Confused about difficulty

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Confused about difficulty

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Post by HunterZ » Sun Jul 04, 2021 8:35 pm

Does XWAU change the difficulty and not just the graphics? I'm having extraordinary difficulty with some of the missions. I just gave up and enabled cheats on B1M4, for example, because all of the other rebel ships except for me and the strike transport reliably get wiped out before the POW ship can be disabled if I just do my job and wipe out all the fighters/bombers.

The FAQ explicitly says that this project is supposed to be a graphical upgrade only, and avoids making balance changes, but then I see frustrating threads like this where people are complaining of obvious balance changes and being met it "git gud scrub" replies:

What's going on here?

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Post by Calmputer » Sun Jul 04, 2021 9:58 pm

I have encountered a few missions that were quite a bit harder than I remembered, more difficult than can be explained by aging at any rate...

The last one I happened upon was "Capture the Suprosa", where the titular Suprosa completely wiped the floor with all my y-wing brethren... and then I was asked to also attack an Interdictor Cruiser in the next area.
Didn't end well. Either the Suprosa's shields are two or three times as strong as they should be, or it's weapons are hitting a lot harder than they should be.
In the end I cheesed it by going for the Suprosa's blind-spot behind it's big engine. I still lost all but two of the Y-wings though.

Honestly, just either play on easy or cheat. Enjoy the game in whatever way you wish.

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Post by Driftwood » Sun Jul 04, 2021 10:35 pm

Some of the issues are because modern CPUs process faster than older ones, this increases various processes that affect gameplay. I don't know how big of an impact this has but it is supposedly noticeable if I am not misremembering things that are entirely unrelated to the XWAU, though we have to probably try to figure out how to rebalance around the increased processer speeds when the issues relating to this phenomenon are able to be identified if possible. This however, isn't our fault where this occurs.

Some issues we discovered were related to additional hardpoints that were not present in the original opts, for example the container transports having an additional turret modeled (sensibly) on the ship design wise, but had the unintended consequence of removing a blind spot and increasing the amount of damage it could deal. In some instances, related to the Corellian transports, this actually made things easier for the player, not harder, as the quad laser turrets had 4 hardpoints instead of I believe 2 originally.

There have been to my knowledge no intentional stat changes to the ship stats themselves. However, I think sometimes the EXE bugs out when installing or changing things and some stats just magically change themselves. As this often happens randomly, we don't necessarily catch it until it becomes a problem since it's usually related to something we are not actually changing or working on, so it simply just slips through the cracks since we had no reason to suspect any issues.

Difficulty settings up or down actually can influence the mission file settings for shield ratings above 100%, AI difficulty, and a few other things I think. We currently don't have any control over that.
There also is the issue of at higher difficulty levels the friendly AI gets dumbed down, or remains the same while the enemy AI gets bumped up. The biggest factor with the change seems to be related to accuracy and shield stats and the inclusion or removal of warhead payloads.
This could very well be the biggest issue we need to consider editing regarding balance changes as we generally do not want to mess with mission files beyond environmental upgrades if we don't have to, but as the game processes have sped up increasing AI proficiency, something that was not likely considered at the time the game was created, we have unintended consequences. Seeing as how we've already resolved many of the issues reported with now apparent imbalances due to undocumented changes in the past, and some bugs that were simply never caught with the original game or in the past of our project releases, a lot of the concerns people bring up in older threads shouldn't be much of a concern, and going forward it should be easier to identify potential issues. However, further tweaking balance until it becomes obviously necessary to do so, looking further into innate mission balance is not a top priority and if it ain't broke don't fix it since we could also make things worse too if we're not careful.

One of the biggest things that has helped with this is more community involvement, and a creation of a team of beta testers, and further coordination between opt authors; in the past prior to 2019-2020 we did not generally live chat, PM, or post on the forums with eachother nearly as much as we do now, and usually a single author worked on a ship release, or one worked on one part either modelling, texturing, or opting, and things were pretty well sectioned off to the individual. Conversation these days is almost daily, and so new creative ideas are shared, work is split, and assets are passed around and shared more freely. More people know how to more things, and everybody has more say on what changes are implemented or bugs are found and fixed, and things are running much more smoothly, even though I think it's probably more work involved to get a ship released since we have so many more features.

Bottom line our quality control is getting better as our processes change and improve. Community feedback also helps a lot, but bear in mind we have to also pick and choose our battles with the time and resources we have and try to figure out what's actually an issue, and what's an individuals solo problem too.

Other changes may have been made to make certain ships more canonically accurate and balance changes were either not done at the time as we did not in those earlier years understand how that could affect the mission, or was merely forgotten.

Recently many countless hours have been devoted to rebalancing missions, fixing bugs (some that were ironically in the original files from TG too) that were caused, and certain opt redesigns. Things aren't perfect, and we're still fine tuning things as we go along since frankly we can't catch everything.

Other factors of course do play in related to individual skill level. There are many missions that some people simply just struggle with them even if they are beatable by others, sometimes that's even after accounting for unintended balance changes that we may have missed at one point or another. One mission in particular I struggle with though can usually beat eventually is the first rebel training mission with the Y-wing on recruitment, the Assault Shuttles are frankly bullshit and always have been, against Y-Wings they are severely OP and I don't know what TG was thinking when they set up that mission. It is entirely beatable without cheats but requires utilizing squadron commands and some actual tactics beyond fly in and shoot stuff, many people frankly just don't have the ability to think outside the box, so it's hard and frankly there are some bugs related to the AI squadmate that crop up for whatever reason where they get lost if you go back and re-arm and you have to solo the things at times and I'm not sure why that happens but it's not something I think we can fix; also bear in mind the first point I made is that faster processers have an innate way of affecting the game and is so individually varied due to personal system spec differences that we can't realistically predict or account for.

Otherwise, please just understand that everything here is use at your own risk, we do our damnedest to not negatively impact things as our entire goal is to upgrade and enhance the end user experience, but we miss things occasionally and as new things get created to implement or we figure out new ways to use old functions there is a learning curve and sometimes stuff just isn't perfect.

Ironically most of these examples were in the thread link you provided, including the CPU related issues so hopefully I'm not wasting your time reading this lengthy explanation of the situation from at least my point of view.

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Post by capitanguinea » Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:19 am

In my experience modify game difficulty (easy, medium, hard) has several effects. The first is in mission design: some fg may change setting. You can have or not reinforcements. enemy too may have them or not. In xwing series AI is connected to the clock frequency of CPU (it was a trick of the old days to save memory). More powerfull enemies do more things per time units with a maximum in which they can have the same ammount of reaction of a well fit young human. When xwa was programmed AI Rookie did things at the level of a 5-6 year old child. A veteran was quick like a teenager about 14-15, and has multiple options between to choice and so on. With modern pc cpu power get AI more responsive when they choose what to do: algorythms run fasters but those AI still know the same old tricks and no more, so a human pilot may adapt and win one-o-one. Capital ships are another stories: they must be scaled down or become far more impossible to fight with because of the firepower and overlapping killing area they have. Usually when i write mission I never give a starship AI veteran or more unless they have genious level skippers like Thrawn or Bel Iblis.

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Post by HunterZ » Mon Jul 05, 2021 6:11 pm

I've read warnings not to use easy mode because it can supposedly cause as many issues at it solves, and also that it may only determine how many enemy ships are spawned? I've been enabling cheats after failing a mission several times, because life is definitely too short to keep beating my head against any one game forever.

If it's indeed a CPU issue, then this is very disappointing as it greatly diminishes the entire usefulness of XWAU. I have an old computer to run XWA on, but it certainly wouldn't handle XWAU.

I wonder how the TIE Fighter total conversion addresses this? I haven't tried that yet.

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Post by Forceflow » Mon Jul 05, 2021 7:40 pm

We are trying to not mess up the balance of the game, but as Driftwood mentioned already this sometimes isn't possible. With XWAU 2020 we did playtest the entire campaign so I can tell you that it is beatable. You might have to think outside the box at times and XWA was never an easy game to begin with, so I highly suggest to reduce the difficulty if you get frustrated by a particular mission.
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Post by ual002 » Tue May 16, 2023 8:21 pm

Sorry to necro this thread but the Suprosa is far too shielded or heavily armed on Medium Difficulty. The Ywing shields drop so fast you have about 3 seconds of shooting time before you have to pull off and recharge, and at that rate without making any mistakes, your wingmen are guaranteed to die and the mission will take forever. I encourage you to replay this on medium, and verify this is still playable. I would vote to reduce the shield capacity or reduce the rate of fire if its possible on the Suprosa.

Additionally, once the shields were down, I noticed either the outrider or Lukes Xwing continue to fire on it with lasers until it was destroyed the one time I managed to gets its shield down.
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