Game balance concerning missiles

Well, I’ve tinkered with the game in my off time and found that GSB if pretty well balanced in almost every aspect. Sure we can add things like Railguns or Gauss Cannons and new ship classes, but these are extra content and that is on a backburner for the beta I think. I finally figured that Cliffski is doing best by focusing on balancing and bug-crushing the current beta and my last post I focused too much on adding stuff, and here I am with this thread.

I feel missiles are too weak and have no use in my winning fleets. I tried missile boats and torpedo ships but all seem to fail against a classic combo of heavy plasma cruiser with 2 anti-fighter frigates and universal combat frigate (2 Ion cannons 1 beam laser). In fact any time I attempt to use missiles they feel like the weak link while my main ships pummel away and get the kills. I can understand missiles having long range and slow reloads, but why do they also have such low damage? And kick in the fact they can get shot down there is no use for them in my current fleets. Anyone else feel missiles need some extra power?

I’ve heard that there’s a bug which prevents multiple missiles in the air from the same launcher at any one time. If true, and I’m pretty sure that it is, that seriously hampers their long range dps.

Yes, I agree with you, I don’t think they’re a very effective weapon at present. I like seeing giant rainbow-coloured salvoes of missiles and decoys flying about, so I’ve tried several times to design effective missile boats, but they don’t really compare to a plasma gunned / beam weaponed combination, or laser / beam weaponed combo at the moment.

(though I welcome challenges full of missile boats if anyone disagrees - I undertake not to load up on ECM beams beforehand! - my usual is one antimissile device per four cruisers, or thereabouts) :slight_smile:

The single-missile per salvo limit is by design, not a bug as such. It means that as a weapon, missiles get more deadly the closer you are, which leads you to play a balancing game between the benefits of attacking from out of range of the enemy, or getting in close.
In terms of effectiveness, in my own tests I find that mixtures of missiles are the key. megaton and multi-warhead missiles can do great damage, but if the enemy has any PD then you need to spam conventional missiles and decoy missiles alongside them.

These types of discussions could have a linked tiny challenge to show each side.

Why not use what I see as one of the greatest advantages of autobattles?

Isn’t this what the other weapons are for? Missiles are one of the few weapons that work at long range, which means they should be effective at range. If you need to move in close to make them effective, you might as well be using shorter range weapons. Besides, missiles are already marginally more effective at shorter range because PD have less time to take them down.

Yeah, that sounds back-to-front to me too. Surely the whole point of missiles in this kind of game is that theyre your long range stand-off weapon. To balance this they need to be counterable and possibly not as destructive per salvo as shorter range weapons. But to further hamper them at long range like this kind of defeats the purpose of having them.

Having said that, removing this limit would mean a lot more missiles being in the air at any one time. Might impose quite a processing hit. Hmmmm… what was your reason for having this limit again cliffski? :wink:

I have pretty much quit using missiles after looking in detail at their stats (I wrote a script that dumped all stats of all modules into a big spreadsheet). I really wanted to like them, and used them a lot in all my early fleets, but they simply don’t do DPS that comes close to matching other weapons.

For example, a Cruiser Missile Launcher at maximum range does 2.75 DPS because of how long it takes for the missiles to get to the target. (I’m assuming the time unit in the module stats is milliseconds). At minimum range that improves a bit, to 9.71 DPS. However, those DPS values are much worse than weapons like the Cruiser Laser (which does 46.5 DPS) frigate Ion Cannon (25.86 DPS) or Cruiser Beam Laser (21.11 DPS). Everybody’s favorite, the Cruiser Plasma Launcher does 10 DPS at all ranges. And none of those other weapons can be shot down by point defense turrets!

Actually the DPS is likely to be lower for all of those weapons because the calculation that found them doesn’t take into account their chance of hitting the target. However, missiles will suffer more than other classes of weapons if misses are included, because a missile that misses its target keeps on flying until it runs out of fuel (which can take a very long time). The Megaton Missile launcher for example could theoretically do a very respectable 18 DPS at its minimum range, firing every 3.33 seconds. However, if it misses it’s target, it will have to wait more than 24 seconds to fire again, at which point the missile has gone 2200m (nearly three times its maximum range!) and finally run out of fuel.

My suggestion for missiles in general is to speed them all up - by a lot - to maybe 10x their current speeds. Then the flight time issues would not be as significant (and the fire_interval stat might mean something again). Obviously, point defense would have to fire faster or have longer range to compensate, but I think a more intuitive balance could be found.

It may have been on purpose, but I think that last post pretty much sums up why I stopped using missiles. They feel like the least effective weapon in the game, and given that the logic for nerfing them is that they need to be a close in weapon, the weight factor that they bring in makes them unlikely to get in close before beam, laser, plasma, etc tear them a new one. That said, there are much better in close weapons as the above post points out.

Yeah, no other weapons have that balancing act between range and rate of fire, and missiles already don’t do fantastic DPS on paper under optimal circumstances. I do find that a critical mass of multiple-warhead launchers basically works as a second-line fire support option, at least in the single-player missions, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best use of resources. Indeed, plasma generally does the same job much more effectively.

Given that they can already miss and can be shot down, I don’t see the need for the ROF limitation on missiles. Obviously they can’t be allowed in practice to do the same DPS as plasma or other shorter-range weapons (at least for the same cost), but as it is it’s just not really worth it. This is exacerbated by the tendency for ships to end up fighting from much closer than the assigned max range, too - what’s the point in bringing long-range missiles if my ships keep closing into plasma range (or allowing enemy ships to do so) and getting pummeled?

I don’t understand the missiles being more effective at close range than long range. Missiles should be effective past the minimum safety distance to the maximum range the fuel can go. This odd limit on waiting until missiles burn out also seems to hurt missiles, as in-game they just don’t work and don’t get used other than for effects. Why not make missiles long-range pummeling weapons with say 15DPS, not good not bad, but increase their price because they use ammunition. Then for the close range use rockets for rapid fire with close range damage, say 400 range because they have no guidance and are slow. Does this sound like a good idea to balance out the missiles?

it would be very, very easy for missiles to go from ‘meh’ to ‘omg imba’. Making them strong at long range means that the game would almost instantly revolve around missiles because a phalanx of missile ships would just park at long range and hurl a dozen salvos before shorter ranged ships could do anything about it.

I assume missiles get stronger at close range because this is Gratuitous Space Battles, not Run Away and Plink from Max Range Battles.

I do think missiles could use some changes though. They should self destruct after misses and there should be fewer missiles with Decoys… there doesnt seem to be much point to the decoy launcher when you can just pile on regular missiles instead. I would set it up this way:

Missile: Standard, no decoys.
Fast: Long Range, no decoys.
Megaton Torpedo: Sheer damage, no decoys.
MWM: PD evasion through spam.
Decoy: PD suppression.

Of course if decoys are reduced either PD would need to be weaker or missile damage would need to go up. shrug

Also, I think it would be more Gratuitous if the decoys exploded when they hit the shield or when the primary missile is hit. Right now they just kinda stop.

I don’t agree that they would become imbalanced. They would still be slow firing, just not nearly as slow as they currently are. They would also be easy to counter with point defense systems and all the bonuses for them. A cruiser that lobs missiles from 1000 wouldn’t last long against a single fighter unit, and even faster frigates could get within range and end the cruiser rather quickly.

Besides, if if you want long-distance spam, look no further than heavy plasma. It has long range, high DPS, high penetration, and it can’t be countered with PD. The only thing it doesn’t have is tracking speed, but medium plasma with tracking boosters will still outperform any long-range missile.

Balance can be worked out by tweaking speeds, firing intervals, and strengths, but a mechanic like “only one volley in the air at a time” adds yet another negative to an already weak weapon, and it isn’t nearly as easy to tweak.

Right now missiles have a ton of bad things about them. Can anyone come up with enough good things to be balanced? Can anyone come up with even one good thing about them? IMO missiles are not good right now.

The concensus is missiles need to be fixed ASAP, so Cliffski if you are reading please do something!

Would it be possible to make the missile systems have a guidance section? If they miss, they turn around and try to hit their intended target until they either hit or run out of fuel. The missile painter would still have a use - it would guarantee a first-time hit. I don’t know what sort of coding would be involved, but it might make missiles somewhat more useful while still balancing other weapons?

missiles are 33% faster as of today (version 1.12) how is that?
I agree they were too slow.

Sweet, testing out now. Quick work too you rock Cliff!

They’re certainly faster. I cant swear it’ll make me use them more, but I’d at least consider them now.

faster should be a major boost. It effectively increases their rate of fire, and especially does so for longer ranges. It also reduces their chance of being shot down.