Balancing of Existing Weapons

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DerivePi
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Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by DerivePi »

UPDATED 8/31/14 - Summary of Suggestions:

Carried Weapons:
Pistol – “unlike all other weapons, it should not slow you down when shooting.” - Rahjital

Submachinegun – Open to some minor adjustments to damage and magazine size. However, it is an effective early game weapon that auto aims and doesn’t need to be changed.

Shotgun – The weapon of choice for many players. Perhaps a bit over powered which allows other weapons and options to be ignored. Maybe reduce its effectiveness.

Rocket Launcher – Reduce its rate of fire and increase its damage. Rebalance the biters’ resistance to explosive damage. Add explosion and “alien body parts flying” graphics to the game (smile).

Grenades – Easily replaced by the poison capsule. https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... =16&t=2359

Flamethrower – Provide an upgrade to make it a viable late game option and a worthwhile early investment. Allow damage to pass through to multiple objects/enemies.

Emplaced Weapons:
Mines – Increase biter offensive strategy to make mines a necessary late game defense in combination with walls and turrets.

Gun and Laser Turret – Discussed in other posts - https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... =16&t=3511
https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... =16&t=4363

Other Suggestions:
Provide different enemies that are more susceptible / resistant to the different types of weapons. And thus, requires the player to adjust the choice of weapon for the given enemy (rock/paper/scissors).

Prevent early game turtling (and encourage the use of early game weapons) by either defending early game resources with hives or require small amounts of alien tech for early weapon development.

Please keep adding your comments and I will try to capture them in the summary!


ORIGINAL POST:
On several playthroughs I find myself skipping weapon types and have never used some of the weapons. Although not using some weapons is appropriate, depending on a player's style, I'd like to see a deeper progression on weapon development that would encourage the use of other weapons.

For instance, the pistol with standard ammo is useless. Perhaps there is room for a weaker biter (baby biters) and spawner to encourage the player to engage the biters from the beginning of the game and clean out an initial base area. Maybe tie further weapon research into defeating the smaller biters (Alien Science small vs large)

Flamethrower - I've never used it and have heard it is very weak. Maybe promote the flamer against the big biters (make them susceptible to flame damage) and encourage the player to switch weapons against specific threats. Make biter groups more specified (small, medium, blue, red, etc...)

Shotgun - OK, people already use it enough. I just never have.

Rockets and Exp Rockets - I've used these, but I find them unsatisfying. Maybe they should do significant damage against buildings?

Grenades - quickly replaced by rockets if at all.

landmines - To avoid constant attention, these need to regenerate or make them an early game defense of desperation

I'd like to see each weapon become a crucial stepping stone to the next level of defense/offense.

What are your thoughts?
Last edited by DerivePi on Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:39 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by Fact_3011 »

That are exactly my thoughts, while I was writing a posting in the turrets topic. Conclusion: Most weapons are to weak.
The shotgun is early available and better than all other things. Some weapons should be stronger and more specialiced. Some weapons should have a special purpose, like in some strategy games. Flame thrower have damage bonus against bitters and trees. Rockets work well with buildings. Grenades as close combat alternative to rockets. Shutgun is then a good weapon only in the mid game.

In my first play through I was extremely disappointed by most of the weapons. So hard to get and just completely useless.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by ssilk »

They are needed when you go outside for the first times. It's hopeless without gun to go near a biter nest.

The point of the game (which I agree doesn't come through yet) is, that you don't have a chance without your whole tech. And the weapons are not thought for offensive fight, only for defensive.

It would change the complete game target, if the character had suddenly the ability to fight alone against a horde of 100 biters. Well, that happens - but much later in the game and then you have the bots around you, which fight for you or protect you!

Again: The weapons are mainly thought for defense and all have a very special ability. The gun is for example with piercing bullets very good against biter nests. The offensive fight begins much later.
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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by -root »

ssilk wrote:The weapons are mainly for defense
I agree, in the early game it should be all about hanging on and desperation. But the OP does have a point, even in the late game some of the weapons are underpowered for what they should be.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by DerivePi »

ssilk wrote:They are needed when you go outside for the first times. It's hopeless without gun to go near a biter nest.
...
Again: The weapons are mainly thought for defense and all have a very special ability. The gun is for example with piercing bullets very good against biter nests. The offensive fight begins much later.
The typical game arc is, establish base, maybe add some defenses, gun turret if you have to or just go right to the laser turret. Do 75% of the research tree while huddled in your bunker. Pick a few select weapons to develop (skipping over all the rest) and chew up some of the smaller biter settlements. Get a little bit further with research and use final weapons to evict the locals.

I like the hopeless part. It adds pressure to the player to speed along the development of better weapons. I just think that each weapon should play a more significant role. Perhaps I'll have a better perspective if I play some of the difficult scenarios listed on this forum, like "The Oasis" - https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... =36&t=4213 . I'd like more of a rock-paper-scissors approach to weapons though. And, I think earlier engagement with the natives would add some necessary chaos and stress for most players.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by The Phoenixian »

I don't think I agree with you on landmines. I find them to be quite powerful, and more efficient against large swarms, but also very expensive and require a powerful industry to set up. The key is having roboports and blueprints to set them up and maintain them. They also won't harm objects you can walk over and have a large blast radius and small proximity so they work great around train tracks too.

With the setup below, where I have about eight rows of mines, I don't think I've had anything reach the walls since between the time the minefields were completed and the time I cut their width down to four rows. (which is all it takes to destroy most biter swarms.) That said, minefeilds use the "building destroyed" alert which saps a lot of the alert functionality.

Image

Not saying that there isn't room for improvement, and I'd love to see a swarm setup that encourages minefeilds in the late game, but mines are not so bad at the moment that can't compete with other options, especially in resource rich worlds.


Definitely agree with you on flamethrower though, the range is tiny and the damage moreso. Given that it's stchik is spash damage, If the range was doubled or just raised by half again that might do a lot to alleiviate it's problems. Especially if it has research to help it scale.

Grenades are very useful!... against small biters.

Even with their damage problems I find that the worst thing about rockets is that they lack a certain viceral impact. They don't feel like fun weapons to use. Amonst more obvious solutions, Multiplying their numbers per shot/unit and dividing the damage by that for a macros (micro)missile massacre might give them a bit more oomph. Say 6 rockets of 10 and 8 damage each instead of 1 of 60 and 48.

Or you could just give them a nice explosion effect and make the screen shake a bit at close zooms...
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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by DerivePi »

so with a blueprint and costruction bots the landmines continually get replenished. That's impressive!

Thanks for the input.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by carkasjak »

I definitely feel like the rocket launcher needs a big buff. It's pathetically weak, even fully researched and loaded with explosive rockets. The combat shotgun beats it in any situation. All weapons feel too weak against big biters. The only thing that works really well against them seems to be destroyer capsules or ridiculous amounts of laser turrets.

On a slightly off-topic note. One thing that bugs me about the combat in factorio is that the biter nests will keep spawning new biters constantly, so the big bases are incredibly tedious to deal with. I think that after you kill off a wave of biters the nests that spawned them should be slowed down for a while so you can get a chance to actually finish them off before the next wave is in your face. i don't think the combat is too hard overall; just too tedious. More different types of enemies would be interesting as well.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by -root »

carkasjak wrote: so the big bases are incredibly tedious to deal with.
Which may be a reason why players try to automate conquest through turret creep. I know i wouldn't feel bad about losing the ability to build near biter nests if I had some decent weapons to wipe them out with.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by carkasjak »

-root wrote:
carkasjak wrote: so the big bases are incredibly tedious to deal with.
Which may be a reason why players try to automate conquest through turret creep. I know i wouldn't feel bad about losing the ability to build near biter nests if I had some decent weapons to wipe them out with.
I agree completely. The slow advancing turret strategy is really boring, but during some stages of the game it feels like the only option due to the ineffectiveness of the regular weapons, and the fast spawning of biters.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by Rahjital »

There are indeed quite a few problems with weapon-biter balance, but I think that overall the balance isn't all that bad, it just needs some changes to make it more fun.

The pistol is obviously just a self defense weapon to weaken whatever biters are chasing you, not for any serious defense or offense. I think that unlike all other weapons, it should not slow you down when shooting. Currently the pistol is completely useless because stopping to shoot can mean quick death at the beginning, your best chance when caught by biters outside your base is to run.

Shotguns are currently superior to bullet weapons because there is no counterpart to the combat shotgun. The SMG is roughly equal to the regular shotgun, but the combat shotgun with it's doubled rate of fire and 20% damage boost is clearly better. If there was a Machinegun with 20% damage boost and 30 speed, the scales would be much more equal. Another problem is how short the bullet magazines last. Each has only 10 shots, which gets consumed ridiculously fast, especially when you upgrade bullet shooting speed.

The flamethrower is actually pretty strong when you compare it to un-upgraded weapons, especially against big biters and big worms who have no resistance against fire. But as you go up in the research tree, it becomes weaker and weaker compared to other weapons because it has no upgrades of its own. If there were upgrade researches for it like there are for other weapons, it would see a lot more use.

Rocket launchers are pretty powerful as well, we just expect them to be devastating which is why they feel a bit underwhelming. If their rate of fire was reduced and damage increased proportionally, they would seem stronger while still being just as powerful as they were. Also, there's the problem that pretty much all enemies are resistant to explosions, the biters, the worms and even the spawners, which makes the rocket launcher somewhat weaker than it should be.

Grenades do very little damage for their cost, especially once you realize you can get poison capsules for not that much more. The only truly useless weapon of Factorio, I think.

Landmines are great, but a bit too expensive for what they do. The fact that they also damage your buildings and you makes their use somewhat limited, though.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by ssilk »

Rahjital wrote:The pistol is obviously just a self defense weapon to weaken whatever biters are chasing you, not for any serious defense or offense. I think that unlike all other weapons, it should not slow you down when shooting. Currently the pistol is completely useless because stopping to shoot can mean quick death at the beginning, your best chance when caught by biters outside your base is to run.
Yes. Indeed good ideas and quite realistic thoughts.
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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by Khyron »

DerivePi wrote:...What are your thoughts?
I guess my first thought is to consider the stage of development Factorio is currently at. I'm relatively new to Factorio but from my memory of reading the changelog I don't think there has been a holistic review of the combat balance to date. It's alpha, so that's entirely appropriate. It's more important to focus on the functionality and roles of the weapon systems than their balance at this stage. That said, it's off to a great start.

The next point I'd make is...
DerivePi wrote:...and have never used some of the weapons.
... it seems strange to want to talk about the balance of weapons that you admit you haven't tried.

I won't go over every weapon but here's some points others haven't mentioned:
  • Pistol is adequate to deal with the first handful of biters that attack. Otherwise you would die unless you've researched SMG.
  • SMG is very early tech and is excellent at dealing with small biters because it auto-aims. Using piercing ammo allows you to kill small biters faster than a biter nest can spawn them which allows you to get close enough to use the shotgun.
  • Shotgun is the earliest weapon that is effective at taking out nests.
  • Flamethrower does huge damage to nests but is a bit awkward to use against swarming biters. It makes a great upgrade to the shotgun which allows you to avoid sinking lots of resources in to shotgun damage and ROF techs. Note the FT has no damage/ROF techs.
  • Rocket launcher with basic rockets has a single niche use which is that you can out-range small and medium worms
  • Explosive rockets work well with distractor drones and that combo is useful until you can get power armour. If you launch distractors at maximum radius before the biters notice you, the biters will attack the drones instead of you. You can then basically shoot explosive rockets at your drones (no friendly fire damage) and the explosion hits everything nearby including nests if you do it right.
  • Land mines can be automatically replenished by construction robots as Phoenixian said, but they're not cost effective. They do work without power, but you'll need power for the drone bay anyway so why not build laser turrets and walls. They could become part of an effective defense-in-depth strategy but the current spawn/attack cycles of biters doesn't really warrant that level of planning.
  • Gas grenades don't hurt you when you're in a vehicle, which makes them a nice PBAOE DOT weapon in really desperate situations. I had one low-oil game where I couldn't get a third oil well without assaulting a 6 nest cluster after medium biters were out. Tried lots of different things before I found a solution by laying rail from inside the train engine, right in to their base, dropping the gas grenades and then shotgunning the nests. It was pretty intense! :lol:
If I was to recommend some balance at this stage, I would say
  • Reduce metal per bullet (normal and piercing) by ~50%.
  • Decrease medium and large biter damage reduction by ~50%.
  • Remove shotgun piercing shells.
  • Repurpose laser turrets as large, slow firing weapons that vaporise any one alien they hit (a la Obelisk of Light). The idea is to keep a role for regular turrets but it would also probably make turret-creep non-viable, which is a good thing.
DerivePi wrote:The typical game arc is, establish base, maybe add some defenses, gun turret if you have to or just go right to the laser turret. Do 75% of the research tree while huddled in your bunker. Pick a few select weapons to develop (skipping over all the rest) and chew up some of the smaller biter settlements.
I watched an LP of Factorio which followed that trajectory and so naturally my first game was similar. Now I regard that broad strategy as lacking. There's a period of the game quite early on where it's very easy to harvest a lot of alien artifacts using just steel armour, the sub machine gun, the basic shotgun and optionally some grenades (PBAOE). The trick is to get it done before medium biters come in to play. I seem to get about 100 to 200 artifacts during that time. Once medium biters are out it's not economically rational (time or resources) to continue harvesting artifacts with those weapons. But those initial artifacts will bootstrap my late game tech.

Importantly, I think the game needs some way to encourage you to get out of your base early on to get some experience with combat. Turtling until evolution factor is maxed out will make the late game much slower. Some people have reported it being all but impossible to kill biter bases after having turtled for 20+ hours (not true, but it's easy to see why they come to that conclusion).

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by DerivePi »

Khyron wrote: I guess my first thought is to consider the stage of development Factorio is currently at. I'm relatively new to Factorio but from my memory of reading the changelog I don't think there has been a holistic review of the combat balance to date. It's alpha, so that's entirely appropriate. It's more important to focus on the functionality and roles of the weapon systems than their balance at this stage. That said, it's off to a great start.

The next point I'd make is...
DerivePi wrote:...and have never used some of the weapons.
... it seems strange to want to talk about the balance of weapons that you admit you haven't tried.
Exactly my point! I'd like another look at the functionality and roles of the weapon systems. A player should find it fairly more difficult to skip over weapons (as I did). Every weapon should open up a new avenue of advance that is necessary and important. I like the early stage of engaging the natives, that you mention, and would like that further encouraged (ie you can't progress without an early engagement with the natives).

I also vote up Rahjital's suggestion regarding the pistol firing without impacting the players movement.

I started this post with the understanding that the developers were interested in re-balancing the weapons/combat system and I thought that we could help.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by Manti »

Having thought about this for a week or so, I think the easiest way to discourage turtling starts is to push a tiny amount of Purple science pack in the earlier techs. Like having techs around the oil-entry level require about tenth of the other science packs you need.

For example having techs like 6 10x Reds, 6 10x Greens, 6 1x Purple. And naturally 10 times the research duration

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by MalContentFL »

I was just about to post something like this, but then I saw this topic. Most people just use the assault shotgun and the flamethrower, SMG, and rocketlauncher become utterly obsolete. These weapons really need to be revisited.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by Khyron »

DerivePi wrote:Exactly my point! I'd like another look at the functionality and roles of the weapon systems. A player should find it fairly more difficult to skip over weapons (as I did). Every weapon should open up a new avenue of advance that is necessary and important. I like the early stage of engaging the natives, that you mention, and would like that further encouraged (ie you can't progress without an early engagement with the natives).
The obvious way forward here is to put more smarts in the map generator. Tier resources so that you have to fight some aliens to get access to the higher tier resources.

One of the design problems Factorio is going to have as multiplayer come in is just how fast it is to get to the end game. I think they're really going to have to stagger things out a bit and really force players to spend time in each tier rather than just bee-lining for the non-consuming stuff like solar panels and laser turrets. It's a pretty easy problem to fix but there are a few directions the devs could go, some better than others. it will be interesting to see how multiplayer pans out.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by The Phoenixian »

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I feel that the core problem with weapons in factorio has less to do with the weapons themselves and more to do with the lack of diversity in enemies.

With our current setup we have two types of enemies with three strengths each. Worms, of all types, are ideally taken out with poison capsules or rockets while the optimal strategy for biters is high end shotguns and combat drones. Most importantly, there is no circumstance in which this changes. You're never going to think "Hunh minion swarm, Okay I should switch to a Flamethrower/Explosives for broad area damage" or "There's only one enemy but this one's tough: I need to rockets/my SMG to focus fire." In any case it's you up against a swarm that is simply getting tougher and tougher members to make up it's bulk.
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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by DerivePi »

I am currently in the process of using the SMG with AP bullets to clear out early hives with small biters and have to say it is fairly effective. Thank you Khyron.

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Re: Balancing of Existing Weapons

Post by krux02 »

I would like to have the flamethrower more powerful. Right now the shotgun is the most powerful weapon against trees, but shouldn't it be the flamethrower. I would love to burn forests down with the flamethrower. Then I would like to have a reason to have several weapons around. I would like to have different spawner for the different types of aliens (gauntlet style) and make them vulnerable to certain types of damage. The latest armored biter could be immune to the shotgun and vulnerable to poison and flames. while other biters are more vulnerable to machine gun or shotgun.

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