XWAU Balancing - Feedback needed

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XWAU Balancing - Feedback needed

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Ace Antilles
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Post by Ace Antilles » Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:12 pm

Ok listen up Pilots, it's time for your briefing.

The XWAU main purpose has always been to improve XWA. Whether that's with visual effects, ships, backdrops etc.
With some releases though it can be a tricky balance between improvement and game breaking.
For example one thing that the XWAU doesn't look into often is mission editing. This is where we need your feedback.

We want to know which missions either don't work with the new XWAU ships or are just too hard now.
For example: In a mission a ship is supposed to dock but it's too big!
YW Red is just too rubbish to complete his goals and needs demoting to cleaning duty.
TIE Zeta never leaves the hangar because he's still eating his lunch.

I joke but you get the idea. There could be some mission orders that aren't working perfectly.

More importantly does the mission fail because of the XWAU opt. Is it too tough or the hangar in a different place?

We know many of you have had issues with missions involving Container Transports. If you haven't then download the Container Transport v2.2 on the download page now. It removes some extra weapons which should help make things easier. We would like to know if that's enough or the mission's still too tough?

Also we believe the ISD 2 Opt is very heavily overpowered compared to the TG version. So this can make a lot of things tougher.
Do you agree, does it need reducing in power or are you all Ace pilots and its a breeze for you.

How do you find the Death Star run? Is it impossible now with the new Falcon or can it be done with practise.

Lastly, and lower on our list: Can any missions be improved in small subtle ways?
For example using cool new FG colours, new planet backdrops or replacing one Nebulon B version for another?
DTM already used some of his FGs in missions and there have been some great improvements over the years.

So please let us know primarily what is potentially game breaking. We need details of which missions, opt etc and what is happening.
If any clever mission creators out there have fixed the issues then please feel free to share your finds with us.
The more help and information we can get the quicker we can all enjoy the fun :) MTFBWY!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PROGRESS LIST
OPTS TO INVESTIGATE:
Imperial Star Destroyer 2 - Overpowered - NEW OPT RELEASED
Container Transport - Overpowered?
YT-1300 Transports - Overpowered, extra weapon points.
Falcon - Too big for DS2 - Reduce in size?
SSD - Too many Shield Generators or too powerfull at 200%?
Platform 5 - Docking points needed.

MISSIONS TO INVESTIGATE:
Battle 1: Mission 1 and 5 - Container Transports
Battle 1: Mission 2 - Docking point on the Platform
Battle 1: Mission 4 - Y-wings are useless pilots
Battle 1: Mission 6 - CTRNS and Asteroids

B3M6, B4M5, B4M6, B5M7 - ISD2 overpowered
Last edited by Ace Antilles on Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:13 am, edited 8 times in total.
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ual002
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Post by ual002 » Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:17 pm

I think we should generally put the docking nodes on the list of things to review and improve on all opts.
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Will T
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Post by Will T » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:39 pm

Okay, I've definitely got some thoughts on this.

In general, I believe that anything XWAU does as part of the main craft pack should be strictly visual or at least gameplay incidental as much as possible. That's not to say improvements can't be made, but as a general principle any additional or changed gameplay shouldn't affect anything to do with balance. The increased s-foils availability and landing gear functionality is a brilliant example of this. It improves the functionality and aesthetics of the opts in question, but has zero impact on gameplay. I know that this is effectively the philosophy anyway, I just wanted to point out where I stand on that as it informs some other opinions.

XWA is a game. Its missions were balanced around fun gameplay first, realism second. There are going to be occasions where a ships stats might be lower than given in some other source. That's okay. Any additional mod that seeks to change the ships and their stats to be more in line with Legends of canon is totally fine too, but I think it should be a separate endeavour from the main craft pack to allow people to choose if they want their game rebalanced or not.


Now, there are difficulties with this. I don't feel that any mission should have to be changed to accommodate new XWAU opts, barring very minor things like changing pathing to avoid crashing if a new opt is more accurately proportioned and has slightly different hitboxes. There is a big, obvious exception to this however. No one wants to go back to the 8km SSD. The new 19km SSD is awesome, and much more accurate. So of course those missions featuring it have to be changed so it's placed sensibly.

What that means is that I don't think the solutions to balance issues should necessarily be editing the missions. Those are, at best, workaround solutions and if we can identify an opt as the issue, then I think that's the thing that should be changed unless there's a very, very good reason not to.


With that said, and with my previous example of the s-foils and landing gear in mind, I say go absolutely nuts on the cosmetic stuff. If we have more FGs available, then absolutely use them. If we have model variants available on a per mission basis, then use them. Bug fixes are fine too. I think we all know at this point that there's some inconsistencies with how certain order and mission triggers are currently set up, and that in some cases this can result in the AI doing the wrong thing.



More specific feedback:
  • As I raised in this this thread and as you mentioned in the first post, Ace, I'm pretty confident in stating that the ISDII is currently noticeably more powerful than the TG version, and that this is affecting a number of missions. B3M6, B4M5 and B4M6 are three examples where I've done some comparative testing between XWAU and vanilla, and found the XWAU versions consistently harder. I haven't tested properly yet, but I suspect B5M7 will have the same issue, as you have to directly engage an ISDII. I think B4M3 might also be affected, as think the PSHPYD in the mission is dying too quickly, often blowing you up while you're still docked.
  • I agree that something might still be up with the CTRNS. I haven't tested extensively, but it does still feel a bit stronger than I remember. The fix is a big improvement on the older version, though. Although I found B1M5 hard, it wasn't impossible. One to look at it in more detail though, maybe.
  • An example in the other direction now - the turrets on the YT-1300 and YT-2000 are too strong now, they fire too fast in autofire mode. This is making most of the family missions a fair bit easier. I believe they were changed in the last couple of years to have two hardpoints per turret instead of one. It's definitely unbalancing the mission, and is a good example of what I'm talking about when I say it's dangerous to change the stats of the ships from what they had in TG, especially when it's a frequent player flown ship.
  • The DSII Tunnel Run isn't impossible, but it is significantly harder now. I would say it's frustratingly difficult. It's turned what should be the exciting climax to the game, and a moment lifted straight from the movies where you should be feeling like Lando into a mission that I generally just can't be bothered to do any more. I think a solution will eventually need to be found for this.
  • I haven't tested this extensively yet, but I do seem to find the sequences where you need to use the turret while docked to something in a CORT harder. This might be what ual002 is talking about with the docking hardpoints needing a check, but it seems like most of the time I can't physically shoot the fighters that attack you because they're outside the turret's range of movement. This isn't a problem on every mission - on many of them you can just keep killing the fighters until they stop spawning and then dock. But in some missions, the fighters only spawn when you initiate the docking process.You shouldn't have to abort the docking, kill the fighters and then try again. The missions were designed around you being in the turret for that sequence, and I think that should be playable as an option.
  • This is probably something everyone is already well aware of, but the additional Shield Generators on the SSD do make the Battle of Endor phase 2 harder. Currently, the extra guns on the Falcon go some way to addressing that, but it's still harder than vanilla. Not impossible by any means, just wanted to point it out.
  • One additional thing I've noticed. This might not be a balancing thing, and might not have anything to do with the new opts but occasionally on B3M6, in region 3 the TIEs nearest the Bulk Cruiser will crash into it when they swing round to attack you after you arrive in the region. It's only sometimes - I guess due to the specific timing of where they are in relation to the cruiser at the moment you arrive; and it might have happened in vanilla but this might be something we could treat as a bug and try and correct.
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ual002
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Post by ual002 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:27 pm

I will disagree only slightly in that in some cases where beyond visual/cosmetic changes are made, the missions themselves should be slightly altered to contend with balance. However I don't think things like adding AI firing turrets to the back of the lambda shuttle is a good idea even if the turret model is fantastic, and canon clearly states it has a rear firing turret. Generally I think everyone was on the same page there.

I do think however that even if we arm previously unarmed ships, we should take care to have backend access to functionality. Hooks that control rate of fire, accuracy and ability to target incoming warheads on a per mission basis would go a long way to address this.

I don't think we should be afraid to edit missions where needed. If we suddenly felt the urge to upgrade the opts why not improve the gameplay. But going forward we should take better care to consider how when we do change opts, that we aren't making large unilateral changes in quiet behind closed doors. It absolutely affected the vanilla campaign before when we go and say... double the number of laser hardpoints on a cargo transport.

The biggest thing I think we need to address is the XWA added functionality of ships being able to target incoming warheads. That, above all else is what effects balance in the most significant way. I don't think having to land an extra blast of laser fire to a previously under-armored ship is a concern when we increase a ships hit-points slightly. Alternatively, much of the vanilla campaign was rather frustrating knowing with 100% certainty every ship with defenses you fire missiles at would likely destroy all of them unless you dumb fire. A better system would be to vary their skill to target incoming warheads on a per-flight group/mission basis. That way, sometimes you can land pinpoint targeted torpedo fire on a certain ship in one situation, and in others you can not. To be clear, I think the feature added to XWA is great in concept, but lacking in execution.

Changing the skill of the target vessels seems to have a varying degree of effectiveness on their ability to target incoming warheads when even the lowest skill setting on a ship with an unusually high number of laser hard points easily chews through warheads. Not to mention that even on low skill settings large ship gunner accuracy still seems nearly pinpoint at firing at incoming craft, and the rate of fire seems to be much more effected.

Side Note: If there is a previously undiscovered ship status option in allied that limits or disables a ships ability to target incoming warheads, bonus points to the person that finds it.

In conclusion, I think a real deep dive into large ship accuracy, rate of fire, number of hard-points, and ability or accurately target incoming warheads is needed. Solutions that involve options to make everyone happy should be considered.

This comes from someone that would like to be able to play the vanilla campaign, user created campaigns, and privately made one off user missions with an engine that gives us unlimited sandbox potential. I do not however see the greater project as a strict means to only improve the vanilla campaign as I often spend more time with the mission editor flying Sienar Fleet System's exquisite line of space superiority TIE Starfighters.
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Post by Jaeven » Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:08 pm

Before I post in this I will replay the campaign during the next week.

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Ace Antilles
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Post by Ace Antilles » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:41 pm

Ok there's a lot to digest here. Maybe too much so let's try and keep a little focus initially before getting too experimental.
As I mentioned in my post the primary focus of this discussion initially is to find and fix major game breaking issues.
Once we nail those down we can look at working on the other ideas.
ual002 wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:17 pm
I think we should generally put the docking nodes on the list of things to review and improve on all opts.
Are any of these missing docking nodes actually affecting missions or game play right now or is this more a wish list?
If so please list which missions. Yes it would be good to add stuff in the future but that is low priority unless we get help with that.
Will T wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:39 pm
Okay, I've definitely got some thoughts on this.
So it seems :D Thanks for the feedback. I will update the main post with a list of topics.

So we have the ISD2, Falcon and CTRNS to look at.
Can you see if the issues you turret's range of movement exist in the Vanilla XWA or not? Also make sure you are using the latest YT version in case of small changes.
ual002 wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:27 pm
Snip
Extras like the Shuttle Turrets will be a user choice in the future and not a standard XWAU inclusion.
We aren't looking at making new Hooks that control rate of fire, accuracy and ability etc.
If those options are what is causing a certain opt to be game breaking in missions then please post specific details of which opt and mission.
Jaeven wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:08 pm
Before I post in this I will replay the campaign during the next week.
Thank you that will be most helpful. I've been trying to get to it since April but we keep making new stuff! ;)

Gringlas has told us of issues with Mission 1b1m6g. Where the the placement of the asteroids in region 2 can end up getting in the way of Torpedoes hitting Modular Conveyors.
Has anyone else had issues with this mission?
Thanks for the feedback so far guys!
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Post by Ace Antilles » Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:09 am

brassman2468 wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:11 am
I'm still having some issues with the CTRNS, even with the newest v2.2 install. I just tried B1M6 "Stop Resupply of ISD Corruptor" with the 2.2 install, and even with fewer laser hardpoints the fire rate seems much faster than I remember.
I've edited this mission to make the CTRNS Rookie skill. Obviously that's an easy change.

Please now refer to this post.
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12724
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Post by ual002 » Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:51 am

1. To clarify. I think some of the docking nodes have historically been way off on several of the large ships. I remember an issue with the ISD and CR90 previously and several other upgrade craft that dock at awkwardly far distances from each other. Something I don't remember in the vanilla game being quite so egregious.

2. I think some of the upgrade craft that may have had a large number of laser hardpoints added affected how many incoming warheads they can destroy. Namely the ships typically relegated to the anti starfighter role. They seem much more lethal in general than their vanilla counterparts. While I am absolutely ok with Lancers, corvettes and similar sizes medium cap ships being more dangerous to get close too, it affects the ability of the player to kill them, as dumb fire misses small craft much easier, but targeted fire never gets close to penetrating, even with large scale simultaneous attack.

I realize that was a lot of generalities, and will attempt to provide more concrete examples and I play through further.
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Post by Trevor » Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:39 am

What is the "Default" difficulty?
What I mean is, difficulties are usually controlled by multipliers eg, Goldeneye has Agent, Secret and 00 where 00 is 1.0, Secret is 0.75 and Agent is 0.5 - the game therefor was designed to run in 00 with easier settings being... easier and less tested (though this is fortunate that because the multipliers are divisions there should not be a case where a mission becomes impossible)

If a game had easy as 1.0 and harder multiples thereof, you could lead to impossible missions since the ai is better than was designed.

So what is 1.0 in XWA?

Trev

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Post by Mark_Farlander » Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:48 am

The "Default" settings in X-Wing Alliance are:
Difficulty: Medium
Collisions: ON
Invulnerability: OFF
Unlimited Ammo: OFF
I don't judge tactics. The Battle is the best and only Judge.

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Post by Chri360936 » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:05 pm

Battle 7 Mission 4 has always been a problem with the upgrade Falcon. I am currently playing the campaign again and am having less of a hard time with it. I'm not sure if the Falcon size has changed again or if the improved controls with the last joystick hook has made the difference. It is still challenging but seems much more doable than it was a month ago when I played the same mission.
Last edited by Chri360936 on Wed Jul 01, 2020 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Mark_Farlander » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:25 pm

Ace Antilles wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:09 am
brassman2468 wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:11 am
I'm still having some issues with the CTRNS, even with the newest v2.2 install. I just tried B1M6 "Stop Resupply of ISD Corruptor" with the 2.2 install, and even with fewer laser hardpoints the fire rate seems much faster than I remember.
Questions to everyone. Ref this mission.
In it the CTRNS are set to Officer AI skill. The Strike Cruiser is Rookie and others vary.
Does the accuracy and rate of fire get affected by the AI skill or the Opt EXE settings? Can anyone compare the XWAU stats to the TG originals please.

I've edited this mission to make the CTRNS Rookie skill. Obviously that's an easy change.
Could people give it a try and see if it makes a big difference or the laser fire is still too high.
Backup your original mission first. Thanks

1b1m1g.tie
I've just played B1M1 (not edited) both at Medium and Hard difficulty after installing Container Transport v2.2.
Medium difficulty (CTRNS are Officer AI): the Container Transports (CTRNS) are already very easy to take down. They are OK at Officer AI. That's the vanilla setting.
Of course you have to help the Y-Wings with the CTRNS. Even in the vanilla installation you had to help the Y-Wings with the CTRNS. That's simply part of the mission.
However, the X-Wings and the Y-Wings were all taken down by the Strike cruiser, so I had to destroy half of the convoy alone.
I know that the Strike cruiser was also updated to restore it to the vanilla laser hardpoints, but if you don't put the "New" stick on it, nobody will install it.

Hard difficulty: you will have a hard time, just with every other mission in X-Wing Alliance when played Hard. This is just what David Wessman intended to do though.

The rate of fire gets affected by the AI level indeed, but with some limitations. For example fighters already have the maximum rate of fire at Ace AI.

The AI level also affects the "global accuracy", but not the single shot.
I try to better explain this thing: when an AI-controlled craft targets an object and then fires, the shot is directed to the last "tracked" location of the target.
This works regardless of the AI level.

The AI level simply determines the refresh rate of the targeting system. I mean how many times in a second the location of the target is tracked.
Hope to have explained it clearly.
I don't judge tactics. The Battle is the best and only Judge.

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Post by Forceflow » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:39 pm

see post below
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Post by Trevor » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:43 pm

Mark_Farlander wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:48 am
The "Default" settings in X-Wing Alliance are:
Difficulty: Medium
Collisions: ON
Invulnerability: OFF
Unlimited Ammo: OFF
I'm looking for a more technical answer, also medium is not a difficulty you can set the AI to, AI has ranks unless the AI ranks are further multiplied by another global difficulty?

eg, Ace = 1, hard = 2, so Fly against an Ace on medium = 1 (as designed) but fly on Hard = 2 (overpowered, not expected to work)?

Trev

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Post by Mark_Farlander » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:51 pm

A craft BASE score is multiplied as follows:
Novice AI x1
Officer AI x1.5
Veteran AI x2
Ace AI x3
Top Ace AI x4
Super Ace AI/Jedi AI x5

The base score does not include warheads. The warhead score is added afterwards, so it does not get multiplied.
I don't judge tactics. The Battle is the best and only Judge.

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Post by Forceflow » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:52 pm


Please read the comment below
- Forceflow
Okay, I think this topic will get REALLY confusing really quickly. Overall it looks like there are a few missions that will need to be looked at closer so I created a sub-forum in the help section. I think all mission specific issues should be discussed there. Else we will have one monster thread with all possible issues and no-one will be able to follow what's going on.

I have split some posts into their own topics. Please try to open new ones for mission specific issues.
@Ace: I have linked the two new threads in your original post. I do feel general discussions about balancing can remain in here, though we might want to split specific topics as well in order to keep things readable.
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Post by Trevor » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:58 pm

You are not authorised to read this forum.
I assume we continue to post here?

Trev

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Post by Mark_Farlander » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:01 pm

@Forceflow
Is "Mission Balancing" the new section you just created?

I get this message when I enter the "Mission Balancing" section.
"You do not have the required permissions to view or read topics within this forum"
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Post by Forceflow » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:04 pm

Mark_Farlander wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:01 pm
@Forceflow
Is "Mission Balancing" the new section you just created?

I get this message when I enter the "Mission Balancing" section.
"You do not have the required permissions to view or read topics within this forum"
Trevor wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:58 pm
You are not authorised to read this forum.
I assume we continue to post here?

Trev
Ah dammit sorry, can you try again?
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Post by Trevor » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:07 pm

Works now

Mark_Farlander wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:51 pm
A craft BASE score is multiplied as follows:
...
So... The game was designed to be played in Novice?
Jedi kill things 5x faster? seems unfair.

Trev

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Post by Mark_Farlander » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:11 pm

Forceflow wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:04 pm
Mark_Farlander wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:01 pm
@Forceflow
Is "Mission Balancing" the new section you just created?

I get this message when I enter the "Mission Balancing" section.
"You do not have the required permissions to view or read topics within this forum"
Trevor wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:58 pm
You are not authorised to read this forum.
I assume we continue to post here?

Trev
Ah dammit sorry, can you try again?
It works now. I can enter the "Mission Balancing" section and read the topics.
I don't judge tactics. The Battle is the best and only Judge.

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Mark_Farlander
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Post by Mark_Farlander » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:19 pm

Trevor wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:07 pm
Works now

Mark_Farlander wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:51 pm
A craft BASE score is multiplied as follows:
...
So... The game was designed to be played in Novice?
Jedi kill things 5x faster? seems unfair.

Trev
No. It does not work that way. Those multipliers only affect the score you get when you destroy things.
And I personally have the feeling that Veteran AI is a kind of "Default AI" in skirmish missions.
"Veteran AI" is actually the default one in the Flight Simulator.
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Post by Mark_Farlander » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:28 pm

I forgot 1 relevant thing: you not only gain the score when you destroy an enemy object, but you also lose it if you destroy an allied object in mission.
And there is also another crucial fact: whenever a craft in your Global Unit is destroyed, you lose the score regardless of whoever destroyed it.
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Trevor
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Post by Trevor » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:54 pm

ah ok, I wasn't talking about scores.

Anyway I found this (actually posted not too long ago)
capitanguinea wrote:Xwing AI, Lawrence stated that for each "level" of skill (rookie, novice, veteran, and so on) the skill % charts to do basilar things (fire, evade enemy fire, maneuvre etc) would be improved by a factor (rookie has a malus of x0.33 novice has a malus of 0.66 veteran is factor 1.0 ace 1.33 topace 1.66 and so on).
so yes, you are right, Veteran is what the game is "Designed" to run at, with harder difficulties being a bonus if you can actually finish them.

Trev

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Post by Vince T » Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:35 pm

I'll address the issue with the additional SSD shield generators. IIRC those were added under the premise of movie accuracy and if I'm not too wrong Dragon and I may even have a had a discussion about it. Nevertheless, with regards to mission balance those sure are a step up in difficulty. a factor whose scale and implications we didn't fully grasp back then.

True, the falcon's additional lasers slightly compensate, however they upset the balance somewhere else. It's like importing a non-native species to fight another non-native species that's gotten out of control.

From my point of view there's a rather easy way to fix it, by changing the additional ShieldGens' hitzones to something less critical like MiscHull That'd be a fairly quick and easy-to-do fix.
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