Combat Balance Improvements

Saelem Black

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#1
This one seems to be on my radar (hah! pun) quite a bit recently. I wanted to post a couple concrete suggestions concerning weapon balance and combat which I think would help the game tremendously. I'm also trying to keep this to the scope of things which could be adjusted in small unstable updates, rather than huge code changes. These suggestions should be taken together because some influence each other.

1. Explosive damage should not bleed through shields.
I don't know how to make a coding change which would do this, but one simple way would be to stop explosions from happening when they detonate on a shield rather than a block. This issue contributes strongly to the dominance of cannons and missiles, and that meta will not change until shields properly protect against splash damage.

2. Cannon rotation should not be a factor in combat.
In the real world, AGS naval cannons can swing so fast, they can swing to their stowage position and back again faster than their rate of fire (one shot every 6 seconds). This has been something the community has been complaining about since it was nerfed. I think the motivation was to try to curb the dominance of cannons in the meta. It was worth a try, but it didn't work. Really it's just very very irritating.

3. Armor panels should provide a concrete benefit, but should be much heavier.
I know, I know, they protect against certain types of damage effectively. But what's that worth with splash damage in the mix? Once again, relying on real-world examples, combat vehicle armor is specifically designed to be anti-explosive. My suggestion is that armor panels 1. don't fall off until they break, and 2. stop the explosions of any cannon/mortar/missile which detonates on the panel. They are still susceptible to damage from nearby splash, but no splash will be created if the projectile actually hits the panel. The panel will still take primary damage. As a consequence, the armor should add meaningful mass to the tech, cutting down top-speed and making hovers/airships more difficult to balance. Risk/reward and all that. You should be able to fully defend your tech with armor panels if you wanted to. Hawkeye Fortress armors should be classified as "armor" for this purpose, considering their dramatically higher weight than other corps.

4. Railguns should be shield penetrating.
These guns are awesome... at least their artwork is. In practice, they don't have much use. Rather than making them more powerful, make them ignore shields.

5. The Class-D laser cannon needs to be finished.
I know the art is done (probably), but functionally, this weapon is useless to the point that I don't think Payload actually finished coding it. The fix is relatively simple. Projectile speed should be on par with the Zeus, and the ROF needs to be improved to 1 shot every 2 seconds or so (same as megaton/HG-1). I know the projectile is powerful. Splash damage is more powerful, which is why most techs just use regular cannons. There's also a 1 second animation for the Class D to deploy which, although cool, is a serious detriment in an actual fight.

6. Shotguns need large damage boost versus shields, small damage boost in general.
Shotguns aren't that useful right now, principally because of their limited range. I understand the design intent of shotguns. They can actually do insane damage when used correctly because they're basically just splash damage generators. They deal small damage over a large volume, but very importantly, they only generate one projectile near as I can tell. As a result, they only do one tick of damage to shields. Shotguns are trying to mimic multiple projectiles all hitting at once, so my suggestion is to multiply the damage of that one projectile against shields considerably. The goal would be to drain shields at a similar rate as machine guns, but obviously at much shorter range. Once shields are down, they can apply their damage as before (though they should still receive a buff across the board). Lastly, if possible, their splash damage pattern should be reshaped to a cone instead of a sphere. I know spheres are simple to specify in the code, but a cone wouldn't be hard provided you could write geometric functions in place of variables.

7. There needs to be at least one end-game mortar.
Monster mortar, obviously. ROF should go up to one shot per 3 seconds, and it should get a mild boost in per-shot damage.
 
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Saelem Black

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#2
Double post for length (I'm a scientist, I can help it XD)

These suggestions, when applied together, remove the dominance of missiles and cannons in the meta without actually nerfing them. By making shields and armor both much better at dealing with splash, other engagement strategies besides cannons/missiles become viable, such as shotguns and machineguns. Giving armor more weight also helps define the trades between shield, armor, and speed, and the few weapon balance tweaks I suggested help move these blocks into utilization without making them OP. All of these together drive toward the purpose of making combat more design-oriented, which is ultimately the core gameplay loop of terratech. I hope @Matt and team will take a look.
 

Falchoin

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#4
Agreed with your points, except increasing armor weight and shield penetrating railguns. Admittedly, the armor weight increase dislike is mostly because such a change would potentially break nearly every hover, plane, and airship I've made. So it's mostly selfish reasons. I don't like the idea of shield penetrating railguns because it would replace one problem, explosives bleeding through, with another. I'd be fine with giving them X number of block penetration, or even armor penetration.

And I'd argue to truly give players viable alternatives to guided munitions all projectiles need to aim based off own tech movement and enemy vector rather than only shooting directly at the enemy tech. Smaller modifiers on damage types may be needed then as well, or the build meta would likely just shift to bullet spam with a few explosives for after the shields are down. Bullets deal 2x damage to shields currently! Folks generally don't care though because the bullets never hit anything reliably.
 

Saelem Black

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#5
Agreed with your points, except increasing armor weight and shield penetrating railguns. Admittedly, the armor weight increase dislike is mostly because such a change would potentially break nearly every hover, plane, and airship I've made. So it's mostly selfish reasons.
Just as a point of clarification, I'm only suggesting the weight increase on the armor panels themselves, not the body blocks. The small armor plate should go from 0.45 -> 2 maybe? The medium would go from 0.9 -> 4, and the large would go from 1.8 -> 8. Something similar for the GSO and GeoCorp variants. The HE body blocks are already heavy enough.

And I'd argue to truly give players viable alternatives to guided munitions all projectiles need to aim based off own tech movement and enemy vector rather than only shooting directly at the enemy tech.
I agree completely, but I think that will require a level of development in the AI which we aren't likely to get anytime soon. My hope is that all the changes I suggested would require minimal coding and could be rolled out asap if Payload so desired. But who knows, maybe I'm asking for the moon.
 

Falchoin

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#8
Just tossing out ideas now but... if shields do become impenetrable wouldn’t that make repair bubbles mostly obsolete? Because shields currently don’t drop unless the tech is out of power, but then the repair bubbles wouldn’t function either...

If shields collapsed after taking X amount of damage that would probably just lead to shield spam, and make most current techs obsolete in the process. So probably not the best idea.

If shields instead of fully blocking damage instead gave covered blocks damage resistance the meta would shift further toward repair spam (unless repair stacking was fixed too). Either way, it would also mean the best way to deal with techs would be to alpha burst as hard as possible to knock off/destroy blocks. Similar to what we have now in all honesty.

What if a tech goes into low power mode at some power level (like 30%)? Shields would be impenetrable up to that point, and in low power mode they’d be disabled but the repair bubbles would still function until the batteries were fully depleted. It wouldn’t break existing techs since most use both bubbles and it allows for both sets of bubbles to be useful.

And yes, I pretty much typed as I was thinking. Sorry for the ramble on the way!
 

Saelem Black

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#9
[Abbreviated for Length]
Some good thoughts.

I don't think repairs would be obsolete, I think they'd be more situational. Keep in mind, I'm also suggesting armor panels should be improved so that you could tank with them properly also. Repairs would be of great use to an armor tank. Secondly, in the case that your shields went down, but you still won the fight, repair bubbles would help you recover/recharge before engaging again. On my own techs, I tend to keep my repair bubbles on switches only, and just use them for post-fight repairs to reserve my energy during a fight for my shields.

As I continue to work through this, I do think bullets' bonus to shields should be reduced. 2x is a little ridiculous.
 
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burger1113

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#10
Yes, the rotation speed on cannons is just so irritating to watch, it just makes me avoid using them altogether and go to missiles.
Railguns should definitely go through shields, and also pierce through 2~3 blocks, damaging everything they pass through(less dmg the more blocks passed through, maybe) instead of letting one block suck up all the dmg. Armor plates however should be able to block them tho.
 
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MrTwister

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#11
Did you know that prior to 0.6.8 shields were a lot more powerful and stuff actually detonated on their surface? Actually, prior to that update combat balance felt much better with more real-world sense overall. I think they must have put another guy in charge of it at that point.
 
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MrTwister

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#12
As for cannons - almost feels like someone has a weakness for WW1 simulation with hand cranking and stuff. Another thing I can put in here is how the monster truck wheel was nerfed to craps with wheel turning update in 1.0.2 and then never looked at again.
 

burger1113

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#13
As for cannons - almost feels like someone has a weakness for WW1 simulation with hand cranking and stuff. Another thing I can put in here is how the monster truck wheel was nerfed to craps with wheel turning update in 1.0.2 and then never looked at again.
The wheels got a speed boost recently, if that's what you missed?
And no, I think hand cranked turrets are faster than terratech cannons lol
 

MrTwister

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#14
The wheels got a speed boost recently, if that's what you missed?
And no, I think hand cranked turrets are faster than terratech cannons lol
Turning is still broken on monster trucks, compared to the original version at least.
Just compare to large Hawk wheels - how they turn.
 
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#16
Sorry, I've not read all comments. Just from top post (and only quickly):

1. Explosive damage should not bleed through shields.
Hmm, maybe only with a new corp's shield... Or maybe HE/BF shields partially mitigate it too (but very hard to communicate to the player how much this effect is working).

2. Cannon rotation should not be a factor in combat.
Certainly I've said that turreted canons/missiles are currently worst than fixed alternatives, because of the crazy slow rotation speed. Re-buffing these would also make enemies with Megaton arrays a lot more potent and dangerous, though (especially given their per-weapon firing logic). So that would need factoring in.

3. Armor panels should provide a concrete benefit, but should be much heavier.
I was actually surprised by how light these are (when checking up in the great, interactive block stats site). I guess it's to account for their very small volume. But yeah, if they had radically different weapon damage modifiers, that would be great. Or explosion penetration blocking (complex).

4. Railguns should be shield penetrating.
Yes. Something, anything to make them less useless. Could be justified as high velocity (high mass) kinetic projectiles - maybe their damage is reduced after passing through shields.

5. The Class-D laser cannon needs to be finished.
Oh yes! I made this thread shortly before the Class-D was released, thinking of a long barrelled Ion canon, but the impressive beam is the main thing: https://forum.terratechgame.com/ind...ve-very-long-barrelled-explosive-laser.17750/

6. Shotguns need large damage boost versus shields, small damage boost in general.
Shotguns definitely weird, like the BF shotguns shoot right through the R&D brick and damage the other side... So maybe largely bug-ish issue (with inconsistent/reduced direct damage...?).

7. There needs to be at least one end-game mortar.
Monster mortar, obviously. ROF should go up
Yeah, this (as well as the rail guns) feel so under-powered. At least this is a lower level weapon in HE, though. But a potent version too, in that case.

And talking about underpowered weapons - the HE chain gun is just broken weak. A single HE machine gun takes half the space and is superior in every way.
 

Saelem Black

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#17
[Concerning Explosive bleed-through] Hmm, maybe only with a new corp's shield...
Certainly I've said that turreted canons/missiles are currently worst than fixed alternatives, because of the crazy slow rotation speed. Re-buffing these would also make enemies with Megaton arrays a lot more potent and dangerous, though (especially given their per-weapon firing logic). So that would need factoring in.
So all my suggestions are supposed to be interrelated. That applies to these two. No bleed-through would reduce the power of megaton spam considerably, and making the turning-speed-as-balancing-agent unnecessary. (Not that it really achieves that goal anyway) However, could you elaborate a bit more on why you don't think the current shields should be changed?

As for shotguns, they actually work quite simply, just not like shotguns in other games. What you were seeing wasn't a glitch. Shotguns don't generate projectiles like other guns. They simply generate a spherical radius of splash damage a short distance in front of the gun. This is clearly meant to mimic a shotgun blast without the computational strain of several simultaneous projectiles. Basically, they're just splash damage generators. The damage is applied to all blocks in the splash volume, regardless of depth. It's the same way explosions work. (The do seem to do more damage at the center of their "splash" radius though.) My suggestion basically just accommodates the way they work at present to balance them with defenses.