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Topics - obliviondoll

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So... I've been thinking about this off and on, while playing the game, and while not playing.

As a pilot, you will be the only player adequately equipped to fulfill the role of pilot. You need your 3 piloting tool slots for the ability to vary your ship's performance profile. Only one person may be on the helm at any time, so more than one pilot is a waste of those extra tools, which can mostly only be used when the player is on the helm. As a non-pilot, there's a very limited set of piloting tools to choose from and use effectively (Basically only Spyglass, but technically Rangfinder SHOULD be an option too).

As an Engineer, you will be able to fill multiple support roles on board the ship. Firefighting and damage control are both key aspects of an Engineer's role, and buffing components is sometimes a primary function as well, depending on the Engineer's build. As a non-Engineer, you're almost required to take a repair tool (Spanner/Mallet/Wrench) because keeping the ship alive is everyone's job.

As a Gunner, your primary role is to fire guns. This role can be fairly efficiently filled by any crew member. Gunners are "more effective" in the sense that they can man a variety of guns effectively, or they can use those rare guns where multiple ammo types are viable more effectively than any other single crew member. Any player moving about on a ship with mostly-similar weapons can perform competently as a Gunner without actually BEING a Gunner. Any crew member with an assigned area and only one or two weapon types in their designated zone can fill the role of Gunner with only one ammo type.

So, what's causing this disparity between classes? There are several problems. Lets look at each in turn, and address them. Some of the problems are relatively complex, and so are my solutions. I also have a tendency to overdo things, so please bear with my walls of text.

1. Problem.
Lets look at the difference in timing between buffing a gun and loading specialist ammo into a gun. An Engineer can buff a gun, then pre-buff until it only needs one more hit to be buffed a second time. If the Engineer is 0.1s late returning to the gun, the damage output is only reduced for that 0.1s window. If they're late by a whole second, the damage output is still only reduced for that 1s window where the gun is firing without a buff. If the buff wears off during a reload, this loss of damage is somewhat mitigated.

On the other hand, when a GUNNER is late, the gun has finished reloading. It doesn't matter if you're late by a whole second, or just a tenth of one. When you get back, your options are to fire AN ENTIRE CLIP with a loss of firepower, or to RELOAD THE GUN AGAIN AND TRY TO GET THE RIGHT TIMING. Not only have you lost whatever time you spent away from the already-loaded gun, but you're also either sacrificing ALL of the gun's potential firepower for the time it takes to reload, or firing at reduced capability until your next reload.

1. Solution.
Let the Gunner* change ammo types ANY TIME DURING THE RELOAD. Every time a gun is reloaded - EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Manned or unmanned, manned by someone with the current ammo type or not - the gun should load standard ammo. When a Gunner selects an ammo type, a timer is begun. When the reload OR that timer completes - whichever comes first - the new ammo type is locked in. Abandoning the weapon or switchng to a new ammo type will reset the timer.

*Gunner as in "player manning the gun and loading ammo", not necessarily a player with the Gunner class selected

With this proposed change, the current routines of players will remain entirely viable. A gunner can leave their gun as it starts reloading, let it reload on standard ammo up to the last 0.1s of the reload time, then suddenly throw Lochnagar or Burst Ammo in at the last second. BUT they can ALSO now lock that ammo type in at the BEGINNING of the reload, and walk off to do something else WITHOUT losing an entire reload plus more for missing their window. Switching ammo type on a loaded gun will reload the gun, much like it already does. Once you've waited out the ammo select timer, you don't have to stay on the gun to make sure it loads. And again, you can do what people already do and use the ammo switch to initiate a reload, leave the gun, then return at the last second to set your chosen ammo type just before the reload completes. You can ALSO switch ammo type, lock that ammo in, then walk away and be free to come back in your own time, knowing the right ammo will be there waiting when you get back.

2. Problem.
Most weapons only benefit from one ammo type. It's not entirely true, but it's close enough to be worth saying. Lumberjacks are good with a lot of different ammo types, each filling a different purpose. Hwachas gain different advantages from Heavy Clip or Burst Ammo. But with a lot of guns, you want to be relying heavily on one ammo type in almost every situation. Some guns might benefit from multiple ammo types, but in such similar ways that it doesn't really matter which you choose. Also, many weapons simply don't benefit ENOUGH from a change of ammo to be concerned if you don't have the right type to load.

2. Solution.
One part of this problem can be addressed by using the same mechanic proposed for problem 1. Add in a recognition of manual vs. automatic loading. At the moment, guns all have a fixed reload speed depending on the weapon. Once reloading is initiated, the gun will automatically reload by itself, with no input from a player. What if locking in an ammo type gave a small (10 - 20%) reduction to the weapon's reload time?

NOTE: I'd lean towards 10% in an "absolute" reduction where the timer is shortened based on the total reload time. If it's only shortening the reload time by X% of remaining time, I'd want the bonus to be larger, at least 15%

How does this fix things? This proposed change adds an extra incentive to using specialist ammo over the default ammo type. If you're not carrying ammo that suits a gun, you won't want to be manning that gun when it reloads, because you'll have to choose between loading a poor choice of ammo or waiting longer before firing.

In order to not overly penalise players who aren't gunners, reload speed could be improved by simply being on the gun for the required duration to lock in an ammo type even if using standard ammo. This could open the door for specialist ammo types to have a reload speed buff as one of their benefits over standard ammo.

3. Problem.
Buff tools. Simply put, the benefit of using a buff tool on a gun is too large in comparison to using the right ammo type for the situation. Additionally, a buff tool is a guaranteed improvement, where ammo types have the potential to make some guns less effective (Flamethrower + Lochnagar, for an extreme example). We've already addressed the lack of penalty when mistiming a buff, but that's a weakness of ammo types, not an undeserved strength of the buff tool.

3. Solution.
The buff tool's effectiveness on weapons needs to be rethought in some manner. The best solution I can think of is to quite thoroughly change how the buff tool works on a gun. Instead of buffing the weapon itself for a limited time, buffing the gun could buff the ammo inside it. This would be an indefinite buff, not timed. When the buff is completed, the bar wouldn't be a timer, but an ammo count. As shots are fired, it decreases, until the gun is empty. If you reload, the buff is reset (neither emptying nor reloading should remove pre-buffing, however, only an active buff).

Another alternative would be to straight-up nerf (again) the effectiveness of the buff tool on weapons, but for obvious reasons, I'm not a big fan of this idea. Buff tools need to benefit weapons in order to maintain damage output at a sensible level. It could also be used to buff reload speed, turn speed or rate of fire instead of raw damage output. Again, with the game being balanced how it is, I favour other proposals more.

Another, also less ideal, but possibly slightly more viable alternative, would be to buff all weapons to deal more damage (at least half the buff currently given by the buff hammer), and to make the buff tool provide guns with additional HP instead of a damage increase. While not as bad as nerfing the buff hammer, I still favour changing the mechanics of weapon buffs.

Obviously, while I've put a lot of thought into this post, I haven't addressed how difficult it would be to implement my proposal. I am suggesting quite significant alterations to core mechanics in the game, and while I believe these changes would benefit the game, it's entirely possible they would be impractical to actually put into effect. I hope for these suggestions to be considered by all (and picked apart by anyone who sees any significant holes in my logic). As much as I personally like the suggestions I've made, at the end of the day, even if the ideas are sound, it's down to whether Muse (and the Unity engine) can actually make it happen. It might be a terrible idea purely on the basis of impracticality from a programming perspective. I would hope not, but I don't know the inner workings of the game's code, so I can't say for sure either way.

I've gone digging after a very lobby-themed discussion between myself and BlackenedSkies in his thread about crew joining during a match.

Imagine has, of course, emphasised the "the problem will magically disappear when we have matchmaking" argument.

That argument is, of course, pure fallacy. This game NEEDS lobbies - even if they're time-limited. You can't NOT have them. Matchmaking will make sure the lobby fills up fast, but it WON'T solve many of the underlying problems that cause the "Lobbies of Icarus" problem.

So, I decided to find out what I can about this fabled "matchmaking" that's going to be coming to the game sometime. I looked everywhere, and there's precious little in the way of solid information except that it will match lone players into crews with one pilot, one gunner and two engineers. As the standard "works for everything" crew, that's fine. But there's still a whole of unanswered. That said, lets work with what we've got, and try to avoid any unreasonable assumptions. Even some of the reasonable ones like the game trying to balance crews and/or teams based on level.

People will be tossed together into a lobby. Great. You get 16 people all showing up at once. You queued as an engineer, so you're locked into the role. What if your captain decides on the fly that maybe an extra gunner would work better? He can ask, but will you be able to swap if you agree to the suggestion? What if you end up getting lucky joining a crew for someone you met the other day, and you decide you want to reshuffle things, but you can't because you've been matchmade into your current positions? Does the system have any allowance for players to trade places? Or for crew members to switch roles (maybe with captain approval)?

So you get the lobby full, and maybe there's a time limit before the game starts. What if a captain abandons the lobby before the match starts? Maybe they got disconnected. Maybe they got an urgent phonecall and had to rush off. Maybe the house is on fire. Do you get the first captain to come available? What if there is none? And what if you want to be captain of your flamethrower Squid, but none of the gunners you get thrown in with want to equip your suggestion of Lochnagar, Greased Rounds and Heavy Clip? You're the captain, so you're in charge? Oh, you can LEAVE, sure. But what happens to that no-longer-filled lobby? Will the match start with a missing captain? Will there be pilot AI by this point? Will we have a random non-pilot given a temporary promotion to captain? Or will the lobby turn into a "waiting for captain" lobby like the ones we currently see all the time anyway? If the latter, what's the difference?

So, other than matchmaking, which is a massive and complex undertaking with plenty of potential flaws and only dubious benefits, what can be done?

Why not let CREW ready up, instead of putting it all on the captains. A captain can ready up, and the ship is sorted. Fine. But why not allow a crew to ready their ship up when the captain is stalling? "No, you have to load the Gatlings with Burst, or I'm not readying up" - fine then, do the rest of you guys on the ship agree that the Engineer who will be manning Gatling Guns to bring Lesmok? Ready up.

Quite often, you get a 2 vs. 2 match where everyone in the lobby is ready and wants to play, except for 2 captains who are complaining at their crew. The crew just want the match to start too. If they could start the timer themselves, they would. Sure, maybe the captain would ditch them, and they'd end up waiting anyway for a new captain. But maybe one of the crew could take over. Or maybe more captains will start sucking it up and putting up with those silent players you sometimes get. Maybe more people would be willing to just get on with it and play instead of demanding that everything be perfect because "it's MY ship, not yours" - your ship is your crew's ship as well.

Feedback and Suggestions / Display friendly ships option?
« on: July 08, 2014, 05:11:46 pm »
Is there a reason why this doesn't exist? Or does it exist and I just haven't been able to find it?

When spotted, enemy ships get highlighted and you can easily keep track of them. Figuring out where a friendly ship went, on the other hand, is sometimes difficult even with them permanently visible on the map.

Would it be possible to have some kind of on-screen marker for teammate locations so they can be kept track of more easily? Maybe as an exclusive thing when you're on the helm? Or as an effect of some kind of piloting equipment?

The Gallery / Happy 4th of July?
« on: July 04, 2014, 09:08:25 am »
The thread title is the name of a room I started and ran a couple of games in.

I opened it up to try out a very... uhhh... "special" Ship.

It was my first time ever piloting a Galleon. And my second. And third. It was also one of my first times in a non-novice match, which was required in order for this glorious brilliance to be an option.

In each battle, my crew was quite willing to play along with my madness as I commanded "EVERYONE TO THE LOWER DECK! MAN THE GUNS! ALL OF THEM!" and had us fire dual Hwacha salvoes out of each side of the ship while moving at full speed at the start of the match. I tried not to aim for our teammates. I'm hoping my crew did the same. :-\

We did immediately proceed to play sensibly once the "introduction" was over, and surprisingly, we did rather well once we got into battle. We managed to get through one match without a single death, thanks to a couple of rather good engineers and an impressive Pyramidion crew backing us up. Thank you [Cake] guys!

Q&A / Slightly odd question - trying to stay airborne...
« on: July 03, 2014, 05:45:50 am »
So today, I had my first experience trying to actually pilot my own ship. It's a Junker, and I'm quite proud of its performance, failtastic though it was.

I did notice a slight problem though, and I can think of two possible explanations, but I simply don't know.

So, the problem: In combat with enemy ships, my own seemed to have a tendency to think the ground looks nice this time of year, and it might be nice to take a closer look.

The possible explanations I can think of are:

1. Both enemy ships were heavy on flamethrowers, and in combat, my balloon spent more time on fire than operational. It was rarely actually taken out of action, thanks to my very friendly Engineers. Do you lose lift from the balloon being on fire? Even without it being destroyed?

2. One time my ship died, I noticed the enemy was directly above where my ship exploded. It is possible/plausible/likely that they flew above and dropped down on top of my ship? I'm guessing the added weight of a second airship pushing down on top of my balloon would probably be unhealthy for my ability to stay airborne...

Like I said, I'm not entirely sure of the reasons, so hopefully this will help me to avoid such flight failures in future... hopefully.

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