Further thoughts

This is a game where you watch actors carry out your orders, and when they do dumb things it’s kind of heartbreaking. Frigates and destroyers are especially egregious about this in that they don’t respect the explosion radius of larger craft.

Could we get an innate and overriding move order away from a unit that’s about to explode? You could even add a dramatic delay between dreads or cruisers hitting 0% and actually exploding to give them some more time.

This could neatly segue into a usable order to give wide berth to certain types of units. My anti-destroyer rocket fighters have seen more tractors than a John Deere convention - they don’t respect cruiser airspace at all. My long ranged fast units stare dumbly as close ranged units close.

Ad-hoc escort
Escort orders that apply to a type of thing rather than a given thing. If I’ve got pulse fighters escorting torpedo fighters, I want them to find the next set of torpedo fighters if the first one dies - not for them to go suiciding into the enemy formation. If my forward shield tank dies, I want the escorting destroyers to shift to the next closest one. UI-wise, this could be indicated with a simple checkbox.

Keep moving and escort compatibility
It’s pretty unintuitive for this not to exist. Fighters do it on their own.

Propulsion beam targeting
Currently these appear to target the closest cruiser or dreadnought. Because of this, they frequently fire on units that are parked and not on nearby units trying to move. They will occasionally fire on smaller units if that’s all that’s around, but then their target selection gets strange, ignoring some units while pushing a select few far away. I think the ruleset for these needs a look.

There’s not enough incentive to spread out or otherwise use surrounding space as a resource. A slight unit facing missrate bonus might be a good idea, or possibly something gamier.

Random wishlisting
Even more order sets (flocking behavior, target tracking minimums/maximums, battlefield conditional rules)
Debuff attacks (temporary reduced tracking/ROF/Range/etc on hit) - units armed with psychologically disruptive weapons
Lock-on or similar gunnery delays (to prevent impulse shots on dumb transient targets)
Weapon target restrictions (like disallowing shield disruptors to fire on frigates, or emp at fighters) on the module or order level
Modules that weigh less when destroyed or depleted, like single use torpedoes or ablative armors

Good ideas all around. The fear thing stands out to me as a far more complex AI than anything else on the menu and would be out of place, but I could be wrong. Maybe just nerfing death explosions would be a simpler way to alleviate the problem? I too dislike the way those are playing out. It’s one of the only real RNG feeling things in the game, I mean it’s such an absurd amount of damage AND it’s got a lot of variance, combined it’s like “Huh, wa…?” and the ships start popping. However it’s satisfying as hell to watch the enemy fleet chain reaction into nothingness and it does dissuade ship stacking a little bit. If the stacked ships are so slow that the enemy fleet is blowing them up before they separate it’s a heavy penalty. So yeah, ideally there would be some AI stuff happening to add counter play and keep it in, but it’s still so random I don’t know if I can abide.

Wide berth sounds amazing, but may also be just one level above the rest of orders in terms of complexity, but I don’t know how Cliffski does his AI. I do know that judging by the orders we’ve had for GSB games, he wants to keep it fairly simple.

Now both your ideas for escort are MONEY. Escort jumping to next available of the same ship is a perfect idea.

I would be over the moon if escort and keep moving were compatible. It’s extremely limiting using escort because no matter the escorting ships speed, it cant gain any survivability through speed. Even more limiting is Formation though, which just turns everything into molasses. I HATE that order.

I didn’t realize there was such a demand for the combination of escort and keep moving, but I will take a look at the code. It may not be that bad to do. I think I am a bit wary of an order to move away from exploding ships because in some respects its a legit tactic to deliberately use VULTURE to attack dreadnoughts to cause that, and as is stated, its a disincentive to group your ships too much.
Good point regarding propulsion beams too, I shall investigate that as well…

Ok I have done some digging in the code regarding the interplay of keep moving and escort and watched a test case. I had friagtes escorting a dreadnought with both orders set to the frigate, and they do indeed get ‘stuck’ in front of the dreadnought.

Further thought brings up several questions regarding desired behavior…

The current sytem has non-fighter ships heading towards the point on the radius circumference of the escort order that represents the angle between the ship they are escorting, and their currently selected target enemy ship. (see below…)

On the other hand… fighters (& gunships), when given an escort order keep picking a random position within a half escort radius range of half way between the actual escort ship, and the target ship. (See below).

Now its actually very simple to make ships that are not fighters copy the fighter behavior if they have the KEEP MOVING order (which is implied with fighters & gunships). However, my question to you is…would that be desirable? I have essentially made a guess here when coding the game as to how people are thinking. I’m assuming that if you tell a frigate to escort a cruiser, you are saying ’ by all means attack the enemy, head towards them, but don’t get more than X distance from your parent ship’.
An alternative meaning would be 'always stay within X distance of the parent ship. If ordered to keep moving, do so, without any preference for location.

The current system leads to ‘frigate bunching’ at the nose of a cruiser or dreadnought. This means stationary ships in some cases, and susceptibility to area-of-effect weapons and detonation waves. But it does ensure escorting ships move into range when possible. Of course, if you really want to enforce some separation, we have the formation order… hmmmm.

First, thanks for checking into this and everything else people suggest, I can’t tell you how good it is to know that the developer of a game you like is constantly developing for that game!

Anyways after some thought I realized that for most of my cases, I use escort to make sure a support ship stays safe while still being near the ship it’s supporting. In other words I want it to stay as far away from enemy ships as possible while still being within escort range.

Now I certainly see the usefulness of giving them the exact same behavior as fighters, and maybe if they act like fighters I can still trick them to stay safe.

If I put huge ranges on support ships that escort, they would creep around to the front of the ship they’re escorting as they head to battle. Then when they’re range says they are too close, they would head back behind the escorted ship am I right? This would be perfect until the ship they are escorting dies, and then they would end up pretty useless. UNLESS they started escorting the next ship of same type… :]

I dunno, when I use an “escort” order, I’ve always assumed it means “stick with and protect your escortee no matter what”. Attack the enemy comes as a distant second, the primary (I would say only) reason to apply an Escort order is to provide protection for a higher value unit. The job of a destroyer is not to engage the enemy, it’s to protect the carrier from all those nasty missiles trying to destroy it. So yes, the Escort order, I have always thought even back in GSB1, should by default make all the escorting ships orbit their target ship. No need to even add a “Keep Moving” order.

Its interesting to hear that people use ‘escort’ for their destroyers, I tend to use formation for that same task. I agree that escorting is all about protection, not attack, but then shouldn’t we assume that the best place to be as a protector is between your parent ship and the enemy?
I also like the idea of escorts orbiting the parent ship, but maybe a new ‘orbit’ order is called for for this behavior?

I have had really bad experiences with formation slowing everything down to the speed of smell, but also it enforces the slowest speed, so even if the escort is a faster ship it’s just as easy to hit as the slow ship. I might be over thinking it, but with the orders available to us right now there’s a huge incentive to make all your ships roughly the same speed because there’s no way to take advantage of different speed ships while staying together.

Separate ‘Orbit’ order would be a boon for sure.

Biggest difference between Formation and Escort: Formation can only be applied ‘once’ to any given ship with one ship near the center of the formation chosen as the guide. You cannot chain formation DD+DD->DN+DN<-FF – it must be DD+DD+DN+DN+FF. Also, the entire formation is at the mercy of the targeting of the chosen guide ship – many times I will have a formation fatally stalled when the lead DN kills the front ranks of the enemy and stops in front of a Support DD – no-one will fire on an unarmed ship (the DD) if there is anything else to shoot (unless you don’t use Rescuer/Retaliate orders).

IMO Formation is a liability, as it is too easy to mess up and very inflexible. Only thing worth using formation with is to stagger a fleet en echelon with an expendable guide ship. Or to keep a specific ship out in front as a decoy (but that requires a very deep deployment).

Escort on the other hand is extremely useful, as you can assign (and chain) multiple ships and at varying ranges – and you don’t need to worry too much about placement, as the ships will form up on the target of the Escort order.

Ad-hoc Escort would greatly buff support DDs, as they could fall back to other CCs and DNs when their charge gets killed. Same with any ranged ship really: when the front line gets killed, fall back to the next mobile castle. Of course, it would also be extremely effective as a lure…
Ad-hoc is also a game-changer for small craft, who would become far more effective at screening the entire fleet – instead of charging in once their escort ship is lost.

The best spot for most FFs and DDs is broadside or to the rear of the ship they are Escorting. An escort can’t do its job if it is dead (you are throwing free money at the enemy if you let FFs and DDs get out in front unless as a lure). The larger (and better armed) CC or DN should draw fire. This happens pretty often with Shield Support (best at the rear) and Anti-Missile/Anti-Fighter DDs (best on the flanks), where there is a fine line between being fast enough to not get crowded out from its charge, and being too fast – getting between its charge and the enemy, who will happily shoot and kill even a non-threatening ship if there are no other targets in range (esp. since CCs and DNs often don’t have orders to shoot at fighter screens).

I would really like a checkbox for Escort in Formation (specifically like your pictures where the Gunship maintains its position relative to the FF). Difference from the standard Formation is the ability to task multiple ships, and also work in conjunction with Ad-hoc Escort.

Keep Moving Escort is tailor-made for Pulse FFs, who have insane damage but short range. These ships are best deployed in the rear, and use their speed to push to – and through – the front line into Pulse range when the battle is joined and the enemy is concentrated on the main combatants. Basically a second-string attack that will also spring forth when the escort ship goes down. Without Keep Moving, Pulse FFs are sitting ducks once they get out in front since they can’t move faster than the parent ship. Another potential use is an extremely fast and heavily shielded DD or FF with a popgun that can run circles around its parent ship to draw fire.

The icing on the cake would be a Fear/Lost Cause order – similar to Cautious, but in the Escort role. When the ship being escorted falls below a certain percentage of health, the escorts deem the ship a lost cause and try to escape the blast radius. This then sets up neatly into the Ad-hoc Escort mode after the blast.

All of these orders would be a big buff to FFs and DDs, whereas CCs and DNs are simply too slow on the helm to realistically take advantage of these orders. Thrusters could actually be useful! Although the CC Thrusters really need a buff or something.

(Side note: there is only one thing in the game that Thrusters are good for: Gunships are Fighter food… until you drop the second weapon for a Thruster Podule [GS turn-rate is fatal]. Thrusters make GS extremely fast and tough killing machines that are more than a match for most Fighters. Also: Stick-Together is your friend on all small craft.)

Oh yeah, on a similar note, I have noticed that ships select weapon targets beyond the weapons’ maximum range – and then Hold-Fire until they get into range. This is really annoying, as it really messes with orders, positioning, and overall combat-effectiveness.

The most obvious case is the one I described about Formations in a previous post – an unarmed enemy support ship with combatants just beyond it. Your ship will target the unarmed ship for movement – but its weapons will target the hostiles just beyond it. Then your ship will get stuck, as it won’t move past the unarmed ship and its weapons won’t kill it as they are waiting for the hostile ships just out of range to get into range (which is quite fatal if the enemy likes the range they are at).

Another less obvious case is small craft and dogfighting. The volume of fire from a squadron will drop off significantly if you add orders like Vulture, Rescuer, etc. They are under orders to target enemies beyond their own weapons range and thus will hold-fire until within range. Squadrons with special orders tend to lose to normal Squadrons because they are handicapped by their convoluted targeting orders.

Potential Fixes:
No targeting of weapons beyond maximum range. Or make it a checkbox in the Order, incase of ships with slow weapons (Particle Accelerators).

Option/Order to include/exclude unarmed ships from movement/targeting.

They must not be reevaluating their targets frequently enough. I’ve noticed torpedo bombers that are approaching a wall shooting at diagonal targets, which sounds like what you describe.

My concern is enemy ships to a degree - dreadnoughts are startlingly effective suicide bombs if they go down in the middle of an opposing formation. Formation can work against you in a lot of those situations.

I mean, we could just tone down the explosions, but this is more gratuitous.

I would have expected them to spend a lot of time turning around with their wider arcs. Is the escort bubble a boundary for their pathing or is it more of a conditional they check for? Players could also give very long-range attack orders to the escort units to make them loiter at the back of their dreadnought.

In a way, escort is an inverse of an avoidance order:

Just being able to set the min range of an attack order would be useful, but a global avoidance allows for additional expressions.

Wow all great stuff, I’m so happy you pointed out the fighter orders thing, I was just not having luck with fighters lately and I had been giving them vulture orders almost always and sometimes co-op. Already a huge improvement just from stripping those away. That of course sucks as far as gameplay is concerned (should be able to give fighters orders without a handicapping them) but at least I can make fighters a bit more useful now. I’m also wondering how much those same orders might be nerfing my other ships. I had taken vulture as a standard order because, well, who doesn’t want to finish off ships? Shouldn’t that be normal behavior?

Of some interest to this conversation: I noticed that range orders override escort. If the ship gets too close it will stop escorting and stay back at the specified engage range. I had assumed that the range was affecting the escort command but not overriding it.

I’ve just now put together some dramatically fast (frigate) designs and I’m noting some disheartening behavior from ‘keep moving’ - units are almost completely stopping forward momentum when they intend to take a hard enough turn. This is usually about two seconds after they get into engagement ranges.

This is basically getting them killed instantly.

I seem to remember units instead driving in wide wild arcs, but at least they were moving full speed at that time - or am I just remembering this? I know this wasn’t much of a problem in GSB1.

This behavior will hinder effective use of many of the above discussed orders - it needs to be looked at.

Speed in GSB2 is misleading - the game seems to prioritize Turning over Speed for everything except missiles. Anything with a Turn Rate less than 1 can’t actually go fast with the ‘Keep Moving’ order at all. This can be seen in Gunships - GS hardly ever go full speed due to the turn issues without additional Thrusters. A Laser Gunship Squadron with no Thruster Podules (Turn<1) will get massacred by a Laser Fighter Squadron - even if its paper speed is 3.3+; a Laser Gunship Squadron with Thruster Podules (Turn of 2+) can hold its own - even though the squadron has to sacrifice half its guns for a speed of 3+ and the Thrusters.

If you can lure a Dreadnought or Cruiser into turning, its speed will drop to a fraction of its actual capability. IMO this issue is pretty significant, as Rush fleets are hideously vulnerable to this - once the front line starts turning to face a lure (or the new Ambush mission), they are all sitting ducks - no matter what their paper ‘Speed’ is. It is one more reason to field a slug-fleet that goes nowhere and Missile/Plasma with low tracking…

Yeah, I’m seeing that now. I’m primarily Yootani so I’m a bit spoiled by the higher quality engines.

So I’m not crazy… I had completely missed this:

Hm. Seems like that should be reverted. It hits lighter craft a lot harder than the big ships.

Now that turning speed can be boosted by thrusters or engines with a higher maneuverability, isn’t the poor turning speed of some ships just a design decision? Maybe if your ships full victim to an inabiltiy to make quick turns, you are just unfairly risking them by skimping on thrusters? :smiley:

But it still doesn’t makes sense that they would stop to make a turn - I can’t think of any situation in real life or in gaming where stopping to turn around while in a combat situation is actually a good idea.

If you’re primarily concerned with speed, the tradeoff should be that you can’t make turns as tightly. Yes, your craft might end up temporarily flying off the screen, but that’s the risk you take for prioritizing speed over maneuverability. Your ship is fast and hard to hit, but it also may spend some time outside the battlespace and thus be unable to contribute as much.

As it stands now, lighter craft are required to take thrusters if they want to maintain their (already marginal) survivability. The change to turning AI is not an encouragement of design diversity - it’s a straight-up penalty for not building in a certain very specific way, and that’s much too harsh.

Also, it results in some really strange behaviors such as gunships stuttering even while flying straight ahead, like a car repeatedly tapping the brakes while holding down the gas pedal.


Given that engines like the thrust-injection or subspace types give you just as much maneuverability or better, the only poor design decision is to use the dedicated turn rate engines to begin with. I would be using them more if they were actually helpful.

We are not talking about deficient designs here. Fighters also have a different AI that doesn’t turn as often - Should a 1.4 speed, .75 turnspeed frigate really be getting hit a nontrivial amount by .65 tracking weapons? What chance does that fast frigate have against something that can actually aim?