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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 5:26 pm 
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Space Kraken
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I skimmed this so I apologise if I missed much. However I think I'm quite well into what you mean, if you're a strategy fan and haven't played any Myth games before, then I suggest you swing by ProjectMagma.net and download the Myth 2: Soulblighter demo.
It's not a space-game, but it is a VERY tactical RTS game, you get a load of units, and you have to play on their strengths and weaknesses in order to win, as there will be no reinforcements. Examples of this?

- Archers are formed into a long-line formation when an enemy is seen, this means they can all fire unobstructed. Good against single targets (e.g dwarves) or other archers, can fire flaming arrows which set an area of ground alight, very dangerous to weak units).
- Dwarves (little fellas who toss explosives at a short range) should be kept in cover until ready, they are good versus big groups of melee units, carry satchel charges which can be used to lay explosive traps.

What in the hell am I getting at? I think what would make combat more interesting are things like formation, and attack types.

Formations
Assuming the categories for units are fairly broad (e.g long-range, short-range, ordnance and non-combat) then it might be an idea to let players specify formations based on these types, as large battles would be hard to manage overwise. So apply a formation to a task-force would have it's ships organise as you please. e.g they could set one up where short range ships split 50/50 to form up in-front of and behind ordnance ships to protect them from front and rear attack.
Players would then be able to change formations at will, determining when certain ship types are screening other ship types, screening will obviously protect ships, but at the same time limit their ability to fire, so changing formation depending on the situation is very important.

Attack-types
Different ship categories could have different styles of combat which you can switch them between. For example, long ranged ships could either snipe (firing less shots at long range with high accuracy, better chance of critical hits) or just give covering fire (more shots, less accuracy, less damaging, better for drawing enemies away or aiding a friendly retreat).
Short-range ships could have a defensive mode where their offensive weapons power-down and are routed into their shields making them more effective at screening other ships from attack.

Things like these add VAST amounts of tactical possibility into a game, in the case of Myth the options are surprisingly simple when you think about it, but the way they can be combined allow you to try all kinds of tactics.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 11:53 pm 
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Cosmic Dragon
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I have an idea for formations and groups. Discuss in detail in this thread (it's new).
http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopi ... 0620#20620



Overall for strategy I think one side is the management of ships/groups of ships, so that strategy can be carried out easier. The other side are the individual effects resulting from weapons, ships systems and the effects they have on ships and projectiles.

eg
-You could have tech on your ships which stops the enemy ships from moving too close, so that their beams are less accurate.
-Flare type weapons that decoy missiles away from real targets.
-Weapons that push enemy ships away (think a wave coming along and washing some ships back the way the came).
-Probes that stay close to your ship and intercept incomming missiles or use a modified reflector beam that randimizes the direction of the beam (75% chance beams direction is randomly changed to any direction, including its original direction).
-Area effect weapons (hit a group of ships)

Things like this define strategy. So that's the weapon side.


Then you have the movement side, with your groups of ships, in their formations. You move them here and there. Attack from this side and that. Move around those mines, behind that moon, etc.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:07 am 
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Well, the basics are all there in previous posts... so far the aproach that I like the most is this:

tzlaine wrote:
It's just so damn simple. You can choose between basic approaches like charging and strafing, but that's about it. The entire battle usually takes around a minute. With all that simplicity, it's still pretty fun to watch the battle take place... you should be able to select groups of arbitrary size and give them simple commands, we should have no facing, targetted firing, boarding, power level adjustment, etc. You're playing an emperor, not a ship's XO.
Wich is exactly my opinion.

My point of view:
- Huge battles, (a LOT) of ships but simple ones (no facing, simple shields, etc)
- Task forces (predefined, auto-generated or even "all ships of type...").
- Some way to select 1-3 prioriced targets.
- A fast way to asign a behaviour to a task force. (eg: keep distance, retreat, cover fire, defence, agressive attack, cautios attack, pass throught, etc).
- A fast way to use "specials", kind of like nukes or iron curtains in C&C.
- A good system of counters (point defence v/s missiles, etc).
- nothing more.

Some new stuff anyway (not mentioned before):

I often wanted in Moo to keep my distance or retreat to repair or something like that, but since the map was tiny I always ended going around taking damage or being cornered. Space should'nt be something you lack in space ;-) This stacks with the fact that missiles always got you since they didn`t have any kind of limit on range.

Since we lack terrain in space we should be able to create terrain on the fly. Countermeasure clouds, proyectable shields, black-hole generetors or who knows what else can help here. (So we treat them as map effects not focused on a target).

I has not been mentiones before, but Nexus:JupiterIncident has some very good ideas for this topic, I recomend all to take a look. (the game itself is somewhat slow, so try the multiplayer).

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:38 am 
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Space Kraken

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Here's a novel idea for space combat order-giving.

A tradeoff exists between fine control of spaceships and the amount of time/fiddlyness involved in running a battle. Traditionally, this is resolved by having players lose the ability to give *precise* orders as the number of units and scale of the battle increases.

Now, I'm not proposing that a MoOII level of tactical control over every single spaceship in the fleet is appropriate here. However, having a very limited number of pre-defined orders does tend to reduce a player's actual influence over the battle.

What if there were standard pre-defined orders available via UI buttons, as proposed, but players could also use a very simple scripting language to specify orders a bit more precisely?

For instance, you could specify targeting priorities for a ship: standard options might be Capital Ships, Defend Target, Suppressive Fire and so on.

But it would be very cool if a player could use a scripting language, perhaps hooked into the games' internal object modelling for ships, that resembles propositional logic and allows them to define their own target priorities based on the known properties of the objects in the combat:

1) (IsCapitalClass) AND (Shields < 30%)
2) (MissilesLeft > 30) AND NOT (IsDestroyerClass)
3) (IsMissile OR IsFighter) AND (IsTargeting Friendlies)

Obviously this would take some work to implement, but it could be tied with the space combat AI development process - it will need some way to issue orders after all - and would be a remarkable feature not possessed by other MoO-like games. The UI buttons would basically just represent a set of common commands in this scripting language, but the full functionality would also be available to the advanced user.

It would be even better if the scripting language (call it OrderMacro or something) covered all the standard maneuver-elements of the system: ie moving, target acquisition, firing etc. Even better would be if they included switching structures so that units can react to things that occur during the turn.

It would be best if players can create scripts and save them as "Maneuvers" for later use.

If you want to tie this in with the tech-tree, perhaps certain commands in the scripting language only become available when you develop certain technological advancements; or perhaps the scripting engine itself is unlocked by a tech with only the basic maneuvers available prior to that! The ability to save scripts for reuse could be another more advanced tech.

For ease of use, it would be good if there was a dialog similar to Excel's Formula Creation dialog that allows you to select from a list of known maneuvers, plug in the argument fields, and so on.


Last edited by Sapphire Wyvern on Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:50 am 
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Space Kraken

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Dreamer wrote:
Well, the basics are all there in previous posts... so far the aproach that I like the most is this:

tzlaine wrote:
It's just so damn simple. You can choose between basic approaches like charging and strafing, but that's about it. The entire battle usually takes around a minute. With all that simplicity, it's still pretty fun to watch the battle take place... you should be able to select groups of arbitrary size and give them simple commands, we should have no facing, targetted firing, boarding, power level adjustment, etc. You're playing an emperor, not a ship's XO.
Wich is exactly my opinion.

My point of view:
- Huge battles, (a LOT) of ships but simple ones (no facing, simple shields, etc)

Can't say I agree with that. Ships are not, and should not be treated as, spheres with infinite axes of symmetry. :) I'm happy with an abstract level of control, but dammit I still want a naval simulation.

And a galactic emperor wouldn't be commanding their forces in the field at all. We don't want that, do we?

Quote:
- Task forces (predefined, auto-generated or even "all ships of type...").
- Some way to select 1-3 prioriced targets.
- A fast way to asign a behaviour to a task force. (eg: keep distance, retreat, cover fire, defence, agressive attack, cautios attack, pass throught, etc).
- A fast way to use "specials", kind of like nukes or iron curtains in C&C.
- A good system of counters (point defence v/s missiles, etc).
- nothing more.

Some new stuff anyway (not mentioned before):

I often wanted in Moo to keep my distance or retreat to repair or something like that, but since the map was tiny I always ended going around taking damage or being cornered. Space should'nt be something you lack in space ;-) This stacks with the fact that missiles always got you since they didn`t have any kind of limit on range.


It would be nice if the space combat tactical map didn't have a finite size. It should be "big enough" for all the ships. Perhaps we could use a coordinate system based on distance from the centroid of the combined fleets rather than absolute coordinates? And if the separation between the two fleets becomes too large (ie because someone is running away and can't be caught by the enemy's slower ships), the combat ends in a disengagement.

Missiles should go ballistic (that is, can't track anymore) once their range is expired. That would allow missiles to have "infinite" range against planets & immobilised targets, but be easily dodged by mobile assets outside of the missile's nominal range.

Quote:
Since we lack terrain in space we should be able to create terrain on the fly. Countermeasure clouds, proyectable shields, black-hole generetors or who knows what else can help here. (So we treat them as map effects not focused on a target).


Yep. ECM drones (or missiles) are a must. Portable fog-of-war generators!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 5:48 am 
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Space Kraken

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Underling wrote:
Aquitaine wrote:
We need to be able to group like ships so that if you click on a group of ships, they're all the same kind and they all follow the same order you give them.


Might i suggest that we utilize a system of dynamically generated buttons that float over the right or left side of the screen. Depending on what types of ships (or even designs if we limit the #) in the combat, you would have a button to represnt each one. With one click you could select all carriers or all missle ships, etc... If you don't have any carriers, there would not be a carrier button generated.


Mmm. Good idea, but I think it could work even better. I think the ideal "look" for the space combat engine would be HUD-like. Minimise the use of anything that covers up the view of pretty art and 'sploding spaceships. :) For a start, any permanent minimaps, status displays or command buttons should be semi-transparent until you mouse over them, at which point they become opaque (or at least opaque enough to be clearly readable). As far as possible, I think the combat screen should look like a window directly into space.

Rather than having permanent buttons on the screen for "target this" or "select that", I would suggest having a context-sensitive rosette menu that appears around a ship or squadron when you click on it. Options on this rosette menu would include obviously include movement and target selection, guard orders, and so on. We could easily include "Select all ships of like size" and "select all ships of like armament" and "select all ships of like design" as options on this menu, using sub-menus appropriately to tune the number of icons or words that have to be identified or parsed by the user at once.

Like the main displays, the rosette menus should use semi-transparent icons and text that become opaque when mouse-overed to provide feedback to the user about which item they are pointing at.

The advantage of having a context-menu driven UI is that the minimum amount of pixel space is wasted, as menus only take up screen space when they are being used, and the distance that you have to move the mouse is minimised. Instead of selecting a ship, then moving to a button on the periphery of the screen, then moving back to the center of the screen to select a target, it's all done without the pointer leaving the proximity of the action.

I think Temple of Elemental Evil used a similar UI, and it seemed to be a very good idea.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 6:09 am 
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Space Kraken

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0.4 seems to be the place to talk about fleet strategy - but so far all the talk is about the combat engine (fair enough I suppose). Still there are strategic issues that need to be considered! Perhaps Aquitaine could start a thread for these in particular...

EDIT: deleted discussion of ship fuel, pending reading of "Ship Range" thread in Design Archive.

I'd like to talk about Lines of Supply. This is quite a big strategic consideration, IMO. A fleet that cannot trace a route back to a friendly world without passing through systems containing hostile ships (ie the fleet is entirely cut off and surrounded by hostiles with no line of retreat), that fleet should be in a world of trouble. It should be unable to repair damage or reload ammo supplies, suffer lower morale, and possibly even ship losses through attrition, until a Line of Supply is restored. A fleet with no Line of Supply should also have a drastically reduced chance of successfully retreating from a battle.

Systems with fixed defenses (missile bases, etc) would not interrupt a line of supply, as supply transports could presumably warp into the system, and then turn around and leave down another starlane without needing to approach the planets - only hostile ships should be able to cut lines of supply. There is no need to manage these transports as if they were battleships; just assume it's all going on in the background, like interplanetary trade. If they have a valid route to travel, then assume that they do so.

Lines of Supply should be included in the game because:
1) they do not complicate the UI or require micromanagement. It's all handled by the game engine.
2) it introduces true strategic considerations into your fleet deployments. For instance, you could allow an enemy fleet to penetrate your territory and then cut off its lines of supply with cheap units while you ready for the kill with your line (wall?) of battle. Alternatively, if you're invading, how much of your fleet do you leave behind to guard your supply lines? Too much and you're going to be weakened at the front; too little and you're in danger of getting cut off. Without this consideration, there's much less reason to separate fleets, and the strategic value of penetrating someone's front line is greatly reduced. Plus there's the wonderful joy of cutting off someone's fleet, keeping it pinned down until they're really low on supplies, and then beating the absolute snot through them till they surrender.


Last edited by Sapphire Wyvern on Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 6:29 am 
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Cosmic Dragon
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There should be supply lines between each system that trades, ie each of your planets, between two allied empire planets. Blocades on a planet would nullify all supply lines to the blocaded planet (goods to the planet would be lost, goods would never leave the planet).


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 6:55 am 
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There was a Fleet Supply Thread a while ago.

Also, having supply lines is good for encouraging ship size diversity.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 7:30 am 
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Space Kraken

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Geoff the Medio wrote:
There was a Fleet Supply Thread a while ago.

Also, having supply lines is good for encouraging ship size diversity.


Thank you for the pointer. I'm inclined to think that military logistics should be treated as abstractly as economic logistics (you don't need to plan routes for freighters to distribute nutrients, after all - the game assumes that if the nutrient freighters have a valid route, they'll use it) but still something that should be interruptible. I'll finish reading that thread and post my Considered Opinion at a later date so as not to duplicate the existing thread. My proposal above is more or less a direct steal from Close Combat IV's supply modelling, which works very well. I will say that I'm leery of having to choose a *specific* route for a particular fleet's supply line; that should be automatic if a valid route exists.

And yes, it does encourage fleet diversity; if we neglect to model these strategic concerns, there would be no incentive to have anything other than the maximum power-at-a-point, which means nothing but uninteresting big fleets of big ships. If there's nothing for patrol ships to patrol against, no one will build them.

In any case, it seems like now is the time to be making a decision on the topics raised in these threads.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2005 5:28 pm 
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Aquitaine wrote:
MOO2 has experience and 'leaders', although their effect is sort of invisible. But this got me thinking: before we blindly go reproducing any sort of MOO elements in the form a tactical engine, what, really, was fun about MOO combat? I think the only thing any MOO game got right combat-wise was that it let you take something you had painstakingly constructed in the strategic mode (ala Hearts of Iron or EU2) and apply it on a battlefield -- it wasn't that the things you applied actually had any strategic difference from each other. MOO3's attempt to accomplish this through the use of task forces and different size ships failed; even the AI knows, at this point in my game, that if it builds a lot of Indirect Fire and Carrier ships, it will beat any Long Range or Short Range armada I throw at it, so I am now routinely losing all LR and SR groups to inferior tech races because they have nothing but missiles and fighters. And in case my LR and SR armadas live long enough to get close, they get toasted (or do the toasting) not with the real guns put on the ships, but by the lightning field generator point defense weapons. To say nothing of the fact that all of the effort put into the art assets of the ships for MOO3 was a wash because you can't see anything.

So answer this question: What is the most fun about a tactical combat game engine in any genre? What about space genres specifically? Should we even be trying for real strategy? Has anybody before us accomplished this, and if so, what were the key ingredients of that accomplishment?


lol. you need to mod IR and LFG down. It's well know among moo3 community that there is a balacning problem with those two weapons. It's weird that you didn't get a mod that reduces their effectiveness.

Combat resolution is a real problem indeed. First of all, we have to ask ourself whether we gonna focus a lot on tactical combat or not. Becuase that will dictate the amount of detail on tactics.

I think the most fun about tactics are the fireworks, formation, using uber weapons, and terrain. I think most of us are in agreement here. Most 4X games don't have terrain effects enough. I think there should be mines, environmental, and other anomoly barriers to make tactical interesting (we should forego some realism here and add some creativity or scifi if necessary for gameplay). The other major component are managing formations like to flanck the oppenent for 2x damage (moo3 bonus is too small) and using specials. Like using the black hole generator at the right moment to kill a bunch of ships, but the weapon has a long recharge time. I think a balanced WC3 "hero/admiral" ships are good for FO. Small pawns can be arranged in TF for easy management can they can have specific rps roles like taking out their defensive mines or for specific bonuses.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2006 11:51 pm 
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Well the things i think make for good strategy are anything that changes the simple damage v. hitpoints calculation

1. Weapon range v. ship speed
2. Weapon/shield facings v. ship maneuverability
3. Terrain factors
4. Ship detection (where the enemy is/what they've got) v. all of the above

I think 4 is the most vital and can be handled through system wide battles. So that multiple targets of your attack are possible, you can change your orientation by changing from what diredtion you are entering the battle, etc.

The way I see it, a good Tactical combat model would be like most RTSs but without the unit building... you start out with a bunch of units and have a goal to accomplish.

Most of those involve terrain, I feel that orientation based tactics feel better in space (especially if we have 3D and so you can 'englobe' an enemy rather than merely flanking them)

Of course I prefer that the overall battle be strategic and that we not have to worry about ordering units about in the middle of combat. (essentially the fleet should automatically change its 'orders' based on the information that it acquires in the battle...does it suddenly realize it is being overpowered to a sufficient degree, then 'orders' move to retreat. If it appears to have a massive advantage... it may still proceed cautiously based on your +your enemies tactical techs+ship experience, or it may start charging headlong.

The only orders given in combat should be the important ones, ie letting the computer know what matters to the player

1. What the player Wants out of this battle (Defend planets, Assault planets, Destroy planets, Defend shipping=break blockade, Attack shipping, gather info, Prevent fleet from passing, to pass through this region)

2. How 'important' those things are (how much fleet am I willing to lose to get those goals..NOT an exact percentage, just some scale)

3. A general strategic approach (cautious or risky)

The exact Tactics the computer uses in this should be Displayed for the player, nice epic movie, but I don't think interrupting the battle is a good idea, except for some Truly major strategic event (a fleet of a third empire is found to be present at the scene, the planet is in a state of revolt, etc.)


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 Post subject: XCOM like engine
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 2:47 pm 
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I'm brand new to FreeOrion, so maybe I missed this...

Is the space combat going to be turn based or real time?

As far as turn based goes, the most fun tactics engine I ever played was in the original XCOM games. I know this was ground combat, but a lot of the ideas could carry over.
For those of you not familiar with the XCOM games the combat essentially broke down as follows...
1) Each unit has a given number of "Time units" per turn. Everything they do, from looking around to shooting to changing weapon configuration, takes up a different amount of time units.
2) Only one side moves at a time.
3) What order you move your units in is completely up to you. If you want to do part of A then B then the rest of A that is completely up to you.
4) If you saved time units from your turn that unit might be able to 'react' during your opponents turn. These normally involved shooting (but some times it was panicing) and were not under the control of the player.
5) What you could see depended on where your units were and where they had looked that turn. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense in space, but if we add things like moons, asteroids, nebulas et cetera like have been mentioned in previous posts, it might be useful.
6) "Faster" units would have more time units to spend. This could also be done by everyone having the same number of time units, say 1000, and depending on your skill, technology, health, or many other factors how long you need to do something changes. (The latter would be my personal preference)
7) Your firing accuracy always depended on distance, your weapon, and your firing skill. (Generally in that order)
8) There were also many complex concepts including mind control, injuries to specific parts of the body would affect you differently, units panicing or going beserk (that always sucked as they would shoot anything near them which was usually your units), and even aliens assimilating you...

The only downside to using a tactics engine similar to XCOM is that for a lot of units it could be a giant pain. I remember some battles would take a very long time, but they were extremely intense so I didn't really care/notice. To combat this I have a couple suggestions...
1) In XCOM there was an auto-complete turn option (you could even auto complete the mission if you wanted) and the computer would take control and try it's best to win for you. You could even move a couple important units and then let the computer auto complete if you didn't care much about some units.
2) Perhaps you could divide units into squadrons and treat different squadrons as unique units. (But you should be able to divide down to individual ships if you need to for some reason)
3) Converserly to number 2, you should be able to create target groups of your enemies fleet. So if you had a large squadron and you wanted to give them an attack order you would be able to specify another large group for them to attack.

All in all, it's a pretty rough idea, but I'd like to know what you think.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:28 pm 
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maelstrom, FreeOrion is turn-based. I would like to see your bottom three points made to happen--one thing I have NEVER seen in a game is the ability to target multiple enemies, only an area or a unit.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:42 am 
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Cosmic Dragon
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In homeworld you could target multiple enemies.

ctrl + right click drag box = group attack


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