0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

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azurill_used_splash
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0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by azurill_used_splash »

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So, I'm about 6 hours into this playthrough. It's a 'rich resources' map, but doesn't have any other settings switched. I've *just* researched Production Science, and have a reasonable number of weapon upgrades researched. I've hopped into my tank, fueled with black cubes and laden with several arm-fulls of armor-piercing machine-gun ammo in order to clear out a sizeable alien settlement near my new iron-mining outpost -- the guys in the map screen there. I don't have laser turrets yet.

And, they chew up my tank nigh-instantly. Game over. I have to reload from a save and give it another go. The only way I'm making any progress at all against them is to circle-strafe them until my tank's health is down in the red, retreat, repair, and go again.

Think about that for a second. Circle-strafing in a tank. Yes, you *can* do that in Factorio, but that *should* be the tactic you use for kiting around enemies in the car. Tanks are supposed to reasonably plow through a lot of enemies. I'm nowhere *near* the end-game, when my tank is maybe less useful than artillery and rockets. I *could* be using cannon shells to increase my damage, but that still leaves the glaring issue that the aliens are simply chewing through my tank like it isn't there.

The slowing effect from worms and spitters should be dangerous, but not be horrific... because I'm in a tank. I've already made the decision to armor up and go in slow and hard.

I remember one of the FFF posts mentioning that some calculations had been off when biter nests were soaking up pollution. They'd soak up infinite amounts. Is that the problem here? That pollution is getting spread around more causing larger nests? Even if so, I think that this level of difficulty would be seriously off-putting to a new or returning player. The difficulty curve here is a sheer cliff.

-- Edit --

Post-circle-strafe-cleanout-carnage:

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by Serenity »

The tank is in general is a bit too squishy. Always has been. It should have a vehicle grad and addon armor plates. And shields for the late game.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlueTemplar »

azurill_used_splash wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:22 am
Tanks are supposed to reasonably plow through a lot of enemies.
I haven't been that far in 0.17 yet, so I don't know how bad is it, but there's a fine balance to *a lot*.
For this nest size, IMHO :
If those are small worms, then yeah, tanks should plow through them easily.
For medium worms you should have to be a bit more careful, (like needing to use tank shells)
and for large ones, you should die like you're describing if you try to carelessly drive in the middle of them.

And yeah, you can't really upgrade the tankyness of your tank (besides indirectly, boosting bot speed so that they can keep up),
something should probably be done about that...
I remember one of the FFF posts mentioning that some calculations had been off when biter nests were soaking up pollution. They'd soak up infinite amounts.
I'm not completely sure about that, but I'm still pretty sure that pollution only affects the size of waves attacking you.
(Except indirectly, through evolution, the size/"level" of new alien expansions.)

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlakeMW »

I'm playing Deathworld so I wanted a challenge, but I have to agree about the Tank being a bit tissue-paper. The "nasty patches" left on the ground by spitters in particular seem to burn through the tank's armor like nobodies business and if a Big Biter manages to block the Tank's forward progress it's GG for the tank as the nasty patches melt it out of existence. Zig-zagging to confuse the AI works great when on foot because you can instantaneously change velocity causing all the spitters and worms to miss by miles, but the Tank is much easier to track since it can't make instantaneous velocity changes and if it's getting boxed in my biters it is limited in its maneuverability.

I think the Tank might need a bit of an acid resistance buff I don't think 50% is enough, it doesn't matter if it's damn near immune to physical if the long-range acid attackers melt it in 3 seconds. If Tanks are immune to "nasty patch" damage like turrets are it might also be sufficient.

It must be pointed out that if the mobile options aren't effective, the player ultimately falls back on Laser Turret spam for calm orderly destruction with zero risk and zero losses. Even if the changes to the Worms like longer range makes it less effective, it does still work due to the massive force multipliers from mass production and the personal roboport (and the fact that nasty patches don't damage Turrets means they really don't take much damage anyway, especially if you space them apart to avoid splash).

But even then, the same nests which are melting the Tank in seconds are no threat to my basic Power Armor setup with 3x Energy Shield. I just run in while zig-zagging a bit and roast everything with the Flamethrower and the shield recharge easily keeps me alive against Big Spitters and the worms: which can't hit me because of zig-zagging, and the Big Biters can't keep up thanks to stutter-step with the Flamethrower and being flame-debuffed. I mean, it takes a little finesse to make it work you can't just face tank with a simple PA setup, but I also consider myself a pretty good Tank pilot (in 0.16 I'd use it extensively in Marathon Deathworld to plow through nests) and the Tank is really just melting with any strategy except tedious circle-strafing and even that's risky.

So it's mainly the Tank being trash, and I think it's mainly trash because the nasty patches are melting it.
Last edited by BlakeMW on Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by V453000 »

Using explosive cannon shells is massively helpful. With those the tank is very efficient at killing bases with Medium worms.

Alternativelly, the rocket launcher is excellent as it can outrange medium worms completely, but needs some backup vs. the attackers - combat robots work best for this but flamethrower or even defensively positioned turrets still do very well.

Also note that one of the big benefits of the tank is that you can stack its power - you can use grenades and/or have your personal laser defense fire while in a tank, and use the tank weapon on top of that.

Raising tank health a little bit does not sound too unreasonable to me though.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by bobucles »

The tank is super powerful when starting out, but it turns into more of a glass cannon as biters grow larger and more powerful. The most dangerous thing used to be not the biters themselves(surprisingly), but having the tank blow itself up with the explosive shells. Those things knock off chunks of tank and in the heat of battle can be easily mistaken for extreme biter damage. Do we have HE safety fuses now? :mrgreen:

I also wouldn't mind seeing a few vehicle endurance upgrades. Tank research is a good spot for providing a simultaneous "medium armor" HP boost to the Car, as it's already way too squishy by this point. One more end game tier of "Heavy armor" would help with end game squishiness. Vehicle modules can also accomplish the same thing and many mods have explored it. The progression system already exists for modules and the boost really helps out for that extra layer of vehicle defense.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlueTemplar »

BlakeMW wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:36 am
(and the fact that nasty patches don't damage Turrets).
Are you sure about that? It seemed to me that they did. Against Gun turrets at least... But I'll look more closely next time.
bobucles wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:57 am
The most dangerous thing used to be not the biters themselves(surprisingly), but having the tank blow itself up with the explosive shells. Those things knock off chunks of tank and in the heat of battle can be easily mistaken for extreme biter damage. Do we have HE safety fuses now? :mrgreen:
If you make the explosive shells too safe, what would even be the point of piercing shells ?

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by bobucles »

If you make the explosive shells too safe, what would even be the point of piercing shells ?
If an explosive shell is too safe, then you get surrounded and can't blast your way out. The shell safety won't let it explode. That's probably a bad thing. On the other hand, having the explosive shell pop point blank and explode your face is ALSO a bad thing. Players lose many tanks that way, and the worst part is they might not even know it! Piercing shells don't have an implied minimum range.

I'm not a fan of the piercing mechanic. It falls off too quickly and doesn't scale in the late game. If piercing power was based on % of attack strength, then the piercing could scale up to really excellent levels. Something like 40-60% piercing for regular shells and 10-30% piercing for explosive.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlakeMW »

V453000 wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:43 am
Raising tank health a little bit does not sound too unreasonable to me though.
I would rather more resists than more hitpoints because:

1. Waiting for your Tank to repair is the most fun ever.
2. Resits multiply the effectiveness of repair bots during combat, and at the moment they are very sad because they quickly get splashed out of existence. If they're going to to live a sad, brief and pitiful existence at least let it have some meaning.
3. The Tank feels appropriately strong against physical, impact and fire damage, being neither invulnerable nor useless. Increasing the hitpoints to improve its resilience to acid would make it insane against other damage types (for example it can already stop a small to medium sized train, with more hitpoints it would stop even large trains which is clearly inappropriate as Trains are the Apex predator).

What I would *really* like is an upgrade which improves the resists of vehicles (and perhaps other things), imagine say the tank starts at 50% acid resist. Then there is upgrades that add +15% acid resist, with 3 levels. First two levels are relatively obtainable, first level being red+green+grey, meaning normally you start with the tank at 65%, next level is red+green+blue+grey meaning you can get 80% at the same time as the tank, last level is expensive, but makes acid resist 95%. This is fair, by end game you can deploy like 100 laser turrets with your personal roboport forcing the enemy to fight through 100x as much crap, let the Tank have some multiplicative robustness too.

The Melee defense doesn't really need multipliers, because there's a limit to how many melee attackers can fit around the Tank and they body-block each other, but against ranged attackers there's really no reasonable limit to how many can be attacking at once (i.e. at least hundreds), and there's not really any option of deploying chaff (i.e. bots) to distract some of the attackers because in 0.17 the area-of-effect damage destroys any amount of chaff nearly instantly. So with just one lonely Tank to take all the damage, you may as well quit using it against large numbers of ranged attackers.

And I contend that even 95% acid resistance wouldn't be overpowered in the late game, firstly because Behemoth Biters would still shred the Tank if it sits still long enough to get surrounded, and secondly because even cutting the damage by 90% can be cancelled out by 10x the number of attackers, which is the kind of strength late game nests have.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlakeMW »

BlueTemplar wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:28 pm
BlakeMW wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:36 am
(and the fact that nasty patches don't damage Turrets).
Are you sure about that? It seemed to me that they did. Against Gun turrets at least... But I'll look more closely next time.
Very, though it might have changed in a patch?
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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by bobucles »

I would rather more resists than more hitpoints because:

1. Waiting for your Tank to repair is the most fun ever.
You can also accomplish the same thing by giving the tank more "repair spots" for bots to attach. It'd be a lot cooler to see 5 bots frantically holding a tank together instead of one super bot using god mode repair packs.

Tank resists are already very high and tanks already have excellent durability per HP. I don't think they need higher resists. If anything they need lower resists because their extreme explosive resistance screws up other areas of combat balance. For example an endgame anti armor rocket deals less than 10% HP to a tank. Like WAT.

Many mods explore the use of vehicle shield modules. They are very effective at making a tank impervious to "scratch damage", in a very similar way that extremely high resistance would do. It'd still collapse under heavy fire, but if you get swarmed and overrun you might deserve to die. :roll:
there's not really any option of deploying chaff (i.e. bots) to distract some of the attackers because in 0.17 the area-of-effect damage destroys any amount of chaff nearly instantly.
Some tweaking is probably needed here. Area damage ends up nuking combat drones since they like to swarm into a single dot. One good splash = a million dead drones. That's all the more reason to disable bots running out to heal bots. It only makes the suicide train worse.

Land mines are still extremely effective as chaff weapons. They're LESS effective than before but "god mode" minus "a lot" is still "pretty damn good".

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlueTemplar »

BlakeMW wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:47 pm
I would rather more resists than more hitpoints because:

1. Waiting for your Tank to repair is the most fun ever.
2. Resits multiply the effectiveness of repair bots during combat, and at the moment they are very sad because they quickly get splashed out of existence. If they're going to to live a sad, brief and pitiful existence at least let it have some meaning.

[...]

The Melee defense doesn't really need multipliers, because there's a limit to how many melee attackers can fit around the Tank and they body-block each other, but against ranged attackers there's really no reasonable limit to how many can be attacking at once (i.e. at least hundreds), and there's not really any option of deploying chaff (i.e. bots) to distract some of the attackers because in 0.17 the area-of-effect damage destroys any amount of chaff nearly instantly. So with just one lonely Tank to take all the damage, you may as well quit using it against large numbers of ranged attackers.
Exactly. Because while I survived this :
Image
I only did because I drove my tank on purpose where all the biters couldn't hit me at once, so the bot repair could keep up with the damage.
IMHO, I still shouldn't be able in 0.17 to survive just parking the tank anywhere, and it getting repaired by bots while Blue biters munch on it (which might happen if physical resists/bot repair are set too high).
bobucles wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:11 pm
You can also accomplish the same thing by giving the tank more "repair spots" for bots to attach. It'd be a lot cooler to see 5 bots frantically holding a tank together instead of one super bot using god mode repair packs.
This might result in the issue described above.

BTW, I don't really remember attackers focusing on bots (at least, mostly), IIRC they were focusing on the tank (why that strategy even worked...)

Spitters are generally squishy, if you let them fire on you for too long, IMHO you deserve to die (that's what grenades/bullets are for !).

(Though yeah, the tank shouldn't die too easily to acid spits / acid puddles either...)
bobucles wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:11 pm
Tank resists are already very high and tanks already have excellent durability per HP. I don't think they need higher resists. If anything they need lower resists because their extreme explosive resistance screws up other areas of combat balance. For example an endgame anti armor rocket deals less than 10% HP to a tank. Like WAT.
He was specfically talking about acid though.
But yeah, there's also PvP to consider (if briefly).
BlakeMW wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:47 pm
What I would *really* like is an upgrade which improves the resists of vehicles (and perhaps other things), imagine say the tank starts at 50% acid resist. Then there is upgrades that add +15% acid resist, with 3 levels. First two levels are relatively obtainable, first level being red+green+grey, meaning normally you start with the tank at 65%, next level is red+green+blue+grey meaning you can get 80% at the same time as the tank, last level is expensive, but makes acid resist 95%. This is fair, by end game you can deploy like 100 laser turrets with your personal roboport forcing the enemy to fight through 100x as much crap, let the Tank have some multiplicative robustness too.
IMHO, ideally, there shouldn't be any tech boosts in the game before it ends (infinite tech boosts in space science are fine).
(Especially now, with the upgrade planner in vanilla.)
Many mods explore the use of vehicle shield modules. They are very effective at making a tank impervious to "scratch damage", in a very similar way that extremely high resistance would do. It'd still collapse under heavy fire, but if you get swarmed and overrun you might deserve to die. :roll:
Please consider a 3rd vehicle tier / vehicle equipment
(armor plates equipment that slowly get damaged and have to be replaced sounds more appropriate for the current "low-tech" tank) ?

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlueTemplar »

bobucles wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:42 pm
having the explosive shell pop point blank and explode your face is ALSO a bad thing. Players lose many tanks that way, and the worst part is they might not even know it! Piercing shells don't have an implied minimum range.
And a much worse thing that just getting your tank damaged, because getting surrounded and not being able to blast your way out usually means death.
If these players don't even notice that their tank is losing a significant chunk of health every time they fire the cannon, then I'm not sure what can be done about that... (Having tank chunks flying?)
bobucles wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:42 pm
I'm not a fan of the piercing mechanic. It falls off too quickly and doesn't scale in the late game. If piercing power was based on % of attack strength, then the piercing could scale up to really excellent levels. Something like 40-60% piercing for regular shells and 10-30% piercing for explosive.
Yes, there certainly is an issue with the balance of that.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by bobucles »

If these players don't even notice that their tank is losing a significant chunk of health every time they fire the cannon, then I'm not sure what can be done about that... (Having tank chunks flying?)
I must be an idiot then because I had to blow up half a dozen tanks to figure it out. :lol: Tanks shooting themselves to death is a rare trope. A great deal of science goes into making sure they don't do that!

When you're surrounded by a dozen biters, it's hard to notice your own damage next to biter damage. It only really gets really obvious when the uranium shells start kicking off a quarter of your health per shot.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlueTemplar »

Hmm, I would have thought that point-blank firing with explosive shells might be an hazard for real-life tanks too ?
(Artillery tanks at least ?)

I wouldn't say that I noticed it instantly either...
(but with regular explosive shells, hopefully I'll finally get to play with uranium weapons soon...)
- but that's just the typical learning curve !

And yeah, it most certainly wasn't when completely surrounded...
(Might have been during the above screenshot actually ! I remember wishing that I had packed regular shells instead...)

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by CDarklock »

azurill_used_splash wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:22 am
Even if so, I think that this level of difficulty would be seriously off-putting to a new or returning player. The difficulty curve here is a sheer cliff.
I've been messing with the campaign for the past couple days, and I just returned to my 4-hour map.

I am a slow starter. I like to be very cautious and careful with my bases, planning out the long term positioning and whatnot. I've identified the nearest oil field, located a few multi-million resource patches for coal and iron and copper, and counted up how much space I need to fence in. It's a lot - I need about 2,000 walls. So I've got a minimal operation running, which is geared toward making defences and doing research.

So by comparison, in 0.16 I had researched bullet speed/damage 1, and armed with an SMG in my heavy armour I could take down a four-spawner base with about 43 basic magazines and take little damage.

In 0.17.3, I blew through 85 basic magazines and died on a three-spawner base. That's over twice the difficulty.

But I reworked my tactics and approached a little differently, using a turret creep. The turrets blew through about 15 magazines before triumphing over the biters. I located another base - with two spawners - and did some more lab research to improve my weaponry. I've just gotten to logistics packs, but I have not yet automated them; I handcrafted about fifty of them to get some military research done.

Armed with military science 2, I went through it without turrets in 25 piercing magazines and 12 grenades.

My expectation from this is that if I go back to one of my old longer-term saves, the biters will be... insane. The difference in power is probably in the 3x vicinity, they're definitely more aggressive, and I think they can see farther. So I probably now need things I didn't need before, like artillery turrets I have researched but never built because my laser turrets will just cut everybody up.

And trying to build that while the biters are actively freaking tf out and rushing my base will not be fun.

I think the size of the cliff depends greatly on where you were in the game. Starting a brand new map, I think, will make you go "oh, the biters are a lot more aggressive now" - while returning to an early game map, like I did, will just make you adjust with some minor pain and annoyance. But on a longer game, you come back to it and oh hey there's Godzilla on the horizon.

It's my natural tendency to say "oh, new version means new game" so I don't freak out too much about this. But then, I'm also the kind of person who likes starting new games, rather than playing the same one forever.

Just my thoughts on it.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlakeMW »

In 0.17.3, I blew through 85 basic magazines and died on a three-spawner base. That's over twice the difficulty.
I actually found it easier to "rambo" nests in 0.17, now Worm spitballs can be dodged or misdirected by zig-zagging. Heavy Armor almost completely neutralizes small biters provided you drop a grenade every now and then to cull them and zig-zagging almost completely neutralizes worms. With a few fish for snacks I found I could take on bases with significantly more worms than I'd been comfortable with in 0.16.

It is important to zig-zag though, as worms do hit a lot harder, especially if you stand in the nasty patches they leave on the ground, if I'm reading the raws correctly, those nasty patches actually intensify with each spit that hits (like flamethrower fire patches) giving further incentive to keep moving and dodging.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by CDarklock »

BlakeMW wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:25 pm
I actually found it easier to "rambo" nests in 0.17, now Worm spitballs can be dodged or misdirected by zig-zagging. Heavy Armor almost completely neutralizes small biters provided you drop a grenade every now and then to cull them and zig-zagging almost completely neutralizes worms. With a few fish for snacks I found I could take on bases with significantly more worms than I'd been comfortable with in 0.16.
Bear in mind I had neither grenades nor piercing magazines for that attack. Grenades are still a game-changer. Turret walk is still cheese. I tend to fight zoomed way out, which may be too far to reliably see and dodge worm spit. I have to experiment with that. I don't really know how to dodge very well yet.

Also I suck at combat in games like this. I am just honestly terrible. Top down shooters are not my thing.

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by BlueTemplar »

CDarklock wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:26 pm
So by comparison, in 0.16 I had researched bullet speed/damage 1, and armed with an SMG in my heavy armour I could take down a four-spawner base with about 43 basic magazines and take little damage.
Why heavy armor but not piercing/grenades - oh right, Military 2 is much harder to get now, due to the green science tech requirement... (which it probably should be !)

Expecting saves to *just work* between major versions is IMHO just silly, especially when discussing game balance - and I don't think anyone in this discussion suggested that...

In 0.17 so far I've managed to kill a spawner + worm in a (Deathworld) start 7 spawner + 9 worms nest, without any research done :
Image
(That specific spawner was already slurping pollution from only 6 miners + 4 furnaces, so I considered that I needed to get rid of it early.
And it did divide by 3 the slurped pollution.
But in the end I'm not sure that it was worth it, considering the wasted time (precious on DeathWorld!), and that I'm going to have to get rid of the whole nest very quickly anyway.
I've already tried with machine gun / shotgun, but the shotgun just didn't have enough DPS, and the machine gun was just too wasteful.
(Also, the shotgun seems even worse now, due to the "worm puddles" - the "hugging spawners" tactic might be not viable now if worms are present...)
I'm now going to try with turrets instead, 2 weren't enough, I'm doubling them to 4 for my next try...

But it was a nice challenge !
(Of course I wouldn't expect the vast majority of players to even try that ! Or to consider balancing the game around it. Just a story...)

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Re: 0.17.3 Default enemy difficulty is kinda ridiculous

Post by CDarklock »

BlueTemplar wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:46 pm
Expecting saves to *just work* between major versions is IMHO just silly, especially when discussing game balance
I'm mostly using it just as an apples-to-apples comparison. You can't always compare this map to that map as far as enemy difficulty goes, because of various differences, mostly in what kind of base you built and how fast you built it.

But in my case, I have a small base which is not generating much pollution, and the biters I'm fighting are well outside the range of that pollution. So evolution is low and they're not agitated by industrial activity. I expect this to give a reasonable approximation of how combat differs between versions, without too many added variables to consider.

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