Author Topic: The Cube Meta and How You're Helping To Enforce It  (Read 15815 times)

SageThe13th

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on: February 24, 2017, 04:34:11 AM
So, before I get into this I have to say a few things.  One is that if you support the cube meta I want to hear from you.  The whole crux of my argument is that people always seem to be complaining about the cube meta.  And really, I've never seen anyone step up to defend it.  It might be interesting to hear what they have to say.  Also, as you read this you might get the idea that I dislike engineering games since I'm going to be speaking against a lot of engineering game mechanics.  This is not true.  I love engineering games.  I love From the Depths, one of the most detailed vehicle design games ever made.  It's just that if you want an engineering game you have lots of options.  This is just my opinion, but I would like to see Avorion go in a different direction.

Well, lets talk about the cube meta then.  I'm going to say(write) this point blank.  You can't avoid the cube meta.  To understand this you have understand what causes the cube meta in the first place.  It has to do with human nature and geometry.  In a general sense people, the player base, like it when things are easy.  This isn't everybody mind you, but the average player wants to achieve as much power as possible as easily as possible.  If this weren't the case the answer to every game imbalance would be to tell the player not to do things that make the game boring.  But players can't help themselves.  If there's an easy way to win most of them are going to use it.  Thus, the cube meta is a result of this behavior and the fact that cubes and rectangular cuboids are very powerful easy to build shapes.  If you don't know what I mean by a powerful shape the rest of my talking points should make this more clear.  But basically, this means there will always be a cube meta.

However, the cube meta has some drawbacks.  The biggest one seems to be that people don't like the way these flying battle boxes look.  So the best way to counter the cube meta is to design systems that promote aesthetic building or at the very least don't punish aesthetic designs.

Point 1: The need to win causes the cube meta

Players like to win and players like to look cool.  Preferably, while winning.  Though given a choice of one or the other more players will choose to win rather than choosing to look cool.  As I stated before the average player likes it easy.  Building a cube ship is easy.  But, so is downloading a ship from the forums and using it.  However, the ease of using someone else's design doesn't counter the ease of building a battle box if the downloaded ship is quantifiably weaker than a cube ship the player could make in fifteen minutes.  So what makes aesthetic ships worse than cube ships?  Well, lots of things.

Point 2: Real world design principals enforce the cube meta

Real world design principals promote utilitarian designs and the most utilitarian design for a spaceship is a cuboid, a spheroid, or a pyramid.  You get the cube meta because cuboids are the easiest to build.  Taking it a step further Avorion has mechanics that make cubes even more desirable.

Cubes, spheres, and pyramids are good because they have a lot of internal volume for their surface area.  Since more internal volume means bigger components and bigger components = more power these shapes have a good power to surface area ratio making them powerful shapes.  Ships with bad volume to surface area ratios are weaker because the extra surface area forces you to thin out your defenses.  In Avorion large singular armor plates are better than a bunch of little ones and it's easiest to build a cube out of large armor plates so...

This cube is better...


Than this sphere...


This pyramid...


And this ship.


Point 3: Ship Hp, shields, and integrity fields counter the cube meta

Local damage promotes a cube meta.  Look at the blue parts of my ship picture.  Those blue armor blocks weight the ship down the same as the red armor blocks.  Yet, they are less likely to get hit by enemy fire and so they aren't as useful as the red armor blocks.  The cube doesn't have these inefficiencies and is thus more desirable.  Also the more complex the shape of a ship the more complex it's local damage model becomes.  Rather than worrying about where the armor should made thicker and where it should be made thinner a player can avoid all that hassle by making a cube.  Then the local damage model is reduced to simply being front, back, top, bottom, right side, and left side armor and those armor plates are going to hold up better than more complex shapes make out of smaller blocks.

Ship Hp, shields, and IFGs make the local damage model of a ship matter less.  If we could turn a ship into just an Hp bar the way we used to with the old IFGs then aesthetic ships would be on nearly even footing with cube ships.  Now, I'm not saying all ships should work like this by default.  My proposed solution, which you can read in more detail here, was to have it so that the old IFG block or some other block that worked like the old IFGs would be unlocked at a high material tier.

So there you have it.  The typical engineering mechanics you find in a lot of these games leads to the cube meta.  Is this a bad thing?  No.  It's just human nature and geometry at work.  However, I feel Avorion can find a different niche.  One that promotes aesthetics.  If the devs decide to ease up on some of the ship design aspects.



Duncan Idaho

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on: February 24, 2017, 05:26:33 AM
If I understand correctly, integrity field blocks used to promote aesthetics by tying the block HP to the ship's total HP, thus making it so that only the total HP is important irrespective of geometry. The new approach, while less OP, does seem to promote building boring borg cubes (can't spell boring without borg!). Perhaps there is some change to the integrity field that could strike a compromise between the two?



Reggiereggie

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on: February 24, 2017, 07:48:18 AM
If I understand correctly, integrity field blocks used to promote aesthetics by tying the block HP to the ship's total HP, thus making it so that only the total HP is important irrespective

even with integrity field, after receiving continous enemy fire my ship lose a few blocks



SageThe13th

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on: February 24, 2017, 08:25:36 AM
If I understand correctly, integrity field blocks used to promote aesthetics by tying the block HP to the ship's total HP, thus making it so that only the total HP is important irrespective

even with integrity field, after receiving continous enemy fire my ship lose a few blocks

They used to work that way.  They don't currently.  They just provide a flat 10 times bonus to block Hp.



icyplace

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on: February 24, 2017, 12:35:05 PM
Cube meta?

I believe that is why shield appears in this game. Basically I rush to get shield materials unlock right away. Because after I get shield, I don't need to worry about too much about shape. However the collision damage to rocks or other ships are still very high.
But I don't do PVP. So it is another story.



Michigo

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on: February 24, 2017, 02:49:55 PM
This only comes into play in PvP, and PvP isn't the focus of Avorion anyways.

How does the op intent to stop players from feeling the need to win in PvP?
It's normal to use everything that can provide you an advantage in PVP, some asshats even cheat or use exploits just to win even harder.



Fidtz

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on: February 24, 2017, 03:05:54 PM
The current successful system for designing PvP games it to continuously change and re-balance them and trying to attain a good "current meta" that the players from pro to wood league all like. PvP sucks resources out of a game. This happens IRL too, most major sports have seasonal rule changes, responding to changes in technology and tactics by players and teams.

I would hope that PvP will remain a sideline in Avorion as all the above is a huge development sink.



SageThe13th

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on: February 24, 2017, 04:58:43 PM
Cube meta?

I believe that is why shield appears in this game. Basically I rush to get shield materials unlock right away. Because after I get shield, I don't need to worry about too much about shape. However the collision damage to rocks or other ships are still very high.
But I don't do PVP. So it is another story.

Shields are not a perfect defense.  But, you're right the majority of the time your ship is safe behind it's shields.  My argument is aimed more at people who want weaker shields, no IFGs, and for local damage to matter more because it adds depth in their opinion.  I just feel like these people are making their suggestions without realizing that it causes the cube meta that most people also claim to be boring an uninteresting.

This only comes into play in PvP, and PvP isn't the focus of Avorion anyways.

How does the op intent to stop players from feeling the need to win in PvP?
It's normal to use everything that can provide you an advantage in PVP, some asshats even cheat or use exploits just to win even harder.

You can't stop them from wanting to win.  That's why I said there will always be a cube meta.  Cubes will also always have some advantages and will always be a viable option.  However, you can still avoid the dominance of a cube meta if other viable alternatives are presented.  I'll use Starmade as an example.  In Starmade cube ships are good.  And not just good, supremely powerful.  I built a ship that looked like a jet once.  Then, I built a cube ship that had roughly the same block count and roughly the same mass.  The cube ship turned faster, had double the shields, and three times the firepower as the jet ship.  That's a solid cube meta.

Also, if someone is using cheat or exploits the devs attempt to fix them.  You can fix the cube meta the same way.  Avorion doesn't really have this problem.  Yet.  These kind of build games always seem to trend towards making ship design more and more a focus of the game.  This in turn leads to the cube meta.  I'm just warning people about it now.

The current successful system for designing PvP games it to continuously change and re-balance them and trying to attain a good "current meta" that the players from pro to wood league all like. PvP sucks resources out of a game. This happens IRL too, most major sports have seasonal rule changes, responding to changes in technology and tactics by players and teams.

I would hope that PvP will remain a sideline in Avorion as all the above is a huge development sink.

PvP shouldn't be a focus of the game.  Though, it shouldn't be ignored either.  And if the solutions to balancing PvP help everyone then that's a win win.



Fidtz

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on: February 24, 2017, 05:12:58 PM
From a development point of view, I think it would be relatively "easy" to destroy a cube meta by making shield strength (and some reflective component of armour if necessary) depend on exposed surface area, making the efficiency of a cube or sphere work against itself.

Leaving propulsion and energy dependent on volume makes a trade off and heads off the opposite "thin stick" meta  :D



Duncan Idaho

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on: February 24, 2017, 05:33:09 PM
From a development point of view, I think it would be relatively "easy" to destroy a cube meta by making shield strength (and some reflective component of armour if necessary) depend on exposed surface area, making the efficiency of a cube or sphere work against itself.

Leaving propulsion and energy dependent on volume makes a trade off and heads off the opposite "thin stick" meta  :D

So people would just build cubes with loads of spikes on them? Fractal borg cubes are just as boring IMO.

I guess the devs have to decide if they want the game to be focused on engineering, where the practical design of the ship is king, or instead to focus on a simplified model that gives players freedom to build cool-looking ships without having to worry too much about the laws of physics.



Michigo

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on: February 24, 2017, 11:22:37 PM
So people would just build cubes with loads of spikes on them? Fractal borg cubes are just as boring IMO.

*imagines a hedgehog-like Cube*

*buahahhaha*


Yeah, that's pretty much what would happen.



icyplace

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on: February 25, 2017, 01:21:11 AM
So people would just build cubes with loads of spikes on them? Fractal borg cubes are just as boring IMO.

I guess the devs have to decide if they want the game to be focused on engineering, where the practical design of the ship is king, or instead to focus on a simplified model that gives players freedom to build cool-looking ships without having to worry too much about the laws of physics.

Totally agree to this.

 If the game focus on building practical, everything will look like a ball or a cube. There are no need for all other difference shapes of cubes. In fact no need to build anymore. It all comes down to who has a bigger cube wins.

I have been playing another game that get across the same argument. The developer try to cater both styles, practical and freedom builds. Updates after updates, the gaming environment getting worse and worse.

Lucky Avorion does not have this problem and hope this problem will not arise in future.



LordMaddog

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on: February 25, 2017, 02:05:07 AM

I have been playing another game that get across the same argument. The developer try to cater both styles, practical and freedom builds. Updates after updates, the gaming environment getting worse and worse.

Lucky Avorion does not have this problem and hope this problem will not arise in future.

Ya it dose already in the beta forums this argument is  quite prevalent and the dev seems to agree with both sides.

Personally I HATE CUBS it really feels like a sign of laziness and ineptitude on the players side but it is without a doubt the best way to go.

Whats worse I also love complexity. My fav idea for IFG is for them to stop collision damage(according to there size) and make it so parts that are broken off can be repaired by your mechanics. This however would just compound the Cube making meta as well.

There are a few ways I can see slightly fixing this tho.

1 make it so NPC stations sell designs that the player can buy in game.

2 make a model converter that lets players import .obj and have them converted into blocks. (this one would take a lot a lota work and many new block shape types)

3 An aesthetically pleasing crew moral boost that make's all systems 25% more effective. I know if I worked on a wicked looking ship that just bespoke awesomeness I be like HECK YA we can cream that lame block of a ship over there!
This however gives rise to the question of how do you determine what is good looking.

4 make all components peaceable in all block shapes.
 



Ranakastrasz

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on: February 25, 2017, 02:17:57 AM
This is why I wanted integrity fields to be local shield generators. Let you cover fragile details, but still let local damage occur. A compromise. Without throwing out all aspects of a physics simulation, Anything but a cube is going to be less effective without some advantage to counter it.



On this subject, my thoughts on surface area based scaling, but requring LOS seems like it might contribute to a solution. Essentially I wanted solar panels and thrusters to have only surfaces with LOS out of the ship to be effective. This was to make stacking less effective, while still using surface area for calculations.
However, making more surface area better might counter this meta. After all, if you need more surface area for faster movement (or manuverability), or can use it for cheap power (as in, more power per mass and price, if not exactly volume) then suddenly, the death-cube would lose out to ships with higher surface area.


Still, that would optimize towards relatively flat planes or circles (flattened cylinders) so I am not sure. Still, if you are already stuck in the middle of two extremes, where something between solid shapes and flat shapes, you might end up with a solid body with your volume-based components and large relatively flat wings or antenna or other details which provide surface-area based effects.

Just make sure that both sides compete with each other, or you will go to far the other way.

Given that I can't currently play the game, I have no idea why I am putting so much effort into the wiki.



LordMaddog

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on: February 25, 2017, 02:28:20 AM
you might end up with a solid body with your volume-based components and large relatively flat wings or antenna or other details which provide surface-area based effects.

Just make sure that both sides compete with each other, or you will go to far the other way.

Naw you will just end up with boxes that have long flat UGLY wings. And the end result would be players would have even less design choices dramatically increasing the number of Cube ships.