Public Test Session - Long Range Missile Updates Series 2.0

by Tina Benoit in [ Announcements ] on, Feb 6, 2019 2:11 AM UTC 113  comments
Greetings MechWarriors!

Following up on the LRM Update PTS 1.0, we will be conducting a second round of PTS testing that will be referred to as Long Range Missile Update PTS 2.0 beginning Wednesday, February 6th beginning at 2PM PST (10PM UTC.) And closing on February 11th 10AM PST (6PM UTC.) This test will have a number of major changes over the previous PTS 1.0. Primary points include:

  • Backend changes have been made to better improve the logic behind the determination of when a target is in or out of direct line of sight for the purposes of an LRM firing Arc.
  • A number of new features have been added in order to bring more direct distinction between shots made in direct line of sight fire vs. indirect fire.
  • Further balance testing with a focus on the give and take between direct LOS fire vs. indirect fire modes.
  • An overhaul of the Weapon Lock-On system.
  • Improvements to TAG + NARC to account for all other changes being tested.

The primary focus of this PTS testing series is to smoke test the overall functionality of the direct vs. indirect system introduced in PTS 1.0. While PTS 1.0 concluded with an overall positive impression of the changes, there were a number of players who reported unintended or strange behavior that would result in some volleys within direct LOS using an indirect arc, and volleys out of LOS using a direct LOS arc. Thanks to specific examples given through this feedback, we were able to identify a number of bugs and have taken steps to improve the backend for determining when a volley is within LOS or not. Testing these improvements and continuing to smoke test for any other potential issues will be a primary focal point of PTS 2.0.

While the initial PTS 1.0 focused on the core direct vs. indirect arc changes, PTS 2.0 will expand upon what was in PTS 1.0 to drive distinctions between LOS vs. Indirect across a number of additional systems beyond just the firing arcs. We will briefly explain the core changes presented with these system changes below, with more specific values provided in the weapon change list.

As with PTS 1.0, the values provided here are tuned explicitly for testing purposes, and as such, are not final release values. We will be reviewing both PTS data and player feedback from this PTS. Additionally, as mentioned above, one of the primary purposes of this PTS is for performance smoke testing on all Direct / Indirect fire mode mechanics. Please report any abnormalities in behavior beyond what is described here, or in the original PTS 1.0 announcement in the PTS forums.

For details on how to access this PTS, please refer to our initial announcement.

*Note, all references to “previous” values are referencing values present on PTS 1.0 not values on the live client.

LRM Arc Behavior Improvements:
  • Improved the backend for determining what is and is not a direct fire shot.
Design Notes: As stated above, thanks to player feedback, we were able to track down a number of behavior bugs and make improvements to the overall direct vs. indirect system. We wish to test these improvements and continue to smoke test for potential issues prior to release. Be sure to report any abnormal behavior to the PTS forums.

Weapon Lock-On System Overhaul: 
We received a number of feedback points from PTS 1.0 revolving around the global timer for lock-on weapons being inadequate to handle both direct and indirect fire shots, as well as requests to see boosts when in direct line of sight. We agreed with the overall feedback, but wanted to take this concept even further in order to both differentiate direct vs. indirect fire, but also bring more direct importance to the sensor system with how it relates to indirect fire. Like LRM direct vs. indirect locks, the weapon lock-on system will now be broken up into two distinct states dependent on if you have direct LOS to the target or not.

Direct LOS:
  • Attempting a weapon lock in direct LOS will see a 20% reduction in weapon lock-on time compared to what is on Live currently.
  • This rate is a flat rate that applies equally at all ranges provided you have direct LOS to the target, and is not augmented in any way.

No Direct Line of Sight:
  • Indirect Weapon Lock-on time will now be dependent on the range of the target relative to your maximum sensor range.
  • Indirect locks attempted at close range will retain a timer identical to the timer in the live game as the “base” lock-on time.
  • The further out the target is relative to your max sensor range, the longer this time will take to acquire. With anything at extreme range or past max sensor range taking the longest time to acquire a lock compared to locks attempted at closer relative sensor range.
  • These lock-on times are still modified in both positive and negative ways by equipment such as ECM, TAG, and NARC.
  • Sensor range increases can potentially impact your indirect lock-on time dependent on where the target is relevant to your total sensor range. The further into your sensor range, the faster the lock-on time.
  • TAG and NARC will have expanded functionality in how they will interact with indirect fire described below to account for these changes.

Design notes: While we will be getting into more specifics further below in the weapon’s section, it should be mentioned now that we will be re-instating the velocity values from live to all LRM launchers. These changes will act as a more direct delay in firing against targets at longer ranges outside of LOS, but the volley themselves will be just as fast as they are on live and will not carry with them the nerfs they received in PTS 1.0.

Indirect Missile Volley Spread:
  • Base LRM spread values will revert back to their live spread settings.
  • Missile volleys fired upon indirect targets will see an increase in spread.
  • This spread is currently tuned to a 20% increase over the launcher’s base value.
  • This functionality applies to both LRMs and ATMs.
*Known Issue: Mechlab tooltips currently show “Indirect” spread value instead of base LOS spread value.

Design Notes: Feedback from PTS 1.0 highlighted that the arc changes alone where not enough to differentiate the weapon spread against certain targets, with some targets being better shot at indirectly then directly. This change aims to make the spread interactions between direct and indirect fire more apparent. We will be testing with the 20% values for the PTS, but we wish to stress that this again is only a testing value. We will wish to collect data and take in feedback on these particular settings. The individual changes will be listed below.

TAG + NARC Feature Additions: 
One consistent bit of feedback against the current testing system of buffing direct fire LRM, but toning down indirect fire LRM was that there was still a desire to reinforce indirect fire potency through the use of team based equipment such as TAG and NARC. And that any nerfs we took off of the baseline LRM equipment should be rolled over as perks to the TAG and NARC systems. On this front we are in agreement. With the expanded functionality of the Weapon Lock-On system, and the new penalties to the spread from indirect fire, we feel it is fair enough to have ways of re-introducing LRM’s current indirect potency provided it is accomplished through teamwork with specialized equipment.

TAG changes:
  • Weapon Lock-On speed booster removed
  • Targets that are being painted by TAG are treated as if they are in direct LOS for the purposes of Weapon Lock-On time and Missile spread. Counteracting the changes made in the above sections.
NARC changes:
  • Targets with an active NARC pod attached to them are treated as if they are in direct LOS for the purposes of Missile Spread. Counteracting the changes made in the missile spread section.
Design notes: We are rolling the Weapon Lock-On properties of TAG into the core Direct Fire Lock-On mechanics. Because of this, we are eliminating this boost on the base property of the weapon in order to further reinforce its primary role as a team boosting piece of equipment rather than a personal enhancement device. People who wish to have LRM’s remain at their current levels of indirect potency will need to maintain TAG painting in order to achieve both heavy indirect lock-on time boosts plus boosts to Missile spread when firing indirectly.

For NARC, we are only providing it with the boost to spread. This is due to the fact that the base NARC equipment keeps a sensor lock even outside of indirect LOS to the enemy. This is to allow a bit more time to respond to your ‘Mech being NARCed before longer ranged bombardments have a chance to lock onto you. Although locks against you will have boosted spread potency.

Missile Projectile Health vs AMS Tuning: 

A shallower angle of attack within PTS 1.0 allowed LRM’s to better respond to AMS equipped ‘Mechs. Putting AMS in an odd spot where further buffs to the equipment itself would be beneficial against LRM tuning, but would aggravate current performance against other missile systems, particularly ATMs. With this PTS, we have expanded the balance tools on our end to allow us to better tune individual missile volleys against the AMS system. We will be testing this feature change this PTS under the following parameters:

  • Volleys are tuned at the launcher level.
  • Smaller volleys will be tuned with more ingrained health to allow for more missiles from smaller launchers to reach their targets.
  • Larger Volleys will be tuned to be more vulnerable to AMS fire, resulting in more physical missiles being destroyed against larger volleys.
  • Initial tuning for PTS 2.0 testing will be the LRM 5 launcher will be set as the baseline for what was previously tested on PTS.
  • From there, larger LRM launchers will have less health making them more vulnerable to AMS fire.
  • While this will increase vulnerability, this tuning is still set to AMS acting as a “soft” counter that reduces potential damage from incoming shots, instead of being a hard counter to all missile systems.
  • ATMs have been tuned with increased health to account for their smaller per-missile volleys (although they will still be more susceptible to AMS fire compared to other weapon systems due to their relatively low volley sizes.)
  • For the purpose of this PTS, we will only be focusing this AMS tuning on LRMs and ATMs. All other missile systems will retain their current behavior.

Design notes: Although we will only be focusing on LRMs and ATMs for the purpose of this PTS, we will be taking feedback on the changes made here and will propagate this throughout the missile systems to better tune the interactions between AMS and the entirety of the missile roster upon release.

Weapon Changes: 

LRM Changes
LRM 5:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 5.04
  • LOS spread reverted to 4.2 (from 4.6)

LRM 10:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 5.04
  • LOS spread reverted to 4.2 (from 4.6)

LRM 15:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 6.24
  • LOS Spread reverted to 5.2 (from 5.6)

LRM 20:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 6.24
  • LOS Spread reverted to 5.2 (from 5.6)

C-LRM 5:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 5.46
  • LOS spread reverted to 4.55 (from 5)
  • Heat increased to 2.4 (from 2.25)

C-LRM 10:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 5.46
  • LOS Spread reverted to 4.55 (from 5)
  • Heat Increased to 2.4 (from 2.25)

C-LRM 15:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 6.66
  • LOS Spread reverted to 5.55 (from 6)
  • Heat increased to 5 (from 4.65)

C-LRM 20:
  • Velocity reverted back to 190 (from 175)
  • Indirect Spread set to 6.66
  • LOS Spread reverted to 5.55 (from 6)
  • Heat increased to 6 (from 5.6)

LRM Design Notes: For the purposes of this test, we will be examining the heat on the Clan side of the LRM lineup. The heat buffs to LRMs pre-date the recent changes to the heat system, and therefore, can always use a second look to account for changes made since their introduction. But at this time, we are not in agreement that this is a universal issue with the weapon system across both tech bases. As sustained DPS is where we wish to see LRMs excel against the greater weapon roster and accounting for the numerous amount of drawbacks already associated with the weapon.

But when it comes to the Clan side, there are a number of factors we feel creates a divide when it comes to how it is balanced against their IS counterparts:
  • Both their Minimum Range, and Low damage per-ton drawbacks are not as pronounced on the Clan models compared to the IS model launchers.
  • The streamed missile volley results in their heat being applied across the duration of their shot rather than as a singular heat spike as you see on the IS side, which allows the overall heat gained to be lower than similar loadouts on the IS side due to how heatsinks continue to cool mid-shot as opposed to being applied in a rapid spike.

Because of the above, we are willing to test the Clan side launchers to their pre-June 2018 levels and monitor the changes. It should be noted as well that the heat penalty changes present in PTS 1.0 will still be present here in PTS 2.0. Which will mean higher heat penalties compared to what was previously encountered on PTS 1.0.

ATM Changes:
Clan ATM 3
  • Indirect Spread set to 4.44

Clan ATM 6
  • Indirect Spread set to 4.68

Clan ATM 9
  • Indirect Spread set to 5.46

Clan ATM 12
  • Indirect Spread set to 5.46

ATM Design Notes: ATMs in the lore come with ingrained Artemis systems. We play into that lore by rolling the attributes of Artemis into the core properties of the launcher itself. With this change to Direct vs. Indirect LOS, this behavior has to be adapted to the new system, which in this case results in a visible spread setting that is well beyond 20% of the direct fire setting.

This is because the base LOS spread for ATMs is accounting for the Artemis spread reduction bonus, with other properties before working behind the scenes. In cases like this, the ATM's Indirect spread is tuned to account for Artemis not providing any bonuses plus the 20% boost to indirect missile spread being added to LRMs with this PTS.

We would like to thank all of those that provide us with feedback on this matter. Feel free to continue to provide feedback within the PTS forum.