So, I'm going to rant a little bit about the targeting system we have in game. How it should work - Blackwater (best)
Years ago, I don't remember targeting being a issue. Ships would always take comparable amounts of damage to each other if they were built the same and had the same defense
survival stats. This was good then, and is how it should be. I don't care if the code is different now than it was, a new code can be made to produce the same results. Maybe the more complicated mechanics over the last 10 years have made this impossible, maybe the targeting system was completely changed and can be un-done easily (I think not).Flagship is targeted - 2017 (worst)
I'm not very certain on this part, so please correct me if I'm wrong. Some time more recently (about a year ago?) the flagship started taking more damage than the other ships when driving stacked, auto or controlled. We as a player-base did not like this, because the flagship died faster than the others, and we couldn't swap it out.
This made players upset, which is not good.
If I recall, this was when Citadels and Punishers was the default FM fleet. I drove a Punisher as a tank (which was in the 5th ship slot, because it's at the end. This was just preference for me, and had nothing to do with being stacked or not) and had ships 1-4 as mortar hulls in the back. See this video
for an example if you want to for a little fun.5th ship is targeted - 2018 (better, but still bad)
The solution to the this that was rolled out? Not make all ships equally damaged, but make the 5th ship targeted by default when driving stacked. This was
better than the flag getting targeted, because we could rotate ships around. This resulted in damages like the following from the 126 target last raid:
The problem here? If damage was split evenly and I drove a tiny bit better, the repair would be 25 minutes in base. But with the 5th ship being targeted, it has the bulk of the repair. In the 901 targets, I even lost the 5th ship a few times. This system was bad for free to play players who wanted to spread out the damage on their fleets for an instant repair or kill the whole fleet evenly for an overnight repair.
It did not impact coiners at all, and if anything increased the amount of coin Kixeye got because it's a lot easier for players to rationalize speeding up one ship than the whole fleet (my speculation here).
I will acknowledge the advantage was that you KNEW your 5th ship would be targeted, so if you could increase resistance by prioritizing armors or upgrading the one ship, you could theoretically lower your total damage. This mostly benefited coiners, but players who wanted to hit a target, repair for half an hour, and repeat could benefit also.
This system made players upset, which is not good.First ship to arrive targeted - 9.44 update (not as bad as it looks)
With no announcement until after the change hit in game (poor communication), we now have a system where if all ships are closest, the first ship to arrive at the location is targeted. This has now been clearly explained and posted on forums.
This has resulted in the flagships and the 5th ship
being targeted more than the other three. I tested this by autoing the level 131 with my Praetorian fleet. The damage is posted below.
In this screenshot, my ships 1 and 2 have three armor plates (one Z1-X and two Z1-M) while the other three only have one (Z1-X).
Here is another screenshot, showing the results after ~seven 131s. I ran the fleet in a slightly different configuration, with the two ships having three armor plates in positions 1 and 5. Notice that the extra armor plates don't cause the extra damage, the ships would have taken more if the plates were not on there.
So, what does the current system mean for you?
It appears ships 1 and 5 are targeted first when on auto. If anything, ship 1 is targeted more than ship 5. You CAN move the 5th ship around to spread out that damage (this works best if ships 2-3-4-5 are all the same build, having a CM set up will make it slightly harder). You can't, however, move the flag around to spread out that damage.
You can also refit or upgrade the 1st and 5th ships before the others, so that the highest survival is in the slots that take the most damage.
I did test a 131 driving, and I found damage was spread out equally to all ships. THIS IS VERY GOOD.
Damage is now going to be spread out when you drive, which should have a noticeable impact in the raid where I assume most players drive. The following is a screenshot of a 131 driving post 9.44:
I think the 9.44 update is a step in the wrong direction. This may be wrong on my part. Maybe Kixeye has some other update or feature planned, but I (and the rest of the players) don't know about it.
I wrote that last sentence before I tested ships by controlling them. It turns out Kixeye DID have some other feature, which is that damage is proportional if you are driving. I can only assume this is Kixeye responding to the issue of the 5th ship being targeted (GOOD!), but this was not communicated to players.
If you want to spread out damage, you can always take control of your ships manually, but that is NOT a good solution for players who want to auto targets or just are lazy drivers.
This system still makes players who ever auto things upset (read: everyone), which is not good.
In my opinion, if the change was communicated more clearly to players and we were told damage should now be spread out proportionally when driving, the response would have been better. I am not intending to be critical of Kixeye as a company or of any employees, I'm just giving my balanced thoughts on this topic. I'm calling out both the positives and the negatives.Implications of the current system on you
Under the current system, ships 1 and 5 are going to take more damage while running a full fleet ON AUTO. If this doesn't get fixed before the November raid (in what, two weeks?) we are going to see this same exact issue with the Pegasus. Ships 1 and 5 will take more damage, meaning you can't spread repair around evenly (especially on ship one) and you can't get the same number of targets out of a fleet for an overnight repair. This won't be an issue driving, but will be for auto.
By far the biggest impact is on the Forsaken Mission, which I assume has the highest number of players who want to auto these targets (me included).Solutions
Now, I could have ended without solutions, but that wouldn't have fixed the issue and wouldn't have helped players, which is what I try to do.
In engineering, we need to start out with a problem statement before we can come up with a solution.Problem statement: Ships 1 and 5 (especially ship 1) take significantly increased damage when autoing targets compared to ships 2,3, and 4.
There are a few possible ones I can think of, and I'm sure there are many more. Here are the best two I can think of:
Make all turrets target a ship at random if the ships are close to each other. This would spread the damage around randomly, some ships might take more than others but over a whole target and definitely will over an entire fleet's health. You could even improve this by having the turrets cycle through the ships if they are close to each other to fordable spread out the damage.
This solution is complicated (how do you decide when ships are close enough together, how does this interact with splash weapons? so we can do a bit better.
Implement a "reverse" priority targeting for accuracy based weapons, at least those in the FM and raid. As priority target focuses the ship with the highest percent damage, a reverse priority targeting would focus the ship with the lowest percent damage. This would force
damage to be spread out evenly across all ships in the fleet.
These two solutions are not easy to implement, no changes to targets or the entire combat system are. BUT we know there are possible as seen in the 9.44 update which changed the targeting system (who knows how long they were working on this for?).
Even if none of my two proposed solutions are the best one, I am sure the team at Kixeye can come up with a solution for this.
For all our sakes, I sure hope they do.TL:DR
Under the current 9.44 system:
When driving, ships take a proportional amount of damage (good).
When autoing, Ships 1 and 5 take significantly increased damage (bad).
I'm seeing information in BP next week where we will be getting the "heavily armored war Pegasus".
I'm guessing this will have a low repair modifier, meaning we can repair the same number of health points in far less time. Effectively, this will take the time to repair your flag as other ships in your fleet after one target.
It is also possible the Perseus CIC that is offed will have a similar healing mechanic to the Gutspill's Skyfire, but that is just my speculation and I'd bet against this if I were a betting person (but is is possible).
If either or both of those are true, it means under the 9.44 update mechanics we will see great results while using a full Pegasus fleet, but the same issue (where the flag and maybe ship 5 take more damage on auto) will persist in the FM.
I don't predict a happy player base.