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Preventing kamikaze griefing

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Alright, here's the deal. In the game I'm currently working on, a PvP-heavy naval combat MMO, each player controls a battleship (of sorts) and fights other battleships. Now, one of the things that can happen during combat is two ships running into each other. This causes a large amount of damage to both. I want to keep this damage rule in place, because continuously running into your opponent drastically decreases their tactical options... I don't want every battle to become "who can get alongside the fastest". So a potential griefing strategy would be for a low-level character (weak battleship), possibly on a just-created account, to intentionally ram larger ships, causing damage to both but only really annoying the higher-level (non-griefing) player. The obvious solution is to not let low-level ships cause any ramming damage to high-level ships. However, that leads to the potential for a reverse griefing strategy, where high-level ships grief low-level ships by running into them with impunity. The basic complicating factor is that it is unclear whose fault the ramming was. Indeed, accidental collisions WILL occur (especially with newer players) and I don't want to penalize either player as a griefer when this happens. Ideas?

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Would it be possible to keep track of how many times someone kamikazes themself? If someone plays a 100 games and dies by ramming each time, then it's pretty obvious what their "tactics" are. Of course you would need a method to tell which ship did the rammming so that the victims didn't wind up in ban land as well.

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Do the ships have any concept of hull strength? If they do (and it relates to level) then couldnt you just factor in this, so the greater the hull strength the less damage take or/and more damage given.

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Original post by Scet
Would it be possible to keep track of how many times someone kamikazes themself? If someone plays a 100 games and dies by ramming each time, then it's pretty obvious what their "tactics" are. Of course you would need a method to tell which ship did the rammming so that the victims didn't wind up in ban land as well.

That's true. You wouldn't even need to know who was doing the ramming, since someone involved in so many rams probably had some part in them. The problem is, it's sort of slow to kick in. Given that this may well be a free or mostly-free MMO, I don't want banned players to just turn around and create a new account for griefing. I also don't want newbies being converted into griefers by being handed such an easy and powerful griefing tactic.

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Original post by Moomin
Do the ships have any concept of hull strength? If they do (and it relates to level) then couldnt you just factor in this, so the greater the hull strength the less damage take or/and more damage given.

Yes, but then you get into a situation where high-level players are encouraged to ram low-level players in order to get a quick win. In particular, it means that a large group of small ships would have little chance against a single large ship. Bullying is always a problem in PvP MMOs, but that sort of an unbalancing factor could make it even worse. It's probably the most tenable option I have so far, though.

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Could you post more gameplay info. Cause I don't really get it. Doesn't the rammer lose its ship. Surely , on a newly created account you wouldn't have enough resources to get anoother ship after you sink your one.

And a nice way to control it is to make it possible for better equiped ships to have some sort of anti ramming equipment, like short range but very manouverable torpedos, or can just be faster and more agile, alowing the bigger player to enjoy some nice dodging manouvers on its side (think toreador and a bull).

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Original post by Radan
Could you post more gameplay info. Cause I don't really get it. Doesn't the rammer lose its ship. Surely , on a newly created account you wouldn't have enough resources to get anoother ship after you sink your one.

It's one player==one ship, and there's no permadeath. And a griefer would indeed lose his ship, but then he'd just go and create a new account.
Quote:
And a nice way to control it is to make it possible for better equiped ships to have some sort of anti ramming equipment, like short range but very manouverable torpedos

That's sort of already the case, in that a ship which is way up close to another ship and oriented for broadsides can do an immense amount of damage. That is exactly why I need collisions to do damage: to keep people from doing this intentionally.
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or can just be faster and more agile, alowing the bigger player to enjoy some nice dodging manouvers on its side (think toreador and a bull).
Hmmmm. Perhaps. I'm not sure it makes more sense for larger ships to be more agile.

The bottom line is, I don't want ramming to be a good strategy for any player (perhaps in strange, exceptional circumstances, but certainly not in run of the mill PvP), including griefers. It's tricky to keep both groups away from it.

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I'm not sure of the mechanics of the game or balance (I'm assuming that low/high level battleships don't need to correspond to fast&small/slow&big in your game) but in general you'd to combine GM monitoring (checking on players that are frequently involved in collisions) and mechanics that make intentional ramming not in the players best interest.

In terms of realism and general balance, higher level ships should take less damage/inflict more damage in a collision, thus making attacks by lower level ships mostly a suicide effort. However as mentioned this creates an overpowered strategy for high level players to ram others.

To counter that you could introduce non-lethal effects to ramming - such as crew being injured, temporarly disabling the ship. However it can again lead to intentional ramming by lower level players.

Ultimately the best method in terms of game balance, working with GM observation, is to introduce a "magic bullet" against ramming that works largely regardless of size. Basically adjust the game mechanics to provide an intentionally overpowered strategy that only works when being rammed.

My example would be to adjust the damage and accuracy of guns to be proportional to distance, with the curve rising sharping at extremely close (point blank) range, and adjust the collision system to take into account how much damage (structural integrity) the ships have already taken (a badly damaged ship won't do much damage to another ship, it will simply fall aparton impact). The ship attempting to ram will have no choice but to point it's stern in roughly the direction of the other ship (since it needs to close on the other ship, and ships don't strafe). The ship being rammed has the luxury of trying to turn - if the collision is stern to stern, the victim has a good chance of being able to avoid the collision completely. If the collision is stern to one of the sides, the victem has a serious gun advantage - the rammer can only fire a few guns, while the victim can deliver a full broadside.

In the magic bullet strategy against ramming, the victim waits until the last second before being hit, then delivers a broadside against the rammer. Since the rammer has intentionally put himself at extremely close range but with few guns able to target his enemy. The structurally weakened rammer now does less ramming damage to the target, while taking even more damage himself.

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Original post by Sneftel
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And a nice way to control it is to make it possible for better equiped ships to have some sort of anti ramming equipment, like short range but very manouverable torpedos

That's sort of already the case, in that a ship which is way up close to another ship and oriented for broadsides can do an immense amount of damage. That is exactly why I need collisions to do damage: to keep people from doing this intentionally.

The bottom line is, I don't want ramming to be a good strategy for any player (perhaps in strange, exceptional circumstances, but certainly not in run of the mill PvP), including griefers. It's tricky to keep both groups away from it.


Well that might cause a problem for my idea. Perhaps you could answer a question about gameplay to help out: How realistic are ships speed/armor/firepower ratios? Can high level players make super battleships that are only not super strong but also super fast? Or is there a real weight penalty (and realistic engines) for the armor and weapons you put on? Basically I'm asking is in a given ramming situation, would the ship likely to take the most damage (due to it having less armor/size) also be equal or faster in speed (i.e. I can make my bad ass battleship faster by taking off armor, but now I've got a pocket battleship that isn't so good for ramming)?

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My current design calls for high-level players to have large ships which have a higher top speed than small ships (due to increased sail area) but which are much less maneuverable (longer to turn, longer to get started from a dead stop). Small ships are quite maneuverable, and more susceptible to damage. I hadn't really thought about the potential for modifying armor.

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what if you just gave the bigger ships enough firepower to disable smaller ships before they hit, so ramming isn’t a very effective first move strategy but can be effective after a the gun battle has deteriorated a bit.

Also if its sail you can have wind direction so its hard to ram head on, you have to follow the wind, as damage would be relative to the ships combined velocity and therefore requiring complex manovers to get into a collision course with enough momentum to do damage and there by giving even more time for the larger ship to shoot.

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some thoughts:

have a special "go ramming speed" command and special ramming attachments/upgrades. lets say the ramming command can be activated if the player is OUTSIDE a certain range of a ship. The logic is that you need space to get up to ramming speed so you can't just get in real close and ram.

This enables the game to detect the intent to ram and makes it part of the gameplay. The other ships are notified immediately if a ship activated the ramming command to enable them to react accordingly.

Hitting ships without the ram command merits warning flags and low damage done the rammed ship.

Players might make ramming boats as a main strategy but the game should provide counters. Example is a larger ship will need to be farther from the target ship to build up speed. decreasing the minimum ramming distance might require getting really expensive engines that guzzle up tons of fuel, to make it harder to maintain a ramming boat. Another way to decrease ramming distance is to put on less armor but this has the the disadvantage of being blown to bits trying to ram the target.

If you implement salvaging, add penalties to rammed ships, make it less profitable to ram and sink ships than to just cripple and take over them. ramming also damages your own ship so repairs are probably more costly.

Another thought is insurance. Players can buy insurance in the game that has a ramming policy. They player might recover their ships (or a percent) if they die due to ramming. Then have the percent recovered go down if the player rams other ships or gets rammed. You might let the players also pay for insurance like in real life.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

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I think you could make ramming a valid tactic and then just balance it as a weapon type. Big ships can't ram small ships, because the small ships will just scoot out of the way most of the time, thanks to their superior maneuverability, and if the big ship misses, its inertia will carry it along and harm its tactical positioning. Small ships can ram large ships at will, but their small size and lower top speed will allow the large ship to withstand the impact fairly well, while the small ship will be annihilated.

If you arrange it so that ramming and losing the small ship does about as much damage as the small ship could hope to inflict with proper weapons in the amount of time it would take for the large ship to destroy or disable it, then ramming won't be overpowered, and will be used as an extreme tactic, as it should be.

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I think you could make ramming a valid tactic and then just balance it as a weapon type. Big ships can't ram small ships, because the small ships will just scoot out of the way most of the time, thanks to their superior maneuverability, and if the big ship misses, its inertia will carry it along and harm its tactical positioning. Small ships can ram large ships at will, but their small size and lower top speed will allow the large ship to withstand the impact fairly well, while the small ship will be annihilated.

If you arrange it so that ramming and losing the small ship does about as much damage as the small ship could hope to inflict with proper weapons in the amount of time it would take for the large ship to destroy or disable it, then ramming won't be overpowered, and will be used as an extreme tactic, as it should be.


Let the big ships try to ram them. If the smaller ships are more maneuverable they SHOULD be able to see it coming and get out of the way fairly effectively.

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If there lower level...then why cant the higher level just blast it before it gets close? And lower level ships, like other people said, shouldnt do as much dmg. I dont see the problem really, a higher level ship should beable to rip them to shreads if all they gonna do is kamikaze into them. How many blasts can a ship handle! :-p
goood luck though

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Original post by Falling Sky
If there lower level...then why cant the higher level just blast it before it gets close? And lower level ships, like other people said, shouldnt do as much dmg. I dont see the problem really, a higher level ship should beable to rip them to shreads if all they gonna do is kamikaze into them. How many blasts can a ship handle! :-p
goood luck though

you could also have it so the ships speed and manuverability decrese as the riging gets torn down and the hull shreded

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You'd be surprised how many broadsides it takes to incapacitate a ship (though the disparity in sizes would help). Anyways, yeah, I think I'll go with the "big ships don't care, small ships can dodge" idea. It has the benefit of not requiring explicit rules to implement, just a good balance between weaponry and maneuverability.

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Maybe if the front of the ship was more susceptible to collision damage than the rest of the ship? So the person doing the ramming would normally hit nose first, causing much more damage to their own ship than the opponents...accidental side-swipes wouldn't do much damage. Only head-to-head chicken matches would be interesting. If you see someone trying to ram you, veer off (also good for being able to fire) and you're mostly protected.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Past a certain time in history, ramming became a non-tactic. It was ineffective because ships could blow other ships apart at range long before they even got close enough (guns/torpedoes at close range....).

The larger/more powerful ship should simply be able to sink any weaker 'battleship' at close range.


Depending on your game mechanics/theme (like allowing unrealistic heavy armor/ships structure) you could also rationalize the more powerful 'battleshhips' being simply so strong that when a weak' one tried to ram it it would be the weak one that crumples up like tin foil.


Do the new players automaticly get a big 'battleship' ?? Why not start them on destroyers or frigates that are much smaller and much less likely to do alot of damage during any ramming attempt (and certainly get blow apart by 'big' guns of a real battleship). They didnt call destroyers 'tincans' for nothing......

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I don't understand why you want to limit the broadside tatic in the first place.

The classic tatic is to gain a wind advantage and monuer for a broadside if you have an advantage in guns. If you don't you want to cross the T and fire in the the rear of the enmey ship while avoiding thier broadside.

If experinced players earn heavier class ships then you have solved the noob ramming them repeatedly they will sink first.


Go play Pirates, :)

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Or you can make it so big ship 'ramming' creates waves that tend to sweep small ships away, effectively preventing contact.

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Original post by Torvald
I don't understand why you want to limit the broadside tatic in the first place.

Wait, what? What suggested that I was trying to limit broadsides?

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Original post by Sneftel
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Original post by Radan
or can just be faster and more agile, alowing the bigger player to enjoy some nice dodging manouvers on its side (think toreador and a bull).
Hmmmm. Perhaps. I'm not sure it makes more sense for larger ships to be more agile.


"Big ships don't care , small ships can dodge" is probably the best tactic but I just wanted to point out one other thing.

When you enhance your ship, I think you should be able to take more than one route, most noticable one being:

I. Increase armor, size and firepower of the ship, turning it more and more into a moving fortress. That would be an "I don't care ship".

II. Increase agility , speed, manouvarebilty. So instead of investing in raw power you invest in speed things, making this high-level ship a very tactical one. That one could try and use its speed to always stay on the weak side of number one ship.

Now, suppose you're thinking , but that II. option will make a ship that can easily outrun any newbie and ram him while not looking. Well, one they invested that much into sails and hull shape and lightness, than it will not have that advanced armor and weapons, so a newbie could stand a chance in gunfight. Besides newbies should be on a lookout for stronger ships and avoid them. Cause if they don't see II. ship coming its way from a mile away then they will not see neither I. ship and if that comes anyway close its just gonna blast the hell out of it anyway.

P.S. You said sails. How realistic are you making your wind simulations?

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Original post by Radan
When you enhance your ship, I think you should be able to take more than one route, most noticable one being:

I. Increase armor, size and firepower of the ship, turning it more and more into a moving fortress. That would be an "I don't care ship".

II. Increase agility , speed, manouvarebilty. So instead of investing in raw power you invest in speed things, making this high-level ship a very tactical one. That one could try and use its speed to always stay on the weak side of number one ship.

I do like that idea... in the stuff I've done so far, ship design has been an integral part of the gameplay (players shape their own hulls and lay out their own decks).

Quote:
P.S. You said sails. How realistic are you making your wind simulations?

Pretty realistic. Players have the option of manually trimming their sails, and any players who assume that maximum speed comes from putting their sails perpendicular to the wind vector will quickly be disabused of that notion. On the other hand, there will be a fudge factor in play; ships which find themselves in irons will find it easier to recover than they would in real life, and beating upwind will be a less onerous process than in real life.

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