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Warfare system - balancing ideas
#1
Lightbulb 
I recently went through a couple threads talking about inbalances in the warfare system. The main point as I recall it is that big empires have too great an advantage, and can easily wipe out a much smaller empire with little effort and within hours (noobstomping), often before the defending empire's players could react.


This can also happen to more established empires, who can log in regularly and still find that most of their empire has been taken before they were even aware of an assault.


This is hurting the playerbase and the overall fun of the game as many newbies or new empire builders find their efforts destroyed without any sense of control. Many of these players then leave the game, leaving both sides worse off than before (attacker gets no challenge, defender quits).


Current suggestions to fix this have been (and I apologize as I will miss some, but I wanted to list the big ideas I recall):


1- Make war declarations formal with a long timer, giving defenders enough time to prepare (scaled for empire size difference)

2- Increase base defensive structure strength

3- Limit maximum ship size

4- Full protection for a defined time before attacks can take place (similar to point 1)



There has been pushback against all of these suggestions, for, as far as I can tell, the following reasons:


points 1 and 4: Unrealistic (insofar that it feels like a forced mechanic that takes away the immersion and free-feeling that SoH is loved for) and merely delays the inevitable. Offers possibility of strategic retreat and building new colonies though.


Point 2: Brings too much imbalance in favor of defenders in relatively equal empires, resulting in boring stalemates and no reason to attack worlds anymore

Point 3: Another unrealistic limit (big ships is big part of the fun of the game).


My suggestions below will aim to help fix the problems above, and make the warfare system enjoyable for all parties whatever their size while keeping it (relatively) simple and easy to add/code.

I will display my suggestions one by one, explaining them as if they were already actual features, like patch notes (I find this way easier to understand, maybe it's also the case for you :) )


Let me know your thoughts! Thank you.




Suggestion : warfare city status


Defending cities can have one of three status: Besieged, Captured and Assimilated.


An enemy spaceship being within planetary orbit of the world immediately puts all cities on this world is a state of siege, meaning they cannot receive resources from other worlds or cities.


Besieged cities retain all possibility of construction. However, construction is slowed to X% of original speed. Speed decrease is dependent on city loyalty level - the higher the loyalty, the smaller the penalty.


Captured: Once the attackers troops have defeated all defender troops and disabled all of the city's military buildings, the city enters a state of capture. The city will slowly be assimilated. Assimilation time depends on loyalty level (and number of militia citizens, if implemented). Attacking troops will remain in the city and deal with militia until assimilation or total destruction of militia troops. Running out of attacking troops will return the city into the "Assaulted" state. Construction by attacker possible, but slowed strongly down to X% original speed (sugg. 5-10%)



What problem does it fix?

The besieged mechanic is actually in favor of the attackers - this is to prevent sudden buildups of defenses which would be unfair to the attackers. It also simulates the difficulties of building when under attack.

However, the dependence on loyalty makes the penalty smaller for smaller empires, which are able to maintain higher levels of loyalty, making last-minute defenses easier. See next points.




Suggestion : Bring back city loyalty



When captured, a city's loyalty will slowly decrease until it reaches zero. The city will then go from captured state to assimilated empire city.


What problem does it fix? - Read on.


Suggestion: Increase loyalty difficulty with empire size


Citizens of large empires find it harder to relate to the whole empire, making it harder to accumulate loyalty. Worlds develop a loyalty cap based on their distance from the empire capital. Conversely, the smaller the empire, the fiercer the loyalty to it.


Avatars visiting a system temporarily boosts loyalty.


What problem does it fix?

This makes smaller empires harder and longer to assimilate, giving them a small time advantage when fighting bigger empires. It also makes defense of large empires more difficult, putting more pressure on one-man empires and rewards multi-player empires.




Suggestion: Increase spacecraft, building and defense system durability


All ships, shields and buildings are a lot more durable, making their destruction take longer.


What problem does it fix?



Space battles and world assaults will last longer, giving more time for all parties - particularly defenders - to prepare and rally.






Suggestion: New troop system




Troops are calculated numerically just like citizens and cryo passengers. A city's troop count is based on the number of barracks and is limited by the city's current population. Troop % of total population cannot exceed x%.


A ship may load a certain number of troops, depending on the number of berths.


Troop strength is calculated to generate the total power of the sum of troops at any one place, for instance in a city or at a battle.


Troop strength is based on type of weapon, armor and quality of both, per troop. Stronger materials and better quality enhance troop strength.


Troops take a certain fixed time to be trained.


Troops also consume food like citizens do, even onboard a ship. Running out of food will put troops into a state of starvation, making their strength strongly reduced, with some dying over time like citizens do.


(BONUS: As troops get more experience fighting battles, they gain a slight strength bonus)




What problem does it fix?



Cities will naturally have a larger capacity of troops over ships. This gives defending cities an advantage. Since most newbies will have the possibility of creating stronger cities before creating stronger ships, this can help with the balance when facing tough empires.


The food system adds complexity to attacking empires as they have to manage their food levels as well, while defenders always benefit from the home-farms advantage. Currently though, food is easy to get and would only be another ticked box for attackers to stock up millions of units of food onto a ship, which brings me to the next suggestion:





Suggestion: Increase citizen and troop food consumption dramatically


Citizens and troops consume much more food, making the management of farms and food stocks much more important.


Currently, food is hardly ever an issue anywhere for any empire. However, it was a management nightmare for any large historical empire. It should also be so in SoH, particularly to prevent spontaneous attacks that cost nothing but a bit of hydrogen.






Suggestion: New automatically calculated ground battles



Once a city's military defenses are disabled (guns and shields), attacking ships will be given the chance to unload their troops into the city through a simple panel. From then on, ground battles will take place automatically over time.


The attackers' troop count and strength will be pitted against the defender's troop count and strength. Battles will take place over time, with each side taking casualties based on their strength. The larger the troop count, the longer the battles. Attackers and defenders may add more troops at any time, though defending ships incoming towards the world with troops must first break through the city's siege (defeat besieging ships) before they can unload their troops. Defeating an assaulting ship does not defeat the ground troops once deployed.

The status of the battle can easily be viewed within a report - perhaps by mail or some other tab. Reports would come in every few minutes, much like a normal city report. It would detail the forces on each side, the losses and perhaps the supplies if implemented.

Small battles would typically take a couple hours, while taking over a well-defended, established world taking days or even weeks.


(BONUS: To make it more tactical and complex, we could add the mechanic that certain resources are being depleted as the battle goes on - food, ammunition and fuel. Running out of any of these give a fighting penalty to that side. This makes pre-ground warfare, such as colony attacks or long sieges more worth it and brings more fun in terms of tactical play. More text-only elements can also be added to add complexity and diversity to combat, such as SUVs, tanks, dynamite and other weapons that are currently serving no purpose. We'd have to adjust their production cost and time ofc, with perhaps a maintenance fee to ensure that they don't get stacked to infinity. Since this is purely text-based, implementation should be easier than a full-on graphic mechanic).



Attacking parties require an online avatar of the same empire to be within planetary range of the besieged city in order to conduct ground assault. Ground defense does not require an online avatar.


If the defending side's troop strength reaches zero, the city if officially captured. Loyalty will slowly decrease until the city is either returned to assault state or fully assimilated. An online avatar is not required for loyalty decrease, only ground troops to remain present.


(BONUS: Running out of food or ammo during assimilation reduces the assimilation time.)


(BONUS: If weapons and ammo remains, the city enters a state of militia, where a portion of citizens fetch the remaining weapons and carry on fighting. The city will officially be captured, but loyalty decrease will be slowed until militia is fully depleted. Number of ground troops impact militia decrease speed.)




What problem does it fix?


It makes city conquest simpler, more strategic and also last much longer, giving defenders more time to rally and defend. It also makes loyalty a worthwhile feature.


Having to have an online avatar to conduct assaults forces more commitment onto the attacking empire, making spontaneous attacks less appealing.

The constant pressure of having food and ammunition would force attacking players to be in full-management during war time, making each decision to attack weaker empires require much more time and planning. The objective here is that larger empires that simply toss ships with lots of troops at a smaller empire without prior planning may find themselves either winning at a high cost or downright losing if they are completely careless.

With war requiring full attention, it also makes home defense more difficult, giving larger empires an incentive to commit properly to each war they want to carry on.

There would be no formal declaration, no waiting time - simply some semi-realistic mechanics that make attacking an empire a much bigger hassle, making it a lot less worthwhile if the aim is simply to "have fun noobstomping".







Suggestion: Battle bonus for "last world standing"


Cities defending on ground on the only remaining world of an empire will get the "last world standing" bonus while in battle, where troops and citizens, having nowhere else to go, fight to the death for their remaining land.



Cities with "last world standing" have all their citizens go automatically into militia, weapons or not. All population must be defeated for assimilation.



Re-capture of cities with "last world standing" by the defenders automatically brings a large population boost as fleeing citizens return to the city.





What problem does it fix?

This mechanic helps newbies who have their homeworld attacked without having had the chance to build other cities. It slows down assimilation and gives a starting boost upon recapture.




Other bonus ideas that fit with this theme:

- Disable spaceship destruction + towing + dismantling.

Spaceships are no longer directly destroyed when they reach critical HP - rather they become inoperable. All shields are down, all doors open, boarding can take place. Attacking the ship again will destroy it. If another spaceship initiates the "tow" order, the inoperable ship will follow the ship. Inoperable ships can be repaired, refitted or their modules dismantled.

This would give an incentive for smaller empires to attack larger empires' ships so as to capture them. They can be repaired and used or dismantled and their pieces used for research.

This would also give an incentive for smaller empires to ally themselves in order to assault a bigger empire's prize ships and make them their own, or dismantling them to get a huge boost in technology advancement. This would create more fun and excitement for small empires and keep larger empires on edge as their own tech could be used against them.


- Battle signature on star map.

Much like the warp signature, the firing of high-strength explosives would reverberate through deep space, allowing other systems (and empires) nearby to be aware that a battle is going on.

Reason: It would give an incentive to more players to join the fight, particularly underdogs or rivals. Also, if it's a large empire going on a rampage, other empires could know of these assaults and prepare themselves as well.


I would have some more suggestions that are linked to an overhaul of the value of resources, so as to make warfare actually worthwhile besides just the fun of it, such as a much higher scarcity of resources (particularly quality resources), much stronger population limits, more unique resources in the galaxy (like say, particles that boost your warp speed, like nitro) which would make empires fight over control of precious resources and control points.

The objective of the above and this would be not to forcefully get larger empires not to attack smaller ones, but to make such wars just "not worth it", and make each conflict meaningful, strategic, elongated and balanced, so as to maximize the fun for everyone, attacker, defender and noobs alike :)


Let me know your thoughts! Particularly Haxus, as after all, he would be the one implementing any changes (i've tried to summarize the ideas in a way that would make it easier to imagine how they can be applied practically).

Thanks!
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#2
These are really good points.

Yes City loyalty was good. I know some did not like it but honestly it was realistic. There will be resistance always. 
I do like the idea of large empires having to struggle with loyalty that is realistic.

2&4 - Is a bit tricky yes. I like the idea of the new troop system. 

I would not limit the ship size. There are better solutions to that. 
Such as:
- Maintenance costs and consequences that require regular overhauls, meaning you can only travel so far from a yard that can perform the maintenance
   - Allow for a maintenance module that the bigger it is the longer you can be away from the yard
- Sensor overhauls change how ships work, passive/active design (allow for role based design) Sliders like resolution and range would be used for the customization of the modules (Thermal sensors and EM sensors) + Targeting Sensors
   - Thermal Signatures
     - Reactor size of ships
     - Colonies give off heat the bigger they are
        - Colonies can use planet and or solar system buffs to mask this to a degree
   - EM Signatures
      - Ships emit this based on output of power/systems
         - Hull armor that reduces this signature (not the best armor but good for stealth) 
         - Warp signatures would fall under this but would require higher resolution 
    - Active Sensors/Targeting computers
       - Different sizes of the module can have different capabilities
       - The moment you start sending out active scans everyone can see you
     
There is a ton more and I can go on forever but changes like this are required to prevent a one sided conflict regarding ships.
Avatars: - LimboWarrior

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#3
You make a lot of good points but your thread is pretty long and I would have loved to see some of it split into multiple threads. For example your ideas about spacecraft destruction and salvage or the idea of decreasing the maximum spacecraft size could have been discussed separately. Mega threads like this will trend to just go all on one topic and discussion of the other ideas will be lost in the loudest discussion.
Hazeron Forum and Wiki Moderator
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#4
(09-30-2022, 12:56 PM)Akynos Wrote: Suggestion : warfare city status

Suggestion: New automatically calculated ground battles

I won't address each point separately right now, since they all sort of rely on each other it wouldn't make sense anyway. To begin with I see a few major issues with the proposed system.

First issue being that you are explaining this as a per city or per world invasion system. That means I need to siege each and every city/world separately. This I have voiced concerns over in the past when discussing the 4th suggestion category you mentioned. Basically if a solar system has at least one city on every world in a solar system, you are looking at having to siege and invade up to 21 (biggest ringworld) different targets or more per solar system. This is why I have been lean more towards the idea of solar system wide sieges, since that way you aren't giving advantage to people that just throw cities down on every world they can get close to.

With the same assumption, if sieges are per city or per world then under the current system some cities or whole solar systems would just collapse when sieged. This is because of how the average solar system is made, usually you make one major city to act as the solar system capital. This solar system capital might be the main manufacturing hub and support for all other cities in the solar system. Little moon colonies will rarely have a local and self-sufficient air production line, so if they are sieged the citizens will simply suffocate before an invasion can be finished. Even worse is if no cities are self-sufficient in the solar system, a tiny moon colony mines the ice while another tiny moon colony produces the food, losing either would doom the whole solar system.

Second major issue I see is destruction. You seem to assume that all players will want to capture enemy cities, but this is actually not the case. Generally it is easier to start a new city from scratch than it is to repurpose someone else's city to fit your needs, this is why once building destruction was introduced it became standard to just bomb the cities from orbit and build new cities on the ruins. This is also an immersion issue, if you really think immersion is that important that artificial protection timers are bad, then some players will find it extremely immersion breaking that they can't roleplay as the Covenant from Halo and just glass (vaporize everything on) enemy worlds.

You didn't link to any threads so I'll just leave the main thread we have discussed a lot of this in recently.
Here: (Idea thread) Conquest of Solar Systems
Hazeron Forum and Wiki Moderator
hazeron.com/wiki/User:Deantwo
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#5
Hi Rockinsince87 and Deantwo,

Thanks for your additions. Before coming back to your points, is there actually any chance of any of our suggestions to come through? Is Haxus even working on the game, or are we just tossing ideas around that will never be implemented? He hasn't been posting on the forum for a while it seems, and the last update I saw from him included adding underwear to characters, so I'm uncertain if this is a waste of our time to bring up ideas now...
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#6
(10-02-2022, 08:46 AM)Akynos Wrote: is there actually any chance of any of our suggestions to come through? Is Haxus even working on the game, or are we just tossing ideas around that will never be implemented? He hasn't been posting on the forum for a while it seems, and the last update I saw from him included adding underwear to characters, so I'm uncertain if this is a waste of our time to bring up ideas now...

Haxus is taking a break from software development. He lost his motivation because of some family issues and the world events. We hope he will get back to it sooner or later.

As for rather all your ideas will be implemented exactly like you suggested. The past says no they won't. With big complicated idea threads like this you are more likely to inspire Haxus to have ideas of his own, he does not usually go and implement huge complicated ideas like this. Not in my experience anyway.
Hazeron Forum and Wiki Moderator
hazeron.com/wiki/User:Deantwo
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#7
It is very unfortunate but personal life comes first always. 

Deantwo is correct, your more likely to inspire. I would not give up hope though. Hazeron is still running, that's something. It might be some time until we see anything.
Avatars: - LimboWarrior

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#8
That's a shame.

I think that we all feel the potential of this game and how much of a shame it is that it is so dependent upon a single person's state and desires. I'm sure all of you more active users have already tried a lot in that domain...


Well, if it can inspire in some way, that would still be good. I agree that a system wide siege could take place instead of just a world, though I think we'd have to account for planetary defenses somehow. In any case, if it will just inspire, there's not much use in going into details. Let's just enjoy the game for as much as we can.

Hope to see you there soon! Take care :)

Avatars: Wandering traveller / Plastic Bad
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#9
Don't lose hopes, at least he can hear ideas sometimes. I mean, we got design descriptions after asking it nicely :D

As for this thread, I 100% support all these ideas (except ship size limit, I think we should have way bigger ships but more balanced so bigger=/= better).
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#10
(10-03-2022, 08:26 AM)Neils Iyssada Wrote: Don't lose hopes, at least he can hear ideas sometimes. I mean, we got design descriptions after asking it nicely :D

As for this thread, I 100% support all these ideas (except ship size limit, I think we should have way bigger ships but more balanced so bigger=/= better).

Agreed. Hope is what powers Hazeron.
Avatars: - LimboWarrior

[Image: Hazeron-Starship-00qzrc-Bk-Kp.png]
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