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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 3:23 am 
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Hi,

Now that we've had a discussion about ship roles, we're ready to start discussing ship design in-game. Before we get into the details of that, we need to answer a very important question: what system do we use for design? There are three main contenders:

* Slots - something like Stars!, where each hull has a number of slots available. It may have for example, two engine slots, three mechanical slots, four weapon slots, and 3 general slots that can take anything. This somewhat defines how much and what kind of things you can fit on board, while giving some degree of freedom via general slots.

* List - Parts added to a list. List has no internal structure or order. Parts are likely subject to limits on their total mass, volume, or something similar, with each part having a rating in this limited value

* Grid - Ship is represented by a grid (hex, square, other?) of slots. Parts take up one or more adjacent grid slots in some orientation. Grid slots may or may not be restricted to hold or not hold certain part types, or there may be types of grid slots, which certain parts may or may not be allowed to cover when put into the grid.

Alternate systems to the ones listed above are permitted to be suggested.

I expect this thread to be a quick one - not because there's not much to discuss, but because we'd like to move on. So please don't keep this thread alive longer than necessary.

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 3:51 am 
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Some relevant threads:

http://freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=931
http://freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1598


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:27 am 
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For me I think the two contenders are:
* List
* Slots

I think Grid is just a more complex version of slots, so slots is simpler and therefore can be more fun. Now I tried stars and thought that designing ships was quite fun. With a low amount of slots to ever have to deal with things would remain very simple and quick. My only issue is the hulls, and the use of general slots. Hulls would have to be role specific as this ship design system favours a role specific system of hulls. It would only be role neutral if all slots were general slots.

List on the other hand probably lends itself more to role neutral hulls, though there is no reason why you cannot have role specific and role neutral or both hull systems in both Slot and List systems.

A List system, like in Moo2/Moo3 can be straight forward in that it gets to the point. Of all the systems it is the quickest from a UI pov (no dragging etc) and not the prettiest, but it can be. It provides the player with the most power, although this is down to space usage, as if all components took 1 space and total space was 5, then you have a different layout for the slot system. The slot system has to be simple (1 space per component, etc) but the list system can be more complex.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:58 am 
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utilae wrote:
[Slots-based design] would only be role neutral if all slots were general slots.

It would be best if you avoided using terms like "role neutral" or "role specific" in this discussion. They are not well-defined, and the chosen solution is somewhere between the two (by my idea of their meaning).

Regardless, we can either

a) have part-type-restricted slots, but always have the same ratios of types, or

b) have various options for numbers of different part-type-restricted parts, but not have these be specifically tailored to a particular "role"

In either of these cases, we would not have strict role-specific hulls.

More generally, we've had the roles discussion, and its essentially over. Emphasis now is on issues related to choice of basic ship design system. I suspect this will not depend much on roles-related issues (though I could be mistaken) so please avoid bringing up roles-issues unless the the chosen system for sizes (not other potential systems), which does have some role-related variations, is relevant to the current question.

Quote:
A List system [is] not the prettiest, but it can be.

What does that mean, exactly?

Quote:
...if all components took 1 space and total space was 5, then you have a different layout for the slot system.

I think it's safe to assume that if we did a list-based system, individual parts' volume or mass (whichever is limited) would be measured much more finely than 20% of the limit. Maybe parts are 3, 5, 10 or 12 units, of a total of 90 units available space.

Quote:
The slot system has to be simple (1 space per component, etc)...

Slots can be made more complicated. There can be various sizes of slots, and parts can have a size as well. So we could require a ship hull to have a "large" slot to hold "large" parts, or allow a "large" slot to hold multiple "small" parts in one slot.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:01 am 
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I have a differrent system I would like to propose, it is a mix of the list and the slot system.

IMO we should split the design system into two parts. The space available inside a ship and the space available on its hull.

What I propose is to use a slot system for the space on the hull of a ship. Ship hulls may have differrent hardpoints and a bigger or smaller outside surface according to their size and shape. Components such as weapon mounts, sensors arrays, engines would be placed in those outside slots.

However the space within a ship will be represented by a simple list, because only the capacity of a ship is important here.
Components such as the bridge, crew quarters, strorage, power plants and any other with no direct connection to the outside would be placed here.

This system will give meaning to differrently sized and shaped hulls. A bigger ship has a bigger surface area and thus you can place more weapons on it. It also would make it very easy to implement weapon facings and fire arcs for the weapons, as those will be determined by the location of a weapon on the hull (I don't know if fire arcs will be implemented, but if yes, this would be a bonus of a mixed system)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:04 pm 
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IMO Grid is kinda like a half-way point between the systems used in MoO2(list) and Stars!(slots).

Grid gives you the constraints of needing to put certain stuff in the hull, but unlike slots it doesn't really force you to use specific amounts of space.(there's always a small amount of space left to your discretion) My main beef with the list system is that all ships are amorphous blobs. Since you can use anything with anything, there is little reason not to make the biggest dreadnaughts you can.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:25 am 
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My initial reaction mirrors Utilae's, in regards that the direction we chose is dependent upon the the type of role we use. Unfortunately, Geoff has prohibited any further role discussion, so I will refrain from stating a preference, since it's role dependent, and I won't be able to elaborate. I'll sit this thread out, and see y'all in the next one.

I will say that all three are viable, so whichever is chosen, it will work.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:12 am 
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Sandlapper wrote:
Unfortunately, Geoff has prohibited any further role discussion...

I have not prohibited any mention of roles.

The basic role-dependence of hull sizes that will be used is decided, and the merits of other systems don't need further discussing.

As such, arguments about whether a particular ship design system (eg. grid, list, slots, etc.) is better suited for "role-specific" or "role-neutral" hulls are not relevant.

However, arguments about ship design systems being good or bad, given the role-dependence of hull size as outlined in the design document, are relevant.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:16 pm 
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I think our posters aren't aware of this summary of the previous thread:
http://www.freeorion.org/index.php/0.4_ ... #Ship_Size
[EDIT:] looks like geoff has added some links.


• IMHO the worst option is a wholesale Grid system, unless the grid is very small. I see no point in complicating the ship design process by making it a puzzle mini-game.


Kharagh's post is a good system, similar to what i've supported in other threads.

Kharagh wrote:
I have a differrent system I would like to propose, it is a mix of the list and the slot system.

IMO we should split the design system into two parts. The space available inside a ship and the space available on its hull.


However i think the most important consideration which comes under this discussion is not the geometry, but the number of slots/listed-items/grid-squares.

Originally i was thinking in terms of the smallest ship having perhaps one slot for a weapon, and the largest ship having perhaps 16-32 slots open for weapons. However on more reflection, and having seen other slot systems, i think this should be streamlined. Depending on the size of the ship, a single slot could hold more or fewer individual weapons. Like so:

Different slots on different hulls would have different capacities— something like between 1-16 (slot capacity generally increasing by powers of 2). Generally the slots on larger sized hulls have greater capacity, though larger sizes might also have more slots.

So Let's suppose that hulls of a particular shape have 3 slots for weapons: forward, port, and starboard. In a medium size each of these slots might have a capacity of 4. The armory contains weapons which can take up more or less space within a slot. So the player put laser cannons (which take up 1 space each) in the forward slot, and it would fill up with 4 laser cannons. Or the slot could be filled with 2 missile launchers (2 spaces each).
But the forward weapon slot could not contain 2 laser cannons and 1 missile launcher. To avoid making micro-evil, and each ship design take excessively long with larger hulls: each slot can contain only 1 type of thing at a time.


As for the internal space, the answer revolves around how many different components we will want to allow in a single ship. If a ship will have 3-5 distinct components in the interior, we might as well do the inside with slots too. If there will be more individual components of varying size, a list would serve better.


Which connects to this post here: I think the topic of this discussion would be better served if we first had a better idea of the stuff that will go inside a ship.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:56 pm 
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What I would like to see is a system which would support at least weapon facings and maybe even shield and armour facings. Since I believe that this way we could make ship facings matter. However this could probably be achieved by using any of these ship design systems or by using Kharagh`s system.

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.

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. This time I would have to say that I am not one of those people, but as I have always wanted to get different sorts of experiences out of games and have always liked to use my own imagination, I can understand this point of view as well.

Well I don`t know if this post was very helpful, but like Sandlapper already said all three could be possible.


Last edited by MikkoM on Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:07 pm 
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Yes i would like to see weapon facings too and limit nr of weapons on ship in certain direction with slots. So that u cant put 5 Heavy ioncannons to aft of the frigate that barely has room besides engines in aft. But if you do shield and armor facings then slot system only is bad since its much easyer in list system to choose - heavyly armored front rather than putting armor pieces into slots. So if things go into so much detail slots & list together is best option imho. Slots for weapons and other combat systems such as tractor beam and for armor & general equipment such as ship anti-gravity unit for better turning in list.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:10 pm 
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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?

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.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:07 am 
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eleazar wrote:
I think our posters aren't aware of this summary of the previous thread:
http://www.freeorion.org/index.php/0.4_ ... #Ship_Size
[EDIT:] looks like geoff has added some links.


• IMHO the worst option is a wholesale Grid system, unless the grid is very small. I see no point in complicating the ship design process by making it a puzzle mini-game.
But... a small grid makes the "puzzle" aspect worse. Part of why SE5 has such large grids is so you don't need to worry about that.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:10 am 
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I wouldn't mind a system like Sword of the Stars uses... 3 sections (a command, mission, and engine) and different hard points on each different type of section.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 1:59 am 
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Quote:
IMO we should split the design system into two parts. The space available inside a ship and the space available on its hull.

Space Empires is an obvious example of this type.


------

Personally, though I like the Stars system very much, it's very restraining. You can only have ships that do certain things that the game designers foresaw. Want a combo mine-layer and mine-clearer? No-can do (dedicated mine-layers don't come with weapons). Sure there are the Nubians which can slot anything hull-wise, but there's only one of those hull-types and it's very large end-game (more if you have the right racial traits though).
So at the risk of re-entering the Role discussion (that I didn't read), I'll just say that Stars/Slots are very role oriented. You can only do what the game designers want/forsaw. And do you really want to trust the FO designers? ;) heh

Lists let you design any type of ship from a simple base-hull. But they require more effort on the part of the player.

And I say the above prefering slots (no real reason).
With any system, I think a way to auto-equip basic stuff (shields, armour, engines) to the best tech level available would make sense. It'd be even more helpful with a slots system.


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