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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:53 pm 
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There are two issues: one is, launching a missile this late doesn't really do the NPC any good; the other is, it can result in a "WTF!?" player death, which is never very satisfying. Is it possible to solve this?
Almost certainly yes but NPCs aren't too savvy when it comes to missile use generally so simply taking away their one real trick (albeit a suicidal one) would make them significantly less dangerous. Better AI could address that but I'm not sure how simple (or potentially exploitable) such adjustments might be.

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no injectors or ECM working, and some sod lobs a missile at you. Target it and use a regular missile to 'remove' it. Cr30 to save your butt is a good deal
I've never seen AI exploit this option before so that might be a way to make them smarter (but it again reduces standard missile effectiveness for the player).

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:13 pm 
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NPCs aren't too savvy when it comes to missile use generally so simply taking away their one real trick (albeit a suicidal one) would make them significantly less dangerous.
It's more of a game artefact than a tactic, I think: they're as likely to launch a missile at you if they're low on energy and far away.

It's difficult to strike a balance: if ECMs are made less effective (either in general, or because they cost more energy and/or take time to recharge), then missiles become more dangerous. But if missiles become more dangerous, then life becomes a lot harder for players, especially new ones - so missiles themselves would have to be made either rarer, or more avoidable via other means (evasion/shooting down - which launching at a distance would allow for), or less damaging. Or some blend of all three.

I think we need to think about what is more fun. Dodging missiles is quite fun; shooting them down is quite fun. Perhaps we need to change what the ECM does. Astrobe's idea
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ECM could just disable a missile for X seconds, or induce other funny malfunctions like changing its target.
is on to something, I think. If an ECM caused a missile to slow down, or performTumble for a bit, instead of just exploding, that makes evasion and shooting them down easier. It also makes the ECM into one part of a tactical response instead of just a push-button solution.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:34 pm 
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NPCs aren't too savvy when it comes to missile use generally so simply taking away their one real trick (albeit a suicidal one) would make them significantly less dangerous.
It's more of a game artefact than a tactic, I think: they're as likely to launch a missile at you if they're low on energy and far away.
From a player point of view the result is the same: the behaviour exists and it remains one of the most dangerous to the player.

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It's difficult to strike a balance: if ECMs are made less effective (either in general, or because they cost more energy and/or take time to recharge), then missiles become more dangerous
Agree.

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But if missiles become more dangerous, then life becomes a lot harder for players, especially new ones
Disagree.

Assuming that the only change is to ECM effectiveness, then as long as players both have missiles and have the potential to use them more strategically/wisely than npcs then the opposite may even be true.

New players don't typically start with an ECM anyway (although there is now an easy start option...) so the absolute beginner would be no more vulnerable than before. Even if ECMs remain cheap and widely available then it will be a good few runs before they can afford one.
So I expect the starting player to be better off as they are no less defensively capable than before but are now better armed (more effective missiles).

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I think we need to think about what is more fun. Dodging missiles is quite fun; shooting them down is quite fun.
Yes, fun should be at the heart of it or what's the point?

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Perhaps we need to change what the ECM does. Astrobe's idea is on to something, I think.
Personally, I like the simple nature of ECM functionality; the trouble is that it is both powerful and common enough to render standard missiles largely ineffective as offensive weapons. It can however be made both less common and less reliable (as I suggested up thread) without requiring such complications.

If however, one prefered greater variety of missile types then such an approach might make more sense as it is a pretty much either/or outcome at the moment which doesn't leave a lot of room for variety.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:08 am 
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Assuming that the only change is to ECM effectiveness, then as long as players both have missiles and have the potential to use them more strategically/wisely than npcs then the opposite may even be true.

New players don't typically start with an ECM anyway (although there is now an easy start option...) so the absolute beginner would be no more vulnerable than before. Even if ECMs remain cheap and widely available then it will be a good few runs before they can afford one.
So I expect the starting player to be better off as they are no less defensively capable than before but are now better armed (more effective missiles).
All true … but I think the problem is deeper. If the player does have an ECM, then missiles aren't dangerous at all, and I agree that altering the effectiveness of the ECM (whether in range, % chance of success, energy cost, speed of recharge, or actual effect on missiles) will make this more interesting. But if the player doesn't have an ECM, then NPC missiles are too dangerous, frequently resulting in insta-death (especially if the NPC launches at close range).

So … reduced effectiveness of ECM will make player missiles more effective. So perhaps what we need to do is to reduce the damage of a standard missile.
Quote:
If however, one prefered greater variety of missile types then such an approach might make more sense as it is a pretty much either/or outcome at the moment which doesn't leave a lot of room for variety.
A bit of variety would be welcome … maybe hardheads could be made to performTumble when hit by an ECM, whereas ordinary missiles just explode. And if there were other, rarer and more powerful missile types available, that would add something else again - although it would probably be best to restrict the availability of any superior missiles to certain ship types, e.g. Pythons (at the low end), Boas and (especially) Anacondas: it might help make them something other than big fat targets.

Thinking further: Thargoid ECM should be superior to everyone else's. It's their thing, after all, and they should always be the core game's toughest opponent.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:35 pm 
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But if the player doesn't have an ECM, then NPC missiles are too dangerous, frequently resulting in insta-death (especially if the NPC launches at close range).

So … reduced effectiveness of ECM will make player missiles more effective. So perhaps what we need to do is to reduce the damage of a standard missile.
This is tricky of course as a missile hit to an adder is of an entirely different order to a missile hit on a mk III to the extent that Astrobe even suggested that...
Quote:
The other side is that their standard missiles are not a threat for the player either (except when shot point-blank...).
So I'd be cautious in this regard and suspect that the damage level might be about right. It's probably wise for the player to consider their missiles more often as anti-missile defence however, at least until they can purchase an ECM. I remember my first ever game of elite: purchasing a missile before launching - it wasn't a particularly wise purchase but by using missiles vs missiles it at least becomes a reasonable consideration.

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A bit of variety would be welcome … maybe hardheads could be made to performTumble when hit by an ECM, whereas ordinary missiles just explode. And if there were other, rarer and more powerful missile types available, that would add something else again - although it would probably be best to restrict the availability of any superior missiles to certain ship types, e.g. Pythons (at the low end), Boas and (especially) Anacondas: it might help make them something other than big fat targets.

Thinking further: Thargoid ECM should be superior to everyone else's. It's their thing, after all, and they should always be the core game's toughest opponent.
I'd have no problem with Thargoid ECM being proof against all missile types and at no energy cost. I think it is quite good that there be at least one ship type that will test almost any pilot (or at least likely inflict systems damage).

As for the other stuff, I'm not sure. The larger ship types (with their many energy banks) highlight the issue of missile damage being relative in its effect. IIRC one of the things that the Anaconda has going for it is its high number of missile slots (not so for the Python) and so reducing standard missile damage would likely create the need for more powerful missiles or we render it even more of a target.

  • I'd like to avoid the scenario where a missile launch is irrelevant to the player (not fun) even once they are well equipped, but likewise it shouldn't be a guaranteed death sentence (also not fun).
  • ECM should be a boon of course but I think there should be a price in both its activation and it should be some way less reliable IMHO.
  • There is a case for a higher damaging missile but I think that too should be in some way susceptible to ECM.
  • It's perhaps worth restating that the player is often (usually even) outnumbered and so for the game to remain fun some player-centric concessions are likely necessary.

So, with the above considerations, what's missing from my earlier proposal?

I'd have a higher damage missile (reimagined hardhead), a more fragile ECM, perhaps standard missiles shouldn't be increased in price so much else they be less viable as an anti-missile defence early game. There could be some cheaper counter-strike missiles, just enough charge to take an enemy missile down but not much damage versus the larger ships (could trouble an adder perhaps).

Perhaps ECM could work a litttle differently. What if ECM continued to drain your energy until a 'charge threshold' were reached, with that threshold being relative to missile type.
So you'd hit the ECM and the opponent's missiles are still destoyed but should they have fired a hardhead then the drain could be 3 times as great. Perhaps it also takes a little time and is not instant in effect. Standard missile charge might require 3 seconds (a consideration rather than a problem most of the time) whereas a charge against a hardhead might require 10 seconds (you'd better run...)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:00 pm 
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The larger ship types (with their many energy banks) highlight the issue of missile damage being relative in its effect. IIRC one of the things that the Anaconda has going for it is its high number of missile slots (not so for the Python) and so reducing standard missile damage would likely create the need for more powerful missiles or we render it even more of a target.
Maybe then what's required is a tweak to the AI. The Anaconda's high number of missile slots doesn't do it much good if it waits until it's nearly dead before firing any (although I admit that it's so long since I shot an Anaconda that this may not reflect what actually happens!). I suppose what I'm saying is that large, less nimble ships with multiple missiles should use those missiles more effectively, as a much earlier line of defence - possibly even as a first response to being attacked.
Quote:
Perhaps ECM could work a litttle differently. What if ECM continued to drain your energy until a 'charge threshold' were reached, with that threshold being relative to missile type.
Sounds good!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:12 pm 
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The Anaconda's high number of missile slots doesn't do it much good if it waits until it's nearly dead before firing any (although I admit that it's so long since I shot an Anaconda that this may not reflect what actually happens!).
Me too :P

Quote:
I suppose what I'm saying is that large, less nimble ships with multiple missiles should use those missiles more effectively, as a much earlier line of defence - possibly even as a first response to being attacked.
Yep, I'd agree with that.

Quote:
Quote:
Perhaps ECM could work a litttle differently. What if ECM continued to drain your energy until a 'charge threshold' were reached, with that threshold being relative to missile type.
Sounds good!
Except that I've no idea of how to do it yet :P

Meanwhile I have cobbled together a quick oxp demo of the fragile and less common ecm idea (with an additional, cheap, low powered missile included for good measure).
It's totally untested at present but I'll likely post it here at some point within the next 6 hours or so.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:37 pm 
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Here it is:
https://app.box.com/s/zo53z71kigx57a9mzzj9lxr25hg5ypd0

  • ECM now tech level 12, double previous price and damage probability of 4
  • Hardened missile no longer ECM proof but does greater damage
  • Defence missile now exists with low damage and cost
  • Standard missile doubled in price
  • Non-player chance for ECM reduced significantly (less so for shops that always had ECM)

One thing missing is a new hud icon for the defence missiles but then this is a very early version (0.1)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:43 pm 
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I am sure we've all been caught that way: taking a missile full in the face, just as we kill the NPC that launched it (in fact, I often trigger my ECM as I close for a kill, just in case).
I do that too, but it doesn't work very well. The Adder that stops, turns, and fires right in front of me often succeeds, even if I started ECMing before it fired and kept ECMing up until the point the missile hits me.
Quote:
Maybe a missile needs to travel a certain distance before its warhead arms
I like this idea, although I feel it should be time not distance.
Maybe missiles can not be fired while ECM is active. (To protect against detonation inside the launching tube.)
Or maybe a missile is unable to lock on to / acquire its target while ECM is active? This way you can still get the point blank missile in your face, but pre-emptive ECM would be effective against it.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:03 pm 
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Maybe a missile needs to travel a certain distance before its warhead arms
I like this idea, although I feel it should be time not distance.
Maybe missiles can not be fired while ECM is active. (To protect against detonation inside the launching tube.)
I like both those ideas.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:54 am 
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Quote:
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Maybe a missile needs to travel a certain distance before its warhead arms
I like this idea, although I feel it should be time not distance.
Maybe missiles can not be fired while ECM is active. (To protect against detonation inside the launching tube.)
I like both those ideas.
This can be achieved by abusing the missile launch evasion code. It is normally meant to let the missile evade the launching ship in certain firing contexts. If I disable the context checks and fire a missile right before me, I see the missile "dive" for a few secs. So this is a simple solution to the "missile in your face" problem, though a bit ugly.
I'm not sure what problem this code solves, but maybe the wanted behaviour in our case - just go straight ahead for a few seconds - could solve it?

I also have the "performTumble" thing.

Alpha version

Extract into your addons folder.

For the first time yesterday I fired a standard missile and I was confident that it would do something.
I somewhat took the opposite of Redspear's approach; the idea is to spam ECM either to delay the incoming missile or to destroy it. This assumes you have injectors too, but in my experience you have to deal with missiles only when you're about to blow up your target, so you are being aggressive; often the target starts to flee before they launch "panic" missiles. On a related note, it seems to me that N-shields (and probably customShields) make the opponents overestimate themselves. I uninstalled it because dogfights were taking way too long, and I noticed that opponents were much more prone to flee. In particular, when I destroy one of the ships in a pair of pirates, the other is very likely to flee - a behaviour I did not see before.

The tumbling part is a bit convoluted. It looks like I'm missing something:
Code:
this._ecmProofMissileResponseStd = function()
{
	var r=Math.random();
	if(r<0.5)
	{
		this.ship.AIScript.oolite_priorityai.behaviourTumble();
		this.ship.AIScript.oolite_priorityai.reconsiderIn(3);
	}
       [SNIPPED]
This function is assigned to oolite_missile_ecmResponse.

Unfortunately, some other things got thrown into the mix because I did it as part of a larger WIP. So what's in there:

- Standard missiles have 50% chances to tumble and 25% chances to explode, 25% chances not affected by ECM.
- Hardened missiles have 10% chances to behave the same as standard missiles when hit by ECM.
- 5 secs "arming" period on missile launch

The unwanted stuff:
- Fuel scoops take 1TC of cargo space
- Player Cobra III speed reduced from 350 to 300
- all ships have 5TC cargo capacity minimum
- The cargo bay extension cannot be bought any more
- Military laser damage reduced from 12 to 9
- Heat shield has increased probability of being damaged (from 1 to 2)


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:21 am 
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I'm not sure what problem this code solves, but maybe the wanted behaviour in our case - just go straight ahead for a few seconds - could solve it?
As I understand it, the idea is that if an enemy ship launches a last-second missile right in your face, the warhead won't have had time to arm, so that, at worst, the only damage you'll receive is kinetic impact damage.

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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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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:34 pm 
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I'm not sure what problem this code solves, but maybe the wanted behaviour in our case - just go straight ahead for a few seconds - could solve it?
As I understand it, the idea is that if an enemy ship launches a last-second missile right in your face, the warhead won't have had time to arm, so that, at worst, the only damage you'll receive is kinetic impact damage.
That would be my preferred solution, if possible - this may involve creating two states for missiles, though: armed and disarmed.

Mind you, this might bring up the possibility of salvaging disarmed/inert missiles …

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:43 pm 
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Mind you, this might bring up the possibility of salvaging disarmed/inert missiles …
I like that idea too..

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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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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 7:26 pm 
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Quote:
One (rather player-centric) problem with missiles is the NPC close-quarters launch. NPCs have a tendency to launch missiles as a last resort, and when dogfights get up-close and personal, the NPC is usually getting hammered by the player. I am sure we've all been caught that way: taking a missile full in the face, just as we kill the NPC that launched it (in fact, I often trigger my ECM as I close for a kill, just in case).

There are two issues: one is, launching a missile this late doesn't really do the NPC any good; the other is, it can result in a "WTF!?" player death, which is never very satisfying. Is it possible to solve this? Maybe a missile needs to travel a certain distance before its warhead arms? A close-proximity launch might still hit, but it would produce minor collision damage only. This would mean that NPCs need to launch earlier in combat, and from further away.
When I first played Oolite I was so impressed by this (i.e. you had to pay attention to this possibility in close-quarter combat) that I included the tactic in BBC retro Elite-B along with the concepts that a heavier freighter (and Moray star boat) under attack from far away would start launching missiles sooner, whereas lighter craft would wait until the last minute.

Some thoughts from Elite-B that might relate to Oolite, this discussion:
Elite-B has the same nagging problem as Classic that a new player can't really engage in combat until they have an E.C.M. Invariably their opponent will launch a missile and its difficult to evade (no fuel injectors in Elite-B, but in-space hyperspace back to the witch-point is allowed if you have enough residual fuel left). I also made an 'advanced compass' default equipment, it (usually) locks onto the most recently created objected. A nice red blip appears following a recently launched missile which is handy for two reasons. If you are trying to kill someone who just flew over you and they have launched a missile you can swing your ship around and follow the red blip. This aligns you more quickly with that damaged ship as its missile is still near to that ship, and a chance to shoot that missile down. I also discovered that if you sit stationary, and let the missile fly over you it might be confined to looping around you. So you roll your ship to get the missile (red blip on compass) orbiting you on your 'prime meridian' and as it comes into view you can pitch your ship and the missile will go by vertically slowly through your laser cross-hairs, zap!

Both Classic and Elite-A had ship balance problems, there is more info in the README for Elite-B but Elite-B basically ended up with missile strength inbetween Classic and Elite-A. All the hull strengths were adjusted so that some light, fast craft could be taken out with just 1 missile (this encourages their use by the player as usually the missile cost is not offset by the bounty awarded) whereas taking out freighters would take several.

For the E.C.M. I made it a consumable, the cost driven by how many 'charges' it could deploy. This allowed new players to use it for while without trouble, and heavy users later in the game have their growing cash (slightly) curtailed. And of course one day you end up in combat and its totally depleted ... Another way to curtail E.C.M. use is to make the energy bank drain significiant, i.e. in Elite-B pounding away at the E.C.M. button without an extra energy unit will soon get you into difficulty.

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