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    Stations 2.0 -BEFORE- Galaxy 2.0

    Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by MacThule, May 24, 2018.

    1. MacThule

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      If Schine releases the new Galaxy 2.0 before doing work on stations, they could be ensuring that they spend the next 6 months chasing down gameplay issues that seem to be related to the galaxy but are actually rooted in problems with stations.

      This is because stations (including actual stations and planetary facilities hereafter just "stations") are an essential element of how players interface with the galaxy:
      • Stations strongly affect how we access resources, and therefore what levels of irregularity in resource distribution can be seen as tolerable within a server's economy, and what cause undue hardship.
      • Stations strongly affect how trade is conducted, being the basic tool for conducting trade whether through shops directly or through the trade network, which incorporates distance between stations directly into cost factors.
      • Stations moderately affect travel times through jump-gates, as well as availability of repairs and reinforcements, which in turn affects potential for force projection for access to and control of resources.
      • Stations affect the safety of mining and salvaging operations in near sectors.

      A faction's ability to deploy viable secondary stations will fundamentally change how they are able to acquire and trade resources, and the functionality of our stations will be the lens through which we experience Galaxy 2.0, but as soon as the Power and Weapon upgrades are stable, there's no reason stations can't be finally made well.

      User interface with stations does not depend upon the functionality of the galaxy, rather the user experience of the galaxy depends upon the functionality of stations
      .

      Therefore if stations are ever intended to be made more functional, then I think that once Weapons 3.0 is stable enough to push Schine would be wise to spend a cycle to make stations functional before even dropping Galaxy 2.0 to dev build for community input.

      I know that this probably doesn't fit with their development timeline (I get the sense they want Galaxy out of dev and in release before 2019). Failure to address stations once power and weapons are stable will undermine a lot of development effort for the Galaxy release though, leading to a massive long-term loss of manpower and very likely forcing many of the changes made to balance Galaxy in release to be reversed after stations are working.


      Primary issues with stations that must eventually be addressed:
      • Shipyards need extensive troubleshooting to be made 100% functional. They also need to be balanced to Power 2.0.
      • Trade and the trade network have apparently developed some bugs and need work in order to ensure players have at least somewhat reliable access to materials.
      • Jump Gates need to be made useful. Hardly anyone uses them because they aren't worth the effort. They also need to be balanced to Power 2.0.
      • Warp Inhibition needs to work for stations.
      • Recon & Stealth need to be usable by stations.
      • Survivability is non. Stations need trees of of station-only chamber 'super' effects to allow extreme improvements to shield cap & regen, armor effectiveness, weapon damage, weapon range, and the ability to passively regen block damage slowly over time between battles using the astrotech healing effect. Also things like the ability to set a station condition to "Do Not Approach" so that any non-faction entity approaching receives a warning transmission not to approach, and is then treated as hostile if it comes closer, as well as the ability to be automatically reinforced by fleets when under attack.

      Suggested solutions to improving station survivability (please suggest more in comments):
      • Super-chambers. There are already chambers restricted to stations, making this very easy. Such chambers would be very powerful, but would force specialization:
        • Station Defense chamber, offering stations shield and armor buffs in the +100-300% range, and options for regeneration.
        • Station Offense chamber, offering stations damage, range and weapon recharge speed bonuses.
        • Station Support chamber, offering stations the ability to project a field that slows non-allied ships within a sector radius, or prevents scanning, or prevents jamming, or reduces non-allied shield or power regen.
      • Regeneration. Now that astrotech replaces blocks, the same block replacement process could be used to allow slow repair of stations over time. This can be chamber based so as to be balanced as a choice for the builder with costs in terms of materials and RC capacity.
      • Fleet Command. Pirate stations spawn mobs to defend themselves. NPC stations call in actual fleets for defense. Because it is known that a station on its own is just target practice. Player stations need access to similar protections. If stations could be motherships, they could maintain their own fleet (or better - fleets). Or maybe when a player station is attacked it simply summons all faction fleets set to Sentry or something.
      • Patrols. Allowing fleets to randomly patrol sectors within a radius around a station would make them more difficult to approach for recon and attack.
      • Notify Allies. Stations under attack should automatically transmit an S.O.S. to allied factions and summon allied Sentry fleets.
      • Do Not Approach condition. Stations need the ability to go into a state where any non-allied ship approaching is warned to turn back and then treated as hostile if it approaches further to prevent exploitation of neutral status against unmanned stations. Setting neutral as hostile is non-functional. Ships fire at asteroids, and your option becomes live in condition of total war against all players, NPCs, and rocks, or allow anyone in a neutral ship to bomb your stations into dust.
      • -
      • -
      • -

      tl;dr - pushing Galaxy 2.0 to the dev build before fixing stations will probably waste a ton of development time and energy. There are tons of community suggestions for making stations functional.

      Comment (succinct) additional station needs (I want them to have custom automated trading with physical freight fleets, but am refraining to focus on needs) and ways to make them survivable.
       
      #1 MacThule, May 24, 2018
      Last edited: May 24, 2018
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    2. dwwojcik

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      I don't like these ideas, they feel like a cheap band aid. I'm not convinced that simply tripling the ability of a station for the same blocks is fair.

      These ideas are kinda cool. But similar to my previous concern, making them only available to stations feels cheap. I think (or hope) we can make stations useful without artificially propping them up in that way.

      I do like some of these though. They remind me of the defensive auras that stations in Stellaris can project.

      I agree wholeheartedly that better fleet command/control would help a lot. I think this could be the key to making stations usable. The relative limitations of a station's ability to defend itself don't seem so bad when it can automatically summon the local patrol fleet to defend it if it's attacked.

      Now this... this is genius.

      Call it a 'no fly zone' maybe? :thinking:

      It would be cool if you had the option of setting a no-fly radius around any asset, as well as setting no fly zones by sector or maybe even by star system too.
       
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    3. MacThule

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      Thanks, dwwojcik!

      My personal agenda is making stations (and planetary facilities) act as bases for trade, mining, and military fleets. Like, assigning a fleet a home station might carry benefits for it, depending on station chambers, and each facility would have a fleet-support capacity (this is how we check fleet spam and fleet masses, BTW). I think this approach would address a lot of current weak area in game play. Point being that yeah - the fleet response thing is really the most balanced and appropriate solution. My second favorite is repair over time, now that block regen is working; this way they can bounce back between waves. The "DO NOT APPROACH" mode is literally just to prevent exploits with neutral ships and generic alts, but yeah - it should do the job without breaking anything (Neutral as hostile is just worthless), and neutral/alt exploits are probably the most outrageous weakness stations suffer.

      As far as super chambers I am also a bit ambivalent, but many players have made excellent arguments for them so I felt I should include them. I do believe some degree of edge to stations is appropriate as well - particularly now under Power 2, where not being able to rotate away from beam locks or make one's reactor a hard target makes them more handicapped than ever against highly mobile warships. I get why many will see them as a wrong move - and they may be. Honestly I'd have to test them in-game to really see if they unbalance it too much, but it's hard (for me) to imagine doubling or even tripling shield block effectiveness or armor levels on stations making them suddenly overpower ships and fleets.

      Any other ideas about what stations need or how they can be made more survivable in a sane and balanced way?

      I know I've overlooked a few good ones that I've seen in the past, and I'll be adding to the list...
       
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    4. Ratchet Hundreda

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      ^^These^^ two points are your strongest but most of your suggestions sound a bit like "I want this to work as such" and not like "This would be objectively the best".

      Really simple way to deal with stations: Make home stations destructible by other players. BOOM... 10 birds with one stone.
       
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    5. MacThule

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      Agreed. HB invulnerability is a blight. In so many ways. 10 at least. Certain minimum compromises must be made before that happens though. Particularly closing the loopholes for exploiting neutral ships and alts to wreck bases with bombs - that's the main one.

      Thanks for being real - I totally have personal preferences as far as making stations work, but the main crux is that something must be done. And it should be done before Galaxy 2.0.
       
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    6. Ratchet Hundreda

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      I would suggest making a poll on that, see if the community agrees on this as well.
       
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    7. Nosajimiki

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      You really can't make HBs vulnerable until they can defend themselves. Frankly, I suspect the home base invulnerability will be much less of a problem once OTHER base viability is addresses, and all of the above are steps in the right direction for making that possible IMO.

      You are right, it should probably be more like a 10x modifier. Right now, I can just walts up to any 1 million mass base in a 250k and waste the hell out of it, it is like shooting fish in a barrel since a moving ship can typically mitigate 2-5 times as much damage as a stationary target. They also can't range control, tactical jump, time attacks, or do any of the other things a human pilot can do. Also, they are at a MASSIVE infowar disadvantage compared to ships since they never move and rarely change. When someone does deploy a battle station in current build, all you need to do to beat it is recon it, and attack with appropriate force. Someone spawns a massive fortress of pure shields and firepower? No problem, just hope on Discord, get a few buddies together and attack it in together. The best battle station design I've ever seen was a 2 million mass station that used complex logic controllers to inhibit and stop enemy ships and was on a server where ships above 500k needed special admin approval. Even being higher tech than is currently possible, and with a massive size advantage, all of them got wiped out a day or two after discovery. Moral of the story is that every base you will ever build will be itself against the world; so, large and expensive bases should be nearly indestructible, even against a coordinated attack if they are ever expected to survive recon with the enemy. If they can't survive recon, no one other than poor noobs throwing away resources will ever make them.

      Back to ratchet's comment, if you make survivable outposts a thing, home base invulnerability will stop being so toxic because people will be able to trust in their outposts enough to use them which will create viable conflict points.

      I also really like the idea of these being chambers because it makes base recon less of an assurance of victory. For example, a deep space refinery might get 50% of it RP invested into production, and 50% into military buffs, but someone looking to just lock down a sector full of a needed resources might go 100% military making it far stronger than other bases of its mass. Being capable of being deceptively strong will also be a key factor in tactical base deployment. Because even if your 100k battle station dies with-in a day or two, if it destroys an arrogant lone pilot in 150k cruiser before it gets fleet banged, or if it causes significant damage to the attack force when it goes down, then the investment is not wasted.
       
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    8. Ithirahad

      Ithirahad Arana'Aethi

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      Remember. Stations are artificially 'propped down' by the simple fact that they cannot maneuver, turn, or fire player-controlled fixed-mount weapons. Artificial compensation seems understandable.
       
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    9. JinM

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      If we would get working shipyards and trading (right now selling and buying stuff is partially bugged, players dont get items if they purchase but I get money and other flaws) it would allready be great.

      So I hope at least something is done in regards to stations.

      The biggest feature that would be helping for stations would be a better faction permission handling, so that I can have multiple people build on one entity but distribute it into build areas, so rank 4 can build only in area 1 and so on.
       
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    10. MacThule

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      Fixing shipyards and trade are pretty vital. It will be hard to even enjoy the new galaxy without those. They're fundamental to playing.
       
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    11. Nosajimiki

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      You can already do this to a degree with modular building. Basically you put a faction block on a docked entity, then they can set perms on that thing. The one downside here is that the docked thing is treated as a ship and not as a base, so there are certain blocks they cant use, but for letting recruits work on aesthetics and docking rigs, it's fine.

      Personally, I'd prefer to see faction and public permission blocks be merged into one block type that you can set more like a regular faction block so that you could bind functions of your base to certain ranks or individuals. That way you could do things like assign crew quarters and cargo holds to specific players or ranks of players
       
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    12. GnomeKing

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      ....HB invulnerability...

      This is a Difficult and Fundamental issue for MP Starmade - key is the question "what happens when a faction/player is offline?"

      Some form of 'lockdown' and protection is also probably needed for balance ; ie for new players not to be continually ganked ...
      There are also a whole host of reasons to be AFK and to reasonably expect things like a home-base to be safe meanwhile.

      How about something simple like this this: A STASIS setting ...
      Toggled on/off by the player to determine state of HB when offline and/or out of home-sector:
      > if ON then home-base is just an Indestructible, Non-Interacting Sprite : allies/neutrals are ejected, all factories and trade stop, and logic devices and turrets cease to function.
      > if OFF, then AI/NPC, turrets, trade, devices ect all function normally, allies/neutrals can use base, and enemies can attack and damage it.


      A more complex idea:
      Create a new 'Station Block' that determines a geometrically defined 'area of in-destructibility' for a home-base > functioning like hybrid of conduit/shield ... ie a 'Home-Base Conduit' creates a ?spine/?shape with a 'radius' calculated from each block...

      everything inside this is covered by the Invulnerability, everything outside is Destructible...

      turrets might need to be excluded ... the number/power of available 'Home-Base Conduit' might be a function of something like faction points, with min/max hard-limits to protect weakest/newest players + limit power of established factions...
       
      #12 GnomeKing, May 24, 2018
      Last edited: May 24, 2018
    13. Nebulon-B_Frigate_FTW

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      Make thrusters use a lot of energy and make armor cheap; stations will naturally get an edge in combat for price. Also make shield recharge fast out of combat so people need sustained assaults instead of being able to toss a few ships every now and then.
       
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    14. dwwojcik

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      But what if it wasn't? Would it change things if, instead of getting rekt, the station summoned a squadron of 500K battleships on patrol nearby to defend it? I assume someone with the technical know-how and resources to build such an impressive station could also afford to build a reasonably large fleet. If we had fleet command/control that wasn't ass and could respond to hostile incursions automatically even while the player is offline, stations wouldn't necessarily need to be tanks themselves.

      Going even further, maybe ungarrisoned stations should be easy pickings for hostile ships. If you don't want your stations to be blown up, assign ships to defend them? At this point that's more a question of game design than balance though.

      My objection to straight up multiplying the power of stations comes from inconsistency. It seems wrong that the exact same advanced armor block on a station is as good as ten advanced armor blocks would be on a ship, or that a turret on a station can punch through ten blocks of advanced armor while if it was on a ship it could only punch through one.
       
      #14 dwwojcik, May 24, 2018
      Last edited: May 25, 2018
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    15. Nebulon-B_Frigate_FTW

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      I would like to note I've been watching DS9 lately (ep where they mine the Wormhole last night) and I think it has things about right on station strength: DS9 is like 30 Dominion ships because of a ton of turrets and can twoshot medium ships, but wears out in minutes against dozens of ships, making it a good staging post and strategic goal, but not unassailable, and the bulk of the Dominion war happens with ships.

      You don't need anything special to make that a reality in Starmade other than mainly better reactor scaling, as DS9 is just plain huge (over 1km across). Making station blocks X times better would lead to tiny stations having the strength of big ships, which would just be silly.
       
    16. Lumen

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      I feel like Eve Online could be a good game to base stations off of where nodes must be contested and controlled for x amount of time before major changes can really happen, but since Starmade doesn't have a huge player base and the like, I believe the best course of action would be to allow stations to be formidable in terms of fighting back. At this point, we're basically looking at a game where players are one unit in a game of Civilization, with cities and factions acting in their own interests.

      Too much automation and AI power and we'll basically see a FPS RTS in space. Maintaining a faction/ starbase should have a cost of some sort that either players or NPC leaders address. The faction leader or Station AI, whatever, has it's own faction and attitude towards others that can be influenced by a player etc.

      Specialized AI modules that can be scripted or handle such roles will allow players to be part of or lead factions depending on their activity, and interact fairly to other players, having their own fleet on standby, mining ops, construction, trade and even purchase aid from mercenaries or other factions when in need. But we need them to send retaliatory actions as well in an intelligent and reasonable manner.

      Mechanics wise, Stations not being capable of moving is a big disadvantage and a huge investment, considering they are the only ones that can have crafting blocks. I think inefficient crafting blocks should be on ships but, that aside, Stations should have a bonus in overall capability by magnitudes compared to a ship. The fact that if some of the weapons are disabled means it can't turn other weapons to bare as a static platform is an issue compared to ship mobility.

      Give the Station block Shield and power amplifiers so it can withstand an assault that can lose x% per hour reaching 100% in 24 or 48 hours as an example, and if that limit is reached disable systems accordingly since it's under siege.

      But I like the idea of negotiation, cloak and dagger, and other elements aside from raw combat to exist.
       
    17. Nosajimiki

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      DS-9 scales because it it is fiction. Star Trek says, if it's this big, that's how well it will perform. A: Star Trek also does not make a big deal about evasive action, Yes they say they are doing it, but it never seems to offset the outcome of a battle. In starmade, evasive action is a major force multiplier which allows speed tanks to kill ships several times their size, against stationary targets, this difference is down right devastating. B: Star Trek has a damage model more similar to power 1.0 where 90% of the fight is beating your opponent's shields; so, things like mitigating damage by attack vectors are not a thing. In starmade, especially power 2.0, DS-9 would lose to a couple of Dominion ships because they would just alpha the shield bubble protecting the reactor and shoot it to pieces in the first few seconds of the fight long before reinforcements could arrive, and without even having to damage 95% of the base. Against a base, the attacker gets to choose the target's weakest attack angle while controlling his strongest attack angle.

      If a 500k battle station were an even fight for a 500k battleship, then you may have a valid point, but that would not happen without some kind of station force multiplier akin to the advantages that ships have.

      I would love for my enemies to do this. All I need to do to wipe out his drone forces is to lure them all into one place by attacking a base while there are no players online to tell them when they need to run? Yes please. While this is great if you are much stronger than your enemy, if you are the weaker faction, it means you're not just throwing away a base, but your entire drone force as well. :D

      Also, leaving patrol fleets close enough to your base to respond in time is risky unto itself because it gives weaker factions options for picking you apart bit by bit. If a person recons you and sees you have 3 fleets in a sector, they can diversionary attack your base with a stealth bomber to make 2 of your fleets respond there while your main force picks off the third patrol. The bigger force shows up to the base but can't do anything because you are then cloaked. Optionally (at least until AI FTL drives work.) you then use your stealth ship to force that fleet to stay loaded in sector. Even if the AI is smart enough to try to respond to your other fleet now, they can not because they have to fly at normal speeds.

      Rinse/Repeat.

      Now... If the base itself was dangerous enough of a force as to empower the nearby fleet to destroy threats that it could not otherwise overcome by adding that same investment of resources into just more ships, then you'd be giving players a viable option to wage a defensive war.

      In short, for a defensive war to be viable, an AI station has to be at LEAST and equally valuable military resource to a human controlled ship of equal value.
       
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    18. dwwojcik

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      So for NPC factions, there will probably be some sort of strategic-level AI to dispatch ships for, among other things, responding to threats. I would hope that this AI is capable of making basic strategic decisions like abandoning a station instead of vainly sending all available ship to defend against an overwhelming force. I would also hope player factions would have the option of enabling this AI when no players are online.

      An AI is always going to be dumber than an average player, but I hope it wouldn't be quite that easy to trick.

      I can't imagine NPC ships won't gain the use of FTL drives. It would be seriously lame if they didn't.
       
    19. Ratchet Hundreda

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      I think they already defend themselves with spawning in allied defender ships as a response to threats to their stations. You can also make so that your station does attack any non-faction approaching vessel while you are offline. However these features are meaningless since the NPC faction stations and home stations are all invulnerable anyways.

      This invulnerability basically eliminates any galactic scale strategic gameplay since players just abuse home station invulnerability to spread in the galaxy instead of spreading in the conventional way. It is just stupid the way it is and basically a handcuff to PvP in StarMade. Not only that but the most blatant and trivial exploit you can do currently.

      Each individual ship part of a fleet is controlled by an AI both NPC faction fleets and player created fleets so on these terms there is no trick. In a battle of fleets the one should win with the adequately superior systems.

      However fleets are extremely buggy currently and are basically a demo feature.

      I might be wrong on this but I think they actually do plan on making so that fleet AI utilizes FTL drives.
       
    20. Nosajimiki

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      My entire post just an example, but my point stands regardless. AI follows rules and patterns. People just need to learn the patterns whatever they may be and come up with an appropriate battle plan. Maybe the AI is set to run when outmassed by a certain margin, so ppl use giant ships made out for rocks to scare them away. Maybe AI runs when outnumbered so people deploy chaff to scare them off. Maybe AI can be set to run from certain factions that you know are dangerous, so that faction uses alts to destroy your response fleet. I could go on and on with the subject.

      Saying "AI will get better" is a moot argument unless you can come up with some magic criteria that can't be exploited once people begin to understand it without being so process heavy that it crashes the game.
       
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