Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

General discussion about the game.
Tal
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:22 am

Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby Tal » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:21 am

To start I'd like to say I love FTL - my play time is ample evidence of that. It's exciting, enthralling, and an inspiring example of what indie developers can create. I can't think of a major studio in the last few years who have brought out a single player game anywhere near as good as this. Thank you for giving me such a great time.

With that done, lets talk balance.

Teleporting

For me, the biggest issue FTL has is teleporting. For a small investment (75scrap), you can consistently capture ships - which has huge benefits - more scrap, more crew, and more weapons. It pays for itself very quickly.
You also don't need to invest in weapons (a bomb or missile to take out a medical bay/ reduce their firepower) is all you really need. Because weapons and weapons systems are so pricey, not having to do this lets you spend more on defenses, which means you take less damage, and get more money etc etc. It's also brilliant against the last boss. To put it simply, teleporting is reliable, predictable, and too good.

Raising the cost of the teleporter doesn't really fix this, because the problem is tied into FTL's biggest mechanical weakness - the boarding mechanics. For an example of perfect mechanics, look at the way fires work.

Even after 59 hours, when a fire breaks out on my ship (especially without the doors upgrade), it is dangerous, exciting, and just feels right. You think #$%*! my ships on fire, and try and contain the spread, watching systems crackle and burned crew flee to the medical bay. Boarding doesn't feel like that. Teleporting is 100% reliable, and once you get there it feels like you are playing a game and not boarding a ship/being boarded by a ship. Part of this is that the medical bay still works when intruders are there. This a) feels artificial, and b) makes the tactics simple. Unless you are by a sun or facing a ship which is already very dangerous, being boarded is nothing to worry about.

When you are the one doing the boarding, you don't have to worry about the med bay (because you know to shoot it), but you benefit from different weak mechanics. The combat is very predictable (damage over time instead of unexpected bursts), so you only risk losing someone to your own stupidity. Enemies can't obstruct your crew without reinforced doors, which few ships have. This lets you dance injured crew around with ease, particularly by using the pause function, which makes things even easier.

I have three suggestions which I think would improve this. The first is that the teleporter should have a miss chance, like missiles and bombs, and a chance of hitting the wrong target (equal to the miss chance). For example, you want to teleport your assault squad to the enemies weapons, but the enemy has an evade of 30%. This means there's a 30% chance the teleport misses (the crew just stay at home), and needs to recharge. There's a 30% chance it sends them to the wrong room (they teleport to a random room). There's a 40% chance they go just where you need.

The second is that medbays don't work when enemies are there. Simple and combined with suggestions 1 and 3 creates a new dynamic.

The third is that when a crew member is in the same room as an enemy crew member who isn't moving, they move at half speed. This allows crew to block or slow enemies, preventing too much dancing and getting free hits.

I think the result would make boarding a lot more exciting and fast paced. Ideally you want to get to their medicalbay, so they have no way to heal (or stop them getting to yours), but this will be quite risky without some softening up. It also creates the great situation of "target their engines!" "Enemy engines down! They're dead in the water" "Good, send the assault squad straight to their medbay."

The boss

I like the last boss - he's a nice challenge at the end of the game. But taken with the rest of the game, he creates a weird problem. The problem is because he's such a challenge compared to the rest of the game, you need to have a very good run to have to beat him. On most winning attempts, I get lucky/do well in the early sectors, and then can farm for the next 4-5 in relative safety. This was ok the first time, but not so afterwards.

In contrast to this, all my favourite games of FTL involve going from crisis to crisis, limping to a store, not being able to afford what I want because I'm spending so much on repairs, and each battle nearly being my last. But if you have a game like that, there's no chance at the end. This tension between the most enjoyable games, and winning the game seems strange, but I don't have solutions for this.

Crew

This kind of ties into the last point, in that if you are trying to prepare for the last boss, you shouldn't be buying crew - you can get a full complement by beating slave ships and boarding. Maybe they could be cheaper, or you could have a higher chance of finding your own race? I was sad to play the Zoltan ship and never get more than my starting crew as Zoltans.
There is a thread on this forum about veteran crew, which is awesome :
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3553

To add to this, maybe we could buy crew who have some skill already? Or have extra crew able to give benefits to rooms like drone control and cloaking.

Missiles

Missiles are fine for enemies, but for players they're just much worse than bombs, because doing hull damage is way less important than disabling systems, so missiles aren't efficient.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the game ;)
UltraMantis
Posts: 2141
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby UltraMantis » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:12 pm

Welcome to the forums. Great first post.

Tal wrote:Teleporting
The first suggestion is that the teleporter should have a miss chance, like missiles and bombs, and a chance of hitting the wrong target (equal to the miss chance). For example, you want to teleport your assault squad to the enemies weapons, but the enemy has an evade of 30%. This means there's a 30% chance the teleport misses (the crew just stay at home), and needs to recharge. There's a 30% chance it sends them to the wrong room (they teleport to a random room). There's a 40% chance they go just where you need.
I like this suggestion very much. It doesn't reduce the usefulness of boarding but makes it more challenging at the same time.

Tal wrote:The second is that medbays don't work when enemies are there.
I dislike this suggestion very much :lol: The problem here is that later when you get your ship and crew in order it is very easy to defeat an invading army by running to the medbay. However before you get nicely sorted out, in the very beginning you are vulnerable to boarders esp. if you start with weak fighters. In order to benefit from the medbay's healing powers your crew must unmann their posts, which can mean taking on extra damage from the other ship's weapons.

Tal wrote:The boss

I like the last boss - he's a nice challenge at the end of the game. But taken with the rest of the game, he creates a weird problem. The problem is because he's such a challenge compared to the rest of the game, you need to have a very good run to have to beat him.
I'm not so sure about this. The weakness of the boss is it's consistency. The worst ships in FTL are those that surprise you or luckily have the perfect counter to your 'build'. The boss requires experience and after defeating it a few times the player gets a pretty good idea of what to expect and what systems/offense to try and develop during their game. Boarding is insanely strong for defeting the boss's weapons but not so much when dealing with the medbay, cloak or engines.

Tal wrote:Missiles

Missiles are fine for enemies, but for players they're just much worse than bombs, because doing hull damage is way less important than disabling systems, so missiles aren't efficient.
You are refering to Hull missiles only, which do extra damage to systemless rooms and normal damage otherwise. They are still good weapons and if you have another weapon to target systems you can pound the enemy hull. Like beams, missiles are a little bit limited in usefullnes but compensate that with either sheer power or shield piercing or both.

Methinks Tal needs to take the Rocky Cruiser for a spin and perhaps reconsider his stance on missiles :D
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Madhax
Posts: 77
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:52 pm

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby Madhax » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:24 pm

Agree with you on some points, disagree on others.

Teleporting, I agree, should be toned down a bit. There's a "is there any reason NOT to teleport?" thread in the strategy forum, I think, that addresses this. However, I don't like the idea of med bays shutting down when intruders are in them, simply because it would create a situation where defending your ship is impossible. If four mantis board a ship crewed by zoltan or engi, the defending crew's only hope is to get to the med bay. I do love your idea of slowing attackers down, though. Not sure about the missing thing, since in certain situations that would just make the teleporter useless (against the boss, or automated ships).

The boss, I think, is at a good level of difficulty already. You like your games where you're limping across the finish line? Trust me, it's even more satisfying if you've flown a desperate ship all the way to the end, barely making it to the Federation base, AND are able to take out the flagship. It's hard as hell, but possible. Keep in mind, the challenge leading up to the boss is survival, while the challenge of the boss itself is simply defeating your enemy. In the previous sectors, you have to maintain hull integrity between shops, which sometimes are extremely illusive. Against the boss, you can sacrifice half your crew, use all your missiles and drones, and finish him with almost zero hull integrity and half your cruiser on fire. Hope that makes sense.

Missiles? Yeah, I guess they're a little weak compared to some other weapons... sometimes. They're faster than bombs, though. And I think your assessment of the strength of bombs compared to missiles is assuming a boarding strategy, which isn't necessarily a given.
Tal
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:22 am

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby Tal » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:56 pm

Thanks for the replies guys :)

With regard to the medbay shutting down, I'm just thinking of a way to make boarding better. Maybe a more subtle change would work - like reducing the rate of healing - so a determined hit squad can finish off injured crew who run there, but not take on full health crew who are prepared for them. Right now stepping into the medbay feels like a ticket to immortality, which just feels weird.

To use another analogy to explain what being boarded by mantis should feel like, think of the feeling when a boarding drone arrives in a critical room of your ship (say shields). It's terrifying, and there's a lot of crisis management because a) it doesn't care about oxygen, so you can't distract it from destroying the system b) it creates a breach which makes fighting it hard.

Most of all, the medbay makes boarding events when you are not fighting another ship a waste of time. it's nearly impossible to lose, or even take damage.

Yes, certain ship types would be vulnerable to people teleporting directly into it in the first couple of sectors, but lots of ships have some glaring early weakness. E.g an early fire is very hard for the mantis ship to stop, and an early offensive drone is a nightmare for the stealth ship.

Good point about trying to beat the boss with a desperate ship. Actually doing it with any ship that doesn't have cloaking or 4 shields and high evade is pretty scary, as you'll get hit by the superweapons very hard.

On missiles: I don't just mean with a boarding strategy. At anytime it's essential to knock out enemy weapons before they hurt you - and bombs have lower charge times/power costs/prices. What I meant by damaging the hull was that any missile (not just ones which do extra against the hull), also does hull damage, and so costs more than the bomb version. Perhaps it's just that bombs are too good, rather than missiles being bad.

Sadly I don't have the Rock ship yet, or the Crystal one. For most of my playthroughs I tried not to spoil myself, finally giving in to get the Mantis and Slug after many failed attempts. Now I know what was necessary I definitely could have had the Rock ship a few times - maybe i'll be lucky next game.
SushaBrancaleone
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:23 pm

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby SushaBrancaleone » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:06 pm

heyya. I agree mostly with ultramagnus but i feel for the issues the op is adressing.

about the medbay and the final boss. these are core mechanics of the game and i dont see them changing. the boss is great fun also. I do agree that boarding is a very reliable tactic to finish the game. so much so that i havnt played other ships after having unlocked crystal b. still if u can still decide to do a run without using teleport.

The most logical solution i see is either a 3rd lvl of difficulty, where AI is more efficient at defending, boarding etc. (or just has more "points/energy") or a sandbox mode of the game with no final boss and level that keep spawning and getting harder.

as suggested by some1 the crew could have the possiblity of becoming veterans. you could be able to choose 1 crewmember when beating the boss to be used in the sandbox version of the game. or you could be able to unlock "hero" crew that you could then use in the sandbox version. Example, mantis hero (found with a quest like the already implemented slug hero stuck on a moon) could have a cross race ability and a different colour from normal mantises.

and finally about your suggestion on teleporting. I feel there would need to be a chance of losing your crew. as you said boarding allows you to save scrap to invest in def. this is a great strategy to beat the game as the op mentioned, cos all otherstrategies are much more luck dependant. The only way i see boarding can be balanced is to make it as "luck dependant" as it is to lvl up a ship set up for range combat. The riskiest aspect of a boarding strategy is loosing your fighters. If the possibilities of loosing your crew were greater then boarding would cease to be such a convenient strategy to beat the game. If upon teleporting, each teleported crewmember had a lets say 6% chance of being teleported to outerspace and die, this would make boarding much less reliable. It would also be realistic. If you knew some1 was trying to teleport on your ship, wouldn't you try to scramble their signal?

ciao
Madhax
Posts: 77
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:52 pm

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby Madhax » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:57 pm

I'd rather avoid random crew member deaths due to boarding. Right now, losing crew in combat is an avoidable issue, and losing crew to random events usually involves taking risks with them (engaging giant space spiders or manually searching wreckage, for example). Incorporating a static chance to lose a crew member whenever using the teleporter is just un-fun.

Edit: I'd rather simply see larger enemy crews and slightly better enemy AI. Currently, if the enemy's med-bay is disabled or nonexistent, they'll fight to the death even if they have friends waiting for their own turn to brawl. Simply letting the AI retreat to some other room that isn't necessarily a med-bay would make boarding much more challenging, and if enemy ships had crew sizes comparable to the player's crew, then boarding with two mantis wouldn't be such an overpowered move.
spacecadet13
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:10 pm

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby spacecadet13 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:50 pm

Agree completely about Teleporting - it is seriously OP, especially once your boarders are levelled up. Unless you make a mistake - autofire etc - or get seriously unlucky - a drone hit to the teleporter when almost the whole enemy ship is on fire and down to it's last one or two hull points..' Engi! RUN! Get the Teleporter fixed STAT! Ohhhhh sheeeeeit. Engi? How'd you like a new role on the ship. Waaaay more exciting then manning engines and fixing stuff. What's that? Oh, knock it off, you'll be great!...."

Whoa, were was I? OP boarding, right, yes, once you have a good team and suitable weapons to support them with, you almost can't lose, and the rewards are out of all proportion to the cost. I like the idea of the teleporter "missing" and having to recharge, and also for the crew to land in different rooms to the ones targetted. In later sectors, enemy ships should have at least lvl 2 doors, to stop you just waltzing through as you please (and making the door controls a priority target). Medbays - yeah, if you are fighting in them, defending your ship, your healing should be reduced, so that you are still taking damage throughout a fight, but at a slower rate - something like the Engi Medibot Augment rate would be appropriate I think. And reverse applies on enemy ships - they still heal, but slow enough that fighting them in an undamaged medbay is feasible. I also think boarding drones and AP drones need a boost - sure the boarding drone is a pain when it breeches, but once it is out of that room its basically a creampuff, and the AP drone? Who doesn't sell it at the first available store? ('cept maybe for the Engi B)

Bombs are way more useful than missles - missles can miss AND be shot down - bombs can only miss. Plus, when you are boarding, at lot of the time you don't want to do any hull damage - taking the targetted system down and injuring enemy personnel is what you want, and bombs fit the bill very nicely.
UltraMantis
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby UltraMantis » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:09 am

spacecadet13 wrote:Bombs are way more useful than missles - missles can miss AND be shot down - bombs can only miss.
It's not a democracy :D You don't get to pick. I have to put what i find to best possible use. Ion or Breach Bombs are my favourites though :D Much rather have enither of those than any missile, but i was suprised just how effective and destructive a pure missile offense can be. Pounding things into oblivion is very appealing :lol: esp. after so many runs with wimpy weapons.
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Kestral B
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Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby Kestral B » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:34 pm

I really like your suggestions about boarding and being boarded. Right now they are fairly predictable situations, and not usually dangerous unless you actively make a mistake. I don't think the answer is to nerf boarding or make it worse, but I wholeheartedly agree that it would be more fun if there were a bit more complexity/risk to it. Not dumb risk that you can't do anything about - just unexpected things that you might have to react to.

Boarding:
As I agree that making it less than 100% predictable would be great, and that connecting a "miss and recharge" and/or "go to the wrong room" chance to the target ship's evade chance is a great idea. It gives you a reason to hit their engines or cockpit first before you try the teleport. It also gives you a reason to upgrade your teleport pad, which right now only really matters for boarding auto-scouts with no air on them. If there was a possibility of something going wrong, you'd want your recharge time as small as possible so you could react.
* I'd also like to see some augments that let you further *specialize* in boarding. Right now you only need two things: the system itself (lvl1 is usually fine) and 2+ mantis/crystal/rock crew to send over. That's it. There's no other way to make your ship better at boarding other ships, except getting bombs or a boarding drone to support them. An augment that made you take less suffocation damage would be cool. An augment that let you teleport through Zoltan shields would be cool. An augment that directly effects your crew's damage or max HP or lets them hack the locks on enemy doors more quickly than they'd be able to blast them down...you get the idea. Since it's a fun and dominant strategy, you should be able to specialize in it. :)

Getting boarded:
I agree the "run to med bay" strategy is not super cool and is way too easy. I would like it if this were not the players #1 go-to strategy when they got boarded. But if we nerf med-bays in combat then what are you supposed to do if your zoltan-engi crew gets boarded by stronger fighters? Close the blast doors and evacuate air from the rooms with intruders, obviously!! This is a much cooler strategy. It's already part of the game, but I think it would be awesome if it became the best strategy against boarders and the one that everyone always used/had to use if their crew wasn't strong enough to take on the enemy man-to-man.
So, I guess to make that happen you'd have to not just weaken the "fight while healing at the same time" strategy but also strengthen doors/environmental control in general. Stronger doors (easy change) and perhaps give upgraded O2 systems an active ability to evacuate or channel new O2 directly to/from specific rooms (a more involved change, or perhaps also an easy one, depending on how the code governing O2 levels actually works now).
And...I know a lot of AI ships don't even have outward facing doors...but, how cool would it be if they tried to do this to you?? That would give you a reason not to feel safe sending your crew to an enemy ship with only one power bar allocated to the teleporter. :)
* The Engi med-bot augment, or a similar one, could let you return to the glory-days of "my med-bay makes me immortal in combat by fixing blaster wounds as fast as you can pull the trigger on your blaster!", but it'd be a specific strategy based on a super-cool augment, not the default strategy used by everyone all the time. :)
* You could have an augmentation that electrified your blast-doors so that enemy crew took damage when attacking them; just another fun way to make it different sometimes.

Just my thoughts; a bit disorganized.
Tal
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:22 am

Re: Balance thoughts after 59 hours.

Postby Tal » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:04 pm

Thanks for the response :)

Yeah I agree that using airlocks to fight intruders more would be much cooler. And I like the idea of enemy ships doing it to you.

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