EVER" pile like DA-SR 12, Bulwark, Stormwalker, etc.
Jerjare
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Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby Jerjare » Tue May 06, 2014 5:40 am

I wish it had 2x ion blast instead of heavy ion. You're right, the charge time is pretty terrible. The only good thing about its weapon combo is if you fire the heavy ion, then the heavy laser immediately after, the heavy laser will recharge and be able to shoot again right before the enemy's shield recharges. So what I'll do vs 1 shield bubble enemies is ion, heavy laser their weapons, then heavy laser their shields.

While that 80 scrap is nice, that's assuming you find a shop. And unless you get a drone schematic, you have a drone system that isn't doing anything other then freeing up a bit of reactor power.

Stealth B at least has a niche.
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5thHorseman
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Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby 5thHorseman » Tue May 06, 2014 8:46 am

There is no need to balance the ships. We're not fighting each other with them.

They offer beginners a chance to taste at least some victory sometimes, and get the fundamentals down before taking on more specific challenges. Some ships are harder to play. They offer a challenge to players who would get bored playing the other ships. Some ships are easier to play. Some ships are in the middle, to offer a spectrum of challenges and learning experiences.
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slattikarma
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:56 am

Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby slattikarma » Tue May 06, 2014 8:55 am

^ Exactly.

We aint playing an MMO here.

Thank god for ships like the Engi B and Rock A, that force you to play in a way that's not your preference and ramp up the difficulty. It makes the game way more interesting, enhances its longevity and makes victory all the more satisfying.
featherwings
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Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 6:27 am

Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby featherwings » Tue May 06, 2014 10:04 am

@Jerjare:
You might want to take a look at my mod if you haven't already. I'm trying to bring a lot of the bad, boring ships into a place where they're a bit closer to the rest of the fleet (or at least the A and B types.)

@slattikarma and 5thHorseman:
The problem isn't that the ships make the game harder. I play on hard difficulty pretty much exclusively. I enjoy the challenge and I really don't mind losing.

The biggest problem with the ships that are most commonly brought up as bad is that they aren't difficult in a way that's challenging, they're just difficult. They don't have a high skill ceiling or a lot of finesse, they're just unpleasantly bad.

The rock A is the biggest example of this. The Bulwark (rock A) doesn't make you "play in a way that's not your preference", it's not "harder to play". It's a ship with two missile weapons and slow crew. The Bulwark removes strategy from the game because it ignores a mechanic (enemy shields) and boils runs down to "find a new weapon or flounder and die". The people that are good enough to consistently win with it aren't skilled at the rock A, they're just that much better at the whole of FTL that when their skill is diminished by a weaker ship it's still enough to overcome.

The other two ships that are usually complained about are the same: the Vortex can't pierce level 2 shields unless it finds a weapon and it trades any crew-level decisions for automatic drones. The stealth B is literally helpless against several classes of enemies. No level of skill can keep a stealth B from being torn up if it goes against a beam drone ship and takes a hit to the weapons.

Skill will help you recover, and skill lets you operate with less so you can grab a weapon early, but it's unfun, artificial difficulty. I'd much rather see the entire game get harder in strategic ways than play "find a weapon or die in sector three after a tedious grind".

Last point: when the ideal strategy for a ship is "sell everything the ship starts with and makes it unique" there's something wrong.
Elhazzared
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Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby Elhazzared » Tue May 06, 2014 12:10 pm

I will agree with the notion that all ships don't necessarely need to be completly balanced because this doesn't has a multiplayer component to it.

That said ships need to have a certain balance factor to it because ships that are too good will detriment other ships that are merely decent and ships that are too bad will not be played at all, making the whole point of the development time that went into them just being a waste of time.

I don't find the bulwark being incredibly bad, it is indeed bad but not that bad! The stealth B is indeed a nightmare of a ship and quite frankly I wouldn't play it if it wasn't to try to unlock the stealth C and quite frankly, I won't play it past having unlocked it... Still i can say the same for the whole stealth ships. I don't find the stealth being worth the pain in the ass that is having no shields but that is already personal preference. Some people like he other variants, just not the B which everyone pretty much dislikes. The problem doesn't even comes from the ship itself but the weapon which has a 25 sec cooldown. If it was 20 it would work but 25 is too much, at least for a starting weapon on this ship.

The taurus and stormwalker are also pretty bad.

I guess that the fundamental principle that should e applied to every ship from a design standpoint should be how much potential damage can it do quickly while not running the risk of running out of ammo and not being stopped by one shields while 2 shields only negating the damage partially... Similarly it should also be set form a defensive standpoint that all ships should take about the same amount of damage per encounter.

Now some ships might fall outside of this scoop in order to fit with flavor. Let's say the mantis B which is pretty much overpowered defensively on, however lacks the weaponry to deal with both unmanned ships and zoltan shields early on... I don't feel it's completly balanced since I belive it should have a 1 power weapon, probably a missile or a 1 shield ignore laser and get rid of the boarding drone... Anyway, the point is. When a big weakness in a ship is created, then an overpowered bonus should be given. thus for no weapon you get overpowered defense here. This is the correct way to do it... Other ships have incredibly big weakenesses but are given nothing at all to compensate for it.
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Jerjare
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Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby Jerjare » Tue May 06, 2014 12:26 pm

5thHorseman wrote:There is no need to balance the ships. We're not fighting each other with them.

They offer beginners a chance to taste at least some victory sometimes, and get the fundamentals down before taking on more specific challenges. Some ships are harder to play. They offer a challenge to players who would get bored playing the other ships. Some ships are easier to play. Some ships are in the middle, to offer a spectrum of challenges and learning experiences.


If the only reliable way to win is to sell most of the ships' starting equipment then something is wrong. They could have had it start with no augment or drones or Heavy Ion, just a Heavy Laser and 80 extra scrap and you wouldn't be any worse off. Engi B is a droneship with bad drones; they exist to offset the fact that it only has 1 crewmember. The Engi B completely lacks any unique advantage to make up for this. Selling the shipboard drones/augment to buy better drones still puts you in the position of only having 6 starting drone parts.

I even find it harder to play than some of the other 'Hard' ships. Rock A at least can deal the most potential hulldamage per volley starting out (6, I think). Stealth B can literally take out most sector 1/2 ships in a single shot, so being a glass cannon is a worthwhile tradeoff. Zoltan C is actually better than most ships when dealing with ion storms (Zoltan shield, crew power generation, and backup battery are unaffected by the power reduction of these nodes).
Jerjare
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Re: Unbalanced ships

Postby Jerjare » Tue May 06, 2014 2:06 pm

Featherwings, I checked your suggestion for the Engi B and like it. Though I would be ambitious about the Vortex and Stormwalker:

Vortex: Definitely 4 drone slots. But limit weapon slots to 2 and give it no starting weapons, and only 1 bar if weapons. Have it start with combat drone, beam drone, repair drone, drone recovery arm, and 1 less starting reactor power. Now your attacks are very random but it will demolish unshielded scouts faster than any other ship. The augment encourages you to get defense/combat/anti drone/shield drones to try to win the game without needing to rely on weapons. It would be a little random but still fun since drone systems dont benefit from being manned.

Stormwalker: Honestly it would be more slug-like to have a ship that killed enemies by choking them to death. Instead of teleporter, what if it had breach bomb+bio beam? Breach shields, beam crew, then breach their oxxygennnnn and suffocate em!

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