Author Topic:  LRMs in MechWarrior Online (and bonus IIC speculation)  (Read 5273 times)

26 Jun 15

Read 5273 times

Offline GMan129

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I've made no effort to hide my...distaste for Long Range Missiles - or rather, for their implementation in MWO. In this post, I'm looking to outline exactly what it is about them that I find so...distasteful, and see if we can improve them. Aaaand I just accidentally closed the window and deleted the whole goddamned document that I had all written out. I hope you don't mind I'm going to grab a few drinks before I come back...

25 minutes later

Alright, back to the mental masturbation! The negatives to LRMs are not just to do with their relative strength, they are inherent flaws with the weapon system that cause legitimate problems in any number areas - some of which surround strength but also usability and adaptivity (that doesn't seem like a real word...but Google said it was).

  • LRMs cannot be effectively paired with the vast majority of other weapon systems. The need to keep your reticle over the target precludes things like leading your target (significantly), shielding, and switching to fire at visible targets. These problems have manifested with LRM play being dominated by boats and, despite it carrying all of the other qualities that would make it a great backup weapon system (low weight for Clans, can be fired from safety, relatively effective), it's not viable in such a capacity.
  • LRMs are the most binary weapon system in the game. Either they're overwhelmingly easy to use, boring, and effective when the enemy stands out in the open or has no counters to your team's equipment...or they're frustrating and dead weight because they have ECM and are intelligent about taking cover. Seriously, it takes the cake for being both potentially useful and useless.
  • It's the noob tube of MWO...only more so. There are two fundamental skillsets for operating any other weapon system - positioning and aim. Some weapons focus on one more than the other in order to be leveraged effectively, some focus on both, and some...don't even need one of them and doesn't need as much of the other either. Yeah I'm talking about LRMs with that last bit. The skill-less nature needs to be fixed.
  • Screen shake from LRMs is one of the most annoying and least satisfying things in the game. Having been on both sides of this phenomenon (yes believe it or not I've played quite a bit of LRMs to make sure I knew wtf I was talking about), I derive no satisfaction out of chainfiring LRM5s, and getting hit with this strategy is just...rage-inducing. It's a terribly unfun mechanic, and while I don't think it would feel right to remove it entirely, there needs to be a change.
  • Most things in most games (and in life) strike a careful balance between risk and reward. Short range weapons require you to get close which puts you at risk of being focus fired both on the approach and in the brawl, but they have higher DPS than anything in their effective range and are objectively brutal. Laser boating gives you devestating damage at range, but prevents you from shielding damage effectively. LRMs...let you hide behind your teammates and terrain, and still let you rain down just as much firepower as if you were out on top of a friggin hill. Something here doesn't fit. Oh, and if you don't have line of sight on your target, your LRMs will actually travel at a higher angle to make sure they clear any obstruction, thus actually rewarding you for playing like a coward.
Now, I'm not one to call out problems without proposing solutions. That would just be blasphemy.

  • Bring back fire-and-forget. But not like what we had before. Instead of missiles tracking indefinitely regardless of whether you still have missile or target lock, make it so that after firing you don't need missile lock (the circles) for missiles to continue to track, but you do need target lock (the box). Once you (slash your team) lose target lock, your missiles give up and just smack the last known position. I'm currently torn between two different implementations of this - one where as soon as target lock is lost (or maybe a second afterwards to ensure that it's not just a teeny glitch) your missiles lose the tracking and cannot regain it, and the other is where you can get your missiles back on track but you need to regain your missile lock to do so. I'm currently leaning towards the second, just so that you have the option. This should solve issue #1.
  • Fixing the binary reliability problem is more tricky due to just how many friggin bits of equipment interact with LRMs, and honestly they all need to be adjusted, regardless of the previous proposed change. Starting with ECM...increase the maximum range before you can target a mech to like 500 (or get rid of it entirely), but make it so that you cannot get a missile lock against someone covered by ECM. Then, adjust NARC so that it still completely cancels out the target's ECM, and maybe so that whoever is NARC'd doesn't benefit from the protection of any other ECM, but also decrease the amount of time that you can get automatic locks on target to like 10 seconds or something cuz the mechanic really contributes to the binary problem. I think ammo/ton should be increased on it too, so that taking it is less of a big deal. Maybe give it its own hardpoint while you're at it. Then, TAG also counters ECM, in addition to its current bonuses. UAV does not give missile locks at all, just target locks, making it a valuable intelligence tool but not one for missile boats to farm off of. The thing that worries me the most about these changes is how in-depth they are; they represent a significant change to several mechanics and anything with complexity is likely to be met with resistance. If anyone has any ideas to accomplish the same goals in a simpler way, I'm all ears.
  • While the previous two do help a bit with the skill problem by encouraging less boat-y builds, I'm afraid that I don't know exactly how to make LRMs more of a skillful weapon. I've got a few ideas, but none that don't have major consequences in other places, and not the good kind of major.
  • Screen shake is one of the simplest problems to fix. I would do it in two parts - first, decrease LRM impulse in general. Second, implement a cooldown after your screen gets shaken of ~5 seconds before it gets shook again - you could say this is the mech's gyro adjusting to the changes in impulse or something. That way, it becomes more manageable.
  • To fix the risk/reward problem, you actually have quite a few options. First of all, get rid of the whole extra arc when you don't have LoS thing. It's logical (when you don't have line of sight, your missiles need to pass the terrain better) but it still rewarding playing like a total wuss...which is really dumb. Replace that with incentives to firing with LoS, of which there have already been a few in this list...but a specific one that comes to mind is to decrease time to lock on when you do have LoS, and increase it when you don't (substantially). Which also makes sense.

After solutions to the mechanic itself are implemented, there are probably going to be some balance decisions to be made (damage and cooldown adjustments), but if you start off with a more solid mechanic, you can approach these decisions much more meaningfully, which is why I think this stuff is really necessary. There are some other people with good ideas out there too (I know Proton's laser guidance concept is really well fleshed out and interesting) and I really just want this to be something that the community gets going on. I might hate LRMs, but I still want to fix them.

IIC Speculation

So I did the math, taking the confirmed IIC mechs from the next pack (Jenner IIC, Hunchback IIC, Orion IIC, Highlander IIC), and I've calculated the available tonnage & slots assuming that these mechs are customizable with Clan Ferro, Clan Endo, and Clan XL Engines, as well as clantech weapons and equipment. I'm not sure if it's been confirmed that this is the case, but I think it was at least hinted at. This is also overwhelmingly preliminary as we don't have access to the info on most of the variants' hardpoints...but I still wanted to put pen to paper.

Jenner IIC

Without any equipment, or even an engine, the Jenner IIC is going to have a whopping 27 tons to allocate with maximum armor, as well as 43 slots. With an XL 295 in there, you can pack in 4 clan Medium Pulse Lasers, a TC1, 2 jumpjets, and a total of 12 double heatsinks. Which is pretty good for 150 KPH if you ask me (we're talking the same damage as a FS9-S at a significantly longer range and with probably higher mounts).

Hunchback IIC

Again, fully stripped with endo, ferro, and maximum armor, you've got a lot of room - 39 tons actually. But if you strip armor from the're left with enough tonnage for double UAC/20s, along with 6.5 tons of ammo, a jumpjet, and an XL 200 engine. On paper it looks a lot like a watered down version of the stock build, but this one actually has ammo and armor, making it a pretty hefty upgrade.

Orion IIC

With only one timeline canon build, we can't speculate about that much, but you're still looking at 59 free tons with max armor and no equipment. At the end of the day, you can mount a Gauss and 2 cLPLs on the variant that we do know about, with an XL335 engine and a whopping 21 DHS, more than enough to keep you cool.

Highlander IIC

For the stats, we're looking at 71 free tons for equipment (for you folks keeping track, that's as much as a Daishi after you factor in the 15.5 tons for a cXL 300 and the 5 tons for heat sinks). And honestly, I don't know what to do with all of that tonnage - we really need to see the other variants. so far the best build I've got is a gauss, 2 cLPLs, a cERML, 2 SRM6As, plenty of ammo, an XL325, a jumpjet, and a TC1. There's just soooo much weight available.

Anyways, that's it for today. Thanks for reading!

GMan129 is currently an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and recently begun writing at NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal and Patreon accounts!
« Last Edit: 26 Jun 15 by GMan129 »

26 Jun 15

Reply #1

Offline Midax

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I think that reticle tracking with a large velocity increase is the way to go. You can still shoot around cover and if the velocity is fast then you shouldn't need much more face time than an ERLL. Artemis would still require a lock to work, but it just reduces spread like it does on SRMs.

Make self guiding LRMs only happen when the target is locked with Tag or Narc and out of LOS. If the game can calculate that a target is in LOS for Artemis then it should be able to tell when you are out of LOS for Tag and Narc.

1. They would pair well with lasers as you already need to hold you aim to guide the missles in.  The speed increase could also see them paired with Gauss or AC 2,5.  As you could fire both weapons at the same time and quickly more from leading to directly tracking to land the missle.

2. No lock needed for normal LRM operation and ECM would not effect the base function.  The combo of faster speed and reticle tracking means you can miss.  If you can miss with lasers, then you can also miss with LRMs

3. The tracking function makes the LRMs easier to use at long ranges that new players my have trouble hitting with PPCs or AC.  Learning to judge lead times take some people a while and LRMs would allow them to fight at long ranges until they build that skill.  As people become more skilled they would increase in effectivness as they learn to fire higher and bing them down to clear hills that might catch a PPC or Laser shot.  Really skilled people might even learn how to shot around mountains or buildings and get a hit based on a dorito without the need for a TAG or Narc.

4. Drop the screen shake from LRMs as they won't need it to compete in trading matches at range.

5.  Without team mate support the reticle guidance should be about as effective as PPCs or AC.  You lose the pinpoint damage as suffer AMS, but gain the ablitiy to fire around minor obstructions or team mates and don't have to lead.  With proper spotters you gain back your indirect fire support and ECM still serves as a counter indirect fire.
« Last Edit: 26 Jun 15 by Midax »

26 Jun 15

Reply #2

Offline Domenoth

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  • If anyone has any ideas to accomplish the same goals in a simpler way, I'm all ears.
I'm not sure if it's simpler, but as long as radical changes aren't categorically off the table, what I would like to see is missiles that start out dumb and attempt to acquire a target once they arrive at a range you designate before firing (i.e. by aiming very high in the air for very long range).

If you've played MWLL think smart Long Tom. The missiles would have a configurable (i.e. balancing lever) target radius. Enemy units found inside the target radius when the missiles arrive would be valid targets and the missiles would home in on one of them.

This means that fast moving/erratic targets would be very difficult to hit, but campers would be digging their own graves.

In the case where multiple targets are found inside the target radius, having a target lock on one of them would prioritize that Mech for your missiles.

If none of the Mechs are target locked, the missiles should spread their damage semi-randomly amongst the group. Perhaps missiles from each unique launcher could choose different targets. A potential side effect being that one LRM 20 would hit harder than four LRM 5s (a potential reason to take the LRM 20 even if you have four open hardpoints).

That's at least what I'd like to see. I'd like actually connecting with LRMs to require some forethought much like arty and airstrikes require (I know where he is now, but where will he be in 6 seconds?).

I forgot to mention anything about ECM. ECM could have a non-100% scrambling affect on LRMs once they get within their target range. Cause some but not all of the missiles to strike the ground, fly erratically, explode in the air, that sort of thing.
« Last Edit: 26 Jun 15 by Domenoth »

27 Jun 15

Reply #3

Offline Hawk819

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Ace Paul and Alan Davion were talking about the Hunchback IIC, and it having twin Gauss. Which I'm not doubting others have already dreamt up and are salivating at the chance to get it out on the Battlefield, and tearing the Atlas a new asshole.

Me, I plan on using it with more diabolical evil means in the LB-x variety of ass rip. :)

Non Cedo Ferio - I Yield not, I strike.