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Aaron

Geoscape Balance Discussion V19 Stable Candidate 1

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A few fairly big changes to the Geoscape with this build:

- Increased the initial funding provided by backer nations by about 50%

- The value of recoverable alien technology reduced by 50%

- Reduced speed and turn rate of Xenonaut aircraft torpedoes

- Reduced aircraft evasive roll cool down to 1 second (from 4)

- Increased range and damage of alien fighter missiles, but reduced turn-rate

The air combat changes are obviously intended to make it harder to use an all Foxtrot fleet against escort UFOs; they probably won't be 100% exploit proof, but I am interested to see if they make it inconvenient enough to encourage Condor/Corsair use.

The second big change is a rebalance of the economy to try and get players to rely on funding countries more than recovered alien gear for cash.

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After FFing through a few months of air combat, they certainly make using all Foxtrots inconvenient. It may be doable still, but if it is you'd be aiming for a tiny window.

Air combat is now way harder, and seems like it will take a larger portion of your economy (need more hangars/planes). You now must have Condors to engage anything that can roll. Cannons are still terrible, but fortunately sidewinders can still kill fighters reliably (engage straight on enough, and fire mid-roll and the missile will connect).

You will take a ton of damage versus Fighter groups, so you'll need extra planes to not miss waves. I was basically constantly spamming the pause button, scanning to see if any planes needed to dodge again, and still missing things. I'm sure my skill will get better, but I expect I'll still take damage regularly.

I'm not sure on the viability of mixed Condor/Fox groups past the very early game. It seems like unless you AB in with your Condors, any Heavy Fighter that chooses to target a Foxtrot would be able to close with it and kill it before it could come in range of it's target and fire, but I haven't FFed quite that far yet. It will also be interesting to see if Corsairs feel worth using, since taking any significant amount of damage is nearly equal to being shot down, which may render them not worth buying.

So... go go hangar spam. I'm thinking 5-6 per base now. I'm tempted to try going one base, 4-5 Condor for my opener and see how it goes.

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I've not played this build yet, but:

@Aaron, have you seen StellarRat's proposal? Specifically his idea for an "Evade" ability instead of the roll ability. It'd take a significant portion of the tedious skill (pausing and checking to see if you need to roll) out, for one thing.

Here it is:

Like I said, if the Condor is supposed to be a gun "dogfighter" it needs to be able to get on the targets six o'clock without "heroic" measures needing to be taken by the player. If it took a long time to achieve this outcome I would get frustrated with the air game which I actualy enjoy right now. My suggestion is just to give the smaller ships a better chance to dodge torpedoes. Change the "roll" button to "evade" and make it continuously active for both alien and human "dogfighters". The ships will then fly a "snake" pattern at the cost of forward speed which allows them to dodge torpedoes, a % of missiles in the case of alien ships and a high percentage of alien fire in the case of human fighters. The amount dodged by human ships should related to how large the alien shot is, the bigger the burst the easier it is to dodge. So, a Condor would be able to close with a corvette without getting one shotted, but it would be damageable by alien fighters. And, of course, a Condor having closed on a corvette probably has little chance of doing more than damaging it, but at least could survive the encounter and disengage.

Along with this change, human "dogfighters" should always have a substantial turn rate advantage over all alien ships so the human player has a decent chance of getting on the aliens "six" and shooting at it without getting blasted.

These are some questions I asked Stellar about the idea:

#1 That sounds like a cool idea, actually. It'd change a lot about the gameplay; make it more "automated" in a sense, in that you'd only have to turn it on and off, instead of manually dodging everything. I like the sound of that.

#2 So, you can turn on and off this evade ability. Would it require increased fuel usage?

#3 Also, if you have the evade on could you still use the afterburners?

And his responses:

1. Yes, that was the idea. This manual dodging is silly and it feels gamey, IMO. The main reason being that the pilot would have enough sense to dodge an incoming round if he was able to. You shouldn't need to control that. It also is an FPS type of action and this game isn't an FPS. Additionally, if the plane is flying a snake pattern is easy to see when you have the "evade" turned on and off. As the "air commander" you probably only going to tell the pilots what approach to fly, how fast, and give them a general plan. Telling to "evade" in essense "approach with maximum care" seems much more "realistic" to me.

2. No, but since it would slow your forward progress it's obviously going to burn more fuel to get the same distance.

3. I don't see why not. Again, with both AB and "evade" on you're obviously going to burn a lot of fuel closing with the enemy.

The overarching concept in my head is to give the dogfighters a good chance of surviving a head-on encounter by using "evade". After you've gotten in real close with the DF planes (because you can survive using "evade") you use your turn rate advantage to get behind the aliens and as Chris says, "make short work of the fighters". I suppose you could also dump your ammo into a larger ship, but that probably wouldn't do much to anything larger than a Scout. I also wouldn't be opposed to reducing the range of the missiles to make them more like "dogfight" type weapons if "evade" was added. This is kind of version of the OG's "cautious, normal, aggressive" strategies. But that wasn't how I came up with it.

Edited by GizmoGomez

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Trying to shoot down that first scout was kinda amusing. Shoot cannon, it rolls, shoot cannon, it rolls, shoot cannon, it rolls. Just took a while....

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Hello,

noticed at start, you could manufacture a hunter scout car without researching, and yet I see there is a hunter scout car research.

What give? I thought you supposed to

research first to enable scout car manufacturing.

R

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Not really balance, but I don't know if it's needed to have a small research complete popup show up after doing a dissection of an alien corpse/UFO analysis. Those are automatically completed and the research complete screen redirecting you to your research screen doesn't seem very useful.

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Hello,

noticed at start, you could manufacture a hunter scout car without researching, and yet I see there is a hunter scout car research.

What give? I thought you supposed to

research first to enable scout car manufacturing.

R

Yep

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@Aaron, have you seen StellarRat's proposal? Specifically his idea for an "Evade" ability instead of the roll ability. It'd take a significant portion of the tedious skill (pausing and checking to see if you need to roll) out, for one thing.

As a low-tech alternative, could the dodge ability have the option to trigger automatically (basically like the UFO's roll?). That way, you don't have to micromanage it if you don't want and it will probably produce useful results. But you could also trigger it manually if you want to use it to do something more complicated (I think there's room for using it to shift to the side of a target to get a better barrage of cannon fire).

EDIT: Regarding air combat difficulty with the changes -if it's considered to be too much of an increase in the difficulty, would having two missiles in the missile slots rather than one help? This would allow a single Condor to engage more fighters and therefore make a mixed squadron easier to handle. It would also make deploying a Foxtrot with missiles in a support role more appealing.

You might need to play with the damage of missiles and torpedoes a bit so the former don't end up being as good or better, mind.

EDIT 2: Just did some testing. I'm finding 2 Condors to work fine against alien fighter squadrons and mixed fighter/UFO groups (with a Foxtrot against the mixed groups). I can do these fights with little to no damage.

Heavy Fighters are much harder though since you can't one shot them with missiles. In mixed groups, I was able to destroy the main UFO (therefore dispersing the squadron) but it would cost me my own. The strategies here seem like they'll be throwing plenty of Condors at them and then sending Foxtrots in another wave, or suicide-running Foxtrots to kill the UFO which disperses the UFO squadron at the cost of your own planes. Either way, heavy fighters look like they'll put a lot of pressure on developing aircraft tech unless you're willing to concede those UFO groups (which is not unreasonable - there's still plenty of other UFOs to fight!).

Edited by kabill

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We might buff the cannons a bit. The UFOs dodging cannon shots is a bit rubbish too. We'll think about how we should fix that.

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My impression on air combat is that the 19C1 changes have pretty done what I proposed though it is a bit tedious to close on a UFO now. The old song "Roll, roll, roll, your jet" comes to mind. But you solved the "differentiation problem" at least in my opinion. I think it's made the air game a lot more interesting. I think some players will find the solution in it's current form tedious and time consuming, but you can always use autoresolve.

One thing that needs to be looked at is the huge amount of fuel consumption the jets have while orbiting a grounded UFO. It seems way out of line. Jets consume much, much, less fuel when throttle back to minimum to keep them airborne.

The additional nation funding allows me to get a second base up and running without sacrificing everything else. Good change. Also, allow me to skip recoveries for Lt. Scouts, also excellent. Overall it's a great change. As you hoped, I now rely on nation funding instead recovery money. Good work.

The new research pacing is OK by me too.

Edited by StellarRat

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I think some players will find the solution in it's current form tedious and time consuming, but you can always use autoresolve.

One thing I did realise - unless the autoresolve calculator can differentiate qualitatively between different UFOs and planes, you'll be able to use it to produce results that would otherwise be impossible in an actual air combat (e.g. three Foxtrots with Torpedoes defeating 3 Fighters). Don't know how you can resolve this easily, though.

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One thing I did realise - unless the autoresolve calculator can differentiate qualitatively between different UFOs and planes, you'll be able to use it to produce results that would otherwise be impossible in an actual air combat (e.g. three Foxtrots with Torpedoes defeating 3 Fighters). Don't know how you can resolve this easily, though.
I guess that depends mostly on how much time GH puts into the calculator. In theory, it could run the whole battle internally and publish the results. Of course, how accurate the results are would depend on how well the programming is done. They could actually be way off of what a human could do in either direction.

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I still think autoresolve should be used in cases where you have won that exact combat before. In which case it just gives the same results as were observed the last time, except final fuel.

If you just want it to be a catchall... yeah dunno.

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- Reduced aircraft evasive roll cool down to 1 second (from 4)

- Reduced speed and turn rate of Xenonaut aircraft torpedoes

This looks like it will make fighters a lot more useful, and dogfights should be a lot more fun too!

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The one-second cooldown is either too short or there is a delay before we hear the sound, because I press the fire second missile as soon as I hear the first missile firing, but both missiles are dodged 90% of the time. whereas I can see from the screen that they are right behind each other. What is the purpose of this short delay anyway - to aggravate the player?

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The one-second cooldown is either too short or there is a delay before we hear the sound, because I press the fire second missile as soon as I hear the first missile firing, but both missiles are dodged 90% of the time. whereas I can see from the screen that they are right behind each other. What is the purpose of this short delay anyway - to aggravate the player?

If I've understood correctly, I don't think you're waiting long enough to feint effectively. Wait until the first missile has caused the target UFO to dodge - until about half way through the dodge - *then* fire the second missile. The second missile will be very unlikely to miss.

EDIT: Quick thought re: aircraft. At the moment, it seems like when an aircraft is damaged it will get repaired but won't refuel. Since even small amounts of damage have repair times lasting days, taking almost any damage basically puts your planes out of commission since you don't have enough fuel to fly out again.

While I'm ambivalent about whether this would be a good change, I thought it was worth asking: would it be desirable to have planes refuel at the same time as repair such that they can still fly out on missions when damaged (which implicitly seems intended, since above 50% hp planes can be relaunched).

Edited by kabill

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I think the appearance of the first scout should be a lot sooner. Unless I get exceedingly lucky, I always seem to fight a dozen light scouts before a scout finally shows up (and this is on veteran). After four or five light scouts, you're going to have a Hunter or Jackal armor which makes the these missions little more than a chore. After the player has recovered 4 light scouts, then scouts should start showing up at least once per wave, and by the end of October, light scouts should hardly show up at all.

I'm a lot less strapped for cash too, now that the funding nations are more generous. The player is basically guaranteed a fully operational second base by October's end whereas in 18.6, you had to down a lot of UFOs to have two fully furnished bases by the time plasma tech was reached. Making the player's success dependent on how many light scout and scout missions he can slog through and more dependent on how many critical missions (terror sites, base defenses) he can complete is more rewarding I think.

I still think that way too much of the globe can be covered by two bases, especially at the higher difficulty levels.

Finally, airplanes should have some rearming time, or capital ships should have shields. If an unescorted capital ship flies close enough to your base, you can take it down with wave after wave of MiGs firing avalanche torpedoes. You really *should* have to finish it off in one sortie, otherwise the air combat is made horrendously imbalanced just by a lucky alien ship spawning location.

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I'm a lot less strapped for cash too, now that the funding nations are more generous. The player is basically guaranteed a fully operational second base by October's end whereas in 18.6, you had to down a lot of UFOs to have two fully furnished bases by the time plasma tech was reached. Making the player's success dependent on how many light scout and scout missions he can slog through and more dependent on how many critical missions (terror sites, base defenses) he can complete is more rewarding I think.

I like the funding change, too. It's made the early game easier, in that I've been able to get new bases up and running more quickly and have never felt particularly cash-starved. But money's still a barrier to being able to spam bases/planes facilities.

I still think that way too much of the globe can be covered by two bases, especially at the higher difficulty levels.

Yeah, I think I'd like to see radar ranges reduced too. Although early on this would exacerbate the randomness around which kinds and how many UFOs you encounter, which isn't a good thing I don't think.

Finally, airplanes should have some rearming time, or capital ships should have shields. If an unescorted capital ship flies close enough to your base, you can take it down with wave after wave of MiGs firing avalanche torpedoes. You really *should* have to finish it off in one sortie, otherwise the air combat is made horrendously imbalanced just by a lucky alien ship spawning location.

Provided rearming and refueling happened at the same time (so coming back from long-range missions wouldn't be disadvantaged), I'm not sure this would be a bad thing (basically instigating a minimum-time-before-relaunch). This said, I'm not sure whether this would make much of a difference to your ability to send out aircraft on multiple engagements - I've been able to intercept UFOs on the edge of radar range, return to base, refuel and finally attack the same UFO again. Obviously, it's easier when UFOs are closer, but a pair of Foxtrots with alenium torpedoes can shoot down at least up to Landing ships in two runs.

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I still think autoresolve should be used in cases where you have won that exact combat before. In which case it just gives the same results as were observed the last time, except final fuel.

If you just want it to be a catchall... yeah dunno.

As an option, I like that idea if it is practicable.

I also kinda like the idea of making rolls automatic. I'm picturing something like many abilities in WC3, where you could right-click on Heal (for example) to have your priests use that ability automatically. You could also turn that off if you wanted to micromanage. That would take away the tedium for some of us while still allowing players that love air combat the ability to do it themselves.

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I like the option to do multiple engagements. All that situation means is that capital ships might need fighter escorts more often.

Yeah. If you have "wave after wave of MiGs" then you should be allowed to use them. It's not as though they're free. Even if it is a problem, I think it's better handled by reducing radar ranges (as Lemm suggests) meaning that the player has to set up more bases, which means it's harder to get a huge airforce.

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We will probably add a flat re-launch delay to Xenonaut craft to reduce the effectiveness of that kind of tactic - it won't eliminate it entirely but that's fine, sometimes the player needs a lucky break.

Also we have an idea in mind to break up the monotony of the early game light scouts, but as we are working towards a stable release we won't be implementing it yet - I'll detail it once the stable is out the door.

Edited by Aaron

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Also we have an idea in mind to break up the monotony of the early game light scouts

There is nothing more monotonous as to know exactly when next wave will arrive. Any plans to change that?

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Can the flat re-launch delay only be an hour, or even less? Anything longer would be really annoying.

Also, what is the reasoning behind a percentage based refuel and repair time?

I was thinking about how Condors often get hit by enemy fire but Foxtrots are much less likely to be hit. Thus, you have Condors repairing and not refueling while Foxtrots refuel. Also, when a mixed condor/foxtrot squadron arrives at base the foxtrot basically always has more fuel remaining than the condor simply because of it's larger tanks.

This means that if a condor took any damage (like they often do, considering how up close they need to get) then you have a rather long wait for the condor to be returned to combat ready and your foxtrot is ready after a much shorter time.

It means that foxtrots are going to be reusable much more often than condors.

Foxtrots would rarely get damaged (provided you're using condors to escort it and defend it) because they have to hang back behind their escorts. That's just how they're designed to be used. They take no damage by design, basically. They would also be fully refueled more quickly than the condors because of their larger fuel tanks. That's just how they are designed too; they expend less %fuel than condors and thus have more left over. They become fully fueled up faster by design, basically.

Condors, on the other hand, are supposed to fly in close to enemy fighters and dodge and maneuver around them to blow them to pieces with their guns. Thus, they're going to expend more fuel doing maneuvers and be much more likely to take damage due to their close proximity to alien fighters. By design they take damage more often, and on average they lose more fuel in the air combat than foxtrots do through use of maneuvers necessary to stay alive. They also have smaller fuel tanks and so that lost fuel is even more of a big deal.

Condors get damaged and lose fuel more easily than foxtrots, thus leading to condors having a much longer wait time to get out in the game. Even if they weren't damaged at all, they still have a much longer refuel time than foxtrots.

It just seems off balanced, that's all, especially since we now need condors to protect the foxtrots because torpedoes aren't overpowered.

Does anyone agree? Thoughts?

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