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Author Topic: Drone Bay adjustments  (Read 919 times)

Kyzrati

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Drone Bay adjustments
« on: September 09, 2016, 12:47:17 AM »

Drone Bays are cool. Pretty much everyone likes them for some reason or another--you can use drones as cover, a diversion, for scouting, to find exits, etc. But in their current state, the bays themselves don't feel perfect from a usability point of view. This thread is to collect opinions on that feeling and what, if anything, might be done about it (it's perfectly fine to advocate keeping everything as is :) ).

Of course the final solution can hinge upon what the goal is in terms of gameplay.

Currently the vast majority of players, myself included, are simply releasing drones immediately on finding a bay and using them up for whatever strategy is convenient at the time. Doing so still requires freeing up one or more slots just for the release, then reattaching whatever parts were detached in the process. It would be nice to retain their usefulness while making them more convenient to use, though some solutions would effectively make the "drone swarm" approach no longer possible.

One suggestion, by zxc, is to turn them into consumables. There are some consumables in Cogmind, but they generally require a slot to activate as well. A feasible alternative, akin to a few instances of non-part items: Drop them on the ground and have them automatically release their drones then disappear. This would mean you could no longer use bays to recall and protect drones, repair them (docking repairs them), and/or store them in inventory for later reuse.

I wonder if the repair feature would come into play if more people had seen/used other types of drones. Most are used the ubiquitous little scouting drones, but you should know that there are some fairly nifty--and deadly--combat-oriented drones that would be really nice to repair. For Alpha 11 I've slightly lowered their rating so they're easier to fabricate if you find their schematics. I haven't heard reports of anyone abusing those yet, anyway.

Also to consider is the possibility that in the right situation, drone swarms are fairly OP. (Mapping drones in particular were slightly nerfed after that post, though.)

Another suggestion by Amphouse (and my first inclination) was to require that the bay stay attached, and otherwise removing it powers down your drones.

I'm sure there are other possibilities we could consider as well. What do you think?

Ultimately this topic is really looking at the issues of usability and strategy at the same time.
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mindreader

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2016, 09:53:24 AM »

Quote
Though some solutions would effectively make the "drone swarm" approach no longer possible.
I'm not fond of the "drone swarm".  If you can do a drone swarm, then drones must be weak enough such that it isn't too powerful.  I'd rather have a strong, flexible bay that I utilize continuously, whose integrity I care about rather than a bunch of weak drone bays that I once in awhile stumble upon, use up and never think about again.

Quote
One suggestion, by zxc, is to turn them into consumables.
Aka the "scroll of summon butterflies".  It took me awhile to realize I absolutely do not miss the one off consumables that are in every other roguelike.  Get out of danger free cards.  Are alien artifacts the only other consumables?  I say keep them that way.  Especially due to the fact that they can be fabricated.


Quote
I wonder if the repair ...
Repair is great, But I would love even more to rebuild drones so long as there is a reasonable matter, energy and time cost associated with it.  But don't let them support more than their max.  I haven't used them, but if you are worried about mass combat drones trivializing the game, make them take a long time to build or make their weapons give low salvage.

Quote
Another suggestion by Amphouse (and my first inclination) was to require that the bay stay attached, and otherwise removing it powers down your drones.
I agree with this.  Either they deactivate or at least you stop receiving telemetry from them until you reactivate the part, preferably the part the drones were fired from.  At the very least you should be forced to have one drone bay attached and activated to control any amount of drones at all.
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Draco18s

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2016, 12:35:44 PM »

Keeping the bay attached in order to continue to receive telemetry is not really a big downside.  The main reason people attach, launch, detach is two fold:
1) The drones can never be recovered
2) Once launched, the bay never creates new drones

Telemetry is a really really weak reason.  Once the drones are dead (takes maybe two minutes real-time), you're still going to toss the part (even if it still has full durability!) and re-eqiup whatever you had on before.
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Kyzrati

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2016, 09:58:47 AM »

Well, haven't gotten as many opinions on this yet relative to the amount of chatter in the past (I've been intentionally waiting to see).

I'm not fond of the "drone swarm".  If you can do a drone swarm, then drones must be weak enough such that it isn't too powerful.  I'd rather have a strong, flexible bay that I utilize continuously, whose integrity I care about rather than a bunch of weak drone bays that I once in awhile stumble upon, use up and never think about again.
I wonder if drones might end up being considered too tedious if they were individually better, since unlike a lot of your allies you can control them directly and they also directly share their FOV data.

Aka the "scroll of summon butterflies".  It took me awhile to realize I absolutely do not miss the one off consumables that are in every other roguelike.  Get out of danger free cards.  Are alien artifacts the only other consumables?  I say keep them that way.  Especially due to the fact that they can be fabricated.
Alien artifacts (and a few other uncommon/special items) are the consumables, yes. As described before on the blog, for the most part consumables were intentionally excluded from regular play. (At the same time, one could say that almost all of your parts are "consumable" :P)

1) The drones can never be recovered
Sure they can, just issue a return order and they fly back and back into your drone bay, repairing them to full health if damaged and allowing you to store them in your inventory for later.
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Draco18s

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2016, 12:38:23 PM »

1) The drones can never be recovered
Sure they can, just issue a return order and they fly back and back into your drone bay, repairing them to full health if damaged and allowing you to store them in your inventory for later.

Whoops, I was misremembering. :-[
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DDarkray

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2016, 09:56:24 AM »

I like the idea of making the drone bay a source for telemetry. Just for your info, if you find a pile of bays (which rarely happens to me), you’ll still be picking up, releasing drones, and discarding one bay at a time. Extra bays are useless when you need only 1 bay to take full effect.

The idea I have is to remove the need for drone bay and instead, make drones like unpowered robots that can be powered up via bump to rewire. They can be found in a small group in a single room.

By removing the need for drone bay, you don’t require an item slot at all (which is convenient). Of course, it also removes the concept of ‘return’ order to repair. In that case, I’m suggesting a new order specifically to repair. By using the ‘repair’ order, drones can automatically repair itself but cannot move or attack during this process. Alternatively, drones can be repaired automatically by Cogmind using the ‘repair’ order while being adjacent to you. (It cannot attack during this order.) However, you would need to press the ‘wait’ button to take effect, so this may not be an intuitive way.

The only problem is that the idea of storing drones for later use would be difficult to implement. You can probably add a new order specifically to turn itself into an item, but that can probably run into problems. Drones can easily avoid combat this way (unless you add time delay to the order), and storing multiple drones would require multiple item slots (unless you group them adjacent to each other and then issue the order). And when you need to use them again, you’ll need to take up a utility slot and release them like consumable. Additionally, mass grouped drones as an item can be very powerful if you scanalyze/fabricate them, so it should be impossible to scanalyze such item.

Just a thought!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 10:14:16 AM by DDarkray »
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Kyzrati

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2016, 10:50:33 PM »

My first approach to this, as of the latest Alpha 12 release, has been to make drone bays more like makeshift armor, with higher integrity and coverage, while some of the bays were also shrunk down to one slot.

It's possible I'll continue shrinking the rest (so they're easier to manipulate) and take this "makeshift armor" approach rather than changing their underlying behavior.
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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2016, 03:01:33 PM »

I wish drones could be launched for the inventory.  If that's impossible, it'd be nice if there was an incentive to keep the bay attached.  Otherwise, it's annoying item swapping for the player.

One solution I've heard is buffing the bays so they're like makeshift armor.  That's a nice thought, but I'd rather have slots devoted to good armor than subpar armor.  The second option I've heard bandied around is making drones require the bay to be attached to work.  Not a fan of that one.   

My proposal: Reduce drone speeds by by 25% if no bay is attached.  Increase their speed by 25% of what it is now if a bay is attached.  Slight nerf to drones, and makes drones more effective for players who keep the bay attached, without forcing them to keep it attached.  More choices = a more thoughtful game. 
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Kyzrati

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2016, 07:16:59 PM »

Re: your proposal, that's an interesting consideration! I'm not sure if it those numbers would be significant enough to matter, as drones tend to die pretty quickly regardless. Anyone else have opinions on that?

Note that as per my post above, I already took the makeshift armor approach in Alpha 12. Of course real armor would be better, but you don't always have any/enough real armor left, and sometimes carrying an extra drone bay is something people do if they want to release them at a later point, so there's a precedent that it might be the in the inventory as a spare anyway.

Definitely not going to add launching from inventory, though. As far as control paradigms go, that's not a thing the UI is designed for--only attached items can be used, or sometimes dropped items that auto-activate as a result (but that would not be cool for drones).

One of the main annoyances has been that standard bays occupy two slots, and equipping a two-slot utility is somewhat tedious since you'll usually have to remove two parts before attaching it, rather than a simple replace. I think if/once all drone bays occupy only one slot, picking them up to launch real quick and dropping it again will become a non-issue, and then bays don't really need any other adjustments.

Drone Bays were only originally design as two-slot items for thematic reasons (since they launch two drones...), but once gameplay and convenience considerations take the front seat (as they tend to do over time...), it's obvious they should be one slot.

I've decided that's what I'll be doing in Alpha 13--all drone bays will be single-slot items (and I'll shrink the art a bit :P)
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MJWkr

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2016, 10:25:27 AM »

Regarding drone AI, something that I've found a bit of a pain is that as soon as my lil guys encounter a hostile, they do not seem to follow my 'go to' commands anymore. 

Is this by design? 

I'd really like to be able to tell them which path to take when they are being shot at, and use them to lure away hostiles more effectively.

-MJWkr

(PS Another great update btw. Love the hacking UI updates.)
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Kyzrati

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2016, 07:23:22 PM »

Yeah I've recently been thinking about modifying their AI to make them more drone-like. As is, like all AIs they sort of have a mind of their own and once under attack they switch to their own flee behavior, which ignores commands until they're safe again. So that is by design, yes, though more a case of just sticking to the defaults.

Drones I believe should be different from the other bots, so I'll be changing them to prioritize orders over fleeing.

(PS Another great update btw. Love the hacking UI updates.)
:)
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Draco18s

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2016, 03:36:53 PM »

2-slot bays as a rare/high tier/advanced design would be cool though. Just give them either more, or better, drones.

Because if I had to spend 2 slots in order to have two beefy combat drones I could reliably recall and repair, you better believe that I'd spend the 2 slots.
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Kyzrati

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2016, 06:55:48 PM »

That's true. Right now those already exist, actually :)
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Draco18s

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2016, 11:04:49 AM »

Good to know!
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DDarkray

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2017, 08:23:38 PM »

An idea that I have for drone bay is to make it capable of manufacturing a drone using energy/heat/matter over a period of time. If making multiple drones is a concern, then maybe you can make each bay control/hold only one at a time.

This should solve the issue of "What should I do after the drones are dead?" Additionally, making the drone bay manufacture over a period of time gives an incentive of keeping it as an attachment. It also gives a reason to have multiple drone bays so that you can control/manufacture multiple drones at a time.
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Kyzrati

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Re: Drone Bay adjustments
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2017, 12:25:58 AM »

Some earlier changes aimed at making the bays themselves more useful went into previous versions, and I've noticed some players (including myself :P) using them for those reasons, so I wouldn't call them completely useless anymore.

Specifically there's the fact that they double as armor (good coverage and high integrity) if you happen to need some in a pinch and can't find any. And personally I like keeping drones in my inventory sometimes, to keep them out of danger and in reserve for use on the next/another map.

The potential for a control requirement was discussed, though that might nerf them too hard (unnecessarily) and become a little complex? It'd require some a bit of additional UI stuff--not too bad, but doesn't strike me as essential. I don't really mind that some players will just... attach the bays to launch and then discard them.

Now with regards to manufacturing, that's something I don't want bays to be capable of. There are some other ways to build stuff, and I'll likely add more in the future, but I don't want it to be enabled by such a relatively common item. It has to be more rare/limited than that.
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