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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 12:59 am 
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Hi,

This thread is to discuss some preliminaries of space combat, in particular those raised by Eleazar.

• How often does combat occur?
• How important is combat to the whole game?

A game like Total War stands at one end of the spectrum, where the battles themselves are an important focus of the game.

I'm hoping this thread will be a quick one, so will probably give it a few days at most. Where do you think space combat should stand in FreeOrion? How much attention and focus should it have? I'm the sort of person who played a game like Master of Orion for the main map of colonisation, research, etc. Battles were important to victory, but something I wanted over quick. On the other hand, in Total War, they were a focus every bit as important.

If there's any other topics you think should be discussed here, make a note of them and I'll add them to this post if I think them appropriate.

Mark


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:32 am 
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OK, finally a reason to post. I've been lurking so long I forgot what a post screen looked like. :wink:

I tend to play the Orions in a similar fashion to you. As for combat itself, I would suggest that it should play a relatively minor part of the game overall. I would like it to be tactical, but with less direct control than Moo II or Moo 1. Perhaps a system of predefined battle plans by ship class/or type with limited ability for the player to intervene to change the ships actions. Regardless of how important and detailed combat eventually becomes, I think the one vital option would be an auto-resolution option in both single and multiplayer.

In single player, it allows players who value combat to fight them through, while it would allow players who prefer the strategy of the main map the option to forego what to them would be needless combat. In multiplayer, if one player selected auto-resolve, we could prompt the other to see if they wished to use it as well. IF they did, both sides could use AI to be resolved. IF the 2nd player chose not to use auto-resolve, the 1st player could be notified and be allowed to reconsider their decision.

I know this post only tangentally addressed your question, but this seemed to be an oportune moment to suggest this implementation.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 4:14 am 
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Tyreth wrote:
• How often does combat occur?

Combat should occur whenever one player wants to resolve conflict with another player through combat.

As often as a player would like. Every turn if an enemy is that persistant. But generally every 5 turns, or maybe the AI has conflicts with other AIs and not just you, so you get a break now and then.

Also, do we have combat carry on over multiple turns. A fixed time limit plus continue next turn, would be how this works. It would be the best way to limit combat per turn.

Tyreth wrote:
• How important is combat to the whole game?

Very important. However, there should be other ways to win, so lets just say that we bring everything else up to the same level as combat to make them all equal.

Combat should be important, but so should espionage, so should diplomacy.

In fact, can we mix diplomacy into combat. I've always wanted to ask an enemy ship to "leave me alone, as I just need one more turn to upgrade my starbase to have phasors!!!". Also in star trek you always see ships 'hailing' or talking to other ships, sometimes in combat, which you starts when a 'hail' is not answered.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:41 am 
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Ugh!... This should be a lively discussion!

I will probaly need the whole week to form a final conclusion for what I think we need.

For myself, single player, I prefer the ability for considerable micro, in regards to combat. I will usually settle for auto resolve, however, I sometimes have to take over for tactical reasons the computer AI can't comprehend. I do think, for FO, we need a relatively brief combat phase. Again, for myself, I'd be tickled pink if combat was still ongoing after 20 minutes(realistic for a first person shooter mission, but not for FO). I guess for starters, pending further discussion, we shoot for 10 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on complexity of the fleets involved. Part of the problem is the combat map. The battles are suppose to be system wide, it may take several minutes to just go from one wormhole, to another, on the opposite side of the system, during a running battle through defences. As for frequency, if your system is in the center of the map, you could be fighting multiple combats(different races) in one turn, every turn.

I would note that I enjoy the combat of MOO1 much better than MOO2(not even going to mention MOO3, ugh!).Moo1 combat seems to be more frequent, and more strategic. The AI seems more balanced, it is easy to "size up" the opposing fleet, so you know whether to stay, or cut and run. Also, the tech tree in MOO2 seems too condensed, in MOO1 with a slower tech accumulation, more combat happened between tech advances. Tech advances by opposing races were noticable, which allowed you to dump more research into combat research, when needed. MOO2 seems more focused on colony developement, than combat.

Enough for now, will be back.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 6:31 am 
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Personally i like combat, but it's less interesting than other aspects. I prefer a few interesting battles to constant strife.

Underling wrote:
...Regardless of how important and detailed combat eventually becomes, I think the one vital option would be an auto-resolution option in both single and multiplayer.

In single player, it allows players who value combat to fight them through, while it would allow players who prefer the strategy of the main map the option to forego what to them would be needless combat. In multiplayer, if one player selected auto-resolve, we could prompt the other to see if they wished to use it as well. IF they did, both sides could use AI to be resolved. IF the 2nd player chose not to use auto-resolve, the 1st player could be notified and be allowed to reconsider their decision.

I strongly agree, though i'd implement it a bit differently.


The trick to balancing combat with the rest of the game for multiplayer seems rather tricky. I haven't played Moo multi-player, but it seems that the pace would be agonizingly irregular. There isn't something to do every turn. If the turn where you wanted to immediately press "end turn" after glancing at your sit-rep happened to coincide with a large battle fought by other players, and battles were long, how would you ever finish a game?

Moo2 vs. Moo1 seemed to contrive things with command points so that your fleets and ships were much fewer. That felt rather artificial to me, but it seems that something like that would be necessary to make MP games playable without totally skipping combat.

I believe a max turn limit for combat will be of some help here. Assuming 5 sec turns, a 100 turn combat would take 8.3 minutes. This seems too long to me. Perhaps 50 turns max is a better default, (though this could probably be a server option). Combat that exceeded the turn limit would be continued the next turn.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:30 pm 
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Hmm... I kinda like the emphasis Se4 has on combat. It's the main means to attack enemies but it's not the only one. also there are enough strategies that combat is never a total stalemate.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:05 pm 
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marhawkman wrote:
Hmm... I kinda like the emphasis Se4 has on combat. It's the main means to attack enemies but it's not the only one. also there are enough strategies that combat is never a total stalemate.


Could you explain this in more details please? I haven't played Se4.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:20 am 
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I think one way to reduce frequency of combat, and avoid a constant slugfest, is to give early defensive bonuses to planets/systems. Once a defense is in place, it takes an overwhelming force to defeat, until perhaps midgame, or late midgame.

Early combat would then be mostly limited to fights over uncolonised systems, or undefended colonies. After the initial land grab, there would be primary focus on colony developement. Once the empire coffers are laden with megawealth (around midgame), system busting fleets can be constructed, or if offensive combat is not preferred, pour resources into more defenses, and focus on diplomacy, spying, trading.

Additionally, more combat could occur later in game as some systems become reachable with new propulsion tech. Same goes if we go with a MOO1 type planet tech, where hostile planets require tech to colonise. Some systems would become available later in game, so more frequency for combat, if that's the route we take.

I think the game should have a viable victory scenario for either an agressive warmonger or a defensive pacifist. As stated, a strong early defense will be needed to achieve adequate empire developement, while avoiding combat, and still attaining victory.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 4:14 am 
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Sandlapper wrote:
I think one way to reduce frequency of combat, and avoid a constant slugfest, is to give early defensive bonuses to planets/systems. Once a defense is in place, it takes an overwhelming force to defeat, until perhaps midgame, or late midgame...

Is that really necessary? In my admittedly moderate experience with MoO1,2 combat in the early game is rare, due to the difficulty in finding other empires, or at least the portions worth fighting for. This effect will probably be less, because FO doesn't have the artificial distance limit from a colony.
However the lack of combat possibilities in early-game, (the generally absence of anyone). seemed bad enough that it's part of the reason i want to scatter non player aliens about the galaxy.


If we decide to try to "reduce frequency of combat", it seems the easiest to simply inflate the cost/maintainance of ships.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:23 am 
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This thread isn't concerned with specific solutions to problems, but rather to answer a more general question. We can address the question of how to achieve this in other threads.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:07 am 
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As a general idea of combat, I would like the way we are currently going, using a phased time system (like KOTOR).

I would like to see movement play more of a role in combat. In Moo2 movement was non existant, ships moved, turned, but you didn't really see it as one fluid motion, eg a ship weaving in and out around missiles, etc. The real time part of phased time combat would achieve this.

I like the idea of an RPS that has various ship roles used in it.

Combat would be 3D, eg 3d models on screen on 3d map, with default ISO view. Movement is only on a 2d plane.

Players can control individual ships as well as groups. Though if there are a hundred ships per side, then controlling tactical groups would be better. I would like such a group system to be such that groups are not permanent and ships can be grouped in anyway you want before combat.

There should be a wide array of weapons and tactical abilities in combat. Moo2 lacked area of effect for example. Crazy weapons can make for an interesting game. Also to speed up combat, area of effect weapons, as tech increases, can be more dominant and used to take out whole groups of ships at once.

While heavy defense should be possible, its exstance would certainly decrease combat frequency. But maybe it would increase it as well. Raiding parties would become common place as ships are sent in frequently to ensure that defenses are tested, reduced, not allowed to grow and pressure on the defender is maintained. Too much lee way and the defender becomes too strong and that 'heavy hitter' fleet will have no effect.

Stealth / Detection certainly will slow combat down unless done in such a way where stealth is not used for hiding permanently and is instead used as a tactical weapon eg invisible attackers, suprise attacks.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 1:24 pm 
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Tyreth wrote:
marhawkman wrote:
Hmm... I kinda like the emphasis Se4 has on combat. It's the main means to attack enemies but it's not the only one. also there are enough strategies that combat is never a total stalemate.
Could you explain this in more details please? I haven't played Se4.
In Se4 the espionage system is complex enough that you can cripple or even completely incapacitate your opponents with it. Also there are certain techs that can be used to stop opposing ships from being able to even get to you (collapse warp point, etc...)There's also suicidal ground assault. Basically this is a means of planetary attack where the fleet is there as a distraction while you launch a ground assault with troops. If it works, the battle isn't over until the enemy retreats and leaves the planet to you, or blows up(what was) their own planet.

There are a few other ways around enemy fleets but they involve stuff like blowing up stars.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 2:58 pm 
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Quote:
• How important is combat to the whole game?

My ideal would be that combat would be part of every game, but according to the player's choice could be a major or minor part of the experience. SMAC has roughly the balance i'd like too see: Technology, Diplomacy, Espionage, Economics, Empire-development etc. are all robust and interesting enough that they can become the player's main focus— though it probably would be virtually impossibly to succeed by totally ignoring any of these factors.

The reason is that one of the qualities i highly value in these sorts of games is being able to take different paths to victory. Of course most strategies aren't winners, but the ability to "role-play" different empire types: Aloof Technophiles, Blood-thirsty Warmongers, Crafty Diplomats, Peaceful Ideologues, etc. or something in-between, — this to me greatly increases the replay value, and depth of the game.

Of course such a multi-faceted game would be more work, but it should also attract a wider array of players and talent.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:10 am 
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The fact that combat will be rendered in 3D, itself lends credence to it being of relative importance. I do hope we end up with a robust combat system. However, I'm not seeking a turn after turn slugfest, every time I play. Just like eleazar said, I like multiple paths to be available.

Could we consider a pregame combat agressiveness meter, that decreases, or increases(by equal ratios) all pregame racial tendencies toward combat? That way you can set your own importance of/frequentcy of combat. If you want to just delve into colony expansion and exploration, with a bare minimum of combat, you can do it; if you want to play warmongerer, and take on everyone, then ramp up the meter and do that if you want.

I enjoy both ends of the spectrum, I like finding your next neighboring star system is another race's homewold, and you're in a neck-and-neck race from the git go; or just as well, I like the idea of playing a huge galaxy, colonising dozens of stars, with a considerable empire in place before first contact.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:07 pm 
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Combat should be important, but other paths to victory should be playable. Combat will not hold the central role it does in Total War games, but it will be important nonetheless.

Battles should not take long to complete, thinking of times around 5-10 minutes at the most.

Combat will take place whenever a player chooses, but will play very quickly for small forces.

I'm going to close this thread shortly.


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