[Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

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cliffski
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[Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby cliffski » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:41 am

So lets take a look at why cruiser heavy shields are pretty much the only one anyone uses. I really want this decision to be nuanced. here are the stats:
shields.png
shields.png (110.76 KiB) Viewed 4315 times


So clearly heavy shields cost more, weigh more and consume a LOT more power & crew, but then they have more strength and resistance (but slower recharge).
But when you look at it, the strength/cost is 0.5 versus only 0.33 for the light shield. The Light shield *is* a bad choice on that basis.
Also the strength per crew is 7.4 versus 3.33 for the light shield! The light shield is again a bad choice on that basis.
Only in terms of hit points, power and recharge rate is the light shield really a sensible choice.

Now obviously the intention was for light shields to provide 'minimal' shielding to keep pesky fighters and less weapons from causing the cruisers any distress, whilst at the same time accepting that they were not serious contenders against enemy cruiser/dreadnought guns. But did I go too far?

The heavy shield gets a HUGE bonus from its massively better resistance in terms of how many weapons it conveys invulnerability against, so in some ways it should be penalized for that, and be worse that the light option.

Suggestions:
1) Nerf the recharge rate of the heavy shield down to 4.00. There are shield support beams now anyway...
2) Cut the weight of the light shield. Its dramatically too heavy given its other attributes.
3) Boost the shield strength of the light shield. If its more vulnerable at least let it last a bit longer. maybe 90?

(I'm thinking the the medium shield would basically interpolate between these two).

Thoughts?

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby yurch » Sat Aug 15, 2015 2:22 pm

Is the intent to be a bargin or to be an actual defense?

Resistance is really important - I think capacity is currently not 'budgeted' strongly enough against it. (See also: frigates.) Without it, when you've got a half dozen ships and even rocket fighters teeing off on your shield, capacity is the only thing that is going to save you.

That said, I don't particularly like our shield stacking mechanics - I'd like to avoid making the only feasible strategy become 1x heavy shield + X number of light shields. That's eventually what will happen if light shields get attractive enough.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby Xinxspuz » Sat Aug 15, 2015 2:33 pm

One of the reasons I never use Light Shields is the stacking penalty.
With the way we all thought armor was working, it wasn't a viable defensive option for a ship of any class. That left Shields as the only viable defense option for Cruisers and Dreadnoughts. With a stacking penalty of 0.9, you are heavily penalized for mounting multiple shield modules on a ship, regardless of what type they are. Why, then, would you EVER pick a light shield, which has a quarter of the shield strength of a heavy shield, when all that does is penalize the other shield modules on your ship? It takes 4 Light Shield modules to even come CLOSE to the shielding capability of a single Medium Shield, and that's not even counting the difference in Shield Resistances.
Compared to Heavy Shields, it's even worse. It is literally impossible to mount enough Light Shields to equal a single Heavy Shield module. You can get to about 96% of the shielding of a Heavy Shield, with MUCH lower resistance, but it takes you 10 modules. Even if you made Light shields cost a tenth of what they cost now, and reduced the weight and power requirements accordingly, they'd still be a terrible choice - because of the stacking penalty and the lack of other defensive options.

In GSB1, the 'light' shields for Cruisers had a place - they were good, cheap, low-power shield modules that you could mount on a heavily-armored cruiser to provide SOME protection against fighters and enemy fire. They had a high enough resistance to block fighter weapons and some long-range beams, but the majority of the ships defenses would be centered around armor. With armor currently not a viable defense option in GSB2, that means that players are forced to load up on as much shielding as they can manage - which means taking the modules with the absolute highest shield strength, to offset the stacking penalty.

The stacking penalty is the same as it was in GSB1, but look at your Shield Strength values: the lowest shield strength module in GSB1 still had 100 shield points, while the highest had 275 (albeit with super-low resistance). Most ships that were heavily shielded used some combination of Reflective Shields (for the higher resistance), Multiphasic Shields (for the high Shielding values), and/or Fast-Recharge Shields (for the faster recharge rate). Ships mounting Light Shields still had 100 shield points, while for only a slight increase in fitting cost, you could have a Basic Shield Generator with almost twice the shielding capacity.

In GSB1, each type of Cruiser Shield had something that it excelled at, while being not as great in another category. With the way your shield program combines the shields on a ship (highest overall resistance, highest overall recharge rate, etc.), there were incentives to mix n' match.
In GSB2, not only are there half as many shield options, but they're very linear. A Heavy Shield is the best in every category, whereas a Light Shield is the worst in every category.

I think you went the same direction with the Frigate/Destroyer shields in GSB2. You have modules with high resistance and low shield points, and vice versa. That's a good concept, but they're suffering because Frigates and Destroyers overall are still crap.

To make different shield modules relevant for Cruisers in GSB2, each different type of shield needs to have something that stands out about it, while still being comparable to the other options in other categories. Light shields are SOOO BAD right now that it's not worth it to mount them. To bring them back in the game, they need to excel at something. Maybe they're SO dirt cheap that it doesn't matter how much they suck, it's still worth throwing one on a ship for the (temporary) shielding it will offer. Maybe they have a MUCH higher recharge rate than the other shields. At the very least, they should have higher shield strength. A shield strength of 50 can be knocked down by a single hit from some cruiser/dreadnought weapons, which makes Light Shields a highly unattractive option!

I think Light Shields are pretty bad overall, compared to the other options, but I think they're also falling victim to the distorted in-game environment right now, where every defensive option is bad because a few specific weapons can tear through them all with ease.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby cliffski » Sat Aug 15, 2015 3:43 pm

Oh I totally agree that light shields are a terrible choice, and that they need to have a niche, which currently they do not have unless you are really fussed about cost or crew. I think they need multiple buffs. I'm thinking that they need to be the absolute bargain, and the 'no brainer' choice for when you have decided that nope, you are not going to obsess over shield resistance.
So given that you forgo shield resistance of 22, and accept a resistance of 14, you should (I suggest) get better *value* in every other respect. sooo...

Better strength per cost.
Lower crew requirement per unit of strength:
Much better recharge rate: 6.5 vs 5.0 for the heavy shield.
Lower power usage per unit of strength.

We can do all that by leaving crew and power and cost unchanged, but increasing the light shields strength from 50 to 120.
Obviously I'd have to adjust the medium shield too.

With those stats, this means the light shield is...
62.5% cheaper than the heavy shield.
140% stronger than before.
93% higher strength to cost ratio
140% higher strength to crew ratio
140% higher strength to power ratio.

How does that sound? Would you still never use it?

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby Xinxspuz » Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:45 pm

Those improve the Light Shield, yeah, but they make it really close to the Medium Shield in terms of utility.

That's a good place to start, but as long as shields are the only viable defense, and there are too many weapons that can break through shields, people are gonna keep going with the best shield module they can get.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby cliffski » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:49 pm

well the medium would also get adjusted. The 'best' shield module should be more nusanced. This is my asim, if the gap between the medium and light and the medium and heavy is smaller, the reduced costs and power/crew requirements of the other modules *should* start to make them look attractive I suspect.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby Xinxspuz » Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:49 pm

Right, but part of the problem right now is that there exists no niche situation in which someone would say, "Hmm, I don't really need a Heavy Shield on this ship. A light one will still provide me adequate protection, at reduced cost." That situation doesn't exist because there are no alternate defenses for a ship that are worth anything (reserving judgment on the revised Armor formula until I play some challenges and see how it does), so a "light shield" is really just saying "this ship isn't worth protecting".

Now, you could treat the Light Shield module a little differently, and make it a "Reinforced" category module, with vastly more module hp, while also boosting the Shield Points. I know I'd be more likely to use a Light Shield if it beefed up the HP on the ship. That would give some nuance to the shield selection, without muddling things a whole lot.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby cliffski » Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:21 pm

Hmmm its an interesting idea to also give it a hit-points bonus.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby Alekan » Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:59 pm

From my point of view, the Medium Shield is currently the best choice. As others have said, all weapons that matter can cut through any shield – so for me its pointless to pay through the nose on fitting costs for an extra 50 ShHP that the Heavy provides. There are only two weapons – the Cruiser Pulse and Fighter Missile – that are worth anything that can actually damage Medium Shields over the Heavy.

I use medium shields on my front-line and use the extra money to buy more shield support frigates.

Likewise, if Light Shields are buffed as proposed, there is only one relevant weapon – the Particle Accelerator – which becomes a threat. There aren’t many worthwhile weapons in the 14-23 Shield Pen range.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby cliffski » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:20 pm

Very interesting, so you would be more inclined to find a use for the light shield if both the medium and light shield were buffed as suggested?

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby yurch » Sun Aug 16, 2015 4:54 am

Alternatively you could go with different themes for shields:

- Zero resistance shield with high recharge and very low capacity that can't be knocked out unless the module is destroyed

- medium stat shield that selectively fires only against high damage shots, or can only block a shot every X milliseconds

- reactive shields that immediately force a ship into cloak when depleted

- budget shields that only protect non-weapon slots

- shields that make the ship smaller in hit-chance calculations

The challenge would be how to discourage players from over stacking.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby cliffski » Sun Aug 16, 2015 1:08 pm

Right..I'm becoming obsessed. Here is another way to analyze things. This is all current data (nothing balanced yet). Its a bit crude, because I give each calculation equal weight, and I think we should give perhaps overwhelming attention to the number of weapons each shield can resist, as this seems to be a deciding factor but here we go: (green is good, red is bad, value is a calculation based on the relative strength of each item compared to the other modules. The top block is actual values, the bottom one is relative to the average for that stat...)

shield_analysis.png
shield_analysis.png (166.04 KiB) Viewed 4214 times


So by this analysis, the cruiser heavy shield is already the worst value choice in the game.

Now lets look at the modules raw values (red is bad green is good, depending on the variable...) within each class (so not comparing frigates with cruisers...
values.png
values.png (27.01 KiB) Viewed 4214 times


Almost too much data :D I'm thinking that we need each module to have its 'niche'. So here is my amateur analysis:

1) The cruiser heavy shield is clearly too 'good'. its good over multiple areas, although interesting not much better than the zyrtari shield caster. The big problem is that its resistance AND strength are both top. Its strength could come down to maybe 160

2) The cruiser light shield is definitely bad, as its bottom in both resistance, and strength, by much too far a margin. Low HP just adds insult to injury. It should get a big strength jump, maybe 120, and the medium goes to 170?

3) The Zyrtari shield caster is also a bit good, with no real weak points. we should nerf its recharge down to 5.

4) The light frigate shield is also too bad. It needs top excel somewhere, again maybe recharge? lets push its recharge up to 6.

5) The frigate heavy shield is perhaps too penalized on strength., it should at least have the same as the light shield (50)?

6) The cost of the plasmatic shield is huge, its not *that good* a module in general, that should come down to 80 at most.

Opinions?

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby Xinxspuz » Sun Aug 16, 2015 1:56 pm

Hmm, I think you're reaching the wrong conclusions here, Cliff.

It's not that the Cruiser Heavy Shield is "too good"; it is in fact the very best of the currently available shield modules. Nerfing that particular module, while raising the stats on the other shield modules, might balance the shield modules relative to each other. You made that same case in the Frigate Engine thread, and in several other threads discussing balance. As with those various other balance cases, it is the wrong approach to the problem.

What's needed is balance overall, not just relative to other shield modules. I.e., the Cruiser Light Shield is bad not because it's worse than the other Cruiser Shield modules, per se, but because it isn't a good value in the overall context of the game.

In GSB1 (I know I keep referring back to GSB1 for examples; bear with me), the Multiphasic Shield would give you 275 shield points from one module. The highest-damage weapon in the game did 60 damage per shot. That meant that a Multiphasic Shield could block, minimum, 4 simultaneous hits from that weapon. Even the 'budget' cruiser shield had 100 shield points, which meant it could block one full attack from that weapon.
(It's also well worth noting that the "best" Frigate shield in GSB1 also had enough shield points - 70 or 77 - to block the highest-damage weapon completely.)

In GSB2, the "best" shield module is currently the Cruiser Heavy Shield, which has 200 shield points. That's not even enough to block 3 shots from the highest-damage shield penetrating weapon (Yootani Lightning Gun, at 75 damage), which makes the shield itself vastly less useful. The Cruiser Light Shield is 'bad' in the context of that because there are MULTIPLE weapons that can drop it with a single shot. That means that your shield recharge rate is irrelevant, your presence/absence of Shield Support beams is irrelevant, all of that - because the Cruiser Light Shield can be completely negated by a single hit from any of several different weapons.

That's also why Frigate/Destroyer shields (and frigates/destroyers themselves) are so very bad right now - they just can't survive in the damage-rich environment that GSB2 promotes.


To look at it another way:
Compared to GSB1, you have multiple weapons in GSB2 that do more damage than the hardest-hitting weapon in GSB1, but you've made both Shields and Armor SUBSTANTIALLY LESS useful at defending against enemy fire. That's why people don't bother with Cruiser Light Shields, and why Frigates and Destroyers just blow up most of the time - you've added damage, while significantly taking away from defenses.

Also, please note that in this entire post, I'm talking about raw damage per shot, not DPS. DPS calculations are all fine and dandy for comparing how 'strong' a weapon is over the course of an entire battle, but when we're talking about a ship taking heavy fire in the span of a second or two, DPS is not nearly as relevant as "how much damage is the ship actually taking?" Don't get lost in the DPS consideration without thinking about what DPS actually represents in the context of a battle.

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby cliffski » Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:59 pm

Interesting analysis, thanks.
One of the motivations for the different design is that I dislike it when the game becomes a 'slugfest' which goes on for ages as shields are slowly bit-by bit eaten away, when the outcome is known, but resolution takes forever.
I take the point that maybe shield strength is too easily one-shotted.

Would it be fair to say you agree *in principle* with the kind of changes I suggest, but that you also think that overall, shield strengths need to be increased across the board? it's certainly true that the time taken to drop a shield that is being penetrated could certainly do with raising.

There will be many rounds of balance on this, the reason I'm keen to reach some temporary conclusions now is that the next patch has a number of fairly urgent bug fixes and new features and I'd like to get it released. Apart from anything else, fixing armor calculations and lessening their stacking penalty is something I'd like to get in front of existing players soon.

How about the proposal of making the changes as described above, but also having a 30% boost across-the-board to shield strength (and recharge, otherwise the values get out of synch...or does the existence of shield support modules reduce that imperative?)

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Re: [Balance debate] Cruiser shields.

Postby shali8 » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:34 pm

First post; thought I could add some abstract perspective.

I would suggest that even if the light shields present better efficiency (strength and resistance vs cost, power, weight, crew, etc...) than the heavy shields people would still pick the heavy shields. They would pick the heavy shields because the light shields are absolutely better. The problem is that the one limiter which people are usually worried about the most is the number of slots on any given hull. Not cost or weight or power or crew (in general). One heavy shield takes up one slot; same as one light shield. When i'm designing a ship why would I want to use one of my very scarce slots for an inferior (in defensive stats provided) module?

That, I think, is the "why". Next I want to propose how to fix it.

Light shields (and to a lesser extent medium shields) should have a much better stacking effectiveness - to such an extent that having more than three heavy shields is less effective than three light shields (absolutely in terms of defensive stats provided; not efficiency-wise). No other changes to stats would be necessary. The same system could even be applied to armor.

The end result would make the expensive items be most effective by themselves, and the less expensive ones would become more effective (relative to the expensive ones) as more modules are added.

Let me know what you guys think.


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