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View Poll Results: Do you like the idea of altitude being a balancing factor?
I like the idea of AA effectiveness differing at high altitude vs low altitude 25 67.57%
I think that altitude shouldn't matter. 12 32.43%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-08-05, 12:37 PM   [Ignore Me] #1
Malorn
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Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


I'm going to venture into sensitive territory for a lot of planetsiders - Aircraft / AA balance!

As some may have surmised from my other posts, I subscribe to the religion of Tradeoffs. Tradeoffs are the key to balancing games effectively and making player choices meaningful and impactful.

One area where tradeoffs seem a bit lax is AA & Aircraft. Having been a longtime Liberator pilot and a longtime tank driver, I have a love-hate relationship with AA. I hate it when I fly and I love it when I'm on the ground. One idea presented to me by an outfit mate is the idea of Altitude being a factor in aircraft and AA balance, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

The core idea is this - most AA is effective close to the ground to medium altitude, while very little ground-based AA is effective at high altitude.

What this does is give pilots tradeoff decisions on where they want to fly as well as add a whole new dynamic to the game. For example, high-flying galaxies and Liberators will be largely unaffected by ground-based AA, making aircraft their primary threat. You'd have a sort of WWII style combat where fighters (wasps, skeets, reavers) go up to take down the bombers and galaxie and dogfight each other for control of the skies. And while they do all that they aren't really affected by ground-based AA. As a lib pilot I think this is a really cool concept. I think those pilots who enjoy dogfighting would enjoy that as well.

There would be a whole different battle going on at high altitude where the ground-based battle would have little effect. But you'd still want supremacy up there because he who controls high altitude controls Liberator bombing and Galaxy drops. Other than gals and libs, high altitude aircraft pose little threat to ground forces, so the lack of ground AA being effective against them isn't a penalty to ground forces either.

At low-altitudes pilots have other ways of defending against AA, mainly using terrain and hills and buildings to break line-of-sight or sneak up on ground targets. But low-altitude is also where Infantry-based AA and other ground based AA is effective. This then makes it a game of cat-and-mouse at low altitudes, where the advantage of flying low altitude is accuracy on ground targets (a high flying lib's bombs are rather easy to dodge for infantry and vehicles, so even Libs may want to go low-altitude for more accurate bombing).

There's more to the idea too. Consider the possibility of having AA weaponry that has different levels of effectiveness based on altitude. Most AA should be effective at low-altitude, but you could also have some rare and resource-expensive stationary AA structures that are also effective against high altitude (the rough equivalent of WWII flak guns). The tradeoff would be that the ground-based AA that is effective at high altitudes is NOT effectve at low altitudes. Meaning low-altitude air-to-ground would be effective against them. So combined-arms becomes a lot more relevant in the war to control the skies and have effective air-to-ground supremacy.

So you could have a flak gun that could either be high altitude effective or low altitude effective. Ammo type might be a factor as well. Consider a skyguard having to swap out ammo types to shoot at aircraft of different altitudes. You could get fancier as well and have flak guns specifically have a range-adjustment where you choose the altitude at which the flak will be effective, so switching between high altitude and low alitutide is difficult and requires some gunner skill to properly estimate target distances and set the appropriate flak range (so if you die to it you know that at least the gunner had some semblence of skill).

That last paragraph was just me brainstorming - I haven't given it too much thought but overall I believe altitude has a huge potential to add a lot more dynamicism to the aircraft / AA game by giving pilots choices.

The core Idea is this - break things up along the z-axis (that's vertical for non-techies), and split AA effectiveness up along those lines.

Flame on!
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Old 2011-08-05, 12:48 PM   [Ignore Me] #2
Bags
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Surprisingly, I like how it works in PS1, where height doesn't matter.
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Old 2011-08-05, 12:49 PM   [Ignore Me] #3
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


I dislike, in general, the concept of attacking from where another can't shoot you back. My preference would be that lib bombs and gal hot drops must take place within AA range of the ground. The counter to air should not be required to be other air.

The concept of high altitude AA vs low altitude AA is ok, except for the fact that a low altitude aircraft can easily become a high altitude one, and vice versa. If a low altitude AA can just as easily switch to high altitude AA through an alternate fire or alternate ammo, all is good.

In other words, I'm pretty sure the flight ceiling in PS was made arbitrarily low for a very good reason. I'm in favor of raising that, but not really in favor of raising the ceiling you can attack from or drop troops from.

That said, if its impossible to both hover and attack(I'd say no hover, but I want it in for unrelated reasons), doing things such as camping the vehicle pad with a lib would be difficult at best, and as you say its pretty easy for infantry/vehicles to duck out of the way. Gals are still an issue however.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-08-05, 01:01 PM   [Ignore Me] #4
Malorn
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by CutterJohn View Post
I dislike, in general, the concept of attacking from where another can't shoot you back. My preference would be that lib bombs and gal hot drops must take place within AA range of the ground. The counter to air should not be required to be other air.
I agree with this as well. Liberators are the only aircraft that can attack ground targets from high altitude effectively. However - if bomb drop rate remains what it was in PS1 it was very easy for any infantry that was paying attention to avoid Liberators. Same thing for moving vehicles. Libs were the biggest threat to targets that were stationary, like an AMS. I think this is acceptable because it gives you reason to control the sky and have dogfighting aircraft. It would also be reason to put down high-alitutide effective AA guns. Engineers could build these or modify base turrets to be high-altitude AA guns to ward off Libs and galaxy drops.

All other aircraft are not effective against ground targets when they are at high altitude, so ground targets dont' really need to worry about high alititude aircraft.


The concept of high altitude AA vs low altitude AA is ok, except for the fact that a low altitude aircraft can easily become a high altitude one, and vice versa. If a low altitude AA can just as easily switch to high altitude AA through an alternate fire or alternate ammo, all is good.
True, but if ground based AA wards off aircraft, did it not accomplish its mission? The aircraft buggered off or died.

Also, I didn't talk about "Medium" altitude, so medium altitude is the killzone where both high and low would be moderately effective, so aircraft would not want to hang out there. Any aircraft moving between high and low would be vulnerable to both for a short time. It would take some time to escape from the threat of low-altitude, and I imaine that aircraf twon't be able to climb super fast so there's always risk.

Also, low altitude aircraft would be vulnerable to high-altitude aircraft. I think it gives more value and gameplay options for pilots who like dogfighting and gives those players strong strategic value in the battle.
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Old 2011-08-05, 01:07 PM   [Ignore Me] #5
Sentrosi
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


This idea is Sentrosi approved.

I like this idea. Even as a Galaxy pilot I love this idea. I would love some escorts into enemy territory that would help stave off harm to my Galaxy.

My one request, if this goes in, is this. Make the Galaxy able to defend herself. I'd love to see turrets on the top, bottom and tail with an upgrade option for the pilot tree to get a chin turret.
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Old 2011-08-05, 01:12 PM   [Ignore Me] #6
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


I think that altitude should not matter although perhaps range to target should. What I mean by that is missile x takes y amount of time to travel a given amount of distance. If an aircraft is high up enough it would be easier to avoid the missile but it would still be coming after them.

On the flip side of this things with the lancer style of aim and fire where dodging is much much harder due to the speed of the projectile need to be balanced. This would possibly include decreasing damage over distance. Nothing is scarier than trying to fly a reaver through a hail of lancer shots because it is so hard to dodge them.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-08-05, 01:13 PM   [Ignore Me] #7
Malorn
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by Sentrosi View Post
My one request, if this goes in, is this. Make the Galaxy able to defend herself. I'd love to see turrets on the top, bottom and tail with an upgrade option for the pilot tree to get a chin turret.
Personally I love the idea of the Flying Fortress from WWII with gunners fending off aircraft, fighters swarming and dogfighting escort fighters, pilots avoding Flak, etc. I like to see that in both the Liberator and the Galaxy for these high-altitude battles.

I want both the lib and the galaxy to have meaningful defensive guns. I think the bes tway to do it is to give the galaxy a top turret gunner in place of the side gunners. Tailgun + swivel gun on top of the galaxy means it will only be used for air defense and it would be reasonably effective air defense.

Air-to-Air specialized aircraft though like Wasps...well I would still want them effective at doing their job but the galaxy should have some reasonable Air defense via gunners.
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Old 2011-08-05, 01:15 PM   [Ignore Me] #8
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by Bags View Post
Surprisingly, I like how it works in PS1, where height doesn't matter.
It's funny, I both agree and disagree with this short statement. I like how it works in PS1 as well, but I believe height does matter. For example, it is harder for the TR AA Max to hit you if you are farther away, also you can break a lock-on easier at high altitudes because it's easier to get out of range.

For Malorn, I like the concept, but as I was reading it, I couldn't figure out if you were describing PS1, or what you'd like to see in PS2. Basically, I think it is balanced just right in PS1. Sure, 1 single AA Max can deny a fairly large area to aircraft (I've done it quite a bit myself so it's not hard), but I believe thats the way it should be. If aircraft had free reign over the whole map, there wouldn't be much of a ground game.

So since the AA/Aircraft balance is just right in PS1, and altitude already does affect AA, the conclusion would be that I hope PS2 is similar to PS1 in this case. The only real new idea is the flak gun that is more effective at long range than short range which is a cool idea, but that feels a little niche for me, so perhaps that is a weapon system that could be added later in an update.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-08-05, 01:17 PM   [Ignore Me] #9
Malorn
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by Atuday View Post
I think that altitude should not matter although perhaps range to target should. What I mean by that is missile x takes y amount of time to travel a given amount of distance. If an aircraft is high up enough it would be easier to avoid the missile but it would still be coming after them.

On the flip side of this things with the lancer style of aim and fire where dodging is much much harder due to the speed of the projectile need to be balanced. This would possibly include decreasing damage over distance. Nothing is scarier than trying to fly a reaver through a hail of lancer shots because it is so hard to dodge them.
I chose altitude over distance because that provides pilots with reasonable guarantees that climbing = safety from most ground-AA. It also allows ground-based AA to be effective across larger ground distances. Damage degradation over absolute value of z difference makes sense. It doesn' thave to be linear. It could be like EVE where you have an "Optimal" range and a falloff distance. That's a good way to do range so it is reliable up to a certain point and then quickly drops off. I like that based on the z axis and not the distance though. Of course all weapons should have an effective range so maybe some combination of the two could work where the veritical distance has more of a weight than the other two components.
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Old 2011-08-05, 01:21 PM   [Ignore Me] #10
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by Malorn View Post
All other aircraft are not effective against ground targets when they are at high altitude, so ground targets dont' really need to worry about high alititude aircraft.
They do, however, need to worry about dive bombing tactics. Without a flight ceiling, air can simply bypass AA on the periphery of the battle and head straight for the target.
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Old 2011-08-05, 01:22 PM   [Ignore Me] #11
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by Bags View Post
Surprisingly, I like how it works in PS1, where height doesn't matter.
Granted I haven't played in a long while but I could had sworn that while playing counter air max this wasn't the case for certain aa like flak cannons...

Regardless I believe certain AA should have range height limitations, proper Aerodynamics should be applied to not just aircraft but also the missiles and other such AA projectiles.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-08-05, 01:24 PM   [Ignore Me] #12
Malorn
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by Raymac View Post
For Malorn, I like the concept, but as I was reading it, I couldn't figure out if you were describing PS1, or what you'd like to see in PS2.
I posted in the PS2 forum for a reason. Its PS2 but since we have very little information about air combat and AA in PS2 it is in the context of PS1, but assuming different AA types and higher flight ceiling.

Flak is a good exmaple of why I think altitude balancing is important. Not all AA is equal but you can have some basic characteristics like making some weapons effective against long-range targets and other effective against short-range.

Also high altitude should offer some reduced damage because you have no cover or other safety mechanism. Height/distnace *is* your defense, so I think having that a meaningful defense is important. As you said earlier in the thread it isn't fun to die to something that you can't shoot back to. That is true for both infantry and aircraft. Aircraft at the flight ceiling can't relaly shoot back on a swarm of infantry below firing up a locust swarm of strikers at them or flak barrages.

Generally in PS, the higher you go up the more vulnerable you become to AA. In some cases distnace will help you but a good flak gunner can lead appropriately and still land most of his shots. Sparrows will find their mark most easily, and starfires are still very effective. I think distance and height should matter and it should be reflected in AA effectiveness. Make AA effective at ranges where the aircraft can also be effective. Lib and gal are the exceptions as noted above, but for good reasons.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-08-05, 01:31 PM   [Ignore Me] #13
Malorn
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by CutterJohn View Post
They do, however, need to worry about dive bombing tactics. Without a flight ceiling, air can simply bypass AA on the periphery of the battle and head straight for the target.

I see you're worried about hit-and-run aircraft coming in and then booking up to high alittude to avoid reprisal, or using high altitude as cover and dive-bombing.

Dive-bombing effectiveness depends on how the aircraft handles and what ranges the AA is effective, the damage it does, and the durability of the aircraft. If it only takes a few shots to down an aircraft or aircraft can't effectively change altitudes that quickly then the concern is meaningless. Its also something that can easily be corrected by changing the damage degradation formulas of the AA and the flight characteristics of the aircraft. Unless they'r edesigned to be dive-bombers I dont' see the issue. Vultures might be the only intentional dive bomber in the game, but they're not exactly nimble vehicles so they would be vulnerable on the dive and vulnerable after it.

Its just a numbers balancing game, not a design issue.
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Old 2011-08-05, 01:38 PM   [Ignore Me] #14
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Im very suportive of skill based AA, that usually naturally becomes more difficult as range is increased, size goes down and speed goes up.

Also just think how cool it will be a armoured chassis with a 4 barreled 25mm cannon blazing up at the sky making the reavers jink around.

BLISS!
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Old 2011-08-05, 01:52 PM   [Ignore Me] #15
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Re: Balancing Aircraft/AA with Altitude


Originally Posted by Aractain View Post
Also just think how cool it will be a armoured chassis with a 4 barreled 25mm cannon blazing up at the sky making the reavers jink around.

BLISS!
Indeed, without proper range differentials however this turns into obvious spray n' pray ignorant bliss...

Yep that's the way to encourage skilled play instead of thoughtful calculations going into every trajectory we should encourage twitches to just trigger away..
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