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Edgecase

0.8.7 PTS1: Priority Sector redesign is NOT skill-based counterplay

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We've been saying for months now that the only way to make CVs work in this game is if AA is skill-based. There is no gameplay in having crappy AI run your interactions with an entire class archetype of ships. Some form of skill-based interaction on the surface ship side is absolutely required to make those interactions entertaining and create the necessary design space for balancing CV-surface ship combat. Without such a mechanic, the design is permanently locked into a one-dimensional space of "AA strong - AA weak" that is incapable of delivering fun gameplay.

As of today, the priority sector rework has arrived on PTS, the final step before it reaches the live servers. And what I'm seeing is garbage. The new priority sector design is -- and I can't believe it -- even less skill-based than the old one. Literally, it now consists of pointing your camera at the planes and pressing O. How does this solve anything? Do you call this counterplay??

Look, I'm as much in favor of cleaning up the UI as anyone. Probably more, really. And I appreciate this change as a quality of life upgrade from the janky version we had before. But if your plan is to implement this and call it a day on skill-based CV interactions, then you've failed. There is no skill in this, it's just an afk check. It will not solve any of the problems with destroyers being able to fight off permaspotting, with cruisers deleting squadrons for free, with flanking battleships getting chain struck, or with CVs encouraging lemming trains. This change does nothing. PLEASE tell me there's more coming, or else throw this idea back in the oven, because it needs way more time to bake.

Spoiler

And please don't give us "the line" about PTS being to collect data about whether this change is good. Anyone who's ever set foot on the PTS knows it's a barren wasteland of yolo cruisers with full AA builds and people playing battleship tourist on ships they've never touched before. You've even said yourself that people don't play the same way on PTS as they do on live. There will be no representative data generated. You know this. You also have many other pools of better testers at your disposal, including CC, ST, and CST. Use them instead.

TL;DR: PTS version of the priority sector rework is not skill-based and will not solve anything.

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Millions of people sit at a slot machine pulling a lever or pushing a button seemingly enjoying losing money. Perhaps WG figures that skill is worthless and unnecessary and unwanted by the player base. 

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I haven't seen it on the PTS, but I read the description when they posted it a few weeks back. I'm not sure that is really an improvement either. Honestly I think they just needed to make the controls easier, as in assign hot keys for left and right so that it can be toggled without the player having to switch to the AA sector graphic. As I recall when they tested more active AA systems they found out that they didn't work well because it required a lot of extra actions and attention and that was a big problem for some classes. I recall they said it worked ok for BBs which have up to 35s of time between shots, but not for DDs which fire much faster and don't have the time between to manage yet another function. 

I think the AA system was ok enough. It was simple, but it just needed to be made easier to use and made consistent in its use. I think they would be better served by ensuring that active maneuvering is more effective to avoid or mitigate damage rather than more AA management because the players are already expected to maneuver. That and give the sectors hotkeys so they can be triggered faster and without taking attention from gunnery and dodging. Truthfully, no one wants to have to take over a machine gun to shoot down planes. 

I also think they should have taken away DFAA's extra damage and given it back the ability to do some sort of scatter effect to increase the chance of misses. Either have it increase the targeting reticle or make the reticule jump around a bit so that aiming is more of a challenge. That way weak AA ships that have DFAA can get more benefit and it is easier to find a fair balance between damage output and plane survivability. Right now, DFAA is basically worthless for weak AA ships. Doubling bad just makes it half as bad. 

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Besides O key being a difficult key to press during battle (either stop WASD or stop using the mouse), per the notes, it seems that hitting O will do a fixed percentage of health to enemy squadrons then activate AA sector in that direction before entering a 10 second cool down.

 

Thats.. thats just awful.

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I'll say what I said before: It should mean that sectors are much smaller and take time to activate(while giving a visual queue to CV). That would be skill-based on both sides. Making it pile on unavoidable damage and then add DPS doesn't reward skill for either side.

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1 minute ago, Ducky_shot said:

Millions of people sit at a slot machine pulling a lever or pushing a button seemingly enjoying losing money. Perhaps WG figures that skill is worthless and unnecessary and unwanted by the player base. 

I know you were joking, but I think this is accurate. They really just want an AA system that is consistent, easy to use and with some element of interaction that players can make to help counter incoming damage. No one wants so much interaction that they have to man the machine guns rather than the main guns and torpedoes. 

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6 minutes ago, Edgecase said:

We've been saying for months now that the only way to make CVs work in this game is if AA is skill-based. There is no gameplay in having crappy AI run your interactions with an entire class archetype of ships. Some form of skill-based interaction on the surface ship side is absolutely required to make those interactions entertaining and create the necessary design space for balancing CV-surface ship combat. Without such a mechanic, the design is permanently locked into a one-dimensional space of "AA strong - AA weak" that is incapable of delivering fun gameplay.

I think your logic is flawed.  While I agree with you that manual AA is pretty much the only way to make the ship/plane interaction engaging, that doesn't mean it will make it balanced.  I say that because WG will always set the overall AA balance based on what they want CVs to be able to achieve.  In other words, WG will always artificially set AA levels to where they want them to be no matter how its controlled. 

Manual AA will likely make balance even harder to achieve since it will vary widely between all the different skill levels of each player.  Add to that, this will be one more element that will increase the skill gap between players; and it will increase the overall skill floor for all surface ships, while in return, the most likely outcome will be a slightly lower skill floor for CV players.  None of these things are desirable.

 

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2 minutes ago, Aetreus said:

I'll say what I said before: It should mean that sectors are much smaller and take time to activate(while giving a visual queue to CV). That would be skill-based on both sides. Making it pile on unavoidable damage and then add DPS doesn't reward skill for either side.

Agreed. As a heavy CV player, it is basically just a damage tax on top of the normal damage. It won't make much of a difference to me. More importantly, it taxes the defending ship's attention.  As a cruiser main, I think this version is worse. It isn't unmanageable but I don't see how it helps. Essentially I now have to monitor when the AA damage burst bubble has deflated and hit the "O" key to pump it back up, and do this constantly while performing other tasks. I preferred the old sectors where I just had to move it if the planes shifted sides. 

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10 minutes ago, Slimeball91 said:

I think your logic is flawed.  While I agree with you that manual AA is pretty much the only way to make the ship/plane interaction engaging, that doesn't mean it will make it balanced.  I say that because WG will always set the overall AA balance based on what they want CVs to be able to achieve.  In other words, WG will always artificially set AA levels to where they want them to be no matter how its controlled. 

Manual AA will likely make balance even harder to achieve since it will vary widely between all the different skill levels of each player.  Add to that, this will be one more element that will increase the skill gap between players; and it will increase the overall skill floor for all surface ships, while in return, the most likely outcome will be a slightly lower skill floor for CV players.  None of these things are desirable.

 

^Exactly. I think they just needed to make the system they had do damage consistently. It was fairly simple. Let the skill be in maneuvering to reduce and avoid damage from planes. That's already something the players are (or should be) doing so it isn't taxing less-skilled players with more things to do. 

Edited by Tzarevitch

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6 minutes ago, Slimeball91 said:

Manual AA will likely make balance even harder to achieve since it will vary widely between all the different skill levels of each player.  Add to that, this will be one more element that will increase the skill gap between players; and it will increase the overall skill floor for all surface ships, while in return, the most likely outcome will be a slightly lower skill floor for CV players.  None of these things are desirable.

Edgecase isn't proposing manual AA control though? His proposal there is to have toggleable settings for flak, and some limited burst options for AA(I think?), which is similar if a little more involved than this. And to follow on from that, most class-to-class interactions in this game are manual and involve skill gaps. Learning how to dodge shells is easy, but good players can counter it with predicting turns. Torpedoes are the same way, better DD players know how to bait maneuvers to get a good hit in.

I'd very much say that having a more skillful AA mechanism would allow for much easier balancing exactly because of the skill gap. It means that low-skill players will generally lose to higher skilled ones, but at the same time it means that high-skill play can compensate for weak AA and let players feel in charge of their fate beyond attack evasion(which works, but evasion is unsatisfying and often hard). It makes for a fuzzier outcome set, which is good because it lets balance be dialed in with changing the numbers, while hard lines mean that changing numbers slightly can swing a ship from UP to OP very suddenly or vice versa.

Just now, Tzarevitch said:

Agreed. As a heavy CV player, it is basically just a damage tax on top of the normal damage. It won't make much of a difference to me. More importantly, it taxes the defending ship's attention.  As a cruiser main, I think this version is worse. It isn't unmanageable but I don't see how it helps. Essentially I now have to monitor when the AA damage burst bubble has deflated and hit the "O" key to pump it back up, and do this constantly while performing other tasks. I preferred the old sectors where I just had to move it if the planes shifted sides. 

The real thing that makes this worse is that by adding an unavoidable damage tax, it means that if WG wants CV to be reasonably powerful they need to buff their HP or regen even more. Which means that now players who don't have that attention are going to be even worse off. Which is what Edgecase has pointed out, an AA system that is numbers-based like(let's be fair) every one in the game so far simply doesn't allow for soft balancing outcomes.

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11 minutes ago, Tzarevitch said:

I know you were joking, but I think this is accurate. They really just want an AA system that is consistent, easy to use and with some element of interaction that players can make to help counter incoming damage. No one wants so much interaction that they have to man the machine guns rather than the main guns and torpedoes. 

I was only half joking

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if people want skill based aa then give aa a lead indicator like torps have

Your greatest aa damage is within that cone and you can direct it towards the incoming planes by aiming it and keeping the planes within the cone.

 

i prefer it not be "skill based" but automatic like secondaries. but to each their own.

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I haven't tried it myself yet, but does the ~ button still work instead of o? Because I use that instead of o in the current system and I find it much easier to press

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19 minutes ago, captain_giltric said:

if people want skill based aa then give aa a lead indicator like torps have

Your greatest aa damage is within that cone and you can direct it towards the incoming planes by aiming it and keeping the planes within the cone.

 

i prefer it not be "skill based" but automatic like secondaries. but to each their own.

I had a proposal like this- basically the AA burst and higher DPS are in a narrow cone that the player presses and holds. Longer it's held before releasing, the more of a buff it is and the more initial damage it does, but the narrower it gets. AA burst happens probably 2-3 seconds after release, and the cone is visible to the CV once it is released. That would allow for AA to be skilled on both ends, and to not necessarily require too much focus, but offer a bigger benefit if the player is willing to focus on it more.

Something like, at base, the AA buff is +50%(x1.5), the cone is 180 degrees wide, and the burst deals 2% of squadron HP. Each second it is held, the cone's width is halved(90 degrees->45 degrees->22.5 degrees->etc), the AA buff is increased by 25%(x1.875->x2.34->x2.92->…), and the burst damage dealt is increased by 50%(3%->4.5%->6.75%->)

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26 minutes ago, PotatoMD said:

I haven't tried it myself yet, but does the ~ button still work instead of o? Because I use that instead of o in the current system and I find it much easier to press

You may have to rebind after the change. I personally have mine set to G.

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Remember the days of navy field when you controlled the direction and firing angle of your AA flak bursts (main guns too but thats irrelevant). No cursor to tell you anything. Machine guns would fire automatically but thats to be expected. If you were good with that your AA could melt things. If not you get shat on. Thats a good skill based AA system. God I miss that.

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17 minutes ago, Aetreus said:

Edgecase isn't proposing manual AA control though?

Okay, I should have used the term "skill based".  Since manual AA is skill based it doesn't change anything I said.

19 minutes ago, Aetreus said:

And to follow on from that, most class-to-class interactions in this game are manual and involve skill gaps. Learning how to dodge shells is easy, but good players can counter it with predicting turns. Torpedoes are the same way, better DD players know how to bait maneuvers to get a good hit in.

Yes, many elements in the game are things that involve skill gaps.  However, that doesn't mean adding more of these elements is good for the game.  I'd say its actually bad overall since WG wants a fairly level playing field for players of all skill levels.

23 minutes ago, Aetreus said:

I'd very much say that having a more skillful AA mechanism would allow for much easier balancing exactly because of the skill gap.

I think this is flawed logic.  Anything with more variables is fundamentally harder to balance then one with fewer.  Player skill is a massive variable where AI controlled AA has no variable.  

45 minutes ago, Aetreus said:

It means that low-skill players will generally lose to higher skilled ones, but at the same time it means that high-skill play can compensate for weak AA and let players feel in charge of their fate beyond attack evasion(which works, but evasion is unsatisfying and often hard).

Yes, these outcomes may feel better for those that get to experience them.  The problem is the people with lower skills only lose in a purely skill based system, and WG wants players of all skill levels to be able to play.  That ultimately means WG will have adjust the skill needed to achieve success in any skill based system to be lower so the low skill players can still play.  That in turn disproportionately favors skilled players.  Like I said, this will only make it harder to balance AA. 

I'm not saying some kind of skill based system couldn't work, or that there are no possible advantages to that type of system.  I'm just pointing out its not automatically a silver bullet that solves everything. 

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6 minutes ago, Mr_Roberts_ said:

Just a question? Does anyone know when we will get our boat for the 45 random wins on test server???

people got their containers today

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2 hours ago, Edgecase said:

There is no skill in this, it's just an afk check.

The skill is in the fact that your sector reinforcement is now temporary, has a cooldown, and can be baited out the way DFAA can be baited out.

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What was the "skill" required in the old RTS system again?  I seem to have forgotten.

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8 minutes ago, JCC45 said:

What was the "skill" required in the old RTS system again?  I seem to have forgotten.

At higher tiers (facing T8 CV and up), it arguably consisted of having to decide which of the gazillion squadrons up in the air were coming for you, and which most urgently needed to be focus-fired.

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18 minutes ago, JCC45 said:

What was the "skill" required in the old RTS system again?  I seem to have forgotten.

ctrl + click planes

 

it takes skill cause in the words of weegee....you cant steer a ship and do something else at the same time ala the cv rework

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38 minutes ago, Ensign_Cthulhu said:

The skill is in the fact that your sector reinforcement is now temporary, has a cooldown, and can be baited out the way DFAA can be baited out.

Bingo.

I just got off the test server, and that's exactly how it works.

AA is still not as good as the old pre-8.0 version, but I think I like this better than the o+LMB sector thing.

And you can still remap the o/~ function to any other key you prefer.

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47 minutes ago, Ensign_Cthulhu said:

The skill is in the fact that your sector reinforcement is now temporary, has a cooldown, and can be baited out the way DFAA can be baited out.

Exactly. Now it's all about timing. According to the dev-blog linked above the AA will ramp up DPS over 5 seconds, run at max DPS for... maybe 10 seconds? Then drop off to normal values.

That means a CV could bait people who panic easily ( Which is pretty much everybody when they see a DD or planes).

This may actually turn out to be a nerf to sector reinforcement in a way. Instead of AA being 100% at all times on one side of the ship, it will now subside giving the squadrons a chance to attack normally. I haven't tried it yet on the PTS but... if I was in a CV... this is what I'd do:

1) Enter AA bubble.

2) Watch the damage indicator to your planes closely, look for a sudden increase in DPS

3) Turn around immediately. Use repair consumable.

4) Come back 20 seconds later when his AA reinforcement has worn off.

5) Torpedo strike him 2 or  3 times for panicking too early.

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