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Elite ability - Shield Re-modulation

posted Mar 17, 2013 16:07:16 by hancock.steven
I had an idea for a possible new elite ability: shield re-modulation. Basically, enemy ships would periodically randomise their shield frequencies, changing the optimal beam frequency for players to use against them. It would keep players on their toes, forcing them to adapt and develop their tactics - hopefully keeping things interesting.

I don't think it would be good for shields to remodulate too frequently, or constantly cycle. If it changed every few seconds players would never be able to keep up. Instead of adding an interesting challenge to maintaining optimal beam freqs, it would instead render the functionality of scanning for shield frequencies impractical and take a fun element out of the game. Similarly remodulation shouldn't happen at to regular intervals. If it was for example every 30 seconds, players would begin to anticipate when these would take place, rather than having to watch for them. So perhaps a random variable in the time between re-modulations could be used. It could also factor in the difficulty level, changing slightly more often at higher levels.
[Last edited Mar 17, 2013 16:09:41]
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16 replies
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TaigiaReilly said Mar 17, 2013 18:16:05
The only problem with this is the Skaarans don't need any more elite abilities. I have to nuke them when I first see them to make sure they are gone and not just teleporting away.
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hancock.steven said Mar 17, 2013 21:00:43
I know what you're saying, TR. Sometimes Skaarans can be annoying when they're disappearing.
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Jim Johnson said Mar 18, 2013 03:10:06
Have to admit, though - it is an interesting concept. Perhaps the rate of remodulation could be related to the amount of damage the shields have taken. Or perhaps being hit by an ECM would temporarily disable the ability.
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toumaltheorca said Mar 18, 2013 09:07:02
I like the idea. It gives the science station more to do - and more to communicate too!

"Captain, they've remodulated their shields!"

What we need is some form of visual/data feedback whether hits were scored using the right frequency or not. That way, not only would everyone know that the science officer was doing their job (or not!) and whether a rescan would be advisable, but it would also add to the satisfaction of hitting the target with optimum efficiency.
It'd strenghten the feeling that a good crew is more than just the sum of its parts.

Heck, that would make watching phaser hits on the main viewscreen actually useful! You'd have to observe the impact for signs of shield remodulation. More station interaction, everyone wins!
[Last edited Mar 18, 2013 09:08:41]
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Mike_Substelny said Mar 18, 2013 17:29:17
I like this idea.

Maybe this should not be a Skaraan Elite Ability. Maybe any enemy ship should have the a probability of doing this within a few minutes of being hit at that ship's weakest frequency.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
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ZacharyDanielBringham said Mar 18, 2013 20:01:20
If shield modulation for Artemis was added, it could cost a certain amount of energy to remodulate Artemis' shields. Science could scan for current weapons frequencies of enemy vessels. Maybe remodulation could be a random thing. It'll change the frequency, but you won't know to what.
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hancock.steven said Mar 18, 2013 21:40:40
I was wondering about abilities for other alien species too. I posted in the "Help" forum about the skaaran abilities. How do they work, do different classes of ships have different abilities, or do they get randomly assigned? Can they have more than one ability?
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Mike_Substelny said Mar 19, 2013 00:40:12
I posted in the "Help" forum about the skaaran abilities. How do they work, do different classes of ships have different abilities, or do they get randomly assigned? Can they have more than one ability?


In Invasion Mode and Elite Co-op Mode all Skaraans get randomly assigned elite abilities. I believe each ship gets one random ability.

In pre-written mission scripts Skaraan elite abilities can be assigned by the script writer. This can be any combination of the abilities, possibly all of the abilities on one ship. If no abilities are assigned to an elite then I believe the ship will get one random ability.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
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hancock.steven said Mar 19, 2013 16:32:39
Cheers Mike, I thought it was something like that, but wasn't 100% sure.

I've been thinking about the impact elite abilities have on gameplay, particularly that each ship having a random elite ability might not make for as good gameplay as if all the ships in a game having the same elite ability. Especially at lower levels.

My thinking behind this is as follows. A newish crew has gotten the hang of things aboard their ship, and know what they are doing. Then they encounter an enemy with a random elite ability. They muddle through. Then they encounter another, with a different ability. Again they muddle through. But there isn't really any progression or development, and it carries on in this manner.

Now imagine the same crew again, first time goes the same - they muddle through. But then they discuss counter-strategies. In the next battle they face the same elite ability, this time with their adapted tactics they cope a little better. After a few more fights they have mastered how to deal with this particular ability.

Next time they load up a game they have the same journey. The dramatic flow and learning curve seem more enjoyable to my mind. It’s a bit like a tv sci-fi episode, where a problem arises, the crew work together to overcome it before emerging victorious. Each ship have a random ability would make it difficult for crews to have the chance to adapt their tactics.

In terms of "realism", it would strike me that skaarans in the same fleet might well all have the same ability. Skills could be tiered to come in at different difficulty settings, or having more skills at higher levels, or even making it a full random mix at the highest. By then crews should have developed counter-strategies for all enemy tricks.

The other side of this is that for an elite ability to improve game play it should prompt crews to adapt and develop their tactics. For this to be the case there needs to be some scope for crews to counter the ability. It should be an overcomable challenge. Certainly make it hard to overcome, though. For example, the cloaking ability might improved by having cloaked ships detectable when scanners are boosted to 300%. Maybe not on visual, but on sci/helm/tactical. Perhaps intermitently. At the very least their cloaking system should be manually targetable by the weapons officer like other systems are.

Another idea I had was for enemies to shoot down incoming torps/ecm/nukes with their beams. Then players would have to consider enemy weapon arcs to avoid wasting ordinance.
[Last edited Mar 19, 2013 16:40:20]
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TaigiaReilly said Mar 19, 2013 19:45:30
I like the idea. It gives the science station more to do - and more to communicate too!


In theory yes but in practice no. As long as ECMs can be built at a space station then I just to fire one into a group of enemies to disable them re-modulating their shields to a new frequency because all the frequencies are equally weak after my ECM hit.
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Mike_Substelny said Mar 19, 2013 19:46:08
Steven, I believe the mechanism to solve this already exists but has not yet been implemented.

In Artemis 1.702 every enemy ship has two data fields that appear on the science console. The Science Officer can read the first field as soon as the enemy ship is identified (first scan), as if it were a library computer readout on the ship. It might contain information like "Captain Xurg commanding, has a record for cowardice and might surrender."

The second field appears after the seconed science scan, sort of like a deeper sensor analysis. It might contain information like "278 life forms aboard. Equipped with Skaraan cloaking device."

I lobbied Thom hard for these fields so mission script writers can use them in our missions. If you play "Havoc in the Hamak Sector" your Science Officer will see them in use.

Right now these fields are left blank in Invasion Mode, but in the future they could be used to let your Sicnce Officer know what elite abilities a Skaraan has. I hope this feature will be included in Artemis 2.0.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
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hancock.steven said Mar 19, 2013 21:20:58
It would be good to see abilities when scanning, but it would also be nice to be able to manually target the relevant system with beams.
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madings said Mar 19, 2013 21:39:12

Imagine the enemy AI bridge "thinking" this:

"Sir, the Artemis has been shooting us for a while trying to hit us but their shots haven't been effective. Should we change our shield frequency just to confuse them?"

"Maybe soon. But not yet. Maybe in a little bit we will."

*blam*

"Sir, that last shot from the Artemis went right through our shields like butter! I think they have our frequency!"

"Okay fine, NOW change the frequency, and hurry."


This sort of thing could be accomplished by using a probability of changing the frequency that is very low (but not quite zero so it still sometimes happens) most of the time, but then the probability of a change rises considerably each time the ship gets hit by a phaser shot that matched frequencies. (And of course after a frequency change, the probability drops back down again, and will rise again if the new frequency gets hit.)

What this would do is make it likely that the Artemis crew is rewarded for getting the right frequency by landing at least one shot that takes advantage of it before it gets changed again. If you change frequencies too often even when the enemy ship hasn't been hit yet then the crew is likely to conclude, "Ah screw it this frequency scan thing just isn't worth the effort."
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hancock.steven said Mar 19, 2013 22:36:40
Interesting idea, Madings. The shield frequencies presumably apply a multiplier or something like that to the damage. That variable could be used in the probability, with the difficulty as a variable as well. That way the more penetrating a shot is and the higher the difficulty, the more likely an enemy will re-modulate.

If the shield strength at a given frequency reduces damage from the beams by that proportion, then after each hit P(re-modulate) = (1 - shield_strength) x (difficulty/11)

At difficulty 5 after each beam hitting a shield of strength 0.3, the probability of remodulating would be 7/22 or about 32%.


[Last edited Mar 19, 2013 22:46:15]
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Gaikokujin said Mar 20, 2013 04:35:15
Madings, I like your ai example.
hancock.steven, I like your number crunching.

To address toumaltheorca's point about visual notification: once the beams have been adjusted to the correct frequency, the shields would only absorb a portion of the beam, thereby causing the hull to take a small amount of damage. This would address the visual feedback issue. It would also address the collaboration issue by requiring science to continue monitoring the target's status closely during engagements.
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