While many of use are justifiably critical of MoO2's "bigger is always better" approach, there is at least one legitimate motive for it. It keeps the battle from being cluttered in late-game with 1000s of tiny ships—none of which are important enough to care about, or to take the time to control.
Which leads me to an idea...
I still hold out hope for the fact that I will see 1000 tiny ships fighting 10 large ships and wondering which will win as the amazing battle goes on. I think this probelm can be solved through the GUI implementation of unit management then through cutting out functionality.
And the idea. Essentially you are upgrading sizes, only the sizes don't stay the same, they change in size, eek confusion. I think this is similar to that idea of refining different hull sizes to keep them competitve with other hull sizes. Eg player A would refine small hull so it can still compete against players using large hull (through upgrades such as hitpoints, and as you suggest, space).
Role specific involves the greater learning curve - it forces the player to think about the roles and how to use and counter them - because the other players in the game are also going to be using a variety of ships roles.
This kind of thinking would be used in both systems. I'll get to the details soon.
Non-role specific ships mean that the player wont really have to consider roles at all in ship design - they can just pile in a load of the biggest and best weapon of the moment, since that's probably what everyone else will be doing too.
If all the components fit into a nice balanced RPS like Geoff suggests with how it is done in GalCiv, then palyers will have to consider roles. Think of the existence of three balanced weapons: BEAMS, FIGHTERS and MISSILES. If all are balanced, then the player still has to think about roles. They wont be choosing hulls to fit the ship into the RPS, they will be choosing components. This is the pure difference. Based on the components, the ship is put into a certain role. And this is my point of view.
actually it doesnt matter at all how balanced techs are since smart player in game with generic hulls will take same hull look for all ships and so playing with specialised ships against such player will be useless since u wont know what to target or what to fear. So best strategy would be to make best all around design to conquer such enemy or let computer control battles since ai probably has "insight" of enemy ships.
Actually the same problem arises either way.
Role Neutral - Player builds generic ships (carrier/beam/missle) to get best chance of handling all RPS situations. Player can build role specific ships to take out enemy ships of certain roles, if they have the enemies fleet information.
Role Specific - Player builds equal amounts of each ship roles (3xCarrier, 3xBeam, 3xMissile) to get best chance of handling all RPS situations. Player can build role specific ships to take out enemy ships of certain roles, if they have the enemies fleet information.
So player must know more or less enemy ships capabilities imho and thus it would be better to have rolespecific designs.
Another thought, based on Yeeha's comments, role specific would likely have more visual cues to their inherent power; while a generic hull would likely require a battle scan of each hull, with an analysis of strengths/weaknesses, just to figure out what is opposing you. Such visual cues would reduce the time needed to make the battle decision - fight or flee?
Role Neutral Ships can still display there role using some kind of Icon overlay. In ship design, the player either chooses the role manually or instead the ships role is determined based on weapons and components in ship. So the information can still be displayed to players.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
it can likely be arranged that ship roles will still be strategically necessary, and that the player will be best off of s/he produces ships suited to a variety of roles and then uses them appropriately in those roles, even if we don't force a particular set of roles to be used by making predefined hulls for them.
This is like in real life I guess. You can have multi role vehicles (role neutral) and specialised vehicles (role specialised). I think we can have both systems in one, so we are really just talking about different ways of achieving the same thing.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Essentially, we'd have a variety of hull types with various different properties. Some of these properties would be more or less suitable to certain ship roles, no hull would be pigeonholed into use in only a single role, and you could use a size that is not the best for a particular role if you didn't have access to that size (yet).
Eleazar had some suggestions above, mixing shape and size.
Alternatively, we could just have 4 or 5 different hull sizes. Note that in this model, larger is not always better: each hull size would have its unique advantages and disadvantages, in combat and on the galaxy map, in ways related and unrelated to actual battle performance.
I too am leaning towards this idea of a hybrid system. I will flesh my own idea out later. But essentially as you have said, the player could choose from hulls such as Carrier, Gunship, Scout, Generic. Generic is role neutral hull, while the others are role specialised. Eg Carrier would have X% more space as Davey suggests, if X% fighters are in the hull. Generic would have 0% more space, no bonuses. This way specialised ships will have more space for their favoured components. Generalised ships will have slightly less space, since they are not geared to that specific component.
Also I like other properties such as Shape (eg Cube, Sphere), Technology (eg Organic, Metal) and Size (Small, Large). I think there should be no restrictions on what size goes with which role. If certain sizes lend themselves better to certain roles, then let players have the chance to figure out what makes the best size for that role. A further idea is to have restricted size of components based on ship hull. Eg a "Long Hull" can only have spinal mount weapons.