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Author Topic: Piratez Difficulty Curve  (Read 15194 times)

Offline AncientSion

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Piratez Difficulty Curve
« on: May 11, 2016, 12:20:49 pm »
Since i have been playing this mod for some time now, i have noticed that the difficulty curve seems seems to be kind of wrong. Normally in a game, you would expect the game to be easy early on and get progressesivly harder as ingame time passes, while actual play time and with it, experience, partly offsets the increasing difficulty of mid and end game.

With Piratez, i have this impression that the game is actually at its hardest early on, but it becomes easier with every passed months due to first and foremost better Gals and then better equiment / weapons. With the exception of certain terror missions, depending on RNG - faction, and map type -, it becomes rather "easy" in fact.

My questions are:
1 - do you agree with this observation ?
2 - is this experience actually intended by Diox ?
3 - If not, what can be done to introduce a "proper" difficulty curve ?
     -> my idea:
          - Gal' stats, especially TU gain, should be cut down considerably
          - introduce some kind of gun tech progression over time to enemies, similarish to how the stock game handles it.
          - Perhaps consider some kind of armageddon clock, i.e. a powerful timer that puts the player under time pressure in a way that will force you to actually move forward at some point, instead of researching EVERYTHING

I would like to hear your opinions on the topic.

Offline Ketonur

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2016, 12:28:35 pm »
Just play some more until you meet mercenaries or star gods ;)

Offline Dioxine

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2016, 01:05:13 pm »
Yeah, rack the difficulty up until the player is too tired to play anymore. Great idea, sir, great idea. Most games actually eventually fall on their ass because of this (looking at you, Borderlands, Space Nomad, et al). The most primitive difficulty curve isn't neccesarily the best one, since it robs you of any feeling of accomplishment and turns the game into an unforgiving grind which can work only for a roguelike or a top-down shooter. Let's better think of games which handle the difficulty curve in a more intricate manner, like Half Life 2.

Also what enemy tech progression in the OG... from plasma rifle to heavy plasma in under 5 seconds? lol.

Radically changing gals' stat caps would influence the tactics in such a major way it's not even worth discussing. If you feel uncomfortable with high movement rates, play another mod, where the game is balanced for more static tactics. High movement is crucial for melee and assorted heroics.

And yeah, how far into the game did you make anyway? Are you getting constant crackdowns already? Do you feel comfortable facing VIPs and their plasma or gauss-totting entourages? Are Mercs and Star Gods no longer a threat? Also what difficulty level are you playing since the challenge changes considerably?

Offline Mattdo

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2016, 01:08:51 pm »
While the mercenaries and star gods are tough, you don't seem to meet them much more in the late game than in the early game. I'm in the late game now and I'd love to fight some more challenging opponents, but they're hard to find, and I keep getting distracted by lower-ranking foes. (I feel compelled to assault any ship I shoot down...)

I quite like the fact that the game doesn't just scale up automatically - you don't get generally into a situation where things are hopeless four years in because you didn't research the right things and are now behind the curve. (I've put so much time and effort into this one playthrough that I will be pretty indignant if I don't ultimately win.)

I wouldn't want to cut back on the turn unit gain or anything like that. (Power armored units are slow enough as it is.) But I would like it if the opposition responded to your efforts a little more. Early on, Sway Local Government (and Crackdowns) should be rare because you haven't antagonised anyone enough to motivate that kind of effort, making it easier to survive the difficult early game. Later on, capturing a mercenary base could lead to a greater frequency of hostile mercenaries; capturing enemy leaders could cause more Star Gods to appear.

Offline Boltgun

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2016, 04:47:53 pm »
Quote
Normally in a game, you would expect the game to be easy early on and get progressesivly harder as ingame time passes, while actual play time and with it, experience, partly offsets the increasing difficulty of mid and end game.

All games are different. Did you try vanilla x-com?
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 04:53:10 pm by Boltgun »

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2016, 04:56:27 pm »
I think difficulty curve shouldn't be steeper than it has to be to maintain the intended kind of gameplay. The question is, can it be any more benign in Piratez or not.
Instead of a long dissertation trying to decide that, I'd rather remind everyone that the earliest game is currently being rebuilt, so any point can soon become moot after a week or two. Once it's out, we can discuss it.
On a side note, Piratez is not a game but a mod. This means the player is expected to know the basics.

Offline Cristao

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2016, 05:26:45 pm »
On a side note, Piratez is not a game but a mod. This means the player is expected to know the basics.

I agree

Offline Dioxine

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2016, 05:32:42 pm »
While the mercenaries and star gods are tough, you don't seem to meet them much more in the late game than in the early game. I'm in the late game now and I'd love to fight some more challenging opponents, but they're hard to find, and I keep getting distracted by lower-ranking foes. (I feel compelled to assault any ship I shoot down...)

Well, they don't appear in Year 1 much, so they don't really appear in the early game  :) And going after low-ranking enemies is quite pointless in the late game... (unless for fun!). But yeah there are plans to rack up the heat in the late game. As with everything it can't just materialize overnight though.

Offline ivandogovich

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2016, 05:43:47 pm »
I generally agree that the difficulty curve with PirateZ starts with Hard (representing horribly backward tech) then gets better from there.  Scavenge better weapons, become more lethal.  Experienced gals become faster and better.  Certain armor levels reduce the risk significantly.

A great example of this curve overall, is the abandoned campaign by https://www.youtube.com/user/FireWaterGasoline.  Over 5 episodes on YouTube he lost the campaign twice to early crackdowns.  Fundamentally his xcom tactics in ground battles were solid, though as a blind playthrough there was certainly inefficient utilization of weapons.  His downfall was the irresistible tendency to shoot down anything that flies.  This is typical from someone used to playing UFO or TftD.  Its things like these that the first time PirateZ player must un-learn, that make them throw up their hands and walk away like this YouTuber did.

Frankly, from following forum discussions etc over the years, I don't think I would ever recommend that any New Player try PirateZ on a blind playthrough unless they are willing to savescum.  I'd recommend using the wiki, though I wouldn't go so far as some of the Cheats that I have seen in discussed as some players have reconnoitered the mod with SuperUBER Soldiers.

And yeah, I agree that I'm discuss it from the current state of the mod that in the past two years has only gotten harder in the early game (timed supply ship missions, combat stress, hammer nerfs, etc).  The development that is being done on the back story may help this early game balance significantly, but that is yet to be seen (heh. if its anything like what I've heard about x-com files, it maybe even Harder!). 

Offline Dioxine

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2016, 05:49:09 pm »
And yeah, I agree that I'm discuss it from the current state of the mod that in the past two years has only gotten harder in the early game (timed supply ship missions, combat stress, hammer nerfs, etc).

Harder? Really? :) Let's recap 2 most probable first missions from old times:
- Gunship. 20+ enemies, 100% Personal Armor, all laser weapons.
- Mutant Pogrom. Everyone and their dog has laser weapons, you can also easily meet tanks, cyberdiscs, Powered Armor...

Offline AncientSion

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2016, 06:14:09 pm »
Yeah, rack the difficulty up until the player is too tired to play anymore. Great idea, sir, great idea. Most games actually eventually fall on their ass because of this (looking at you, Borderlands, Space Nomad, et al). The most primitive difficulty curve isn't neccesarily the best one, since it robs you of any feeling of accomplishment and turns the game into an unforgiving grind which can work only for a roguelike or a top-down shooter. Let's better think of games which handle the difficulty curve in a more intricate manner, like Half Life 2.

Also what enemy tech progression in the OG... from plasma rifle to heavy plasma in under 5 seconds? lol.

Radically changing gals' stat caps would influence the tactics in such a major way it's not even worth discussing. If you feel uncomfortable with high movement rates, play another mod, where the game is balanced for more static tactics. High movement is crucial for melee and assorted heroics.

And yeah, how far into the game did you make anyway? Are you getting constant crackdowns already? Do you feel comfortable facing VIPs and their plasma or gauss-totting entourages? Are Mercs and Star Gods no longer a threat? Also what difficulty level are you playing since the challenge changes considerably?

I dont like your hostile attitude (again) one bit.

You dont want feedback, fine.

Offline ivandogovich

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2016, 06:15:14 pm »
Harder? Really? :) Let's recap 2 most probable first missions from old times:
- Gunship. 20+ enemies, 100% Personal Armor, all laser weapons.
- Mutant Pogrom. Everyone and their dog has laser weapons, you can also easily meet tanks, cyberdiscs, Powered Armor...

Ok. Point taken. There has been a number of easy enemies added. Bandits, etc.  Personal Armor has been reduced too.  I will still assert that any number of nerfs have been included though, to keep it tough. 

Offline hellrazor

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2016, 06:52:03 pm »
Hm.. shameless self advertisement.

If you really want a relatively steep difficulty curve try this

And sorry for intruding here.

Offline Arthanor

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2016, 07:10:29 pm »
lol @hellrazor's shameless shameful plug. Yeah, if you want to know what "too hard" is, try his mod! And I think it stays too hard the whole time, so it's a difficulty line instead of curve, all at the "Why am I doing this to myself" level ;)

Back on topic:
Hard in the early game? Ivan, you need to rewatch your Piratez LP! I started at the same time you did (because I didn't want you to spoiler me but wanted to watch you, so I had to play!) This was brutal mayhem! And I don't think it was at a particularly high difficulty setting. Neither were mine and I remember pogroms being truly terrifying and decent armors being impossible to find, with none of the outfits we now have to support the gals in their intended roles even at the beginning. Remember everybody in Pirate or Runts? Like.. the two worse outfits out of the current selection?

Admittedly, I have played too much early game Piratez with all my reboots. But still, currently, most of the early enemy factions pack guns that will struggle to kill you (I play.. Davy Jones I think? Just under what used to be superhuman) unless a shotgun/machine gun trooper gets the jump on you at close range. Once you get to 35-40 armor (metal/tac armor), you're pretty safe from dying, so your gals are on the rise with training.

Compared to when we started, most of the enemies also got nerfed with all the non-combat traders/church/academy (which is great for the first month!) and the introduction of "easy" enemies (spartans, bandits and I feel humanists are more common too). Even the new mansion mission helps the early game: You can't bring much so you will hardly be at a tech disadvantage whatever you bring (you can smash peoples' head with pipes well enough to clean the place up). The reward? Loads of cash, and lots of reading, including Old Earth Books to make sure you can go Back to School! There goes that choke-point, welcome to early mid-game.

To me, Piratez is just right. The beginning is challenging because you have to make a lot of decisions and you are at the mercy of the RNG to get good missions (and no retals, but you quickly find out how to avoid those). In my latest game, I got all combat academy in my first month and only ever saw Osiron security and laser drones (and a pogrom: Bandits were refreshing!). And I was fine, if bored by the lack of variety. This was mostly due to knowing my weapon selection well (molotovs pwn drones, bombs/flamethrower/melee for osiron), and the amazing variety of outfits which really allowed me to tailor the gals to what I wanted every one to do.

OH! and PARROTS, those things are OP as hell in the early game. Super fast expendable flying scout? I think you could nerf pretty much everything in the early game, buff every enemy and the single addition of the parrot would make it easier than it used to be, as long as you leave a decent gun (for scout-snipe) and a melee weapon (for armor). Remember when you had to scout with slow, walking gals and getting them killed was a hit on your morale, not just a "Damn! Gotta ask the runts to get me a new pet again...". Dogs were a boon, parrots? They're.. a miracle.. or more like a pact with the devil for power that should not be attainable. (I self-nerf for only 1 parrot/transport now)

I'm not saying the early game is too easy (although I am at least very comfortable in it at the 2nd highest difficulty) but it is not too hard either. To me, hard was mid-game when I started to encounter gauss and mercs. Those guys don't go down, looting their own guns isn't a great tactic since they are ap resistant, and gauss will mess up a gal even in power armor/advanced tac armor. Suddenly, I was back to playing carefully and mistakes costing me. In fact, mistakes cost me even more than in the early game. Loose a newish gal in guerilla armor? Meh, you can hire another one and make her a new outfit easily. Lose a veteran in defender armor? That's a lot more tricky to replace. Then you get star gods, which will do all kinds of nasty things to you (and make you do them to yourself) even if you don't make mistakes, with their invisibility and MC.

And finally, on explody supply ships: That's not an early game issue. Early game the odds of aliens having bases around to supply are pretty slim. And you don't really have to attack Supply Ships any ways. Supply ship farming is something Dioxine is specifically unfavourable to and I tend to agree with him (it makes no sense in universe for a faction to continuously send vulnerable assets that get taken over by the enemy). That it is still available as a high risk, medium reward (baby nukes and gauss are great loot!) is still pretty good.

Piratez is not easy, that's why it says somewhere that it's for people who beat vanilla, beat it again, got bored of it and are looking for something new. It's definitely not the first thing one should try (and especially not on Superhuman to be like all the cool LP'ers). But I'd say it's fair and it's best played blind. Even after more than a year of playing it, I try to avoid spoilers (had to stop watching Meridian :() because the surprises are part of the challenge, and the challenge is part of the fun.

Offline a0kribu

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Re: Piratez Difficulty Curve
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2016, 09:14:20 pm »
I dont like your hostile attitude (again) one bit.

You dont want feedback, fine.

I don't think Dioxine does that hostile-like. I am pretty sure that the person is very straightforward and addresses everyone in this forum just like they were addressing a friend. If I was you I'd take it as a compliment. :)


As for the difficulty curve. It's very much on par the original game. The late game isn't easier, just the problems you solve are different.
Amount of one-shot-kills increases and the price of mistakes goes up.
Ditto for the difficulty settings by the way. If you choose Jack Sparrow you need to cherry-pick your opposition more carefully but you have a wider variety of alien tech you get exposed to, you get to pick from a bigger pool of enemy leaders and you get more money to expand/recruit/whatever.

Spoiler:
Try completing the game in the easiest setting. You won't even get fourth cydonia key in the first four years.