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Author Topic: A big list of suggestions and questions about JH tactics (and LOS questions!)  (Read 751 times)

Sylph

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Hi Guys!!!
I've been *loving* getting my mittens on Jupiter Hell! I think you guys have done *such* a fab job with the the engine, how responsive it feels, how atmospheric it can be, and how open to potential it is! I just wanted to put together few thoughts I've been having about the combat tactics of the game as it is right now. I have a few questions about the LOS design decisions, and a bunch of ideas that I feel might not be too hard to implement, that could offer a great deal more strategic depth to the game.
I'm not covering nebulous concepts like 'make more diverse weaponry aka where's the BFG?!' or 'make more individual challenges/areas', because I appreciate that they are in the development pipeline, and how they're implemented is something I'm more excited to see the dev's solution to, after the way new content was handled in DRL!
That is to say, I'm certainly not as imaginative as Kornel and the dev team when it comes to world-building and novel content!

What I feel I *can* offer feedback on, though, is the minutiae that can create depth on the tactical level. Ideas that, I feel, will help the procedurally-generated content have emergent depth. As a dedicated DRL player, and someone who has handled micro-changes to balance games in the past, I feel like there's some potential for amazing improvements in the current content, and hope some of these ideas inspire changes that can really help improve the replayability of the game!

Since this is a long post, I've separated it into 2 sections - LOS-related ideas, and other suggestions. I've also broken each section up into suggestions. I figured this would be a lot less spammy than opening tons of different topics! I've noticed throughout the development of Jupiter Hell that Kornel has been open to suggestions from the playerbase (even going so far as describing is as 'a promise' from the devs to the community.) I hope you can understand that I'm throwing out ideas in the spirit of this open invitation; it's not something I'd ever be so cheeky as to do without there being such a strong invitation of player feedback! I just hope you can take these ideas in the spirit they are intended, rather than seeing them as a laundry list of features I'd selfishly want as though the game were my design baby!!! I'm not seeking specific implementation here, I'm just trying to inspire!

First, a comment about LOS:
One of the things that proved a real stumbling block for me when I was getting into Jupiter Hell was the way some weapons are completely blocked from attacking targets outside of your view. I originally typed quite a bit on this subject, but I'm going to put it behind tags at the bottom of this post, because it's not my motivation behind posting here. In short, I think hitting targets outside of LOS should at least be possible to avoid puzzled newcomers repetitively firing into the black expecting results. Making it for the most part impractical can be achieved by adding, like, an 80% miss chance for non-AOE weapons. I suggest this so that the strategies that are opened by making fog-firing impractical can still be enjoyed, while not confusing players with a weird unstoppable 'wall' at the edge of LOS!
The rest of this section is suggestions that would offer ways around this 'block' at the edge of LOS, and I think if ideas in these directions were implemented, it could make for some really interesting strategy playing around the limited firing range!


Suggestions to improve LOS-related strategy:
Regarding LOS, I think that (provided monster AI were fixed to retaliate to being attacked outside their vision) there are a lot of opportunities here to really make things interesting.

1. Hacking security cameras.
  I loved how the current hacking explores all kinds of different avenues as options for getting control over combat-ready units (droids and turrets). How about controlling some non-combat units though? Namely, cameras! I think it would be awesome if a player could hack the cameras on a level, giving a few areas of LOS outside of their own! Even if it was just 3-4 'circles' of LOS on a map it would really open up strategic options. I think this would be an awesome 'cheaper' option for thrifty hackers that just wanted that extra boost without spending all their multitools. Plus it has a really cool 'assassin/specialist operative' feel to it!

2. Drones with cameras.
'singalen' made a post suggesting that player-hacked drones share their LOS, and I think that's a really interesting idea! After a little thought it made sense to me that only units that had cameras onboard would be able to do this. I'm unsure whether all drones would have cameras - the bigger droids seem more like battle robots than reconnaissance tools. I'm sure, though, that the lighter drones would be likely to have cameras, and even the option of getting a weaponless 'recon drone' as a low-level helper could be awesome in this regard! Props to singalen for the suggestion!

3. Scopes.
  Scopes could be weapon perks, perhaps able to be added with accuracy mod packs, and attached by default on hunting and sniper rifles (like the wind-up perk is standard on chaingun class weapons). A scope could be an active skill, which takes a turn to 'deploy', and modifies the players LOS from the usual range:6 circle, to a range:9 cone (9 is just an example, a cone like the current shotgun blast area), for a turn. I feel this would be a great way that a player could use their intel and ranged weaponry without simply having an overpowered ranged attack. The fact that it would tank our DPS and restrict our peripheral vision could be balancing and immersive factors.

4. Flares.
  Flares that light up an area, extending our LOS a few tiles in their direction (by that I mean, stretching our LOS circle in the direction of the flare, rather than creating a new LOS circle around the flare - From my understanding of the way light levels function in JH this might not be simple, but if implemented another way it would strictly have to give a DISadvantage to the actor nearest the flare! Maybe something as simple as reducing the LOS of any actor within X tiles of the flare, and increasing the LOS of actors outside that area?) These would probably have to be more stackable than grenades, and found in packs of more than 1, to actually be viable finds, but they'd be a great opportunity for more strategic depth, imo.

5. Height.
   I know that height is currently uniform on single floors, and having a full 3d system with LOS restrictions and such would be a *huge* undertaking well beyond the scope of a feature suggestion like this, but perhaps a really simple form could be implemented? Something like a type of floor tile that looks like a 'platform', somewhat raised from surroundings, that extends LOS by 1 when a player is standing on it? The same platforms could reduce LOS by 1 tile if a player is not standing on them (so the LOS equation that determines whether a player can see a tile is given -1 if the tile is raised). This doesn't sound like it would to too massive to implement, and could open up the currently very 'fixed' feeling of LOS, while also opening further positional tactics to enrich the game's combat.
(On this subject, this might be reaching a little, but perhaps having a trait that allows players to climb on top of certain walls -  treasure chests, those destructible piles of boxes, explosive barrels etc?)
Whatever, climbing traits or not, I think just having a floor type that is slightly elevated that affects LOS could be really interesting.

6. Audio 'tells'.
  I appreciate that this is already somewhat implemented. Unfortunately, the strategy that is offered by reacting to sounds is somewhat hampered by the aforementioned inability to hit anything outside LOS. Still, even if it *were* possible, I feel that the sounds in JH are much less recognisable than they were in DRL. I think the monster audio was implemented in DRL *so* well that it's a real shame to lose it here - one of the most impressive measures of this feature, for me, is the fact that in really late stages of challenge for DRL, monsters can start to show up that don't make any sounds, and it gives them this feel like they're 'specialist' adversaries, really out to get the player. It actually took me a while to figure out what it was about nightmare imps that spooked me out so much, and when the penny dropped - their silence - it actually made me realise just how well DRL had done in immersing me through audio! For JH, I'd suggest that monster sounds be made more distinctive, I'm aware that distinctive sounds are there, but I wasn't for a long time; perhaps they're currently too quiet, or too rarely transmitted? Maybe this lack of hearing them is a product of not waiting on the spot for thousands of turns, and they just need to be emitted more often?
All of this, of course, would probably require some relaxation of the 'unable to hit outside LOS' rule in order to really offer direct interaction on the player's part, but even were it not possible to shoot outside LOS, I think the game could really benefit from some louder and more distinctive monster sound effects.

7. Enemy 'snipers'.
Of course, this 'interacting beyond LOS' section wouldn't be complete without giving the badguys ways to play with this! I'd suggest that certain monsters, namely those with long-range weaponry like artillery or rifles, be given another reaction besides just 'close in on the player'. Namely, let some monsters react to gunfire outside of their LOS by firing back! As a scripted reaction to being hit by a player outside of their LOS, or perhaps just a reaction to hearing gunfire nearby, enemies could be made to fire back at a player. This could function wonderfully to make a player wary about firing blindly even where ammo wasn't a concern! I'd think it a much better deterrent than just preventing hitting targets outside LOS, and I think it would feel fair, too: given that firing a weapon is sure to both betray a shooter's position and illuminate them!







Other ideas for strategic depth.
In addition to strictly LOS-related suggestions for increasing a player's tactical options, I'd also like to suggest a few other ideas:

a) AI reacting to sound:
  After implementing the pretty essential AI tweaks to make monsters respond to taking damage (at the moment they don't react at all!), it might be really good to have the monsters react to things like grenade explosions. I actually thought that this happened on a recent playthrough, but after testing it out a bit I think it was just chance! Either way, it might be extra-interesting to have different monsters react to explosions differently. Cowardly former humans might run *away* from a plasma grenade explosion, and Robots would likely run away from EMP blasts!
I also noticed that enemies certainly DO react to hearing doors being attacked. I'm unsure whether that's reacting to the sound of gunfire, specific to doors being attacked, or 1-time scripted events (there's certainly one in the military barracks); but I do like how it's a feature!

b) Doors.
  Remember Space Crusade? I used to play the videogame to it, and there was this one global event that gave the player the ability to remotely open and close doors. It was totally broken, because it could be used to shut the dreadnaught (the 'boss' in many missions) in a door as soon as it tried to leave its first room, killing it instantly!
Broken gameplay memories aside, being able to remotely control doors without actually standing next to them might be fun, but probably hard to implement... Perhaps a more balanced and easily implemented option would be that, after hacking the door controls, a player could be able to open or close doors without spending any time doing so? I think that, alone, would open up a lot of depth, since doors could them become advantageous to a player in certain situations! It would mean a player getting the first turn after opening a door, doors could be used to help kill turrets etc. This certainly sounds easy to implement, and it's a small enough effect to be given freely (ie no multitool costs) as an incentive for all characters to interact with terminals (because at the moment non-hackers actually only bother with them to open vaults).
Another idea would be for a hacker to be able to overide the door safety controls, allowing them to close doors when enemies are standing in them! This could, for example, deal some damage to a target and break the door (so that the action can't be repeated/abused).

c) Map hacking.
  I've watched a few videos, and one thing I've noticed is that nobody seems to pay multitools for the hacking feature to get a map of the level. Have you considered making this map feature stay between floors? If that feels too strong, how about making it so that, once the player has paid once (perhaps charge 2 or more multitools?), the feature costs 0 multitools for the rest of the current playthrough? That is, a player must still reach a terminal before getting their 'free' map, but the maps cost nothing for subsequent floors.

d) Exploration mode.
  Finally, I have a suggestion that occurred to me after playing JH 'unspoiled'. One thing I absolutely loved, although I appreciate it went against the design philosophy of the game, was the feeling of exploration and adventure when I started to see separate exits leading not to one-off special levels like DRL, but different paths! I had this great feeling of being 'lost' in a complex, until I realised that no staircase ever led away from the end of the game, thus effectively making it impossible to ever go in the wrong direction! I think it might make for an interesting 'angel of' game if you opened up the ability to go backwards! I appreciate that the level layouts probably aren't 'saved' so revisiting a previous floor (like in ADOM) would be impossible, but perhaps you could simply allow revisiting areas with new randomly generated levels, with a strict player-augmentation block (so a new randomly-generated level is created, but no XP is granted, and no medikits or stimpacks are generated for any floors with a depth less than or equal to the deepest a player has previously visited). This 'exploration mode' might be a fun equivalent to the 'angel of 100' game types, where a player could really go deep in exploring, without things getting too easy from stockpiling resources and experience.






I hope you devs can enjoy some of the suggestions in this list! I've put it together with the hopes that it can improve the replayability of what is shaping up to be an awesome game! Beyond anything else, though, *please* understand that I'm suggesting these out of a love for your products, not some kind of criticism! I *loved* DRL, it's among my favourite videogames of all time, and usually the first game I install on a new computer! I'm really passionate about your products, and would love to see Jupiter Hell match or exceed it on that list! If nothing else, see this list as a love-letter to your amazing game development, and a thankyou for everything you've done in this game, and your others! <3



Discussion 1: Firing outside of LOS being 'blocked':
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Discussion 2: Run-Wait
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2021, 14:47 by Sylph »
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Tormuse

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Hi Sylph, glad to see your brand of tactical discussion joining the JH forums!  :D  I'll do my best to respond to your points in order.  :)

I agree that the current inability to hit enemies outside of LOS is confusing, and I wanted to add that this is worsened by a number of factors, including...

a)  The ranges of the rifles list themselves as higher than your sight radius.
b)  You can still hit non-enemy targets outside of your visual range, like doors, boxes, and barrels.
c)  Enemies can still hit you from outside your visual range, such as the Calsec Sentries when they fire their three consecutive barrages.
d)  The fact that you used to be able to hit enemies outside of LOS with the same accuracy penalty that Doomguy would have gotten.  (That was seriously a big adjustment to my strategy when I figured out I couldn't do it any more;  also, I wasted a hundred bullets trying to shoot a turret before I figured it out)  :P
e)  The fact that you *can* hit enemies that you can't see if they're in a smokescreen effect that is within your visual radius.

Making monsters retaliate when they get hit could be really interesting, and make for some interesting strategizing...  especially after the first time you hit an armoured ravager and you see a rocket flying at you out of the shadows.  :P  I don't know if that's a direction the devteam wants to go in, but I can see emergent gameplay tactics involving seeking cover before doing your blind-firing.

The security camera idea is pretty neat!  Should be easy to implement too.

Hacked drones giving their LOS could only work if there's a way to look around the map without going there, (Maybe there's already a way to do that I don't know about;  I do know that holding down ctrl and rolling the mouse wheel zooms in and out) but could be an interesting addition.

Scopes could be cool too, and make up for the drawback of the extra time to fire the weapon.

Flares giving advantage to beings that are far and disadvantage to beings that are close could make for interesting tactical combat, but would be really tricky to communicate to the player, and I can also imagine it being really easy to make it unbalanced, so a lot of care would have to be put into implementation.

The talk of height reminds me of Starcraft.  Even though that game is 2D, some terrain is considered to be a different height than others, and any ground unit on the lower terrain can't see units in the upper terrain unless they're at the edge of it, and they also get an accuracy penalty shooting at units on the higher terrain.  And any time a unit on the upper level fires at a unit on the lower level, they get revealed briefly.  (Not sure how much of that can be applied to JH, but I just thought I'd toss out ideas about how "height" was implemented in another sort of similar game)

Of course, I expect that any means of introducing height to JH would present a huge challenge in conveying it to the player, both visually and in explaining it verbally.  All kinds of new art would be needed for the higher platforms (and/or pits?) and for Jupeguy climbing, if they'd want to include that too.  The more I think about it, the less likely it seems like it would be something Kornel would want to introduce.  (Sorry, Sylph)  It would take a lot of work and substantially change the nature of the game.  I expect the Devteam would want to be really sure that's a direction they want to go in before they sink all the time into developing that.

Regarding audio, I think the enemies kind of already have their own distinctive sounds?  I'm not quite clear on what you think should be different with respect to your comparison to DRL sounds.

Regarding doors, I've never played Space Crusade, but I agree that it would be hard to implement opening/closing specific doors at will in JH.  I do kind of like the idea of having a feature in the terminals that says "open all doors" or "close all doors."  Either of those potentially has many subtle tactical applications, considering the number of times I've been running away from an enemy and they got an extra shot at me, because I had to take an extra second to open a door, or times I got something's attention prematurely, becase a door was open I didn't want.  Also, perhaps another feature of the terminal could be to override the automatic doors on levels that have them, so they're either always open or always closed?

Sorry, but I don't agree about the map-hacking for either of your suggestions.  It feels like it would take away the perk of free maps as a reward for getting the hacking skill.  (And even that benefit is kind of tenuous, since it hinges on you happening to find a terminal before you map out the level naturally)  Even if no one ever uses the multi-tool for the map, I think it's nice to have the option there, if only to tempt the player with what they might get if they get hacking trait.

Exploration mode...  hmm...  it could be interesting to be able to have a game where you could visit (for example) both Callisto Anomaly and Valhalla Command in the same game, and get both their respective rewards, but I'm not sure how to make it balanced...  though it brings to mind another idea...  what if there's an Angel challenge that forces you to play through *all* branches in a single game?  Not quite Angel of 100, but pretty close?   (Might make the rewards for Valhalla Command and Calsec Central a little weird;  hmm...  maybe you would need to disable both terminals for it to work?)

Also, I agree about bringing back run-waiting.  :)
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