Campaign scaling

Continuing the discussion from Update Rolling out to Homeworld Remastered Collection - May 6, 2015:

Replying in a new thread 'cause this is going so far off topic.

Scaling is not a fundamentally unusable idea. HW1 used it, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain about the scaling there. HW2 uses a different system, and has gotten endless hate. So why?

HW1’s scaling is limited, so you have enemies scale between two preset force strengths. That means that through careful play and planning, the player can actually gain an advantage. They can be rewarded for conserving their forces. Doing well enough in a mission makes the next mission easier. In HW2, doing well enough can make the next mission significantly harder. While challenging the player is good, if you do it sharply enough it can feel like punishing the player, which isn’t good.

Also, the scaling in HW2 reaches heights that at least in my opinion stops being fun or pretty. The fact that fighting well forces the game into a situation where I have to exploit the game in quirky ways to survive is anti-fun to me.

And that’s why I don’t like HW2’s scaling.

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I agree. I don’t actually hate scaling, it’s just that HW1 did it better since I didn’t even notice that one existed, since it’s so subtle. HW2 literally makes some missions too difficult and punishes the whole “building up your fleet” concept. HW1 Remastered suffered from that same scaler that HW2 uses, which doesn’t make it immersive nor true to the original.

Games are supposed to start easy, but get harder: however, the player can find the harder parts “easier” if they prepare for the harder missions by conserving their fleet and ensuring they have the right ships. This is why you see suggestions for capturing lots of Ion Frigs in Mission 14, since it makes the last missions significantly easier to complete.

HW2, however, regularly makes every single mission “difficult”, so there’s no gradual increase from easy to hard: it’s just permanently difficult throughout. I think the only “easy” mission is Mission 10, where you fight the Keepers, but I don’t really consider that a proper mission.

People don’t complain about HW1’s scaler is because it’s so subtle that you can’t even notice that one is present. It should be obvious to Gearbox that they need to bring HW1 Remastered closer to the original by considerably toning down the scaler so it doesn’t feel like a HW2 clone.

EDIT: Well I think there’s one or two things you’re mistaken about EatThePath, specifically about the HW2 scaler as I understand it so lets have a look at that first.

HW2 (classic and Remastered) scaling is, in fact, limited between two precets, not in that it has a hard coded upper limit in the formula but that your fleet size is limited. It’s an important thing to understand because it’ll be important in the bit about HW1. In HW2 you can’t capture more ships than you can build, your fleet has a maximum size, and therefore the game, although dynamically scaled, is still beatable without being a cakewalk or a non-challenge because there is that built in upper limit to one of the variables in the formula. And this scaling works both ways. If you are struggling with the campaign and having trouble conserving your forces, the game, to a degree, adjusts downward for that because you have a smaller force, you face a smaller force (to a certain extent of course). While if you are a tactical or strategic genius the game ramps up the difficulty (again only up to a predetermined limit) to match. It’s an interesting mechanic that I’m not sure can be perfect for every single player ever (think Oblivion and Skyrim) but that I personally have not had any issue with in HW2. In fact I have completed HW2 and HW2:R with a max, or near max fleet in every mission where that is possible. The only time where I had to do a ‘crap I died try again’ moment was the 2nd last mission. It was the only mission where I really had to sit down and evaluate where I went wrong and how to approach the situation and, you know, think tactically on how to beat the enemy forces. The 2nd try, by applying some very simple and basic tactics, I was able to cakewalk it where before I got routed. It really was day and night like that. It’s a moment that will stay with me forever and probably alone made the purchase of HWR worth while.

Now with the HW1 campaign ported into the HW2 engine, a rather interesting situation has come up. A ‘flaw’ (I’ve always seen it as a flaw) in the capture mechanic has become more apparent and is what is causing this particular issue. Your max fleet is not limited by what you can build but by the sum total of enemy ships you can face in the game. Interestingly in HW2 engine this sum total increases almost exponentially (not 100% sure on this as no one has seen the source code for the HW2 scaling mechanic so not sure where/what the limit is Maybe @scole or @BitVenom can post the scaling formula? ) as your fleet increases. Heck even in classic I noticed this back when I was like 12y old. The more enemy ships you capture, the more enemy ship will spawn in the next mission, etc. The capturing mechanic causes a complete and utter breakdown in the narrative of the otherwise amazing story and shatters the suspension of belief. I mean think about it, to crew all those hundreds and hundreds of capital ships you’d need many more thousands of able bodied people than you could possibly have, even if you start defrosting the ‘colonists’. Not to mention the resources required to support and maintain those ships in a journey across the galaxy. The enemy has an entire empire to support these ships and you have a single mothership and no planet. I can certainly appreciate the strategic and tactical options the capturing mechanic opens up and use it to great effect early in the game.

In a very real way, the game has a difficulty scaling mechanic similar to ‘easy/medium/hard’ but instead of it being a simple 3 button menu option, it’s a conscious choice you make every single mission, every single ship you capture increases the challenge (not necessarily the difficulty, theres a difference) by a tiny bit. Removing or reducing this would make the game less than what it could be, you’d be removing some of the potential for true vets to test their tactical and strategic ability. Someone mentioned minelayers for example, as a way to beat the last mission even with a super sized fleet. With the changes to support frigates, that could be another way to utilize the resources available to you.

Another interesting thing to note though is that I have completed HW1:R without salvaging a single ship and the last mission was almost disappointingly easy and a little boring. In no way whatsoever is capturing the ion frigates (or any ships really) required to make the last mission easier. I’d almost say that my no-salvage run through the game was the most fun way to play the game for me personally (except for the last mission).

I would not support dumbing down the game.

Sorry my reply was to EatThePath. I clicked on the reply button below his post but the forum doesn’t seem to pick that up properly for me all the time. It does sometimes but usually not.

EDIT: Removed my post to appear less antagonistic.

Fair enough, I’ve edited my opening sentence as it was perhaps a bit aggressive.

In another moment, I’ll replay the campaign by building more and more units to check out the HW2 scaling. I tend to built few units. I think in the last mission I got around 100,000 RUs and at least 3 carriers that I honestly don’t know now if I have ever used them. I know for sure I use one of them, as I go loosing fighters and corvettes.

What we are saying in practice is that both scaling needs tweaking to be smarter - in HW1 is too weak and in HW2 is too strong. I haven’t played the HW1 campaign yet, because I’m waiting for more patches to play it. So I’m basing myself on what you say about it. If it’s using HW2’s profile, it should be fixed. But I wouldn’t keep the original HW1 scaling IF it can be improved. That’s a feature that doesn’t need to be true to the original - just an opinion anyway.

The only mission where I ran into an issue with scaling in HW2 was 2nd last mission. If you have a near maxed out fleet going into the 2nd last mission, you can expect to face at least 6 BCs with a large supporting fleet. The first time I ran into that I got rolled pretty hard. I just reloaded the save, sent my (maxed out)bombers and corvettes in first followed very closely by my frigate group and then my Capital ships (Strikegroup function was super useful here). I used the defense field frigates to absorb most of the anti-cap fire so I lost few frgis and only one Destroyer. The bombers disabled the engines and then the missile launchers of each BC, making them effectively irrelevant. My capital fleet + frig fleet started with the BCs that were not disabled first. Although I didn’t use the pause function it can make orchestrating this a lot easier.

Once you know how it’s pretty easy. For some that process of discovering a strategy is why they play RTS in the first place. For the rest theres guides/wikis/walkthroughs although I enjoy reading those too (mostly for the strategies). If the scaling is toned down you lose out on these experiences and is why I said ‘dumbing down’. Heck if it’s not too much coding I’d love a way to make the scaling even more punishing (difficulty options to change the formula maybe?) This could easily add a lot of re-playability to the game. I’d play through HW1 and 2 again in a hearbeat if they added an ‘super hard’ or ‘impossible’ setting.

PS: Should the campaign actually be a lot easier already with the fixes to missile corvette damage? That was probably one of the biggest threats in the campaign to your strike craft so your bombers should be way more survivable come to thing of it.

http://forums.relicnews.com/showthread.php?27763-addReactiveFleetSlot&p=423014&viewfull=1#post423014 has the most solid info I’m aware on the guts of the system. I just woke up, so I’ll save any further comment for later.

That’s pretty cool. So the enemy fleet size doesn’t get reduced, just the available resources gets increased if you are doing badly. Comparing this to the HW1 algorithm type thing someone posted in the other thread the HW2 way looks a lot more powerful if I understand them correctly. Or at least a lot more customizable/easier to fine tune but on the other hand probably a bit more work to add more difficulty modes.

That’s correct, I have seen some missions increase the number of RUs available. Mission 9 and 11 were examples where dust clouds appeared when I had a tiny token fleet. As far as I know, in regards to scaling, that’s the main thing that happens, with fleets not really changing in a massive way (eg, even if your fleet is small, you will always face the same fleet size in Mission 9 [2 AF’s, 1 IAF, 1 MBF, 1 MD] (for Classic), rather than the 50+ AF’s you can potentially obtain in RM).

Barring M3 and M4, the other missions usually have static fleets, with maybe a VERY small difference, but not one that you would really notice.

Just to clarify, are you speaking of HW1 or HW2? The link EatThePath posted was for HW2 and form what I understand the HW2 scaling was not changed between classic and remastered (there’d really be no point). If you are talking about HW1 scaling I was talking about HW2 scaling. Not really comparing apples to apples there.

Speaking of the HW1 Classic mission sea of lost souls, what happens if you go into it with a huge salvaged fleet in classic? It sounds like you are comparing going into that mission on classic with a tiny fleet and going into that mission on remastered with a huge fleet. I do remember facing a big fleet in remastered on my no salvage run through though, not that it mattered. Sea of lost souls is an irrelevant example (when talking about difficulty!) because it’s so easy to disable the ghost ship and have each and every one of those 50 ships be transfered to you without losing a single frig or capital ship and only a couple dozen strike craft.

I looked at the mission file for it just now, and it looks like it’s fixed enemy fleet size. 2 assault frigates, 1 turanic ion, 1 DDMissile, 2 MBFs. It doesn’t quite fit the format that @herbyguitar posted before, so to get a handle on exactly how that scaling mechanic functions I’d have to go source-diving again. I would like to note that my last trip through the HW1 code did suggest that the scaling up of resources was a thing there.

No doubt, the resource mechanic is a good way to boost a struggling player so I can see why they kept it.

I was referring to HW1, as HW2 doesn’t scale resources at all, to my knowledge. As far as know, HW2’s resources are fixed and the amounts you get are dependent on how much the enemy has harvested themselves. The more the enemy harvests, the less that will be transferred to yourself after completing the mission.

If you go in with a huge salvaged fleet in classic, you get the same enemy fleet size that you would get if you went in with only a small fleet. The only difference between the two is that, with a small fleet, there is a small pocket of dust clouds below the Mothership, which doesn’t exist with a larger fleet.

The difference between Classic and Remastered though, is that Remastered scales the number of enemy assault frigates (large fleet = more frigs, small fleet = less frigs), which it shouldn’t be doing as that isn’t true to Classic in any way. This means that, if you want to have an experience closer to Classic, you need to repeatedly retire ships, simply to ensure the scaler spawns the right number of ships.

As @EatThePath said, HW1 classic only really scaled resources most of the time. Ship scaling was very rarely done, the only times where there’s a scaled enemy fleet is Mission 3 and Mission 4 (in M3, there’s a fixed number of 3 frigates and your fleet size determines any additional (max. 2): in M4, it’s the same when the Ion Array’s hyperspace in, it’s dependent on what you’ve got in the fleet). I noticed that RUs scaled randomly, as I could enter the mission multiple times with the same fleet and get different numbers of RUs.

I’d rather have an actual working scaling mechanic (since we have no difficulty settings) than barely no scaling at all (from the sounds of it) regardless if that’s how it was in WH1. I don’t want a complete snorefest but that’s just me.

That’s fine, that is the experience you want. But the vast majority, including myself, want an experience that we were promised to be getting. The game was repeatedly marketed to be the same game with better graphics, and all we have is HW2 Remastered (since it didn’t change), with an added mod for people to play HW1, which doesn’t match any aspect of the classical version: the only things that match is that the campaign exists and there is the two races for each.

Homeworld was not marketed to people to have difficulty settings. It’s a strategy game, it’s up to the player how they want to play the game: putting in difficulty settings would ruin that experience and turn it into just another video game that people won’t have fun playing, since all someone needs to do is lower the difficulty if they can’t get past the first few missions.

Cataclysm suffered from this imo, since it included difficulty settings: in Cataclysm, all the difficulty does is determines what lines of dialogue are triggered, the cost of ships, the damage that your own ships do to others and some additional things. I did like the concept of fuel being removed in Cataclysm, but that was not due to them using another engine: I suspect that was done to follow true with the backstory they had for Cataclysm, which included another Kiith using technology from the Bentusi and the Acolyte Drive created fighters that didn’t need fuel.

However, Cataclysm did introduce semi-randomness to several missions. When I say “semi-randomness”, there was some limits, but the game decided where to spawn things, rather than it picking the same location all the time. This meant that, for example, the location of the Bushan-Re was not always the same location each time in Mission 02. The same held true for a few other missions, but not all of them were like this.

However, those difficulty levels do not change any other gameplay aspect, such as scaling enemy forces to match your own fleet and that’s what I expect in HW1 RM as well (since, Cataclysm used the exact same game engine that HW1 Classic used, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that HW1 RM should be similar and not scale enemy forces).

You are free to state what you want and I’d respect that even if I don’t agree however you don’t get to speak for the ‘vast majority’, that’s not how it works.

Did I say I was speaking for the “vast majority”? No. I am simply stating what a bunch of other people are already stating elsewhere, both on these forums and elsewhere, which you are simply ignoring because you think RM is perfect, when it’s not. Would appreciate that you don’t mini-mod or act like only your opinion is the one that matters, thanks.

Ok guys. Take a step back and take a deep breath.

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