A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

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Hannu
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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by Hannu » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:50 am

Now I tried personal laser defense and it seems to be overpowered end game weapon. In my opinion it is too easy and boring no-brainer solution. You just make once defense equipment and after that they work forever without costs. I would like that overpowered end game weapons would need complex manufacturing chains and massive resource costs, just like combat bots. I would remove personal laser defense from the game and give that role to combat bots.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by stm » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:27 am

Hannu wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:50 am
Now I tried personal laser defense and it seems to be overpowered end game weapon. In my opinion it is too easy and boring no-brainer solution. You just make once defense equipment and after that they work forever without costs. I would like that overpowered end game weapons would need complex manufacturing chains and massive resource costs, just like combat bots. I would remove personal laser defense from the game and give that role to combat bots.
While I agree with your point of PLD beeing overpowered, I don't think it is cheap per se. You must not forget three things:
1. You need a suitable armor which costs a lot
2. You still need energy to sustain the fire which usually means a fusion reactor which is also not cheap.
3. combat robots additionally soak up damage wich in the case of the PLD has to be done by shields or you would have to replace your armor constantly which would cost quite a lot.
In addition armor space is also a lot more restricting than inventory.
I do agree with your point that the role PLD currently fills should better be filled by combat robots, but In my opinion the comparison with the PLD is more a problem of the PLD beeing overpowered (in my opinion it should do comparable damage to the lasertower, or pehaps about half of that but also benefit froom research which it doesn't (or at least did not in 0.16)) and combat robots beeing mopre or less worthless than a question of resources. Even if destroyers were free I don't think I would use them atm.
Your argument of removing the PLD entirely would be the same for Solar-Panels, shields, water pumps, laser turrets, splittes and belts just to name a few. All of those don't cost anything to maintain while granting continuous benefits.
Stm

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by Koub » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:29 am

Whatever the solution, you have to get enough bang for your buck. If my investment in time and resource is as massive as it is for the combat bots, I want them to be tremendously useful.
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Hannu
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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by Hannu » Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:22 pm

stm wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:27 am
While I agree with your point of PLD beeing overpowered, I don't think it is cheap per se. You must not forget three things:
1. You need a suitable armor which costs a lot
It is late mid game equipment, it is true. But I do not see cost as significant. If you compare cost of fully equipped power armor II to resources your base have used from beginning to that point in the game, it is very small fraction. And later when you get massive production it will decrease even smaller. I do not understand those stories how some thing is expensive. No one is in vanilla game. Practically all resources go to research, other flows are negligible.
In addition armor space is also a lot more restricting than inventory.
It is, but practically I have very easy task to clear anything with atomic bombs and armor with couple of shield and personal lasers. Only restriction is that I have to build separate building armor or change equipment when I change between fight and build because I can not fit building and fighting equipment simultaneously. In my opinion building have much harder restrictions. Even I have 4 fusion reactors and roboports I can handle very limited number of construction bots and very limited time before I have to wait charging. It is very real and annoying problem in my game, but I have to never wait anything in combat.

Your argument of removing the PLD entirely would be the same for Solar-Panels, shields, water pumps, laser turrets, splittes and belts just to name a few. All of those don't cost anything to maintain while granting continuous benefits.
Stm
Those entities are used in huge amounts and/or they need building work, power, repairing etc. and they are not so overpowered but PLD is just build once and use forever. But do not take that removing too seriously, it was not well thought idea. It would be better that PLDs could be for those who want simple one time solutions and combat bots would be developed to be versatile and effective option for those who want to put significant amount (tens of percents) of raw resources to defense. In my opinion Factorio's strength is many different playstyles and I do not agree with those who want to remove something from game. There is not any compulsion to use things you do not like.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by proclion » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:53 pm

Make Defenders not fly but basically be little static turrets you throw. :D
Essentially small, disposable, very quick to deploy, weak versions of gun turrets.
Then they don't need to cost a flying robot frame and can instead cost like 1 x steel, 2 x cog, 2 x electric circuit, 2 x firearm magazine. Still technically inferior to gun turret creep, but MUCH easier to use and deploy quickly.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by bobucles » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:22 am

Make Defenders not fly but basically be little static turrets you throw.
Distractor bots already work this way. They have pretty good power, but the tight cluster gets hit hard by biter acid. It's a bit strange that flying units should be affected by acid spills on the ground.
PLDs
PLDs are strong. They are so strong that a player does not need other support weapons to be dangerous. Using guns can be extremely bad, because weapons slow the player down and place them at increased risk.

Players are going to use the best and most convenient weapons available to them. PLDs may not necessarily be more powerful than a full swarm of combat bots on the field, but they are so much more convenient that there is no reason to ever add combat robots into the equation. You load up with PLDs, they get the job done, and they will last you forever. That is good enough.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by BlakeMW » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:03 pm

At the moment I think the following weapons are correctly balanced, with PLD being a top-tier weapon but not disporprinate to other top-tier weapons:

Flamethrower
Rocket Launcher (all ammo types)
Personal Laser Defense
Tank Cannon firing Explosive shells


The following are okay because they aren't meant to be or don't have to be great:

SMG in the early game
Car Machine Gun
Discharge Defense
Tank Flamethrower


And the following are not:

SMG in the late game.
Tank Machine Gun: It doesn't need the old damage bonus but I think it should have more fire rate.
Tank Cannon firing Piercing Shells: They don't really do enough to justify their existence compared with explosive shells, do they even need to exist?
Shotgun: Not enough damage/range, much too high movement penalty.
Defenders: Die too easily and don't deal enough damage for their cost, no defensive value because they scatter acid patches more widely making a nasty acid minefield
Distractors: Aren't actually effective at distracting enemies attacking the player (they draw fire from worms which can't attack the player anyway), don't deal enough damage for their cost.
Destroyers: Same as for defenders but even moreso dying too easily for their cost
The fundamental problem with Defenders and Destroyers
I made a simple mod that buffs Defender/Destroyer effective hitpoints and damage output to make them basically worth using, so I could experiment with how well they work vs the new style of acid patch attacks.

What I found is that once Defenders have enough durability to not swiftly die they still offer zero defensive benefit, for the simple reason that when worms target the defenders they scatter acid patches near the player creating a kind of minefield. This is a problem because as long as the worms are targeting the player, the player can arrange for the acid patches to go to predictable locations where the player won't be. Add defenders to the mix and the acid patches are going all over the place. Now it's not impossible to use Defenders, but it's impossible to use the Defenders to gain a defensive advantage: The way you use defenders is trying to keep them behind you so the worms spit at you, and if they do get ahead of you, taking evasive maneuvers so the defenders are again behind you. Essentially you have to be constantly trying to run away from your Defender cloud, keeping them behind you, while also trying to swing them into enemies, and also avoiding running into too thick enemies, the Defenders can add firepower but not defensive advantage because it is strictly detrimental to the player to have worms spitting at the Defenders, you would always rather the worms be spitting at the player.

There are four basic solutions to the "Passive-aggressive team-killer Bots":
  • Increase range. While not directly solving the problem, increased range means you don't need to go so deeply into spitting range in order to get value out of the bots.
  • Make the Defenders untargetable by worms and spitters. That solves the problem of them being detrimental though they also offer no defensive advantage.
  • Give worms/spitters an anti-air attack which doesn't create acid patches. That would allow the Defenders to actually draw fire from the worms in a way that benefits rather than harms the player. Not sure about the technically feasibility.
  • Give Defenders point-defense that can actually shoot down spitballs. Again no idea about the technical feasibility.
The problem with Distractors
The basic problem with Distractors is they don't actually distract the enemy, at best they draw fire from enemies that aren't going to be spitting at the player anyway. They can be dropped on top of spawners and they'll zap the spawner out of existence, but a Cluster Grenade will accomplish the same goal much more effectively for much less cost.

I played around with giving Distractors a miniaturized Discharge-Defense effect, so they actually stun nearby enemies, so you can create a wall of Distractors and they can stun-lock the enemies holding them back. It has potential to be pretty powerful. Note that "stun" actually only sets movement speed to zero, it doesn't prevent biting or spitting except by restraining enemies out of range of their target. So in practise the spitters will kill the Distractors. But even with this limitation (which might be fair) Distractors which root the enemy are pretty potent and work well against all evolution levels. They still have to compete with cluster grenades.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by McDuff » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:31 pm

What would be potentially interesting would be a kind of parallel network, like the logistics or construction areas, for "defense" robots, that you put into their own kinds of roboports at your borders. No idea how doable this is though.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by bobingabout » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:25 am

Terukio wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:18 pm
I would love for combat robots to be able to be used in the roboport network.
not a new idea, one I'd still love.
Creator of Bob's mods. Expanding your gameplay since version 0.9.8.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by BEEFE » Sat May 25, 2019 2:16 am

I think a couple relatively minor changes would put the Personal Laser Defenses in a much better place.
  • Treat lasers as fire type for purposes of damage resistance
  • Split the dps into a lot more, smaller shots. Maybe 4x?
It doesn't really make sense for a personal defense system to be a top-tier offensive weapon, so making it hit fire resistance nerfs it majorly against worms and spawners without reducing its effectiveness against biters and spitters. This would hit Distractors pretty hard but they need a big overhaul anyway.

Splitting its damage into smaller chunks would make it work much better as a supplement to other weapons, because as is it's killing big spitters for me in 2 hits. Using another weapon in addition to the PLDS means a choice between doing chip damage that doesn't affect PLDS time-to-kill, or ensuring overkill (with uranium ammo or explosive rockets, for instance) which makes PLDS ttk irrelevant. Both options require standing still and blowing ammo


I'm on my third game and making a point of using combat shotgun and combat robots for the first time. Combat shotgun seems to have an adequate niche in .17, but the bots need a lot of love.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by bobucles » Sat May 25, 2019 5:09 pm

Why let the PLD attack enemies anyway? Remove the attack portion, have it shoot down biter acid (maybe tank shells/rockets too) and now it's an actual DEFENSE.

Without PLDs melting everything in their path, combat robots can fill in as the player assist they're meant to be. Plus a point defense PLD will ALSO protect drones, making a powerful synergy between the two. Win/win.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by FuryoftheStars » Sat May 25, 2019 6:52 pm

I never bothered to use the combat bots. Soon as I realized they had to be manually deployed (thrown) and they had a limited life span, I considered them not worth the effort.

I think it’d be better if they were like other bots and were automatically deployable from roboports (both personal and other) and would not simply break/cease to exist after a set period of time (ie reusable).

I also believe that they should be most effective (from an offensive pov) when all three types are used together.

I think the bots should have the following characteristics:

Defenders should be all about defending the player. They should have the highest raw dps, while having a more moderate damage per shot (allowing them to be less of a threat to higher resistance enemy structures) and the lowest HPs/resistances of the three bots. They should attempt to form a sort of static wall (defensive line) between the player and the enemy and should remain close to the player. They should prioritize targets that are not structures (nests/worms), but not be forbidden from targeting them.

Destractors should be all about destracting the enemy. They should have the lowest dps with the highest RoF. Their high RoF, despite the low dps, should be annoying enough to enemies to actually cause them to switch targets to the Destractors after a few seconds of being pelted by them. They should occupy a medium range from the player (so outside of the Defenders) and should shuffle back and forth as a very basic attempt to avoid being hit with modest HPs/resistances. They should prioritize targets that are attacking the player or other non-Destractor bots (in that order).

Destroyers should be all about taking out structures (ie nests, worms). Highest damage per shot with the lowest RoF with probably the highest HPs/resistances. They should have the furthest flight range from the player of the bots, allowing them to enter and destroy a base. They should prioritize structures, but not be forbidden from targeting other enemies.

All bots should be immune to acid on the ground, and have limited ammo/flight time that requires returning for reload, recharge, and maybe quick/partial repairs (all of which require having the needed supplies to accommodate). Defenders can probably stay airborn the longest considering that, under static circumstances, they’d be doing the least amount of moving around.

These should be applied when deployed from a roboport, as well, with the difference being “player” instead being “player assests”.

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Re: A Deeper Look into Combat Robotics

Post by Theikkru » Sun May 26, 2019 9:26 pm

Agree that they should work like conbots. If combat robots used the behavior of conbots (and used their traffic zones), not only would it be more thematically fitting, it would introduce some new mechanics as balancing points around which they could be designed for more interesting gameplay.

Having to return to a roboport to replenish charge/ammo would not only introduce behavioral considerations (since bots could potentially bring spitter/biter aggro upon return), it would introduce new costs to balance around (energy/resource consumption); different bots could have different charge capacities and discharge rates for their specific weapons.

Distractors, for instance, might possess a high charge capacity and consume less energy than a Destroyer when firing their weaker weaponry, allowing them to hang around the enemy a lot longer without having to return for a recharge. Conversely, Destroyers could be given a large damage buff if it were balanced around lower charge capacity and high energy consumption, necessitating frequent recharge trips (with movement further consuming energy), and potentially draining the energy source (possibly shutting down your other armor modules, or de-powering your laser turrets!).

If Defenders used ammo, their construction costs and energy mechanics could be buffed (cheaper to build, little to no discharge when firing) for easier early-game use, while providing some late-game relevance with higher tier ammos. Shooting speed might even apply, since the increase in DPS would be balanced by the need to return for reloading more frequently.

Reusability alone would go a long way towards balancing bots, since they would be far more cost effective without a fixed life span, and players might actually consider their angle of attack a bit if bots weren't outright doomed once deployed.

Other fun details, like conbots attempting to repair combots (and suffering collateral vomit), or combots occupying roboport space (and thereby displacing conbots and logibots) would provide even more flavor to the experience.

There's just so much true-to-Factorio gameplay potential I see in the concept of combat robots that seems wasted on their current implementation.

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