V1.77

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mandoman
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V1.77

Post by mandoman »

Having taken a break from ship building for a while, I have had a bit more time to play the game. I remember when 1.77 first came out that there was some discussion about the difficulty level. I have some observations.

First, since the NPC ships now have the potential capabilities of player ships, and if made that way in an oxp, they are more than extremely dangerous. This is not a complaint, but a sad observation. It doesn't level the playing field, it makes being the player an extremely difficult proposition. For one thing, the NPC ships rarely miss, when firing at a player ship, yet I'm still having the same difficulty level in centering my target for a shot. Computers work nearly instantaneously, so when an NPC ship, or ships, make me the central target, and if they are loaded to the gills with the highest level weaponry, which seems more common than not, unless I have enough killit misslies to take out all of them, or I can out run them, I'm basically toast.

Second, I love ship oxps, as they provide a much more diverse choice of ships in my Ooniverse. It seems that most of those ship oxps have a pirate version, or an open AI, so if they are even given a chance of being pirates loaded for bear, they are. I came out of a Witch Jump once, and three of those multi-laser mounted ships attacked me. I think they all had military lasers, and ultra hardened missiles, because I don't think I got more than a couple of shots off, and then I went boom. The ecm was useless. That's rediculous.

Third, I decided to tone it down a bit, and go out as a simple trader. I have a couple of ships I use for that, and a couple of planets for each ship that offer diversity in trade, being one of Agricultural type, and the other of Industrial type. My main goal with these ships is always to avoid fights, and get my cargo from point A, to point B without loosing the cargo. Keep in mind that one of the ships was a NovaBat, and the other a Genesis. These are heavily defendable ships, either due to speed, or mass weaponry. In both cases, my ships were hard pressed to make runs, that with earlier versions of Oolite, I felt I at least had a 50/50 chance of making it to my goal relatively unscathed. Not only do I never make it with my cargo completely intact, my ships took on so much damage on every run that I started loosing money in what use to be a lucrative trading route. The Genesis stood the best chance, and due to it's multiple ball turrets had a better chance of keeping attackers off while running for the Main Station from the Witch Point Beacon.

Conclusions.

Oolite has more than doubled the danger factor for players, even for seasoned fighter players.

The NPC ships are waaaaay more accurate with laser shots than player ships, which hardly seems realistic.

If NPC ships are given that uber level of accuracy with their aim, there should be an option for player ships to have their own weapons computer, that can lock onto, track, and fire at multiple targets with the same deadly accuracy.

I aim rapidly coming to the conclusion that having multiple ship oxps in my AddOns folder is probably going to have to change, which is saddening to me. I'm talking about my own oxps, as well as others. Some of mine are frightening with the accuracy, and power NPC ships now have.

If I had started playing this game with this version, I would have given up in frustration in a couple of days. Especially with the wimpy Cobra III, that has no fuel injection, and is sadly outfitted with less than useable lasers. In other words, not only can they not run from the uber accuracy of pirate attackers, they can't even defend themselves against said attackers.

These are just my observations, and opinions, and I don't expect anyone else to see it the same way.
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Re: V1.77

Post by Smivs »

Hi Mandoman, good to hear from you again, and also good to hear that you're playing a bit more. Not so good that you're finding it tough though :(
As I understand things, in 1.77 the NPC accuracy has not been altered but is in a range equivalent to Harmless to Competant. What has changed is the 'power' of the weapons. Again an expert might correct me, but I believe that previously NPC beam and mil lasers were not as effective as the player version, whereas they are now.
I am currently re-working ToughGuys for 1.77 and I did a bit of testing with the default game before I started. I was surprised at how effective the default NPCs are, so I agree with you that the game does seem to have got a bit tougher. Having said that I haven't really played much for ages, so it could simply be that I've got a bit rusty and lost my edge.
One other factor (and again I'm going on memory as much as anything - always a bad idea for me!), is that a lot more NPCs seem to have beam lasers where before I think they had pulse lasers. Is this the case, Devs?
Either way, my impression is that Mandoman might have a point, and the default game does seem a bit harder than I remember it. Personally I'm OK with that, but a Jameson could perhaps get a bit overwhelmed.
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Re: V1.77

Post by mandoman »

Oh, I can deal with it, now. I haven't lost my touch, as I have taken every ship I built out on numerous excursions, and faced down the deadliest forces I could find. In the case of ships I made as pure traders, I tried making trade runs with them, once again just trying to make it to the Main System Station with as little loss, or damage as possible. That's interesting about the accuracy not being above average on NPC ships. I don't remember getting hit so often before, Maybe it was just that they weren't as damaging. That has certainly changed. I don't feel safe without my fastest, most powerfully armed, and armored ships anymore. :|
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Re: V1.77

Post by CmdrLUke »

mandoman wrote:Oh, I can deal with it, now. I haven't lost my touch, as I have taken every ship I built out on numerous excursions, and faced down the deadliest forces I could find. In the case of ships I made as pure traders, I tried making trade runs with them, once again just trying to make it to the Main System Station with as little loss, or damage as possible. That's interesting about the accuracy not being above average on NPC ships. I don't remember getting hit so often before, Maybe it was just that they weren't as damaging. That has certainly changed. I don't feel safe without my fastest, most powerfully armed, and armored ships anymore. :|
I'm not a newbie player, but I didn't have any trouble starting fresh in 1.77 with the Cobra MkIII and via milk runs build it up to a decent vessel. I didn't go looking for the "deadliest forces I could find" until I was decently iron-assed, though. Pirates with beam/militaries are certainly quite fearsome, especially the more accurate ones, I will agree.

When I'm focusing on trade, I always fly outside the space lane, for speed and to avoid undesirables, and haven't noticed any issues safely reaching the station that way (I don't have deep space pirates installed, though). When I'm bounty hunting I make sure I'm well-armed, and usually do reasonably well.

I remember in original Elite I got to the point where I could just fire on space stations and sucessfully take on all the vipers that spewed forth, and that got boring pretty fast, so I like that things can get tough with oolite.

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Re: V1.77

Post by cim »

Smivs wrote:As I understand things, in 1.77 the NPC accuracy has not been altered but is in a range equivalent to Harmless to Competant.
Default NPC accuracy remains in a range of "Worse Than Harmless to Mostly Harmless" as in 1.76. The remaining higher ranks require explicit OXP setting. The rank names are only my approximation though, and they don't exhibit piloting skill in the same way that a player would.
Smivs wrote:What has changed is the 'power' of the weapons. Again an expert might correct me, but I believe that previously NPC beam and mil lasers were not as effective as the player version, whereas they are now.
Correct. The NPC versions in 1.76 had a significantly lower rate of fire, overheated around 2-3 times as fast, and took several times longer to cool, compared with the player lasers. The changes were not all in the NPCs' favour: their pulse laser had its fire rate slowed quite a bit.
Smivs wrote:One other factor (and again I'm going on memory as much as anything - always a bad idea for me!), is that a lot more NPCs seem to have beam lasers where before I think they had pulse lasers. Is this the case, Devs?
No, no change there at all from 1.76. The adjustment to specs does mean that the beam lasers visually look like beam lasers, and the pulse lasers visually look like pulse lasers, though.

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Re: V1.77

Post by mandoman »

CmdrLUke wrote:I'm not a newbie player, but I didn't have any trouble starting fresh in 1.77 with the Cobra MkIII and via milk runs build it up to a decent vessel. I didn't go looking for the "deadliest forces I could find" until I was decently iron-assed, though. Pirates with beam/militaries are certainly quite fearsome, especially the more accurate ones, I will agree.

When I'm focusing on trade, I always fly outside the space lane, for speed and to avoid undesirables, and haven't noticed any issues safely reaching the station that way (I don't have deep space pirates installed, though). When I'm bounty hunting I make sure I'm well-armed, and usually do reasonably well.

I remember in original Elite I got to the point where I could just fire on space stations and sucessfully take on all the vipers that spewed forth, and that got boring pretty fast, so I like that things can get tough with oolite.
How many ship oxps do you have in your AddOns folder, though.

I guess you would know, Cim, but I don't ever remember knocking out NPC ships as fast as they seem to be able to take down my shields, and when you have to face several at once causing that kind of damage, it's intimidating to say the least.
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Re: V1.77

Post by cim »

mandoman wrote:I don't ever remember knocking out NPC ships as fast as they seem to be able to take down my shields.
It depends a lot on the NPC ship. A full blast from a military laser will do just over 600 points of energy damage, in about three seconds. That will take out almost every NPC ship in the core game, assuming all your shots hit (a Python can sometimes barely survive it).

As far as you go, full shields with boosters and military enhancements will absorb just under 400 points of energy damage per side, or about two seconds of accurate military laser fire. That's an advantage the NPCs don't get at all. Then you're on to the energy banks and you'll last as long as the NPC version of your ship does, which will be a few seconds more (though if there's only one firing at you, they'll have overheated by then).

The default NPC AI in my experience is best between ranges of 2km to 8km. At that sort of range they'll hit a Cobra-sized ship at least some of the time, and your evasion won't be particularly effective because the angle you turn through on their viewscreen is still pretty small. Closer in and you're into dogfighting range, which they don't cope well with unless they have an aft laser fitted. Further out and they'll usually waste most of their laser temperature with missed shots, unless you're flying something much larger than a Cobra III, while a player can still hit them. Of course, lots of combat takes place at those ranges.

Your original post mentioned that you have ship OXPs with multiple military lasers fitted. There's not much you can do against that sort of firepower except not be in front of it. They're also likely to be on target with at least one of those lasers at a much greater range than a single-laser ship, even if they won't hit with both at once very often. Definitely 1.77 makes ships with that sort of ridiculous armament much more dangerous than in 1.76 - possibly if you want to keep the ships in you need to downgrade them to beam or even pulse lasers.
mandoman wrote:when you have to face several at once causing that kind of damage
Numbers are where the NPCs certainly have an advantage, though the default AI doesn't exploit that advantage as such: it's just more incoming fire.

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Re: V1.77

Post by mandoman »

Okay, maybe I HAVE slipped in my piloting skills.
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Re: V1.77

Post by Commander McLane »

I think the observation about ships with multiple military lasers is an important one: they were not able to take full advantage of their weaponry prior to 1.77. Therefore they had to be over-powered in order to be really serious opponents. With a "realistic" level of firepower they would not have seemed dangerous enough up to and including v1.76. Now, in v1.77, they are suddenly every bit as dangerous as their specs always led us to assume (but never actually were): a ship with multiple military forward lasers must be advantaged over the player, who can only have one forward laser. That those ships previously weren't very advantaged over the player serves to show that there actually used to be a big advantage for the player over NPCs.

If things had been correctly leveled, it should never have been possible for the player to reliably survive an encounter with a multiple-forward-military-lasers NPC.

So, now that things are beginning to be correctly leveled, it's maybe time to retire those ships, and replace them with variants that are not as ridiculously over-powered.

Summary: Previously the game used to be rigged in favour of the player. NPCs were made too powerful in order to compensate for that. As the game becomes more balanced, also the compensation needs to be tuned down. Multiple military lasers were part of that compensation.

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Re: V1.77

Post by mandoman »

There, I guess that was kind of the conclusion I was arriving at, without quite knowing how to express it. Heck, the single forward laser ships are bad enough, and now the multi forward laser ships, and multiple ball turret ships as well, and just plain murderous. I faced off with another ship, of my own design, with ball turrets blazing, and he beat the boogers out of me. I had to run to stay alive. For some reason, the ball turrets on my ship didn't fire when I thought they should, while my mirror enemy had his blazing from the beginning. Why is that?
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Re: V1.77

Post by metatheurgist »

Commander McLane wrote: So, now that things are beginning to be correctly leveled, it's maybe time to retire those ships, and replace them with variants that are not as ridiculously over-powered.
On that subject, can we also retire those ships that have been deliberately designed with a thin and small forward profile and then colored black so that I can't even see them when I'm about to run into them?

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Re: V1.77

Post by another_commander »

mandoman wrote:For some reason, the ball turrets on my ship didn't fire when I thought they should, while my mirror enemy had his blazing from the beginning. Why is that?
Turrets on player ships commence firing when all below conditions are met:
- The player has a ship entity targeted
- The targeted ship exhibits hostile behaviour against the player
- The targeted ship is within turret range
Of the three, we can exclude the second one in the case you are describing, since the opponent was firing already at you and therefore was clearly hostile. This means that one or both of the other two conditions were not being met at the time.

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Re: V1.77

Post by Eric Walch »

One thing that changed the experience is that NPC now have a real laser heat-up instead of the old random heat-up. Before, the laser got a random heat level after a shot, resulting in a random time before they were able to fire the next shot. Now, they all can fire multiple shots at the start of a combat till the laser has heated fully. After that they have to wait for a cool down after a shot. When attacking a group of opponents, this results in more fire power at the start, but lass after some time. On average there is no difference, but you have to survive the first few blows. :twisted:
cim wrote:
Smivs wrote:...but I believe that previously NPC beam and mil lasers were not as effective as the player version.
Correct. The NPC versions in 1.76 had a significantly lower rate of fire, overheated around 2-3 times as fast, and took several times longer to cool, compared with the player lasers. The changes were not all in the NPCs' favour: their pulse laser had its fire rate slowed quite a bit.
This will make the Hydras, Basilisk, Rattle Cutter etc. much more dangerous. In the past I could easy fight against 1 and with some difficulty against 2. Three simultaneously was a big risk I tried to avoid. They are mainly dangerous at medium distance. So against one it was a matter of closing the gap fast with injectors. Against two you could only do that trick at one, the other was a risk. With tree opponents, the risk was to big that one of the other two got a good shot at you.

Like McLane writes, those ships were balanced with multiple mil lasers to make them a real opponent for an experienced player. I haven't met many Basilisk since 1.77, I only can remember one last week that I killed, but in Military Fiasco you have to deal with 2 and 3 at a time. That mission might become even more challenging than before. :twisted:

EDIT: On the positive side for the Military Fiasco ships: The default firepower for mil-lasers is 23, but all the multiple laser ships already have reduced the output to 15 in shipData.plist. :wink:

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Re: V1.77

Post by onno256 »

Since 1.77 came out, I've started a new savegame, though it is tougher, it is do-able
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Re: V1.77

Post by mandoman »

It seems I have opened a can of worms. The game is still enjoyable, though more challenging. I guess the change kind of takes me by surprise at times, when I'm thinking a certain ship, or situation will go a direction it did before V1.77, and the whole thing goes off in tangents. Maybe that's just my experience. There are obviously those that really like the changes, so it's kind of a heads or tails situation.
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