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 Post subject: Ships: Roles
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:11 am 
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Hi,

Before we get on to discussing ship design, we'll discuss the size and role of ships in FreeOrion. Ships will have roles both in battles and on the galaxy map.

This thread is about whether we should use role-specific hulls.

So,
* Is a ship's role determined by what predefined role-specific hull it is based on, or
* Is a ship's role simply what you make of it, based on a design starting from a role-neutral clean slate?

We may have the options to auto-fill designs that you can then modify, or just use blank slates - this can be discussed later.

Once we decide on this, we'll discuss what those sizes or roles are, and can discuss supply issues.

Useful references:
http://freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1598
http://freeorion.org/index.php/0.4_Design_Pad
http://freeorion.org/index.php/0.4_Design_Pad/0.4_Roadmap

As always, please try not to stray from the primary topic.


Last edited by Tyreth on Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:40 am 
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In reference to this, i would like to get Tzlaine and/or other coders who are familiar with 3D to comment on the feasibility of:
1 • adding 3D models of the weapons + components onto the 3D model of the hull, so a ship's capabilities are visible
vs.
2 • simply using a role/size based 3D models which do not visibly alter to indicate weapons etc.

Obviously #2 is easier, but IMHO #1 is preferable. But how much more work is #1 than #2 ?

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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Roles
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 3:02 am 
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Firstly, it is great to see you so proactive Tyreth. We are definately making progress now I feel. And there is more activity on the forums too. When does this one close? ;)

Tyreth wrote:
* Is a ship's role determined by what predefined role-specific hull it is based on

Partially. But no. I think that all things such as size and role and ship components should be independant of each other. It is the sum of all these things though that determine the ships role.

Tyreth wrote:
* Is a ship's role simply what you make of it, based on a design starting from a role-neutral clean slate?

Yes. Based on what components you put in the ship, a description is guessed and displayed. Eg if you have alot of scanners on your ship, then it is a scout/detector. And it shouldn't be a specific combination of things to make it a scout for example. Eg simply having the detection equipment in most of its hull space makes it a scout. It might not be fast, it might not be small and stealthy, it is a scout, just not a very good one :).

Tyreth wrote:
We may have the options to auto-fill designs that you can then modify, or just use blank slates - this can be discussed later.

We can have both. Afterall, you can start with a blank slate. Then if the player wants they can choose the 'scout' template and it puts in the appropriate things, eg scanners.


MANTRA:
*Sizes and Roles are separate things. Ie Size=Huge, Role=Scout, No "Battleship", No "Destroyer". The last two can be roles, but have no bearing on size.
*Each and every Size/Role is equally likey to be used by the player, based on their strategy. Ie We shall not have a situation where small ships eventually become useless and never used.

Sizes
====
Somewhere in this thread are some good ideas on ship sizes.
http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1309&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Geoff, had an idea on each ship size having certain built in advantages and disadvantages.

Geoff wrote:
Things could be set up with a few more roles... perhaps:
- Small ships are fast but have very short range and are weak in combat and can't fit almost any useful non-combat modules (engines take up most of the space).
- Medium ships are moderate speed, variable range, moderately useful in combat and can fit a few lower-end non-combat modules (engine takes up a smaller fraction of the space, leaving some room for fuel or weapons or modules; weapons or modules add lots of mass and slow things down, but using that space for fuel instead adds range)
- Large ships are slow, variable-but-limited range, optimally effective in combat, and can fit the same lower-end non-combat modules as Medium ships (engines take up an even smaller fraction of the space, leaving lots of room for weapons and fuel, but Large ships have an additional mass penalty due to their size, so are shorter-range than an eqilvalent fuel-loaded Medium ship, and much slower if loaded with weapons or modules instead of fuel)
- Huge ships are very slow, variable-but-very-limited range, as good as Medium ships in combat, and can fit all kinds of useful non-combat modules that no smaller ships can fit (engines are neglidible, and there's lots of space for weapons or various modules, but large size makes them weaker structurally and very non-maneuvrable. Huge ships also have a very large mass penalty due to size, so are even shorter-range than an equivalent fuel-loaded Large ship)
- Bigger ship sizes can also exist, which are better than Huge at loading up modules and such, but correspondingly worse in combat, and even more range-limited.
Source: http://www.freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1309&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15


My memory of it though (from proabably a different post) was that Huge ships would be the only size able to fit mega sized components, eg Stellar Converter or Fleet Wide Shield, and wouldn't necesarily be as good at 'weapons ship' as it size suggests. Moderate ships would be most optimal for everything.

Roles
====
We already have some roles:
Design Pad wrote:
Weapon Types
Combat balance is organized primarily around different types of weapon delivery systems: Point Defense (PD), Short Range (SR), Long Range (LR), and Fighters.

SR is short range, direct-fire weaponry that is good against ships, but bad against fighters.
PD is short range, direct-fire weaponry that is good against fighters and incoming LR, but bad against ships.
LR is long range, indirect-fire weaponry that is good against ships, but bad against fighters.
Fighters move independently at long range from the ship that launches them to attack ships or other fighters. Fighters are divided into Interceptors (good against other Fighters), and Bombers (good against Ships).
The details of ship design, such as how many types of weapons ships may have are undecided.

Weapon Ranges
The following are tentative and preliminary values, to be used for intial engine design and content creation, and are sure to need balancing and tweaking later:

Ships move about 5 AU per combat turn
Short Range (SR) ships can fire at targets within 5 AU
Point Defence (PD) ships can shoot about 3 AU
Fighters can shoot about 3 AU
Long Range (LR) ships shoot about 15 AU

Reasons and Consequences
SR ships can't shoot further than they can travel in one turn, giving a reasonable meaning for "short range".
PD range should similar or smaller than SR range. This way, PD ships can't protect SR ships from LR missiles or fighters by sitting behind the SR. Rather, the PD has to be out front of its SR, giving the PD more time to shoot at LR missles as they go by (towards the SR). This leaves the PD vulnerable to attacking SR (since the friendly SR is behind the friendly PD).
PD shouldn't have to chase after fighters due to its range being too small, and fighters shouldn't be able to fly around PD too easily, or else PD might be too difficult to use.
Keeping fighter range and PD range roughly equal should ensure fighters can't shoot past PD to hit something behind the PD, but that fighters can get fairly close to the PD, and can shoot back at it without too much difficulty.
LR range should be more than two turns travel (or twice SR range), but not much larger than this so that the LR needs to be kept within a reasonable distance of their targets to keep them vulnerable to counterattacks.


However I think it is possible to have more.
Eg
Millitary
---------
Buff - Provides bonuses to other ships, eg group shield/stealth
Short Range - Short range, high damage weapons
Missile Ship - Missiles, long range
Long Range - Slow tracking long range weapons
Defense - Fast tracking weapons (point defense)
Carrier - Fighters/Heavy Fighters/Bombers/Interceptors/Droids
Fighter - Short range craft, short range weapons, fast, manueverable, accurate weapons, for protecting slower ships
Bomber - Close Range, Heavy Damage, Planetary Bombardment
Suicide - Fast, All Or Nothing Attack (eg suicide/explosive), Smaller ships better in role since large ships too costly to sacrifice
Raider - Hit and run attacks, designed to harrass/distract and not necesarily destroy.
Spotter - Ship type that is able to allow another long range ship target enemies out of its field of view
but in the spotters field of view. Not all ships can be spotters.
Recon - Stealth, Scaning
Troop Ship - Board, Troops, Ramming (spike may be used), Troop Pods, Disable
Mine Layer - Mines (types: laser, missile, proximity, net, sound [paralyse, waves, etc], Magnetic [attach, beacon], )
Droid - Ship with no crew, only AI meaning more space since no need for life/crew support
Planet Killer - Focus on taking out a planet either slowly and permanently or quick through bombing

Supply
------
Tanker - Supplys fuel. Extended role, mine fuel.
Repair Ships - Repairs ships, may carry repair drones (like fighters), repairs % of fighters, restocks certain % missiles
Salvage Ship - Gain resources from debris after space combat (if you win). Chance to recover enemy technology
Medical Ship - Heal injured crew

Civil
-----
Constructor - Deploy/Construct objects, eg stargates.
Miner - Mine a resource and store cargo. This is automatic. When the ship returns to a habited system, money is gained.
Freighter - Transports cargo




Certainly the problem is that given the component based nature of ship design in these games, it is very likely that there will be roles created by players that are not currently in the design pad.
Eg
Long Range Direct Fire Ships (eg Beam Weapons) are not mentioned in the design pad, yet will be very common. They would come under LR in the design pad, and effectively would change from Missile LR like so:
PD cannot shoot down incoming LR Beams.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Roles
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:01 am 
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Tyreth wrote:
Before we get on to discussing ship design, we'll discuss the size and role of ships in FreeOrion. Ships will have roles both in battles and on the galaxy map.

This thread is about whether we should use role-specific hulls.

So,
* Is a ship's role determined by what predefined role-specific hull it is based on, or
* Is a ship's role simply what you make of it, based on a design starting from a role-neutral clean slate?
....
As always, please try not to stray from the primary topic.

I'm afraid i have a hard time considering this topic in isolation, but i'll try to only include here what's relevant to the topic.

Personally i prefer a more flexible role-neutral approach, but there are trade-offs, which i will try to describe more fully than in my first post.

• Role-Specific Hulls
Code:
?   Less emphasis on ship-building/battle
+/- Fewer choices in shipbuilding— simpler design interface
+   Easier to teach the AI how to choose ships
+   More distinctive role-based appearance
+   Simpler balancing
-    Less room for creative ship design
+   Quicker implementation

• Role Neutral Hulls (freeform)
Code:
?   More emphasis on ship-building/battle
+/- More choices in shipbuilding— complex design interface
+/- Possibility of multi-role ships
-   Harder to teach the AI how to choose ships
-   Harder to identify a ships roles by sight— or at least would take a a lot more art/code
-   Higher chance of "exploitable" super-combinations.
+   More room for creative ship design, less chance of everyone developing the same few "optimal" ships for each tech-level.
-   Slower implementation


I'm not implying that we can tally up the "+" and "-" to figure out which is the way to go, each item is not of equal weight.


utilea wrote:
...lots of stuff off topic...

Um, this topic is not for discussing specific ship roles:
tyreth wrote:
Once we decide on this, we'll discuss what those sizes or roles are...

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:54 am 
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I like the idea of having a small amount of specialization. Such as the cargo ships in SE games. (I.E. when you design the ship, you have to use a certain amount for cargo containers, but are free to use the rest for anything you want)

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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Roles
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:35 am 
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eleazar wrote:
Um, this topic is not for discussing specific ship roles:
tyreth wrote:
Once we decide on this, we'll discuss what those sizes or roles are...

K, didn't see the small print :)


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Roles
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 3:44 am 
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eleazar wrote:
• Role-Specific Hulls
Code:
+   Quicker implementation
• Role Neutral Hulls (freeform)
Code:
-   Slower implementation

Why do you say that? I'd have thought the game logic / data representation and UI aspects of implementation would be about the same, or slightly faster without predefined role-specific hulls... Or are you assuming something about how ships will be represented graphically in one case but not the other, or something else I'm not considering?

Quote:
? Less/More emphasis on ship-building/battle

Along the same lines, can you elaborate why having or not having role-specific hulls will influence how much "emphasis" on battles there is?

I can see ship design being slightly more time consuming without role-specific hulls, though how much of a practical difference this is seems hard to predict. It would seem to depend quite a bit on how much customization can be done to a role-specific hull compared to role-neutral hulls, and obviously the specifics of how design is done.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Roles
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:04 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
• Role-Specific Hulls
Code:
+   Quicker implementation
• Role Neutral Hulls (freeform)
Code:
-   Slower implementation

Why do you say that? I'd have thought the game logic / data representation and UI aspects of implementation would be about the same, or slightly faster without predefined role-specific hulls... Or are you assuming something about how ships will be represented graphically in one case but not the other, or something else I'm not considering?
If the UI is to be done well for free-form it, it could take more work, but primarily i'm considering the balancing of ship design. The complexity of which increases considerably with each new variable added. For ship design to be worth the player's time, there need to be multiple right answers to the question of "how should i build my ship?". And for there to be multiple right answers tech-tree, PP cost, power, size, range, etc. of ship hulls and components need to be balanced rather carefully. A possible task, but certainly easier with fewer possibilities.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
? Less/More emphasis on ship-building/battle

Along the same lines, can you elaborate why having or not having role-specific hulls will influence how much "emphasis" on battles there is?

I can see ship design being slightly more time consuming without role-specific hulls, though how much of a practical difference this is seems hard to predict. It would seem to depend quite a bit on how much customization can be done to a role-specific hull compared to role-neutral hulls, and obviously the specifics of how design is done.

All other things being equal, having pre-defined roles for hulls presents the player with fewer choices than a more free-form approach. Fewer choices means less time building and thinking about ship types —> less of the total game time involved with ships and battle —> less emphasis on ships and battle.

Which is not to say a game focusing entirely on combat couldn't be made with fixed-role hulls. But a more limited ship design system (i.e. fixed hull types) is very congruent with an approach that places less over-all emphasis on combat.

Of course there are numerous other ship design decisions which could make the over-all package more or less simple, but they are not under discussion here.


Actually in the course of writing all this i'm coming to think more favorably of the fixed hull approach. Unless the answer to this thread is something like "FO's main focus will be space combat, and diplomacy, economy, spying, etc. exist in a support role" perhaps a ship design system with fewer, but more significant choices would be more in the spirit of the previous decisions.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:25 pm 
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I'm in favour of having role-specific hulls - but i think that there should also be a generic 'put anything you want in it' hull.

In fact, i think you should be able to put anything you want in any sort of hull, so if you want to add some fighter bays to you battleship design then you can do so - but the game should offer bonuses to certain types of weapons on certain types of hull.

Examples:

Battleship Hull
+25% space/cost saving when adding heavy LR weapons
+25% space/cost saving when adding armour

Cruiser Hull
+25% saving when adding heavy SR weapons
+25% saving when adding faster engines

Carrier Hull
+50% saving when adding fighter bays

PD Hull
+50% saving when adding PD weapons

Scout Hull
+25% saving when adding sensors
+25% saving when adding faster engines

System Patrol Hull
+50% saving in maintenance costs
+25% penalty in adding hyperspace engines

And so on. The idea being that you if optimise the entire ship design (i.e. hull shape, infrastructure layout, crew training etc) around a certain role you will get benefits when performing that role. Obviously you could still have a 'jack of all trades' hull design but that wouldnt get you much in the way of bonuses so what would be the point of having it?

The important thing is that there's nothing stopping your from putting PD on your battleships, or heavy missiles on your PD ships, and combining the two roles into one design, but you would get a definite bonus from having 2 specialised designs.

I've suggested variations of this theme several times, but it never seems to go down well and i'm not expecting anything different this time :P Just thought i'd get it mentioned again for the sake of it :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:05 pm 
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Daveybaby wrote:
I've suggested variations of this theme several times, but it never seems to go down well and i'm not expecting anything different this time :P Just thought i'd get it mentioned again for the sake of it :wink:

Um, well you don't really go into much detail as to why this is a good idea, or how it's an especially good answer to "encourage diverse ship designs".

My initial concern (without getting into too much role-specific detail) is that many of these hulls seem to offer the player a variety of choices, only one of which is ever valid. If there's no possible reason to use a Carrier or PD hull for anything but it's intended purpose, why give the player an option to make a non PD-PD ship? Perhaps there's a better way to do encourage specialization?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:53 pm 
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@Daveybaby's post:
I really do not like the idea of artificial bonuses to make certain hulls geared torwards certain roles. Why should I choose a hull that has +25% scanner range, when it is easier to find a scanner component and put it in my hull.

I think letting the components in your ship dictate the ships roles is simpler. We could end up with alot of different hull types otherwise.


@Eleazar
Could you provide a proper definition on role specific and role neutral hulls. Im assuming that role specific is like what davey baby suggested.

In any case I am 'for' the idea of role neutral hulls. Ie plain hulls. There maybe properties to hulls eg Organic, Metal, etc. Or some other property, but for now I would like the ships role to be based on the components in the hull.

Eg a ship with a load of scanners is a scout, a ship with a load of weapons is a gunship. Its all pretty simple. I feel the player should not be restricted into predesigned roles, but can create whatever roles they want based on the components available.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:22 pm 
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Daveybaby's suggestion is more or less the same as what I was talking about.

True the differences are somewhat limiting, but any system that has hull differences that aren't Size is.

I'm not saying role neutral hulls are a bad idea, but having a few (partially) specialized hulls is good too.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:20 am 
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I favour role-specific ships that are partially configurable. Perhaps 2/3 of the hull is always role specific, hard wired, fixed in place; the remaing 1/3 is fully customisable(any combo of weapons,sensors,special,cargo,extended fuel tanks, troops, etc. that fit).

A primary role is always retained, but a secondary role (of your chosing) can be affixed thereto.

I could entertain the idea of one or two(different size) generic role ships.


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Daveybaby's suggested system seems to be to have a variety of role-specific hulls, where the "role specific" part arises from it being cheaper or more expensive to add a particular type of part, or a bonus or penalty to the effectiveness of the part.

Perhaps we could get a similar result without needed to define particular role-specific hulls, though. What if, after making a design in whatever way is done, assuming there are bunch of parts in the design, there is the option to mark one of the parts as the "Primary System" for the ship. This would have the effect of giving a bonus to the performance of that system, and perhaps a penalty to all other systems.

If "roles" are generally tied to a particular ship part type (various weapon types, engines, troop pods, or fuel tanks / range extenders, etc.), then we'd effectively have a role-specific "hull" option for every type of part that could be marked primary.

eleazar wrote:
...many of these hulls seem to offer the player a variety of choices, only one of which is ever valid. If there's no possible reason to use a Carrier or PD hull for anything but it's intended purpose, why give the player an option to make a non PD-PD ship? Perhaps there's a better way to do encourage specialization?

This is an important issue that should be considered in this discussion... While there are various advantages that can be claimed for having role-specific hulls, how exactly should hulls be made role-specific...?

And in particular, in order to decide the above, should there be significant design choices to be made after picking a role-specific hull? (Best of everything avaialble that goes in the hull is not a significant choice...) If there should be, what sorts of significant decisions are possible within a role-specific hull system, and how should roles be fixed so that these other decisions can exist?

Or is pick a role, then fill it in with the best of everying, enough ship design complexity?

If not, then how practically different is a system without role-specific hulls, anyway? Where does the interesting and fun complexity in ship design lie for most people...?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:18 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Daveybaby's suggested system seems to be to have a variety of role-specific hulls, where the "role specific" part arises from it being cheaper or more expensive to add a particular type of part, or a bonus or penalty to the effectiveness of the part.

Perhaps we could get a similar result without needed to define particular role-specific hulls, though. What if, after making a design in whatever way is done, assuming there are bunch of parts in the design, there is the option to mark one of the parts as the "Primary System" for the ship. This would have the effect of giving a bonus to the performance of that system, and perhaps a penalty to all other systems.

That's just more complex. Davey's suggestion is better.

I thought you were gonna say:
Perhaps we could get a similar result without needed to define particular role-specific hulls, though. What if, after making a design in whatever way is done, the game looks at the components and ship makeup and decides that based on X components, this ship is Role X.

It seems more logical to me. Well more flexible. It could also be done the reverse way, I want role X, then the game puts in the components.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
If "roles" are generally tied to a particular ship part type (various weapon types, engines, troop pods, or fuel tanks / range extenders, etc.), then we'd effectively have a role-specific "hull" option for every type of part that could be marked primary.

Yes, I would like this without the primary part. As I explained above.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
...many of these hulls seem to offer the player a variety of choices, only one of which is ever valid. If there's no possible reason to use a Carrier or PD hull for anything but it's intended purpose, why give the player an option to make a non PD-PD ship? Perhaps there's a better way to do encourage specialization?

This is an important issue that should be considered in this discussion... While there are various advantages that can be claimed for having role-specific hulls, how exactly should hulls be made role-specific...?

I think there is no benefit in having role specific hulls as it is just making a cost benefit for the player to put certain components into a ship. Its just restricting the player to certain ship designs and not letting them design their own. A hull that give 50% more space for LR weapons is really just the same as taking a hull and putting in mostly LR weapons.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
And in particular, in order to decide the above, should there be significant design choices to be made after picking a role-specific hull? (Best of everything avaialble that goes in the hull is not a significant choice...) If there should be, what sorts of significant decisions are possible within a role-specific hull system, and how should roles be fixed so that these other decisions can exist?

I think all role specific hulls does, as Davey suggests is to force the player to design certain ships. Eg a hull that gives bonuses for LR weapons is going to have only one decision. Put lots of LR weapons in there. An empty hull with no bonuses is more up to the player. The player can decide to put whatever they want in. Fighters, Pd weapons, lasers or only LR weapons.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Or is pick a role, then fill it in with the best of everying, enough ship design complexity?

This should be available no matter what we decide. Its just a template, a quick setup that players can adjust and change to be specific. And we should have design complexity beyond that.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
If not, then how practically different is a system without role-specific hulls, anyway? Where does the interesting and fun complexity in ship design lie for most people...?

With role specific hulls there are pre designed templates for players to design their ships to. Only problem is that an LR Hull is never going to vary much as only LR weapons are likely to be in their to get the maximum effect of the bonus.

Without roll specific hulls, the player has complete freedom. A blank slate. They can decide, I need a carrier. Select carrier template. Make some changes, remove some fighters, add lasers. Or they can decide whatever they want. Putting in some of this, some of that. It might seem that we end up with a bunch of random and generalised designs, but its just the variety of roles is greater. Maybe design a ship that creates a shield over the entire fleet. Would we have thought of that role specific hull for the player. No, the player thought of it. So roll neutral hulls encourage Creativity.

We could have the game classify ships in certain roles. Based on the components in the players ship, makes the ship a certain role. Eg a ship with alot of lasers will be a gunship. A ship with alot of fighters will be a carrier. Etc.

I think we need to focus on roll neutral hulls just as much as roll specific hulls BTW.


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