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Balancing Spies
04-28-2012, 07:12 AM
Post: #21
RE: Balancing Spies
I like the idea of suicide spies for sabotage. In fact, it has been suggested before.

As ar as espionage, how about this:

Like Rocco said, there is a delay in spying. So....

[align=justify]What happens `````````````Your message ```````````` Enemies message

Spy steals X technology. `````` Your spy stole X technology and is currently exfiltrating the enemy empire.````````` An enemy spy sole X from our Empire! He must be caught, quickly!


Spy tries to make it home for Y amount of turns. ```````````` Your spy is evading enemy patrols.`````````The enemy spy is still at large. Assign more agents to hunt him down!

Spy makes it home ``````` Your spy has returned home safely with the plans for X. `````` The enemy spy escaped with the plans for X. We must stregthen our defenses to prevent further incidents.


Spy is captured. ````````` Our spy was captured by enemy agents. The plans for X were lost to us. `````` Our agents have captured the enemy spy! Our plans for X remain safe!




Thoughts?

(Sorry about the horrible formatting: the original formatting didn't hold :/ Hopefully it makes sense. )

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04-28-2012, 08:02 AM
Post: #22
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 02:15 AM)BookBeast Wrote:  
(04-27-2012 08:04 PM)StandAlone Wrote:  I was thinking about what if spies don't steal actual tech but research points. Maybe a turns worth. That way they supplement their own research and sabotage their opponents. But at the same time they aren't getting a free tech or more if they still a higher level version.

I actually like this idea. If you change espionage so you steal your opponent's research points (instead of their technology), that would still preserve a major advantage of spies and might also address the issue where stealing tech from an opponent sometimes locks off parts of the tech tree from you (e.g., in my last game I stole Orbital Laboratory from an opponent but then couldn't research Orbital Lab 2 and 3).

I was also thinking that it might be fun to add a certain feature to spying: framing someone else for your actions. You can steal tech or sabotage something and make it look like someone else did it. Your opponent would get a message like "our spies report that X stole Plasma Turrets II/sabotaged our fleet/whatever" when it was in fact Y who did so. This might be useful in multiplayer games for getting an opponent to focus on someone other than you!

Not sure how to implement framing, but it should be more difficult or expensive than straight-up theft or sabotage.

+1 for the framing idea, I think that would be epic, especially when diplomacy comes around.
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05-02-2012, 01:13 PM
Post: #23
RE: Balancing Spies
The problem with spies is that you have to expect that your opponent will use them...so you have to build them too...once contact is made, the spy build continues because your opponent builds to defend and attack you with spies and you do the same thing. My point is that between two informed players the spies just become a nuisance, just one more thing to remember to build to keep up with your opponents build.

I'm not sure what could be done to make spies more interesting. However, I do think that what a successful sabotage should get should be more scalar. Like it should be much more difficult for a spy to destroy a Mammoth then it is for a spy to destroy an outhouse in Newark. The reasoning being two fold. Security would naturally be distributed to more expensive things over cheaper stuff. Thus more expensive things should be more difficult to destroy. Additionally, Military objects (like warships) would have extra security over civilian objects (like a factory).

So, I would say that if you made it so that spies where effective against some things, but less effective against others then one player can produce just a few defensive spies that could protect most of his expensive/military stuff even if his opponent produces lots of spies. Of course, he will still lose cheaper stuff, but taking the risk of losing a few outhouses might be worth it if you can save money over producing spies. But this only works if there is some scaling associated with what a spy is likely to destroy.
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05-03-2012, 06:16 AM
Post: #24
RE: Balancing Spies
Any comments on my suggestion above?

Enlade, interesting idea. Makes sense. If done it would have to be after spy targeting is/if it is implemented

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05-04-2012, 09:37 AM
Post: #25
RE: Balancing Spies
Something does definitely need to be done to help balance espionage and sabotaging things besides buildings. CSF provides a 20/50% chance to prevent sabotage to buildings on a given planet, but that's basically the only defensive spy tech (other than half cost, but that dosnt' actually do anything but save you money). That's great if you're worried about buildings being sabotaged, but first, that's about the last thing I care about from enemy spies. I'm far more worried about losing cash and ships being sabotaged from sabo spies, or espionage in general. There's currrenlty 0 tech or ways to reduce chances of those happening outside of building your own spies. (Well, I did find one opponent who came up with a fairly ingenious idea for reducing chances for your ships to get sabotaged, but I don't especially wanna share it atm cause then other people might start using it against me as well Tongue)

I also think Repulsive might warrant revisiting. it was changed to make spies cost 3GC per turn because at the time, no one was using spies, so everyone just took repulsive and it was a free 2 pionts with basically no downside. Now that people are actually using spies, repulsive is no longer a required pick, and is actually fairly risky. If you have repulsive and your opponent is spying so you want to build up a defensive force, it gets expensive really fast, even with the half cost defensive spies. I'm not sure what the best way to balance it is, but the two things I can think of right off are either reducing the cost of spies again, maybe make it -2 per turn per spy instead of -3, then with half cost tech it'd be back to normal, or perhaps make it give you more points to spend (maybe a -3 racial instead of -2?) so you get a little more benefit out of taking it.

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05-05-2012, 01:55 AM (This post was last modified: 05-05-2012 02:08 AM by Enlade.)
Post: #26
RE: Balancing Spies
Yea, I think that one thing is clear and that is that everything (settings wise) seems to dictate that you must produces massive spies. This is because you can't know what your opponent is going to do, so you build spies to anticipate a defense (though you will use them for other things as well). Any slightly experienced opponent is doing the same thing. So when contact is made both sides basically produce more and more spies. This essentially makes spies kind of useless, except that sometimes they ruin a good ship battle because the silly spies kill off someones large ship just as the enemy attacks or some such silliness, and thus some battles boil down to just getting lucky with spies at the exact right moment instead of planning properly.

Now, when I say "instead of planning" what most people will say is that it was bad planning cause you didn't produce enough spies, but that is my point. Everything makes me produce more and more spies just so I don't have to listen to people say, "see, you didn't plan cause you didn't produce enough spies". Well, my opponent is doing the same thing, so it doesn't matter, he is still going to get my ship at times when it is just not reasonable (or I'll get one of his), and battles that should be good end up being messed up because spies ruin them.

I think that the effort in designing how spies should work must include the option for someone to not build them (or not build many of them). Clearly there should be a penalty for not building enough defensive spies, but if that penalty was, like VenderL and I are saying, to things that we are willing to lose then we have a choice to get in the endless spy building game or to just take some loses to less important stuff (like civilian buildings). That needs to be a choice.

Basically it is like this. If some opponent wants to have any chance of destroying a ship for instance, then they should have to produce like 10 to 1 spies. If they want to have a chance at destroying a barreks (because it is a military building), maybe it should be a 5 to 1 ratio. Then maybe more civilian buildings can be more similar to what we currently have. That way, if my enemy wants to build 100 spies then I would only have to build 10 to nearly make it impossible for him to destroy ships. Clearly he could still build 1000 spies and then he would have a decent chance of getting a ship, but that is what he should have to do if he wants to destroy expensive or military equipment. Of course, I am just making up numbers (maybe it should be 5 to 1 or whatever), but if the likelihood of some spy actually destroying something expensive or military where less than that same spy destroying some less expensive objective then I think that spies would be more strategic. As it is they are just something that I must build and I don't see any advantage to them cause my enemy is also building them because he must build them too. It is just a distraction. They are only fun when you play against a less experienced player and you dump a huge number of spies on them and they just freak out cause they don't know how to deal with them. Yea, that's fun, but that has its limits in enjoyment and I don't think that that is what you meant to be fun (picking on someone cause they just don't know how to play yet).

Also, I am only talking about sabotage and defense in my posts, I also agree with falanor that more can be done on the espionage side of spies as well to make that more fun.


Again, let me just state what I think you should be after. You want to have it such that someone can choose to build lots of spies for attacking (sab and esp), or make it so that people can choose to build a few spies for defense. As it is now, losing expensive stuff and ships makes the second option not an option. Thus you need to have some approach that allows for the second option (building only a few spies for defense). Obviously you don't want to make that an option that eliminates all penalties, but it should be an option where someone is choosing to lose a little against. That is, you don't want to just flip things from everyone building spies to everyone not building spies. You want to make each strategy beneficial in different and interesting ways. That isn't what it is now. Right now, it is "build spies...then build more spies". And the gain for all that is to basically make spies irrelevant (cause both sides are doing the same thing). That isn't very fun just doing something to make them irrelevant. I mean, the best you can hope for in an effort to have a good game is to make spies irrelevant for everyone. Kinda silly.
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05-05-2012, 03:49 AM
Post: #27
RE: Balancing Spies
I vote for a spies off option. They annoy me that much.

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05-05-2012, 04:03 AM
Post: #28
RE: Balancing Spies
What about giving spies home field advantage? Maybe increasing the chance that a defensive spy catches an offensive agent. If it is 1% chance now, make it 1.5% or 2% for defensive spies.

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05-05-2012, 11:10 AM
Post: #29
RE: Balancing Spies
What if, instead of doing the 2-to-1 thing for sabotage we do something like the following:

Marines, when built on a planet, offer XX% protection to that planet against sabotage. Then there can be additional techs that allow across the board protection against sabotage.

On the espionage side we could do something similar to my idea at the top of page 3.

Comments?

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05-07-2012, 01:57 AM
Post: #30
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-27-2012 07:23 AM)VanderLegion Wrote:  Elph and I have been chatting in the beta and having both tried out spy builds, we're thinking spies are a bit too powerful. Once you hit a critical mass of spies - even without the tech to double their effectiveness, there's pretty much nothing your opponent can do. The games I used it, I was stealing tech the turn pretty much the turn my opponent researched it. When they had no new tech for me to steal, I'd switch everyone to sabotage and start killing ships and stealing cash. Elph is using them in a game against me and it's worked out the same way. I can't speak to how often he's stealing tech, but with all his spies on sabotage I've perpetually had no cash and he's been sabotaging my ships as fast as I can build them. I haven't lost yet, but it's only a matter of time till he has enough of his own ships build to come finish me off.

My proposal for a start to balancing spies at least is simple: Change Colonial Security Facility to be empire-wide tech like advanced farming and taxes are in 1.1.3. Currently (for those who aren't really familiar with it), CSF provides a 20% chance to prevent sabotage on the planet it's built on, CSF2 provides a 50% chance. I propose changing it to be an empire wide reduction of the opponents chance of success with spies by 20%/50%, and apply to both sabotage and espionage.

If an opponent has 20 spies (ignoring charismatic or repulsive for simplicities sake), he'd normally have a 20% chance of success if you have no spies on defense. With CSF1 he'd have an 16% chance, with CSF2 he'd have a 10% chance. You'd still be able to get a critical mass of spies eventually, but it would take longer and cost more money to do so, giving your opponent more time to build up his own spies for defense or possibly get enough ships to come kill you before you sabotage them all.

Another addition I'd love to see for spies would be the ability to assign spies on sabotage to certain areas - Buildings, Ships, Money, etc. When leaders go in for 1.1.4, an option could be added to the list for Assassination of enemy leaders. Another cool option would be the ability to target enemy spies first, to try to kill of your opponents defenders.

The way I envision this part working would be that you aren't guaranteed to sabotage the selected area, but you have a higher chance of doing that than anything else. So if you want to target ships, maybe you have a 50-75% chance of getting a ship when you successfully sabotage, otherwise it randomly picks one of the others, similar to how I'm assuming it does now.
+1
I expand this idea more in my idea emporium to include maybe picking the exact techs you research ect.

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