KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

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KillerJaguar
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KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by KillerJaguar » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:31 pm

Fed up with the broken gameplay of 88 Flak, I decided to make another overhaul, but this time encompassing every ship class in Flak. Fighter combat is quick, with only one shield battery and nanobot to fix your shield/hull once respectively. Shields are your health. Fighters have very weak hull, with only a few shots from guns/missiles to destroy it. You have to do your best to keep your shield alive otherwise you won't.

I wrote up a documentation and updated as I progressed along the overhaul. However, I began to hit a roadblock with capitals and stopped half-way with them. Small capitals are mostly finished, but battleships and stations are somewhat untouched/touched. Fighters and transports are completely done, so I want to see peoples' opinion on that. NPCs have also been adjusted somewhat to go with the changes.

Official Document: http://docs.google.com/View?id=df3f2nph_8d9rf2jc9

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Why485
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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Why485 » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:06 pm

KillerJaguar wrote:Fed up with the broken gameplay of 88 Flak, I decided to make another overhaul, but this time encompassing every ship class in Flak.
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It's not broken!
Okay maybe a little.

I actually tested this with KJ.
My personal notes:

Fighter combat is quick and violent. Fighters are dedicated fighters analogous to an F-22. If you aren't flying one yourself, you will be very afraid if one come after you. Multi-role fighters are decent at both anti-fighter and anti-capital, analogous to an F-16. The bombers are hardcore bombers. You really aren't going to do much, if any, fighter killing in them. They are analogous to an A-10.

Capital ship combat is fast and brutally unforgiving. The smaller capitals like gunboats (and cruisers to a lesser extent) must practically dogfight with each other. Their forward guns are so incredibly effective, to get a kill fast, they have to line up their nose like fighters. Also don't ever venture close to a battleship if you are in any other capital. You will die, and you will die fast. A well piloted (emphasis on well piloted) Gunboat can do significant damage to a battleship, but you are walking a razors edge if you attempt that alone.

I have two big problems with it. Shield types are far too big of a deal for something so completely arbitrary, and energy is way too scarce.

For shield types I would be little more open to them being so important if they weren't so completely arbitrary. For example if each faction was locked to a specific shield type. I also would greatly support reducing the amount of damage types for simplicities sake. Definitely no more than four damage types.

For energy, multi-roles in particular have a worthless amount of energy. Using a pitiful level 4 shield, I cannot even fire my guns unless I am sitting still in a Kusari ship. It's worth noting that I also have this same annoyance with current Flak. I think energy is a really lazy and frustrating way to balance things.
Last edited by Why485 on Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:46 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by fox » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:28 pm

Moved to released material.

Edit: It's worth mentioning many of the changes here were very inspirational for many of the rebalances done or planned in RC131. I'd really like to hear feedback from the rest of the community on KJ's work here.
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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Dofod » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:39 pm

Elitism coupled with player skill exclusivity equals one very small player base on a mod that which pleases no one but the maker.

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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Freuds » Fri Jul 16, 2010 1:25 am

Flew around in the LF, blew stuff up.

Like it so far.

I like the idea of making the LF clearly superiour to the other fighters (aka giving each class a clearly dedicated role - which afaik was FLAK's intention from the very beginning) - You really don't want to run into a pack of LFs...

As for elitism and relying on player skill: both are fine by me.

Oh, and shield types: I never really liked them either.

They complicate things unnecessarily imho.
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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Pwnyboy-Curtis » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:53 am

Elitism coupled with player skill exclusivity equals one very small player base on a mod that which pleases no one but the maker.
Dofod, you have a bit of a point, but I'd like to give you another angle on this; maybe this will help change your perspective. When thinking about what KJ has made here, think of it more as a mod version of concept art. He hasn't gone over anyone and developed the mod for "elites" in secret. He just wanted to see how some concepts would pan out in actual community playtesting. He's made this available to download for all, and encouraged us to comment through this thread. I don't know that this behavior fits the definition of "elitism".

Regarding the mod itself, it's an interesting take on things. Playing it is sort of like reading speculative fiction, it's a setting we know and love but things are different. Different, not in a bad way at all, but it has drawbacks as well. On the bright side there are a number of things I enjoyed. The new nano system works really well, I enjoy it thoroughly, I think most of us will once we give it some time like Fox suggested. The changes KJ made to guns are wonderful, and guns both feel more potent, and are powerful enough to justify their use. Missiles aren't overlooked either, they tend to be shorter range, and with combat being faster as it is, it makes things all the more vicious in an "in your face" kind of way. Capital ships aren't fully fleshed out, but what is here is refreshing. They're far from perfect, but it's a working demonstration of some good capital ship division and specialization. With that said, there are a number of things lacking, or just wrong (sorry kate) with this release. Shields for fighters are utterly broken in balance, and that's a shame since the fighter combat seems to be the most promising. Capital ships aren't fully fleshed out. Traders have undergone some changes I think are quite questionable, and there's a mountain of balance issues even with some of the basic concepts (bombers having issues taking out cruisers for instance). Keeping in mind that we only playtested for a couple of hours, and there are always things that come out of the woodwork even months after playing the balancing act, I'll go through what I saw.

1. Fighter Combat
a. Longevity
Fighter combat has become much faster paced, and I think this is a good thing. In standard 88flak fights could really drag out for a long time, guns were quite difficult to hit with reliably, and the AI had no easy time hitting a good player either. Ships were either so hard to hit they wouldn't die, or they were so tough that dying was a rarity (really only heavy fighters got shafted). This is no longer the case. First off, you don't have a slew of nanobots to survive off of, and you're not liable to be looting a bunch either, you can only hold 1 battery and 1 nano at a time. The usage of either of these is a full heal to either hull or shield respectively. While choosing when to use nanos was important before, and I would say is no more important now, it does mean fights are a lot shorter. The AI doesn't slowly trickle out its nanos, keeping it locked in a death fuse and essentially invincible anymore. This makes combat against the AI much quicker, and more rewarding due to being less tedious. On the downside, the shields are completely imbalanced in this release. The high end shields are virtually uncrackable by ships with lower power output, and this favours ships which can mount those shields and still have enough power left to shoot. In the end, different house ships really cannot be compared to each other when you play this, and I suggest you keep your PVP endeavors to a single house to avoid frustration. The final issue with shields, and guns by extension, is the "strong against, weak against" system. It's quite arbitrary as Why pointed out, and frankly I feel it's a gimmick. There's ultimately little strategy in it, it sounds interesting on paper, but in practice this falls on its face, as I most of the time cannot know which shield and guns my opponent is going to use beforehand, and if I somehow find out then I'll simply hard counter him by equipping the right gear, putting him at a massive mathematical disadvantage, which is not really very fun in a contest of "skill". The shield resistances are a bit of a core design element in this release, and as such contribute somewhat to the fighter combat feeling broken.
a. Damage
Guns are a lot more useful than they were before. The projectile speed has been doubled, and this results in a lot more hits. This doesn't mean combat is easy though, since you can be killed quite easily too. It means you have to be careful, and pull your shots accurately, while still putting some mind to your own evasiveness. Guns also just feel right now. Before they felt slow, kind of cheesy to use, these feel powerful. All in all the sensation I get in a dogfight is a lot more entertaining than what I get in regular 88flak. I don't know how well the guns in this release are balanced, mind you. I didn't experiment with the full range of them, but I have a feeling this release favours higher damage, slower refire guns, since with the faster firing guns you have to stay on the target a bit longer to rack up the damage, and that could be deadly in such a fast paced environment. Missiles aren't overlooked either. I still felt they were a bit more powerful than guns on average, but since guns were no longer useless there was something to be said for mixing it up. EMP missiles are gone, which is good since shields are now a primary source of survival, and they have been replaced with a fast refire micro missile launcher. I didn't test that out, but on KJ's word it's a little underwhelming, and probably looks cooler then it is useful. The other missiles are essentially balanced as they are now, but refires are quicker, and ranges are much shorter (around the 1000-1500 mark). This also contributes to the fast paced close quarters feel of the dogfights in this release, and it's an interesting and refreshing way to play.
c. Ship Dynamic
The ship scheme here may work decently, but not perfectly. Essentially the light fighter is the strong dogfighter, it can make short work of other fighters, but short work can be made of it too. This is the adrenaline ship, the ship most player vs player would probably take place in due to its cosy spot on the hierarchy, it can kill a bunch of things, and evade what it can't kill. The multi-role fighter I didn't play with extensively, but it has the same number of weapon mounts as a light fighter, plus a torpedo launcher, at the expense of size, speed, and maneuverability. I think the multi-role gets the short stick honestly, I can't see this ship being heavily utilized, especially since light fighters can mount the same shields it can. You can basically ignore this ship, which is unfortunate. The bomber is completely dedicated now, four torpedo launchers and no guns. I don't take any issue with that, really, as long as NPC spawns are tweaked to include more capital ships. The only real problem was that it hardly had enough ammo capacity to kill a single small capital ship, and the cruiser (one of the two small caps) was able to fairly easily hold it at bay with primary turrets and defence turrets to cover its blindspot. The bomber is good in theory, in practice it didn't work, but that's a matter of balance tweaking, and something that's hard to criticize fairly in a concept project like this. KJ just doesn't have the time or resources for extensive balance testing, and this criticism extends to the guns as well.

2. Trade Ships
First off, I didn't actually try the combat freighter, shame on me, so I have no insights to give there. Regarding the larger trade vessels, I already pointed out to KJ that no trader who's staying on his toes is ever going to get jacked by another player because you can almost always see it coming, and just not put yourself in harms way. Player vs PlayerTrader combat just isn't something that's worth trying to balance for, and so the attempt here is lacking. The first attempt to make trading more hazardous seems to have involved a hull value nerf(from 400k hull to around 165k hull). I can imagine that being quite frail, and easy to jack from the hands of AI, but for player vs player it's not too meaningful since if a good HF or VHF could catch a trader in the first place, the trader was most likely dead regardless of having 400k hull before. The second nerf is really a lot more questionable I feel; he's removed the weapon mounts from the largest transports in order to prevent people from mounting every traders best friend, the repair turret. In theory this makes it easier for players to jack traders by taking out their escape route, the idea being to force trading into a more multi-person discipline, where the trader is escorted by other players. I think this is a fairly flawed approach for a couple of reasons. First, as I mentioned, against other players it's fairly easy to just switch characters if they come within a system of you anyways, if you push your luck expect to die. The other reason is that, since I think most of us balance our reputations for our favorite traderoute in advance, we're not under threat from the AI; since we're not under threat from the AI, we wont die when we run into those downed jumpholes, we'll just be stuck. This makes trading even more tedius than it already is. Frankly the biggest punishment for traders is being a trader. It would have been a lot easier to just cut cargo space in half for the large haulers to really cut down on a lot of the extra paper floating around (make it rain, make it rain, ahh yeeaaah). I don't think these changes will turn trading into a multi-person discipline, and even if they did I don't think trading should be a multi-person discipline. Consider all the single player Flakkers out there? I played my first year of 88 Flak single player.. If trading was more tedious than it was I might have quit back then (it was pretty bad back then though, 50k hull on a large train.. hey at least we had nanobots)

3. Capital Ships
I don't want to go into too much detail on this section because capital ships are unfinished and far from fully fleshed out never mind polished in this release. Still, are a couple of things here to make note of. First of all capital ship combat in this release is over far too quick, that's in quite a bit of contrast to standard flak where it takes far too long in my opinion. Striking a balance somewhere between these two extremes might be in order. Combat sure feels a lot more fun in this iteration. Scoring those hits is really rewarding, as you watch your opponents hull crumble before your barrage. One important thing here, it's over fast enough that escape isn't likely. In Flak capship combat right now, either ship can just casually withdraw at will, so a battle ending in a fatality is very uncommon unless it's consensual. As far as the ships themselves, there's the gunboat and the cruiser (as we all know). The gunboat is a straightforward assualt ship with its powerful forward gun, and better handling than the cruiser. The cruiser is the "sniper" of the two, with long range, a devestating "cruise missile" attack which can also cruise disrupt (was that a play on words KJ?), and a choice between long range missiles, or slightly shorter range primaries. There are a lot of balance issues between these two ships, and where they fit in in relation to fighters, but I like the Yin-Yang dualism in their dynamic. They're also just kinda' fun to throw at each other, even though the gunboat tends to win the day due to cruise engine and its better maneuverability. Other highpoints with the capital ships include the point defence guns which just look and feel right. If you're interested in Feedback Fox, this is the kind of thing I personally enjoy. I love it when the aesthetic experience of something matches my expectation. Just compare our current defence turrets to these ones, it's amazing what it does for atmosphere. All in all this is an interesting proof of concept even if it's only a rough draft right now, and at the very least can be a source of inspiration on how to approach the capital situation.

Well that was a mouthful. This is being posted quite late at night, so I apologize for inaccuracies or inconsistencies. I would say, in the end, this is an overall successful experiment, and I look forward to seeing some of the features picked up. Thanks for the effort KJ, this was no small feat.
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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Dofod » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:18 am

So be it.

Just trying to keep my replies as succinct as possible, what you say pwnyboy is warranted and reasonable. I am nonetheless remain firm in my opinion: basically KJ's work changes the game play into a very specific style of FPS.

If you don't mind the text wall, let me elaborate in this tl;dr material: in this mod now you must aim properly, have to use the S/B only when absolutely required, etc. Also now networking lag becomes a legitimate means of defense. and the build of your rig can give you the sometimes necessary edge to come out alive in skirmishes. As for myself similar to all of yous no doubt we can all adapt to this new gaming mindset-it just kills a bit of me inside that I can no longer just fool around, but have to both be mindful of my keyboard bashing and my peripheral aim.

Such is the realities of this mod, and really, as you have said, its enjoyable that quicker game play translates into excitement-however this is where our visions starts to differ. To myself game play challenge are some secondary objectives in which sometimes are in direct interference to overall enjoyment. The original, vanilla freelancer only has the facade of technical exclusivity which in brief still adheres to the populist-game play ease equals mod usage axiom. This step, no matter how exciting it might seem, have deviate far too much away from the original game that I remain so attached to. Hence this is the reason why I would say I shall have as little to do with this endeavor as possible.

And if indeed this is also how fox would therefore be manipulated by KJ's mere suggestion into flak-RC reality, I suppose this is how democracy works. in spite of my vehement abhorring rant the change would be put into place, and perhaps I should just learn to scream louder and mod something myself next time.

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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Why485 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:47 pm

Both your posts confuse me Dofod. I honestly don't know what you're trying to say other than you don't like this thing.

With regards to transports, I never tested either of them, but I agree with the theory of why everything that was changed for them except one thing. Large transports should have repair turrets. The point with large transports was to make them more team oriented and stuff, specifically in eliminating their offensive capability. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that, knowing KJ, the idea of a repair turret probably just never crossed his mind. Giving the large transport one or two turrets that are only repair turrets would be great for everyone involved and the overall vision.

I didn't mention much about capitals in my first post so I'll do it here. I really like the capitals. They're really fun and unique. The two small capital class ships get one special weapon each, and they are integral to how your tactics and how you fly your capital. The gunboat is a close range brawler, and plays most similar to what we have now, except that its forward gun is now so powerful that it is your primary weapon.

You really do in essence end up dogfighting/jousting other small capitals trying to land as many hits with your forward gun as possible. It's great fun to play, and a blast to watch as two gunboats fly towards each other full speed unloading their forward guns. Then when, they both fly by each other the one with the best aim continues on while the other erupts into a fireball.

Cruisers are really quirky. Their cruise missile is absolutely devastating, able to knock down a gunboat in two well placed hits. However it is very difficult to aim, and works best at long ranges where the missile can build up speed to make it harder to dodge. The cruiser also cannot turn very fast. All this coupled with all of its weapons (sans point defense guns) being only able to fire in the forward 30 degrees makes it a really fun and unique experience. Also, their primary cannons and presumably missiles (never used missiles) are accurate and very long ranged, cementing them further long range ability.

There is one problem with cruisers at the moment though. Because their primary guns are so good at shooting down long range targets, they can actually hit fighter craft surprisingly well as long as they are in front of the cruiser. A fighter will have no problem staying out of that forward quadrant, but in doing so, a couple point defense turrets counter that tactic. If you stay in front of the cruiser, its forward guns will kill you. If you get close behind it, the point defense guns can take you down.

Battleships are monsters. I never actually flew one, but they do ridiculous damage. They are mostly short ranged ships though. The best way to take them down is with a lot of bombers or a couple cruisers to lob cruise missiles and primary shells at a distance.
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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Dofod » Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:00 am

@ Why485: basically I believe in this very mod (which of course in a way, how flak is approaching) the learning curve could be troubling for players new to freelancer modding. you now can kill and be killed much faster and hence less merciful then vanilla: again, you are mostly correct that I don't like this specific style of gaming. People like us whom played flak and might have experienced other mods are prepared to step up our gaming awareness to match the challenges posted in this mod-yet as I have rather poorly explained before, only as a matter of taste, that I prefer something less intense. Hope that clears things up. Just to be fair to KJ, its not an easy task getting a mostly-working mod ready; and there's nothing "wrong" per se to get this First Person shooting style implemented into freelancer, just that its not my cup of tea, that's all. Also I really appreciate how you and Pwnyboy are trying to be helpful and gave constructive opinions. what you guys say, I suppose i can say in my confused verbiage as well, but yeah.

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Re: KJ's 88 Flak Gameplay Overhaul

Post by Seth » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:13 am

Dofod wrote:Kate's feelings
That sums it up i guess.
You are the sum of your decisions. -Aristotle

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