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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:23 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
Or to put it another way: There seems to be a tendency to ask, "What are all the features that could be added to combat?"
When instead perhaps we should be asking, "What features can we take away from combat without making it lame?"


This is the part of your post that I was mostly referring to. Now my biggest concern is that if we are always asking the question of what we can take away from this part of the game we will end up with a skeleton game where although you might be controlling every part of the game there is now debt in those parts with very little options or things that actually effect the game play and so the feeling that you are really commanding a complex star empire is gone.

With that been said my suggestion is not to make everything as complex as possible and then have different AIs running your empire. Now what I would like to see is as much complexity as possible within an easy to use and to understand user interface so that you would be able to command your complex space empire easily.

This way the game would offer the player the ability to use his/hers own brain and to use different kinds of tactics and strategies. This is also the way I believe that great gaming experiences are formed. Whereas in a game which I consider too macro the player has very few options to decide from and very few elements actually have any sort of an effect on the game play. So it isn`t possible to use your own brain so much and so enjoy your own clever plans.

And once again I was not suggesting that you were proposing a too macro solution. Your post just seemed like a perfect opportunity to express my only overall concern over this project. And also, I am quite happy about the way the game has been designed so far as the not so important and significant things have been left out, like building the same buildings on every planet, a subject that I as an old MOO2 fan found originally a little strange. ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:36 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
So... for FreeOrion, the point is that we need to have a similar ebb and flow over the course of a game, between advantage to attack and advantage to defense or turtling. We don't have any simple analogue to day or night, or CO powers on a strategiscale. So, likely we'll want the balance of each plateu of tech advancement to swing back and forth between offense, defense, and various other nonmilitary strategies in some varying combinations. Doing this will hopefully keep things from getting scale and repetative.
sounds like a step forward for 4x genre.

back to topic, combat should be important aspect of the game, though i fear we devoted too much of the game into combat, specifically tactical combat. don't forget we have ground combat later on.

if somehow battles can be waged on the strategic map and other battle duked out tactically, that would be great. it would be great if player can decide the amount of combat they want in their game.

i'm putting combat between 20-40% of the game, maybe 25% of the game.

as for the frequency, if there we differentiate between skirmishes and major clashes, that would be good. there may be many combats though the player may not care much about so he shouldn't have to spend a lot of energy on it.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 4:47 am 
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Forked from the Ship Design Basics thread, the quoted questions pertain to detail of simulation and level of complexity in the combat system, which seems appropriate for this thread...

eleazar wrote:
MikkoM wrote:
Also maybe making this decision would be easier if we would now how detailed the damage model will be. Since I would think that choosing a more detailed ship design system, like a grid or slots system, would make a lot more sense if the damage model system would also be very detailed. This way it could actually matter where you place those inside components, like the bridge (if these will be in the game), since it could suffer damage and so affect the performance of the ship. However if these components will only suffer damage randomly, so their place inside the ship is not important, then maybe a less detailed system like a list system or Kharagh`s hybrid system would be better.

I'm rather dubious about having a damage model where individual components take damage. With only a few seconds per turn, i imagine it would be quite hard for the player to quickly evaluate the health of multiple ships. Can someone provide an example of a non turn-based game fleet game that successfully implements such a system?

Not all battles will necessarily involve so many ships that the player won't care about the details about any of them. Particularly at the start of the game, there might be single ships or small fleets fighting, or fighting space monsters. The player would care about each individual ship in this situation.

Of course, if there are dozens or hundreds of generic ships being ordered about, each individual one loses much of its significance... If this is a common occurrence at the middle or end of the game, then we'd want a complex damage system to work out so that the player can ignore the details when there are lots of ships.

However we presumably also want a variety of sizes or "roles" of ships to be involved in battles. There might be a few important ships in a large fleet that the player cares a lot about, and would want to keep track of subsystem status of, while the rest of the masses of more generic ships can be safely ignored.

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MikkoM wrote:
But then there is also the gaming experience to be considered. Now by this I mean that maybe even if the damage model can`t calculate every hits effect on all systems some people might find it enjoyable to make detailed ship designs and by so doing they can get more out of the space combat.

I don't think this project is in the habit of adding non-functional complications to the design. For nearly every finalized feature some players want finer control, or at least the illusion of it. But such pseudo-features haven't been added.

Much of the relevant parts of the design so far has been about planet / economy management. A common problem with such systems is that there is too much micromanagement, and things get tedious, and in particular, not fun.

With ship design though, the situation might be different. A number of people have expressed their particular enjoyment of ship design as an activity (whereas few have so-acclaimed managing planet build queues).

Perhaps analogously, GalCiv lets players do quite complex, but purely cosmetic, ship design. Given the apparent interest in this feature, it's inherent funness outweighs its practical irrelevance.

Now, if we can make a slightly more complicated, and thus hopefully more fun, ship design system in which the details actually matter to ship performance, it might be justifiable additional complexity.

We might want to do so carefully though... to tailor the complexity to the justification. In particular, if there are only a few important ships amongst many generic ones, then the design complexity of those important ships, and thus the detail of their status that is tracked and displayed, should be appropriately different. Perhaps that might mean something like the large important ships having more space/slots for parts to keep track of...


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 5:49 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Forked from the Ship Design Basics thread, the quoted questions pertain to detail of simulation and level of complexity in the combat system, which seems appropriate for this thread...

eleazar wrote:
MikkoM wrote:
Also maybe making this decision would be easier if we would now how detailed the damage model will be. Since I would think that choosing a more detailed ship design system, like a grid or slots system, would make a lot more sense if the damage model system would also be very detailed. This way it could actually matter where you place those inside components, like the bridge (if these will be in the game), since it could suffer damage and so affect the performance of the ship. However if these components will only suffer damage randomly, so their place inside the ship is not important, then maybe a less detailed system like a list system or Kharagh`s hybrid system would be better.

I'm rather dubious about having a damage model where individual components take damage. With only a few seconds per turn, i imagine it would be quite hard for the player to quickly evaluate the health of multiple ships. Can someone provide an example of a non turn-based game fleet game that successfully implements such a system?

Not all battles will necessarily involve so many ships that the player won't care about the details about any of them. Particularly at the start of the game, there might be single ships or small fleets fighting, or fighting space monsters. The player would care about each individual ship in this situation.

Of course, if there are dozens or hundreds of generic ships being ordered about, each individual one loses much of its significance... If this is a common occurrence at the middle or end of the game, then we'd want a complex damage system to work out so that the player can ignore the details when there are lots of ships.

I'm not against complex damage simulation from a game-design standpoint. If combat was turn-based, i would have no objection. My issue is i don't think complex damage can be presented in a quick and obvious way. Again i ask: "Can someone provide an example of a non turn-based fleet game that successfully implements such a system..." in a way that's transparent to the player?

I'm willing to (for the sake of argument) assume that the player cares to know the sordid details of his ship's partial destruction. But that's a lot of info— even assuming only 8 subsystems: which may be quite modest.

How do you present the status of 8 (or more) subsystems at-a-glance? However it's done it's info that can only be displayed for one ship at a time, presumably in some info panel at the edge of the screen. The player would have to invoke it somehow, most simply by selecting a ship.
So if you want to see how "healthy" your fleet is you need to cycle through every ship. I don't consider that ideal, especially since the player should be spending much of his time directing the fleet and strategizing.

One version of the v.4 design pad had a line something like, "The status of combat should be readily apparent at all times." I take it to mean that causes and consequences should be readily apparent. The semi-competant player shouldn't wonder why that ship just blew up or why a ship is immobilized.

At this point the supporter-of-complex-damage might propose that normally "shield" and "structure" are represented by two damage bars near the ship, but that more complete details are found in the info panel on selection. But how do you usefully translate 8 separate subsystems into a single bar? I don't think you can. Let's say a ship has 8 slots, so each slot/sub-system accounts for 12.5% of the "structure" bar. The results of:
1) an otherwise undamaged ship with destroyed engines
2) a ship with all systems lightly damaged, and
3) a ship with the port weapons battery destroyed
would all read as 81.5% on the structure meter. But the status of the ship is very different in all these cases.

And the player is somewhat in the dark.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
However we presumably also want a variety of sizes or "roles" of ships to be involved in battles. There might be a few important ships in a large fleet that the player cares a lot about, and would want to keep track of subsystem status of, while the rest of the masses of more generic ships can be safely ignored.

I thought your doctrine was that all ships of all sizes are important?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:19 am 
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eleazar wrote:
At this point the supporter-of-complex-damage might propose that normally "shield" and "structure" are represented by two damage bars near the ship, but that more complete details are found in the info panel on selection. But how do you usefully translate 8 separate subsystems into a single bar? I don't think you can. Let's say a ship has 8 slots, so each slot/sub-system accounts for 12.5% of the "structure" bar. The results of:
1) an otherwise undamaged ship with destroyed engines
2) a ship with all systems lightly damaged, and
3) a ship with the port weapons battery destroyed
would all read as 81.5% on the structure meter. But the status of the ship is very different in all these cases.

You could have a few bars for each ship and the total of each bar for the group, eg
Weapons
Shields
Armour
Systems
Structure

If one ship has damaged systems, one has damaged structure and one has damaged weapons, then each of those three bars will have decrease appropriately in terms of the total bars for the group.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:04 am 
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You could have two bars for hull integrity and shields and represent disabled (or almost disabled) systems with icons near ships.
eleazar wrote:
Can someone provide an example of a non turn-based fleet game that successfully implements such a system... in a way that's transparent to the player?

Nexus: The Jupiter incident, but its success is debatable.
Privateer and other Wing Commander games.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 2:03 pm 
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The system used in Moo2 comes to mind with a single bar for armor and one divided bar for systems and structure. We could easily devide the armor bar into weapons/armor. So we would have two bars, each divided in the middle. I always found this system fairly readable.
If we have shield facings then those will have to be displayed in a differrent fashion anyway.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 5:26 pm 
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loonycyborg wrote:
eleazar wrote:
Can someone provide an example of a non turn-based fleet game that successfully implements such a system... in a way that's transparent to the player?

Nexus: The Jupiter incident, but its success is debatable.
Privateer and other Wing Commander games.

Your examples support my point. Nexus gave you no more than 10 (non fighter) ships. In Wing Commander you control a single ship.
Sure if you have 1 or a few ships you can display and expect the player to absorb more damage info per ship, But FO is (at least assumed) to support battles with lots of ships.

And in reference to MoO2 as an example, that was turn-based. The player had as much time as he wanted to examine a ship's status. You can't expect what worked there to work at 3-5 seconds per turn.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 5:57 pm 
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Another example: Sword of the Stars.

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Damage is then applied to the affected section or turret, depending on the location hit. Weapons are poly targettable, which means that whatever point on the ship is targeted, a ship's weapons will center their cones of fire on the point clicked. This allows players to target individual turrets or focus on damaged, weakly armored or vital enemy sections.

I haven't played it myself though.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 12:43 am 
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loonycyborg wrote:
Another example: Sword of the Stars.

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Damage is then applied to the affected section or turret, depending on the location hit. Weapons are poly targettable, which means that whatever point on the ship is targeted, a ship's weapons will center their cones of fire on the point clicked. This allows players to target individual turrets or focus on damaged, weakly armored or vital enemy sections.

I haven't played it myself though.

If this game is playable i'm willing to bet that one or more of the following are true:
1) The player generally controls a small number of ships ~ a dozen.
2) Combat, on average, takes longer than 5-10 min.
3) It's hard to tell what's really going on in battle.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 7:44 am 
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eleazar wrote:
Can someone provide an example of a non turn-based fleet game that successfully implements such a system... in a way that's transparent to the player?

That was a rhetorical question, wasn't it?

I agree that a complex damage model is a bad idea if large number of ships can be involved in combat. But IMHO it should be possible to disable specific ship systems with special weapons like warp dissipators from MOO1.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:14 pm 
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loonycyborg wrote:
That was a rhetorical question, wasn't it?

My experience with 4X games is mostly in those that have simpler combat (Civ, Alpha Centari, etc.) Somehow most space 4Xs don't ever make it to the Mac. So i'm not certain that an example can't be found.

loonycyborg wrote:
I agree that a complex damage model is a bad idea if large number of ships can be involved in combat. But IMHO it should be possible to disable specific ship systems with special weapons like warp dissipators from MOO1.

A binary "disabled"/"not disabled" status for a few systems would be simpler to fully display than an all-out complex-damage system. I can't really say if it would be too much at this point.
It's sorta like this: I'm confident that a semi-truck can't fit in my bedroom. — i don't have to take careful measurements. A motorcycle might fit in my room, i'd need to know more about the motorcycle before making a prediction.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:16 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
A binary "disabled"/"not disabled" status for a few systems would be simpler to fully display than an all-out complex-damage system.

That's essentially what I'm thinking of as well. Perhaps one overall ship damage rating, and binary damaged/undamaged for individual parts. We needn't keep track of individual part "health"... it would seem fine to just have a chance to damage each part each turn, based on appropriate factors (likely damage done that turn, direction or part location).

This eliminates the need to keep track of a lot of ship status (gamestate) information that's really unnecessary. If part damage chance depends on damage done, then as ships are damaged, it's more likely that more and more parts will be damaged as the chance accumulates. I'm generally not a fan of unnecessary or excessive randomness in battle calculations, but this seems reasonable...


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 4:49 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
And in reference to MoO2 as an example, that was turn-based. The player had as much time as he wanted to examine a ship's status. You can't expect what worked there to work at 3-5 seconds per turn.


I am not currently up to date with all of the conversation and have to think about my opinions about how detailed this damage model should be later.

However I would like to know the exact meaning of this 3-5 second turn system? Now I have always thought that the 3-5 second per turn is basically the time the actual combat lasts, during which time the player has no control over it. Then the player asks for a pause if he/she wants to, which will occur after the turn. Now during the pause the player has some time, which is not mentioned in the design pad, to examine his ships, analyze the situation and then give orders to his ships. And when he is ready or maybe at least in multiplayer when a certain amount of time has passed the battle continues with the next turn. Also as it is also said in the design pad orders may be given at any time, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to ask for a pause after every turn if nothing significant happened during the turn.

Now the way I understand eleazar`s post, it seems to me that the 3-5 seconds per turn would be the total time, which the player has, to give orders or maybe even the total time of a turn, which would include the battle and order giving. Now if this is the case your order giving must be really fast if you have a big fleet and there isn`t really much time to analyze the situation or think about how you could use your ships to get the optimal performance out of them.

Of course, not depending on the time that the player has, to give his orders the information about the condition of the fleet and ships should be presented the easiest way possible so the player wouldn’t have to search for it and so prolong the combat.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:11 pm 
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MikkoM wrote:
However I would like to know the exact meaning of this 3-5 second turn system?


http://www.freeorion.org/index.php/0.4_ ... and_Orders

There is no automatic pause at the end of each turn. The idea is that the player normally gives his commands during the 3-5 sec turn, otherwise this line makes no sense: "Conversely, a TBS system can be too slow and make be unable to capture any real sense of tactics (Example: Master of Orion 2)."

IMO It's likely that the ability to pause will strongly restricted or eliminated during MP games.
Therefore the game should be designed to be playable without using pause.

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