A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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Astrobe
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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Astrobe »

Diziet Sma wrote:
my ammo crate wrote:Colour model to contrast against dark background (example: red tip, light grey body).
Tweaking the Gamma setting (in F2 Game Options) up a notch or two helps a lot with being able to see ships against the background.
Also, you can get the Headlights OXZ, and set lights to minimum. When you decrease it again, it wraps around to max lights. If you increase it again, it wraps to minimum light. This acts sort of like an IR camera toggle. Useful for locating the station, and cheaper than an advanced space compass.

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Astrobe »

Diziet Sma wrote:
my ammo crate wrote:I also got vapour trails to help track my targets. Finally, a cheat menu, and with it, I disabled hostile ECMs, disabled AI use of missiles and activated ‘enhanced recharge rate’ (not entirely sure what this does, but I know it’s a positive effect). I gave myself tons of credits to buy anything that would give me an edge in combat: shield boosters, fuel injectors, extra energy unit, an ECM, and 2 beam lasers, front and back. I left trying to get myself into a fight for once, and quickly ran into a group of pirates.

I used my entire arsenal and I still lost. (Okay, maybe I am a shitty pilot.)
Ok.. no judgement from me, here. Ultimately, the only person you're "cheating" is yourself, and you're the only one who can decide what you're willing to live with. All I'd suggest is, once you have more of a feel for the game, you'll probably find you can get by without such aids. Some of the tips yet to come will hopefully help in that regard.
I'd like to emphasis this comment. There is no cheating in this game. The whole point of the 400 OXZ available (plus the OXPs) is to customize the game to whatever you like. If you like to blast enemies by dozens like it's Space Invaders then find an OP ship, add Thargoids and go for it. It is your game.

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Fritz »

I had the same first impression (read the thread First experiences / difficulties if you have time). Part of my problem was probably that I was used to playing Elite on the C-64, and there I've had military lasers for a long time, and I couldn't remember how fighting was in the beginning. But I'm sure it wasn't that frustrating, and meanwhile I know that destroying a ship in Oolite is actually much harder than with Elite, even if you have military lasers, and because of this you have to employ different strategies.

The problem is, when you start, you don't have anything useful for fighting. The pulse laser is near to completely useless, it's just some kind of headlight, and they only give it to you to make you _think_ you can achieve anything with it! You don't have shield boosters, and you don't have an extra energy unit, so you are an easy prey even for pirate ships with weak lasers. There aren't any "levels" in Oolite, so the AI doesn't know that you're a noob, and the NPCs act as if you had a perfectly equipped ship!

But in the beginning, you actually have one of the weakest ships in the Ooniverse. And to make it worse, the Cobra Mk III is quite big and easy to hit. Today, I'm counting these ships to the easier targets when I'm attacked by a group of ships, even Kraits are usually more difficult to kill. The advantage of the Cobra Mk III is a relatively high speed combined with some cargo capacity, so you should trade - and run away from pirates while you still can.

I spent most of the first hours of playing with trading between the planets Diso and Leesti to make money as fast as possible. I bought my cargo bay extension after the 7th trip, the first beam laser after the 18th trip and the first military laser after the 56th trip, and I was still "harmless" at this time! Today, after playing quite often in the past three months, I could probably survive and even win some pirate encounters with a beam laser, but, to be honest, that's not fun. For me, Oolite became a good game when I could afford military lasers.

If I could change something in the core game, one thing would be to give the player beam lasers from the start to reduce the beginners frustration. I stuck to it, and I came to the forum to talk about it. But how many people delete the game out of frustration without saying anything?

Later, when you are used to Oolite and when you have equipped your ship with essential equipment, you would find the game too easy if the NPC AIs were weaker than they are. For me, some of the NPC ships are starting to appear too weak (strangely not all of them), and I have the impression that the player ship has a big advantage over a NPC ship with identical weapons and other equipment, even if the player only uses very simple strategies (like "keep firing on the target until the lasers are hot"). I'm planning to post something about this in the coming hours or days.
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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Diziet Sma »

my ammo crate wrote:
Diziet Sma wrote:My guess would be you came across an encounter between traders (quite likely with escorts), and pirates, or it may have been a group of bounty-hunters vs pirates.
Huh. I thought it was a battle between two opposing factions, hinting at something I could learn more about the more I played (there's probably an OXZ for that).
You're right.. there is an OXP for that.. (not an OXZ though, it hasn't been converted to OXZ yet). It's called, coincidentally enough, [EliteWiki] Factions. Just as there are "flavour" OXPs to give more depth to Anarchies, Feudal Worlds, Dictatorships and Communist systems, Factions does the same thing for Multi-Governments. Basically, factional teams from Anarchy, Feudal, Dictatorship & Communist systems all travel to some nearby multi-gov system, in an attempt to swing the various governments on the planet towards their particular point of view, subsequently discover that they weren't the only ones to have the same bright idea, and promptly start fighting one another in the middle of the spacelane. They'll only fight with ships of opposing factions. You can wade in, or not, in whatever way you choose. Sound like fun?
my ammo crate wrote:
Diziet Sma wrote:Tweaking the Gamma setting (in F2 Game Options) up a notch or two helps a lot with being able to see ships against the background.
It seems to up the brightness of the whole screen, not just the Oolite window. Not too big of a problem, but does become a power issue when I'm on the go.
That's why I suggested only one or two notches above normal.. you don't want to overdo it. Also, you play in windowed mode, rather than full-screen? :shock:
my ammo crate wrote:
Diziet Sma wrote:That's called parallax. It's real, and it's in Oolite.
Wow, pretty cool that's in here. But is it a big effect? Because to me, it looks like I always fire dead-centre of the reticule.
How big an effect depends on the type of ship you're flying, the distance to target, and the size and shape of your target. Some ships, such as my Pitviper, or an Imperial Clipper, can be quite hard to hit from directly in front or behind, as there's lots of open space adjacent to the engine nacelles and cabin area. If you're not dead-on, you'll probably miss. If you ever choose to fly a Caduceus, you'll have no parallax at all to worry about, as your view looks right through the laser barrel. 100% sighting accuracy.
my ammo crate wrote:(Surprised Multi-Gov is as high up as it is. Doesn't sound so nasty.)
Well, the Multi-Gov known as "Earth" can be a pretty nasty place.. imagine what could happen if our various governments could all field well-armed spaceships? And from a bad-guy's perspective, the nice thing about Multi-Govs is that you can always play one side off against another, to keep them from bothering you, and that no matter how evil you may be, there's always someone willing to make a deal with you, so as to get an advantage over someone else.
my ammo crate wrote:
Diziet Sma wrote:A Corporate world that happens to have several Anarchies for neighbours will experience regular pirate raids from those systems, making it somewhat more dangerous than one whose neighbours are Corporate and Democratic worlds.
That is cool. Really enhances that feel of an active world. Also explains why pirates keep showing up around Diso and Leesti. I should probably pay more attention when I plan my routes. And get away from that Lave-Riequedat-Oreve triangle of chaos.
You'll probably find this next factoid pretty cool too, then. Oolite goes to great lengths to keep things as non player-centric as possible.

What this means is several things.. for starters, with very few exceptions, any equipment you can use, NPCs can use too. That goes for addon equipment as well. For instance, if you download and install some uber-missile, thinking it will help your game, be aware that NPCs can and will use it on you also.

In many/most games, the player is "special". They get to be the big hero that saves the day. The game will create events and/or opportunities specially for the player. However, in Oolite, just like in real life, you're just another average nobody, and the game won't do you any favours. In the original Elite, the game would spawn pirates ahead of your path, just outside scanner range, for you to encounter. Oolite doesn't do that. When you jump into a system, a whole bunch of ships are generated, and randomly, if logically, positioned, and they then go about performing whatever tasks their scripts assigned them.. be it miners, traders, patrolling cops, pirates on the prowl, bounty-hunters looking for pirates, scavengers opportunistically grabbing unattended cargo, you name it.. new ships will arrive in-system as you play, and others will jump out.

The effect is that the system is full of living, breathing characters, just going about their day-to-day lives, doing whatever it is they choose to do.. just like you. Also, they notice your actions. Even if you're careful to keep a clean record, if you regularly engage in acts of piracy, you'll get something of a reputation, and other traders will be wary of you. Get enough of a piratical reputation, and other pirates will tolerate your presence without attacking you, or even invite you to join them on raids. Even if you're clean, cops will start tailing you, hoping to catch you in the act. On the other hand, get a reputation for helping cops out in skirmishes with pirates, and they'll be inclined to overlook the occasional accidental 'friendly fire' incident. Get a reputation as a bounty-hunter, and pirates will be more likely to shoot on sight, than demand cargo from you. Also just as in real life, your reputation tends to fade with distance from where your acts took place.

Unlike in Elite, as you've noticed, while you're tooling along the spaceways minding your own business, there are often life-and-death battles raging around you, beyond your scanner range.. at times, off in the distance, you'll sometimes see hints of laser fire and the odd explosion.. (and sometimes more than hints.. I recall one time, off to the side, there must have been a big naval engagement going on.. and somebody set off a q-bomb, as blue globes suddenly erupted way off in the distance.. had to have been a big fight, as the fireworks went on for what seemed like several minutes, across hundreds of kilometres.)

You might get pleas for help over the Comms.. in some games, that would be a trap set by the game, for the player, trying to tempt them in. In Oolite, it means somebody really is in trouble.. and it's your call whether to respond or not. Just to keep you on your toes though, in the latest pirate AI, some pirates might occasionally broadcast fake distress signals, just as you'd imagine they might in real life.. basically, we try to make sure that Oolite is as real-to-life and internally logical as we can make it.

If you see a witch-cloud of a ship that's just jumped out, you can dive into the cloud and hitch-hike, getting a free ride (fuel-wise) to wherever they were going, and they'll be there just ahead of you, when you arrive. If you have a witch-cloud scanner, you can learn where they were going, and if there's a faster route to that system (two short jumps are faster than one long jump), you can take the fast route, get there ahead of them, and loiter by the witchpoint beacon. And bang on time (as calculated by your scanner), they will pop out of witchspace near the beacon, and you can ambush them, if that's your thing. I'd love to see an OXP mission take real advantage of this feature some time.. it hasn't happened yet, that I'm aware of.

The AI has gotten to the point that it's pretty sophisticated, and sometimes produces emergent behaviour that looks far more intelligent and calculated than it really is. Even us old hands sometimes get surprised by the things that can happen, like a cop, apparently intentionally, taking a missile to protect the player.
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Cody »

Diziet Sma wrote:... but be glad you missed version 1.80, where the combat difficulty inadvertently got overly ramped up.
<grumbles>

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Layne »

Late to the soiree, I see. All the good advice has already been parceled out and I'm left with, 'Always wear clean socks' and 'Bleach the intake manifolds on your Witchdrive frequently'.

Remarkably enough, I had /exactly/ the opposite reaction to combat in Oolite-- my reflexes have slowed since the days of Frontier, and I can only play the game on a keyboard, which makes Oolite currently the only Elite clone/branch/offshoot/scion/Fitzroy that I can still have a halfway decent combat experience in. The ability to remap keys and tinker with the environment meant that even though I started in 1.80, I never found the combat prohibitively difficult even in that version. (Side note, I don't really find the combat in 1.82 to be significantly different aside from the AI being more predictable in some respects. I miss the slightly more 'spontaneous' feeling the 1.80 AI seemed to have.) Of course, I learned to run away pretty quickly and I've always favored the smaller, faster ships instead of traders.

One useful OXP that I did not notice (though the thread is long and the posts meandering) mentioned is Broadcast Comms, which lets you attempt to bribe individual pirates with a direct cash transfer. You can buy off the guy on your tail with an offer of five or ten credits, and they'll usually stick to their end of the deal-- though not always. At a cheap install price, it's a boon, especially for those of us who can't really carry cargo to dump. It also lets you taunt pirates (which can mess up their aim) or threaten them (which can make them break off and flee). As OXP's go, it adds a lot of new tactics to Oolite combat.

Also, welcome to the forum, My Ammo Crate. I hope you're not the sort that's the explosive obstacle in a First-Person-Shooter.
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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Norby »

Welcome my ammo crate in The friendliest board this side of Riedquat™! ;)

Thank you for your detailed post, we (OXP developers) really need these feedbacks.

The following helper packages can be in your interest:
[wiki]Combat Simulator[/wiki] train your skills without any risk.
[wiki]Gates[/wiki] for safe travel in advanced systems.
[wiki]Telescope[/wiki] highlight ships, give a sniper ring to help aim over 10km, list the nearest targets on MFD, can lock targets not only within the crosshairs, etc. There is an Extender in separated package (due to provide even more help) which detect ships right when visually appear (2-4x scanner range depending on ship size) so you can avoid troubes if you are cautious.
[wiki]Total Patrol[/wiki] increase the GalCop presence in systems which help a bit until your status is clean.

Later when you have money:
[wiki]Energy Bomb[/wiki] as a last resort defensive tool before using Escape Pod.
[wiki]Hired Guns[/wiki] to rent a pair of escort ships for your next trip.
[wiki]Repair Bots[/wiki] fix your precious equipments and save lots of repair cost.

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Anonymissimus »

Diziet Sma wrote:I recall one time, off to the side, there must have been a big naval engagement going on.. and somebody set off a q-bomb, as blue globes suddenly erupted way off in the distance.. had to have been a big fight, as the fireworks went on for what seemed like several minutes, across hundreds of kilometres.)
What NPC is using the bomb ? So far I've only seen it happening with contract targets from random hits OXP.
Would make some sense for the navy, as it's pretty effective against thagoids ... thargons are without injectors and usually around in high numbers.
Economically it's a loss (even with the bounties the 2500cr are a loss), but tactically often the only way out of a situation where thargoids gang up on you, other than fleeing.
a cop, apparently intentionally, taking a missile to protect the player.
Hm, how could a ship intentionally take a missile targeted at another ship... ?
warning sound if a missile is inbound: Missile warning

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Smivs »

Anonymissimus wrote: Hm, how could a ship intentionally take a missile targeted at another ship... ?
Ram it :twisted:
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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by my ammo crate »

Fritz wrote:I had the same first impression (read the thread First experiences / difficulties if you have time). Part of my problem was probably that I was used to playing Elite on the C-64, and there I've had military lasers for a long time, and I couldn't remember how fighting was in the beginning. But I'm sure it wasn't that frustrating, and meanwhile I know that destroying a ship in Oolite is actually much harder than with Elite, even if you have military lasers, and because of this you have to employ different strategies.
I found your post when I was looking for something to make it easier. There's lots of useful advice there, and I think it's something every new player should check out, though at the time I was looking for a solution a little more...drastic.
As for combat in Elite, I can say for sure that it was much easier at the start. I think it was because Elite usually sent only one ship after you at a time, sometimes 2, and rarely 3. If Oolite only sent 1-3 ships at a time, I could probably handle it without needing to worsen the AI. But the fact that it's usually 4 ships or more, I believe, is the killer. Thanks to modern tech, each individual ship is already very capable, and strength in numbers just bolsters their advantage even more. Maybe if the spawns could be controlled so that the number of ships were directly proportional to your combat rating, (up to a limit of course. I'm sure even the best of you would have trouble with a 10-pirate ambush) it would be much less frustrating for new players.
Diziet Sma wrote:Also, you play in windowed mode, rather than full-screen? :shock:
............um, yes. :oops:
I mentioned I try to do other things when I travel, and Windows makes it really easy. I grab the program and smash it on the side of my screen, and it auto-sizes to fill only half the monitor. Great for multi-tasking, but I suppose it really is a self-handicap.
Diziet Sma wrote: It's called, coincidentally enough,  [EliteWiki] Factions. Just as there are "flavour" OXPs to give more depth to Anarchies, Feudal Worlds, Dictatorships and Communist systems, Factions does the same thing for Multi-Governments. Basically, factional teams from Anarchy, Feudal, Dictatorship & Communist systems all travel to some nearby multi-gov system, in an attempt to swing the various governments on the planet towards their particular point of view, subsequently discover that they weren't the only ones to have the same bright idea, and promptly start fighting one another in the middle of the spacelane. They'll only fight with ships of opposing factions. You can wade in, or not, in whatever way you choose. Sound like fun?
It does, and it looks like something that'll only make it harder if I choose to get involved. Which is a good thing, 'cause then I know it really is all my fault if it ends horribly (which it probably will :mrgreen: ).
Layne wrote:Late to the soiree, I see. All the good advice has already been parceled out and I'm left with, 'Always wear clean socks' and 'Bleach the intake manifolds on your Witchdrive frequently'.
I doubt there would be any downsides by hearing what you have to say. Even if it is repeating someone else, I think it's just proof that it's probably sound advice.
Norby wrote:The following helper packages can be in your interest:
Thanks for the list, plenty of useful addons here. :)

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by ffutures »

Re-reading this thread I can't help thinking that there is a real gap between the standard cheapo missile and hard-heads. Everyone seems to have ECM these days so the cheap ones are only useful if your target is alone and low on power, in which case lasers are probably going to do the job anyway, and more often than not explode on launch (enemy ECM response seems WAY too fast on this, incidentally, shouldn't there be a teeny delay for the enemy to notice the alarm going off?) so you rarely get a hit even at point-blank range. Hard-heads are just too pricey to be worthwhile unless you're heading into serious danger, e.g. Thargoid war stuff etc.

Maybe something like a cheaper but less reliable hard-head? Say three times as likely to be zapped by ECM but a third the price? Or something that starts out hardened for the first few KM then drops to ordinary missile vulnerability? What would that do to game balance if everyone had them?

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Anonymissimus »

ffutures wrote:so the cheap ones are only useful if your target is alone and low on power, in which case lasers are probably going to do the job anyway, and more often than not explode on launch (enemy ECM response seems WAY too fast on this, incidentally, shouldn't there be a teeny delay for the enemy to notice the alarm going off?)
As I said above, Auto-ECM is fitted as standard to all NPCs so long they have ECM at all... so this OXP compensates for that imbalance against the player.
Somewhere it has been stated in this forum that basic missiles could be used as defence against hardheads, but I never could lock or shoot another missile onto the (core) ECM hardened missiles when trying that.
warning sound if a missile is inbound: Missile warning

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Venator Dha »

Anonymissimus wrote:
ffutures wrote:so the cheap ones are only useful if your target is alone and low on power, in which case lasers are probably going to do the job anyway, and more often than not explode on launch (enemy ECM response seems WAY too fast on this, incidentally, shouldn't there be a teeny delay for the enemy to notice the alarm going off?)
As I said above, Auto-ECM is fitted as standard to all NPCs so long they have ECM at all... so this OXP compensates for that imbalance against the player.
Somewhere it has been stated in this forum that basic missiles could be used as defence against hardheads, but I never could lock or shoot another missile onto the (core) ECM hardened missiles when trying that.
'T' (Shift-t) will target the missile, no need to try and target it yourself.
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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Anonymissimus »

Venator Dha wrote:'T' (Shift-t) will target the missile, no need to try and target it yourself.
key_target_incoming_missile is not what I was referring to. The missile doesn't turn red (locked) when trying to lock it onto an incoming missile and cannot be fired using key_launch_missile.

For other types of incoming missiles (non-core) I found that key_target_incoming_missile does not work but locking a missile onto them does though. I guess it depends on whether the game considers them a "missile"
warning sound if a missile is inbound: Missile warning

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Re: A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat

Post by Venator Dha »

Anonymissimus wrote: key_target_incoming_missile is not what I was referring to. The missile doesn't turn red (locked) when trying to lock it onto an incoming missile and cannot be fired using key_launch_missile.
:shock: Just tried it, don't use missiles much myself so just assumed it worked :oops: . That can't be as it should be, surely !
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