Quick fix for rocket fighters

The unlimited ammo problem
The idea that a fighter that carries a huge amount of ordnance being lighter than a fighter with just a weapon with no ammo (laser) is silly, and results in the current problem with rocket fighters being overly powerful. I realize that you can custom-build a force to deal with such a battle, but I never do this since it seems bizarre to imagine that any space navy would look at the rapidly approaching enemy force, then build their own fleet to order to specifically address THIS threat. I actually try to build balanced ships/navies, and if they lose, so be it.

My fix is to use the new salvo stuff to make rocket pods or rails that carry what is in effect a fixed number of rounds.

I’ve clipped out most of the code so it is easy to see with just the important bits.

The current fighter rocket:

For a cost of 16, and a weight of just 2, you get infinite rockets fired every 2100 time units.

My test rockets are identical in damage for now (can easily be upped), but they fire differently:

My idea was to add more with different stats based on numbers of rockets:

Twice the cost, twice the weight, twice the shots.

You could have fighters that match the mass/speed of current models with a pod that holds only 4 rockets (cost=3, weight=2, 4 rockets carried).

The guided “rocket” problem
Rockets are supposed to be unguided, that’s the difference between a rocket and a missile. Currently rockets have a turnspeed of 0.5—identical to virtually all missiles in game.

If the AI can’t deal with zero turnspeed, then it should be very near zero. Oddly, the cruiser rocket has a HIGHER turnspeed than guided missiles, lol (or is higher worse?).

I did some testing.

The salvo type works well, but the fighters obviously expend their 12 rounds, then mill about waiting to get killed by defensive fire. Since I always set them to “Cautious” with 1% damage, they at least spend some of that time going to and from the CV(L). I wish that repair would reset them (in effect rearm them).

Another thing I tested. I set the rockets to have a turnspeed of 0.01.

Worked GREAT. They are actually rockets now, they fire off in virtually a straight line as they should. They miss most of the time, too unless attacking from dead ahead, or dead astern. I changed the min range on them to be far shorter (min_range = 80) to compensate, and this worked fine. With the rockets acting like ROCKETS, not guided-missiles, you could actually give them far more ammo, IMO. The pods could be more like rocket pods on modern attack helos in terms of numbers of shots.

A ship with 2 rocket pods with 6 each (set to same weight, etc as 12) would at least fire spreads of 2, making hits more likely…

I’m really liking this.

Now to test the cruiser version.

Well, yes it “fix” them. But it also changes too much the gameplay or rather breaks it.

Gameplay is already broken. Current gameplay requires that a fighter that carries an infinite amount of weight is lighter than one that carries a finite amount of weight.

Rocket/torpedo/missile armed fighters need to have limited ammo, otherwise they should not only not be lighter, they should be grossly heavier than their laser-armed counterparts. This is why fighter gameplay is broken already, these attack/bomber craft should be slower and more vulnerable as a trade-off for being more dangerous to larger ships.

In addition, these so-called “rocket fighters” don’t actually shoot rockets, they shoot guided missiles. I tested making the rockets actually act like rockets, and they work as you would expect a rocket to work. They’ll still be effective vs large, slow things, but vs a fast frigate, they miss quite a bit—since they are shot via leading the target at the moment they are fired, not accounting for the target evading. Perfect.

The larger ships have the same problem with missiles, but the larger ships are big enough we can simply hand-wave and say that they have a magazine big enough that they don’t run out of ammo during a single battle. Such an argument is absurd for a fighter the size of a modern fighter (and we can see based on the designs they are about that size). Heck, it’s absurd if the space fighter was as big as a modern BOMBER, lol.

perhaps, but breaking the gameplay more is not the way.

FIXING gameplay. Apparently you think that if something the size of a small truck carries, I dunno, 1000 rockets with no performance trade-off—fixing the problem requires that you do not reduce the rockets or the fact that the truck is faster than a Bugati?

Fixing it might break designs that exploit this basic flaw in balance. That’s the way fixing things goes. The whole idea of the stock ships (look at the files) is that the rocket fighters are BOMBERS. Rebel BOMBER has rockets. The job of a fighter is to shoot down bombers. Bombers are not faster than fighters. I think the intent was for the rocket armed craft to fufil the bomber (fighter-bomber) role.

Limiting the ammo is the most rational solution, along with increasing the weight—or giving a weight to each missile carried, even if small per missile.

Making them unguided is required if you want to call them “rockets.”

Works great in testing, BTW. The unguided rockets hit pretty easily vs cruisers, less with frigates (a lot less if they are fast), and rarely at all on fighters. There is then a really good reason for slower, higher turn rate torpedoes that deal more damage, another plus.

The only thing that gets broken in my tests is that rocket fighters are no longer the fastest, hardest to kill fighters that can easily wipe out an arbitrarily large number of frigates.

Increasing the weight is one thing. The most logic thing to prevent an exploit design.
Limiting the amount of shoots without being able to replenish them, appart from changing way to much the way the things work, is the same than making another useless module.

Well if you could reload with carriers… It’ make some sense.

My ships of course store their ammo in plank compressed storage bins with inertial shielding…

How much do you increase the weight of a module containing infinite ammo? The number of possible shots by a fighter equals the number of possible rocket shots by a cruiser, shouldn’t the modules weigh the same?

As I said, I actually tested an ammo limit using salvo_interval. You can set the salvo_size as high as is needed to make up for the problem with no resupply. Since this is in “suggestions,” cliffski could probably make the salvo_interval reset when a fighter gets repaired I imagine (as a quick way to make “rearming” possible).

Also, my test had a very short fire interval so they could barrage with their rockets. The interval can be increased a ways and still be far lower than the current 2100—increasing the amount of time the fighters have shots to fire considerably.

The one thing that cannot be argued is the turn_speed. Right now based on the missiles/torpedoes/rockets I looked at (I might have missed one or two, though I tried to read all of them) the turn_speed is always set to 0.5 except for anti-fighter missiles (set to 4.5) and the cruiser rockets that are set to 0.74 (I think, this is from memory). Why would cruiser rockets (by definition unguided) turn better than all the other missiles? At the very least you’d think that “rockets” should have a lower turn rate, even if we forget that rockets are supposed to be unguided.

FWIW, I tested some missiles and messed with turn_speed vs tracking _speed with odd results. It’s hard to tell how the two interact, with the same turn_speed changing the tracking_speed from 1.0 to 10.0 resulted in only marginally better hits if they were better at all. Not sure if turn_speed dominates this yet. None the less, even at very long ranges (2000+), missiles/rockets set to have a turn_speed of 0.01 manage to hit cruiser sized targets about 1/6 to 1/3 of the time (targets had PD, so some were shot down). It’s better up close for the rocket fighters shooting 0.01 turn_speed rockets.

Cruiser rockets right now appear to fire at intentionally odd arcs that later swerve into the target, so at least we can establish that they aren’t really ‘rockets’ in the sense of the word we’re used to. Unless we are to believe those are lucky swerves. Turn speed is probably one function of that behavior. It’s probably not fair to linearly compare turnrates to one another as we don’t know how that interacts with the overall missile speed.

Remember in any tests you may be using as examples, that tracking speed supposedly does not completely compensate for misses based on size.

Just enough to make them slower than any fast laser fighter.

That’s certainly one option which solves the silliness of them being faster, but they still stick around forever shooting. Bottom line is that from a balance POV (this includes frigates and cruisers, really), missiles are more interesting if the number carried is limited in some fashion. Then there can be many alternate types of missiles and missile doctrines making combat (and gameplay) more interesting.

Do you take a few really huge missiles that can shatter a ship in one or two hits (putting much of your offensive eggs in one basket since a few missiles can easily be shot down or spoofed)? Or do you take a magazine so stuffed with smaller missiles, you’ll never run out during a single battle—the downside being tiny damage per hit. Ideally we’d have real salvos that would allow one to send XX missiles off at once. Again, a trade off. If the swarm of, say, 20 missiles gets spoofed, or misses, you might only have a few shots. Say for example a CA missile bay holds 200 smallish missiles. Fired one at a time, you’d never run out. Fired 2 at a time, you might only run out in a really protracted engagement. Fired in groups of 10, you might face the last 3d of the battle with no missiles, and in 20s, they might all get used up in the opening 3d of the engagement.

Such variability adds a lot of fun, IMO.

Give me Podnoughts, So I may fire Every last single missile I have all at once, At ranges where any other type of weapon is useless by orders of magnitude.

Oh wait… That would be relatively uninteresting.

Then of course is the issue of firing time for other weapons. Even Lasers have ammo limits.
And Fuel. Sure there are lots of fast ships, But it’d be fun to watch them run out of gas.

Or things can be glossed over in favor of gratuitous combat.

Despite my sarcasm though, Ammo limits on fighters would be interesting given carrier ops to reload them.

If you run some personal fighter test challenges you will find that a mix of rocket and target painter fighters beat laser fighters in every way given the same cost;

fighter vs fighter
fighter vs frigate
fighter vs decently armoured cruiser
general suvivability vs AA.

Tough challenges often have a taret painter/rocket fighter screen, this is because the combination is much stonger than any laser fighter and often makes frigates uselless.

The only reason they beat fighters is that target painters can light up other fighters, if target painters could not target fighters (which is perfectly logical being small fast targets) then I think laser fighters might have a role as an AA screen.

The other issue is thier speed, rocket fighters are the fastest thing in the game, as has been said by others they should weigh more or have limited ammo. I think ammo limits may be a better option gameplay wise at they would give people a reason to build carriers, and would give laser fighters a clear edge.

Also I think that torpedo fighters would benifit from incresed speed and very limited ammo, perhaps only 2 shots before relaod.

Using fighters in general is a good enough reason to build dedicated carriers.

The adequate weight for fighter rocket launcher would be 8 (current weight + laser weight + generator lvl1 [to power laser and 1 engine])

In general I still prefer to use laser fighters they are great at finishing unarmored ships.

I made a “space superiority fighter” by creating an anti-fighter missile (copy of frigate version) that only holds 4 or 8 missiles. Very light weight (fire and forget). Works well. Used it on hulls with 2 weapon slots in addition to the laser.

how you beat that kind of fighters? ignoring them if they are the only ones and/or fielding more of them than the oponent?

I have to admit that I like unlimited ammo, just because having ships wandering around the battlefield makes for a supremely uninteresting spectacle (and let’s be honest, GSB is all about the spectacle).

I ran a survival mission with the Tribe not too long ago where the end of it was eight of my frigates whose weapons had been destroyed wandering about, constantly repairing the rest of their systems but incapable of doing anything productive. I suspect that in a lot of cases, fighters with 0 ammo would have much the same effect. And I hate using the Admit Defeat button just to end a pointless ship dance in space.

I’m willing to admit that the issue of unlimited material ammo (rocket fighter) being faster than unlimited energy ammo (laser fighter) seems a bit silly, but the relative weapon strengths seem to work OK for balancing the two types (i.e., rockets have better penetration, damage and range, but lasers have a much better rate of fire).