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So I was discussing on Discord about how to buff CRAMs and put them on a similar level of usefulness and versatility to other weapon types (APS, missiles, energy weapons). I put forth a few ideas, which were mostly shot down in favour of: 

1. Making them cheaper. Halving the cost of every CRAM component seemed to be a popular idea. 

Which is fair enough, and by far the easiest fix. But since that's kind of boring and doesn't fit the tone of building naval guns that can fire shells the size of a bus, here are the wacky ideas for advanced CRAM gunnery I've found on the forum or came up with myself: 

2. Lower density CRAM shells have greater velocity, but more heavily crammed shells gain accuracy as they pack. Makes it so there is a hard decision and balance between fast shells firing quickly and powerful shells firing slowly. Necessitates setting for shell packing limit. 

3. Smaller gauge CRAMS have a higher starting muzzle velocity and a damage buff - makes 200mm CRAMs actually useful for something!

4. New pellets and components: 
  - Gunpowder pellets - takes up shell density to increase shell speed. As explosive as HE pellets, so be careful placing them. 
  - Gauss Chargers - works like the CRAM equivalent of APS railgun chargers, using battery power to improve shell speed.

5. Shell Customization Components (that you can stick anywhere on the gun): changes the behaviour of the shell fired.
  - AP tip - makes the CRAM shell faster and have higher AP value, but lowers maximum density. Incompatible with Soft-point tip. 
  - Soft-point tip - converts all kinetic damage of the shell to thump damage, but slows down the shell. Incompatible with AP tip.
  - Frag protocol component - allows fine-tuning of the fragment angle of frag CRAM shells. 
  - Explosive protocol component - allows fine-tuning of the damage vs. radius of HE CRAM shells. CRAM flak, anyone?
  - Cluster Munition protocol - adds a special timed fuse that makes CRAM shells split into smaller ones on detonation (like a mini-MIRV).  
  - Stabilising Fins protocol - adds unfolding fins to CRAM shells that improve accuracy at the cost of max density. 
  - Remote guidance protocol - allows the shell to be guided by detection systems after firing, similar to an APN missile. Cost of 5% density, requires Stabilising Fins and the shell is only able to be steered when falling.
  - Smoke canister protocol - makes the shell creates a smoke cloud on detonation. Reduces maximum CRAM density by half.

6. More barrel lengths (2m, 3m, 4m) and rebalanced barrels: 
  - Keep Regular barrel, Motor-driven barrel, Elevation barrel and Heavy barrel as-is. 
  - Recoil suppression barrel - make it match the stats of the Regular barrel, but make it more expensive. 
  - Flash suppressor barrel - it's useless. Get rid of it. No, it doesn't help shells get past LAMS systems, stop trying to tell me that. Who puts a flash suppressor on a naval gun anyway? 
  - New barrel - Accelerator barrel: used in conjunction with Gauss batteries to accelerate the CRAM shell. 

What people also seem to think that CRAMs should be a 'noob weapon' - something for new players, to be discarded once more familiar with other game mechanics. I'd like to point out that missiles are also a noob-friendly weapon that are useful right throughout the game and have some really clever tricks and customization options, and game balance shouldn't be based on how easy or hard a weapon is to build: the end result of an expert builder matters a lot more. 

I'd also like to mention that Awellner had the idea to use steam engines to accelerate CRAM shells, with the argument that it would fit thematically the steamboats of the Deepwater Guard and Onyx Watch. Personally I hate using steam engines, so that idea doesn't appeal to me that much, but I can see where he's coming from. It's just one step away from the Gauss chargers powered by batteries in the bullet points above. 

Getting back to the lowered cost proposal, a lot of people seem satisfied to bring the cost of CRAMS down to match their current effectiveness. I'd much rather their effectiveness was improved to match their cost, since it just seems weird to me that giant (up to two metres across!) cannons should be the 'cheap option.'
MYUS.
Why not just increase the muzzle velocity by, say, 50% or so? That's just an easy numbers change. That'd put max CRAM velocity at 300m/s which is around what a slowish APS cannon has. You're making an easy improvement unneccesarily complicated. 4m barrels would be nice though.
(2018-08-18, 05:35 PM)Pastor of Muppets Wrote: [ -> ]Why not just increase the muzzle velocity by, say, 50% or so? That's just an easy numbers change. That'd put max CRAM velocity at 300m/s which is around what a slowish APS cannon has. You're making an easy improvement unneccesarily complicated. 4m barrels would be nice though.

Because if fully packed He CRAM shells can have the same velocity as slow APS guns, that means a shell that's fast enough to catch most targets that can do up to 30,000 explosive damage. Might be a bit OP. 

Hence the idea that lighter packing makes for a faster but more inaccurate shell. The other ideas are mostly to balance CRAMs against things that counter them too hard, like erratic craft movement or LAMS.
I feel that any sort of mechanism by which you can sacrifice damage on CRAMs in exchange for higher velocity is kinda pointless, since it really just allows you to make them more like APS. I think that part of the problem with CRAMs is that they're designed to be good against big, slow, heavily armored things, but anything slow is complete trash anyway because evasion is so powerful. If massive, plodding, heavily armored designs were more useful, weapons against them would be more useful as well. Things like cost and damage could certainly use tweaking, but until the main thing CRAMs are good against is actually useful, they're not going to see much use.
(2018-08-19, 11:50 PM)Unhinged mechanic Wrote: [ -> ]I feel that any sort of mechanism by which you can sacrifice damage on CRAMs in exchange for higher velocity is kinda pointless, since it really just allows you to make them more like APS. I think that part of the problem with CRAMs is that they're designed to be good against big, slow, heavily armored things, but anything slow is complete trash anyway because evasion is so powerful. If massive, plodding, heavily armored designs were more useful, weapons against them would be more useful as well. Things like cost and damage could certainly use tweaking, but until the main thing CRAMs are good against is actually useful, they're not going to see much use.

How is CRAM being more like APS a bad thing, seeing that as of right now APS are immeasurably superior? Buffing the ideal targets for CRAMs won't help CRAMs become more viable, because APS and other weapon systems as they are now would still  outperform them in every field. 

Adding a potential trade-off between damage and shell speed would add considerable depth to designing CRAM cannons and make them at least some way as versatile as the other weapon systems in the game. As of now the only viable uses for CRAMS are big HE, HE/Pen-Depth, HE/Frag or HE/EMP guns that are only good against slow and steady targets, with the odd CRAM bomber or depth-charge launcher for variety. Of the latter two, IR smart bombs and torpedoes respectively do a far more reliable job. The fact that against craft with strong 4Q LAMS you almost always need APS smoke guns as support just makes the point clearer that CRAMs themselves need a buff if they are to stand on their own as a weapon system. 

Furthermore, even slow targets can dodge CRAM shells if they move erratically enough. The Iron Cordon and Perforator in particular are devils for shimmying from side to side and dodging whole volleys at once. That's why I suggested ways to have either faster or remotely guided CRAM shells, at the cost of outright damage. It's addressing one of the most common complaints about CRAMs: that such a powerful shell is completely useless if it misses the target. 

So you want slow, armoured craft to be viable? They already are, in a way: slower craft make better use of smoke to counter lasers, and can sit low in the water to take advantage of the protection that gives. If you want to make armoured craft more viable, what you'd need to do is change the weapons and mechanics that circumvent the armour stacking mechanic: lasers, PAC and APS HESH and Hollow-point. But it still won't make CRAMs more useful than they are now, because half of the shells will still miss and the other half will still get blown out of the air by LAMS.
*flicks fu Manchu and grumbles deep in his throat*

I aplove
(2018-08-19, 05:57 AM)BorderWise Wrote: [ -> ]
(2018-08-18, 05:35 PM)Pastor of Muppets Wrote: [ -> ]Why not just increase the muzzle velocity by, say, 50% or so? That's just an easy numbers change. That'd put max CRAM velocity at 300m/s which is around what a slowish APS cannon has. You're making an easy improvement unneccesarily complicated. 4m barrels would be nice though.

Because if fully packed He CRAM shells can have the same velocity as slow APS guns, that means a shell that's fast enough to catch most targets that can do up to 30,000 explosive damage. Might be a bit OP. 

Hence the idea that lighter packing makes for a faster but more inaccurate shell. The other ideas are mostly to balance CRAMs against things that counter them too hard, like erratic craft movement or LAMS.

300m/s APS shells miss a lot. Hell, 500m/s APS rounds miss a lot too. 160m/s CRAM shells virtually always miss. CRAM misses are extra painful due to the long refire delays. CRAM not being able to hit little erratic jets doesn't bother me; one can always add an APS AA gun or laser to the vehicle for that.

I wouldn't worry about CRAM being "overpowered" until it can actually hit something stronger than OW and DWG stuff. Increasing the velocity of CRAM shots will help the rounds hit more dangerous opponents and won't matter at all against things CRAM already can beat--Marauders will still get smashed in one volley. Who cares about Marauders?
(2018-08-20, 06:44 AM)BorderWise Wrote: [ -> ]
(2018-08-19, 11:50 PM)Unhinged mechanic Wrote: [ -> ]I feel that any sort of mechanism by which you can sacrifice damage on CRAMs in exchange for higher velocity is kinda pointless, since it really just allows you to make them more like APS. I think that part of the problem with CRAMs is that they're designed to be good against big, slow, heavily armored things, but anything slow is complete trash anyway because evasion is so powerful. If massive, plodding, heavily armored designs were more useful, weapons against them would be more useful as well. Things like cost and damage could certainly use tweaking, but until the main thing CRAMs are good against is actually useful, they're not going to see much use.

How is CRAM being more like APS a bad thing, seeing that as of right now APS are immeasurably superior? Buffing the ideal targets for CRAMs won't help CRAMs become more viable, because APS and other weapon systems as they are now would still  outperform them in every field. 

Adding a potential trade-off between damage and shell speed would add considerable depth to designing CRAM cannons and make them at least some way as versatile as the other weapon systems in the game. As of now the only viable uses for CRAMS are big HE, HE/Pen-Depth, HE/Frag or HE/EMP guns that are only good against slow and steady targets, with the odd CRAM bomber or depth-charge launcher for variety. Of the latter two, IR smart bombs and torpedoes respectively do a far more reliable job. The fact that against craft with strong 4Q LAMS you almost always need APS smoke guns as support just makes the point clearer that CRAMs themselves need a buff if they are to stand on their own as a weapon system. 

Furthermore, even slow targets can dodge CRAM shells if they move erratically enough. The Iron Cordon and Perforator in particular are devils for shimmying from side to side and dodging whole volleys at once. That's why I suggested ways to have either faster or remotely guided CRAM shells, at the cost of outright damage. It's addressing one of the most common complaints about CRAMs: that such a powerful shell is completely useless if it misses the target. 

So you want slow, armoured craft to be viable? They already are, in a way: slower craft make better use of smoke to counter lasers, and can sit low in the water to take advantage of the protection that gives. If you want to make armoured craft more viable, what you'd need to do is change the weapons and mechanics that circumvent the armour stacking mechanic: lasers, PAC and APS HESH and Hollow-point. But it still won't make CRAMs more useful than they are now, because half of the shells will still miss and the other half will still get blown out of the air by LAMS.

There's no point in having CRAMs in the game if you're just going to make them functionally the same as APS. And slow craft are absolutely NOT viable. They cost more and are vastly less effective than fast flyers. Spazzing around on the water surface is just a result of FTDs buggy water physics lately, and should not be used as a balance factor, since it's meant to be fixed anyway.
(2018-08-20, 08:48 PM)Unhinged mechanic Wrote: [ -> ]
(2018-08-20, 06:44 AM)BorderWise Wrote: [ -> ]
(2018-08-19, 11:50 PM)Unhinged mechanic Wrote: [ -> ]I feel that any sort of mechanism by which you can sacrifice damage on CRAMs in exchange for higher velocity is kinda pointless, since it really just allows you to make them more like APS. I think that part of the problem with CRAMs is that they're designed to be good against big, slow, heavily armored things, but anything slow is complete trash anyway because evasion is so powerful. If massive, plodding, heavily armored designs were more useful, weapons against them would be more useful as well. Things like cost and damage could certainly use tweaking, but until the main thing CRAMs are good against is actually useful, they're not going to see much use.

How is CRAM being more like APS a bad thing, seeing that as of right now APS are immeasurably superior? Buffing the ideal targets for CRAMs won't help CRAMs become more viable, because APS and other weapon systems as they are now would still  outperform them in every field. 

Adding a potential trade-off between damage and shell speed would add considerable depth to designing CRAM cannons and make them at least some way as versatile as the other weapon systems in the game. As of now the only viable uses for CRAMS are big HE, HE/Pen-Depth, HE/Frag or HE/EMP guns that are only good against slow and steady targets, with the odd CRAM bomber or depth-charge launcher for variety. Of the latter two, IR smart bombs and torpedoes respectively do a far more reliable job. The fact that against craft with strong 4Q LAMS you almost always need APS smoke guns as support just makes the point clearer that CRAMs themselves need a buff if they are to stand on their own as a weapon system. 

Furthermore, even slow targets can dodge CRAM shells if they move erratically enough. The Iron Cordon and Perforator in particular are devils for shimmying from side to side and dodging whole volleys at once. That's why I suggested ways to have either faster or remotely guided CRAM shells, at the cost of outright damage. It's addressing one of the most common complaints about CRAMs: that such a powerful shell is completely useless if it misses the target. 

So you want slow, armoured craft to be viable? They already are, in a way: slower craft make better use of smoke to counter lasers, and can sit low in the water to take advantage of the protection that gives. If you want to make armoured craft more viable, what you'd need to do is change the weapons and mechanics that circumvent the armour stacking mechanic: lasers, PAC and APS HESH and Hollow-point. But it still won't make CRAMs more useful than they are now, because half of the shells will still miss and the other half will still get blown out of the air by LAMS.

There's no point in having CRAMs in the game if you're just going to make them functionally the same as APS. And slow craft are absolutely NOT viable. They cost more and are vastly less effective than fast flyers. Spazzing around on the water surface is just a result of FTDs buggy water physics lately, and should not be used as a balance factor, since it's meant to be fixed anyway.

Can you please not write your reply in the quoted text box? You're just going to confuse people if you do that. 

I'd argue that there's no point in having CRAMs in the game if they are going to be functionally worse than every other weapon system in the game. Since removing them from the game at this stage entirely would be rather stink (seeing that they are still easy and fun to use, even with all their drawbacks), they need some form of change. I've already suggested what I think needs changing, and I don't believe that they would end up functionally the same as APS at all: they'd still be built in very different ways, used in different ways and would necessitate differences in the design craft that they're mounted on. 

The "spazzing around on the water surface" I was referring to is not related to the recent buggy water physics, it's the way that many craft move when they have yet to enter broadside: they constantly turn from port to starboard to correct their course. Watch an Iron Cordon or a Perforator move towards a distant target, you'll see what I mean. 

And you are still incorrect that slow craft (or rather, slow-er - I consider anything below 15m/s to be pretty slow) are not viable. This is due to how shields and laser smoke defense works: any craft that moves over 30m/s tends to outpace its own smoke clouds, and shields get exponentially weaker the faster a craft moves to the point that even strength 10 shields do very little. Hence there's a tradeoff between speed and active APS/laser defense, with only very expensive craft being able to have effective shields and laser defense while moving at very high speeds.  

I'll reiterate: one of the overall main problems with CRAMs is their lack of versatility. Buffing the one thing that they are good at countering will not fix that problem.
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