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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 9:13 am 
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Tortanick wrote:
If the UI puts these system ships in a different window then you can't accidentally mix the system ships with you're normal ships.

Then we'd have a separate system ships window, in addition to the regular ships window, unnecessarily complicating the UI and fleet management.

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If you do force people to use old engines then that just means you can mix and match the ships that should and shouldn't move. This anoys players since they have to reverse when they arrive and because all ships are matching the speed of the slow system ships.

I don't follow what that is trying to say.

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Another reason not to force players to put an interstellar engine, they shouldn't have to worry about trade offs for an engine they never ever plan to use.

Players should nearly never plan to never use a ship as an interestellar-travelling object. The definition and player-conception of a ship should include interstellar travel ability. This simplifes fleet management, in particular eliminating the need to keep separate track of system and interstellar ships, conceptually to the player, and in the UI. And as eleazar noted, assuming ships are only built at shipyards, which are relatively rare, system ships are rather impractical in practice, as they'd only be able to be used at the system at which they were built.

eleazar wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
* Engines are regular ship parts that are placed in standard slots. (ie. no engine-only special slots)

Contrarily, IMHO the simplest way to guarantee that a ship has at least one engine is to define an engine-only slot. When any new design is initiated that slot is filled with an engine. At no point can that slot be filled with a non-engine component, so there's no need for a "validity check" and the accompanying error messages for an invalid design. If an action is going to be illegal, it's less annoying if the computer simply doesn't let you do it, than getting an error message when the ship is done.

Examples of poor UI implimentation probably aren't a good reason not to do something... Rather than an error message, I'd think we'd have the "Done" or "Accept" button on the design screen be disabled until all conditions on a design are met, so you couldn't perform the illegal action of making an engineless design. This and any other conditions would be listed clearly next to the button to explain why it is disabled.

In general though, I'd like to avoid things like hard-coded slots as much as possible. More exceptions or special cases in the base design will make future modding more difficult, and might restrict future decisions unnecessarily. Having hard-coded slots also might make things more difficult or more restricted if we intend to impliment directional-dependence of damage effects, in that the engine will always have a fixed direction (or no direction), preventing potentially interesting outcomes or decisions that otherwise might be made. Special cases also would likely complicate the implimentation, and would require separate or distinctive UI representation, again limiting future options unnecessarily. And, if it's possible to have multiple copies of engines (which we may not actually want, but mods might) then it's rather odd / inelegant to have one fixed slot and one unfixed slot with the same part in it.

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...any engine components beyond the first non-removeable component must be placed in an internal slot.

Why would we impose such a rule? I'd think we'd allow each individual engine part to require internal, external, or work in either position, presumably just like any other part.

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Geoff the Medio wrote:
* Engines have two basic ratings: Interstellar and In-System

Conceptually, i still think it's a bad idea to lump these two functions together into a single component. Movement in-battle and via Starlanes are completely different game concepts, that follow completely different rules. One requires fuel and has a limited range, the other has no such units.

They generally have some differences, but I don't think they're "completely different"... They're both movement of ships, and both require an "engine" part in the ship design. And, while most engines will probably be in-system-only or interstellar-only, there could be some means of propulsion that work in both cases in the same manner (in the fluff / game story sense). As well, some late-game interstellar engines might not require any fuel, and thus not have any range limits.

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Anything you might say about the statistics of a dual-drive engine would only apply to one of it's functions. Declaring them a single item is arbitrary, and somewhat confusing. It's better to keep the concepts of Starlane travel and in-system maneuvering distinct in the player's mind.

The bullet point is as much practical for implimentation as it is conceptually for players... The fact that engine parts have ratings in both in-system and insterstellar travel doesn't mean that all parts function in both modes. Rather, most engine parts, especially near the start of the game when players are learning how things work, would be single-function, in that they have a rating of 0 in one or the other mode of travel. However, I don't see a good reason to build the engine so that it's impossible to have multi-function parts, since there might be cases when it's wanted to have such parts.

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It is very much like (though not so blatant) lumping any weapons together into a single component to instead of simply filling a slot with "lasers" or "missiles" the player would be presented with a bunch of "weapons" components which have different ratings in the various weapons types.

Doing this for most weapons, and especially for weapons parts near the start of the game, would be confusing and generally bad. Later in the game though, I don't think it's totally unreasonable to allow for the possibility of dual-purpose ship parts to be unlocked. As long as players are introduced to concepts with distinct parts, and more-confusing mixed-mode parts are the exception, I don't see the need to disallow their creation. If they end up not working well, then the actual parts that are included in the game can be all single-function, but the engine can still support mixed-mode parts as well.

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Geoff the Medio wrote:
* Ship designs need to have at least one engine, and at least some to-be-determined minimum rating in both categories to be a valid design.

I don't understand the second part of requirement. I would hope any "engine" provided by the game should be acceptable without the player concerning himself with a "minimal rating."

Again, this design isn't a manual for the player... The point of the minimal rating was that we'd probably require all ships to have basic functional interstellar and in-system propulsion. You could put in only one engine if that one engine gave you interstellar and in-system capability. If all your available engines did only one or the other, then you'd need at least two engines to get both.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:38 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Tortanick wrote:
If you do force people to use old engines then that just means you can mix and match the ships that should and shouldn't move. This anoys players since they have to reverse when they arrive and because all ships are matching the speed of the slow system ships.

I don't follow what that is trying to say.

That if you block people from creating system ships, and they try to work around that by useing old engines it will create bigger UI issues than the extra tab for system ships.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Tortanick wrote:
Another reason not to force players to put an interstellar engine, they shouldn't have to worry about trade offs for an engine they never ever plan to use.

Players should nearly never plan to never use a ship as an interestellar-travelling object. The definition and player-conception of a ship should include interstellar travel ability. This simplifes fleet management, in particular eliminating the need to keep separate track of system and interstellar ships, conceptually to the player, and in the UI. And as eleazar noted, assuming ships are only built at shipyards, which are relatively rare, system ships are rather impractical in practice, as they'd only be able to be used at the system at which they were built.

You're looking at this from the wrong angle, rather than look at it from fleet management and UI, you should be looking at it from a military strategy angle: are system ships tactically usefull? Because if they are people will use them weather developers intended them or not and when they do they'll have to fight a UI that was designed with the assumption that there are no system ships.

And eleazar's point of system ships only being possible in a location with a shipyard isn't too convincing, shipyards will be in important systems (perhaps important because they have a shipyard), that makes them prime locations for system ships.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
...any engine components beyond the first non-removeable component must be placed in an internal slot.

Why would we impose such a rule? I'd think we'd allow each individual engine part to require internal, external, or work in either position, presumably just like any other part.

Wouldn't traditional engines be more logically placed on an external slot? But I agree with Geoff, there is no reason to make one rule for all engines.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Doing this for most weapons, and especially for weapons parts near the start of the game, would be confusing and generally bad. Later in the game though, I don't think it's totally unreasonable to allow for the possibility of dual-purpose ship parts to be unlocked. As long as players are introduced to concepts with distinct parts, and more-confusing mixed-mode parts are the exception, I don't see the need to disallow their creation. If they end up not working well, then the actual parts that are included in the game can be all single-function, but the engine can still support mixed-mode parts as well.

I never thought of it but you're right, multi function components do make sense. For example a biological ship component could be a telekinetic brain. It has offensive powers and counts as a shield.

This dose ask the question about weather multi-tasking is possible for such components but that's way off topic.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:20 pm 
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Wow... too much information.

Back to some past posts.

loonycyborg wrote:
eleazar wrote:
loonycyborg wrote:
IMHO only one engine per ship should be allowed, but engines should be customizable so it is possible to make small adjustments to their cost, space required and speed.

The design of this game is about avoiding "small adjustments" (i.e. micromanagement) and only presenting the player with significant choices.


I meant "small adjustments" as compared to doubling of speed caused by adding another engine. Even small changes to speed can be significant.

What is the purpose of allowing multiple engines per ship?


Well, going backwards. If we have a ship with only one big slot in the front, where we have fit our massively destructing hyperweapon (as the classic Stellar Converter), and we have only one engine in the back of the ship, we can't fire and retreat at the same time. with two little engines in the front we can. Simple.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:21 pm 
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Well i think engines on side and front to allow strafing or moving backwards is bad idea, too much controlling, just place your weapons to back then or to side. And as for manuverability i think better there should be technologies like inertial dampener device or something to make your ships more manuverable.
Usual engines i think should have limit to limit extreme tactics like one superfast heavy cruiser with 50 engines carrying two antimatter bombs for planet wipeout and also although realism factor doesnt count much but engines use power so u cant put 50 engines on ship and use them all at once. So i think small ships should have less slots for engines and big ships more slots and small ones should accelerate and get max speed with less engines. So bigship with just 1 engine should be really slow but small frigate could fly quite good with only 1.
As for interstellar engines i think those should be one again poor realism argument - hyperdrives and such dont directly propel you to faster speeds they use scifi stuff (space distortion and so on).


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:34 am 
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loonycyborg wrote:
What is the purpose of allowing multiple engines per ship?

The same as allow multiple anything per ship. Presumably nobody would find it odd to be able to put two of the same weapon on a ship. The same space, weight, stealth, cost, opportunity cost, etc. tradeoffs should work for engine as other parts.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:09 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
* Engines are regular ship parts that are placed in standard slots. (ie. no engine-only special slots)

Contrarily, IMHO the simplest way to guarantee that a ship has at least one engine is to define an engine-only slot. When any new design is initiated that slot is filled with an engine. At no point can that slot be filled with a non-engine component, so there's no need for a "validity check" and the accompanying error messages for an invalid design. If an action is going to be illegal, it's less annoying if the computer simply doesn't let you do it, than getting an error message when the ship is done.

Examples of poor UI implimentation probably aren't a good reason not to do something... Rather than an error message, I'd think we'd have the "Done" or "Accept" button on the design screen be disabled until all conditions on a design are met, so you couldn't perform the illegal action of making an engineless design. This and any other conditions would be listed clearly next to the button to explain why it is disabled.

:? Isn't fear of a "poor UI implementation" your main reason for disapproving of system-only ships?
A design interface that simply doesn't allow the user to create an "illegal" ship is preferable to one that includes a required checklist. There's just less for the player to worry about. And no downsides, unless you consider the ability to put your ship's main engine in the forward-left external slot important. Which i don't.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
In general though, I'd like to avoid things like hard-coded slots as much as possible. More exceptions or special cases in the base design will make future modding more difficult, and might restrict future decisions unnecessarily.

I don't want this requirement to be in the code. I presume the engine-only slot would specified be in the text-file that defines the properties of the hull. Special cases can do something else. My proposal is about how i think hulls should normally be built, not about restricting the engine.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
...might make things more difficult or more restricted if we intend to impliment directional-dependence of damage effects, in that the engine will always have a fixed direction (or no direction), preventing potentially interesting outcomes or decisions that otherwise might be made. Special cases also would likely complicate the implimentation, and would require separate or distinctive UI representation, again limiting future options unnecessarily.

I don't find moving engines around inside to protect them from damage very interesting, but with my scheme you can still sorta do that by putting additional engines somewhere.
Limiting options is necessary, without that no decisions have been made. You have no problem limiting the players option to make system only ships (neither do i) I'm primarily interested in the player's experience. It's quite easy to deal with the UI for my plan, and it happens to be simpler to design (and easier to use) than a UI with a checklist and multi-function components. IMHO limiting some less compelling options, is a fair trade to make things simpler for the player.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
...any engine components beyond the first non-removeable component must be placed in an internal slot.

Why would we impose such a rule? I'd think we'd allow each individual engine part to require internal, external, or work in either position, presumably just like any other part.[/quote] Because is almost any way of portraying space-ships, the engines aren't just any component. Engines are integral to the form of the ship. This of the Enterprise or your favorite space vessel. You can't just move the engines around without completely changing the ships identity. It's not the same for any but the most outrageously large weaopons. You can add lasers, missiles, ect. without making the hull unrecognizable. If i were designing the ship models i would not want to deal with a system where the user could stick engines anywhere.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
However, I don't see a good reason to build the engine so that it's impossible to have multi-function parts, since there might be cases when it's wanted to have such parts.

My point is that it's generally a bad idea, not that it should be impossible with the game-engine. The FO engine can allow anything imaginable that doesn't break the GUI for all i care.

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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:14 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
A design interface that simply doesn't allow the user to create an "illegal" ship is preferable to one that includes a required checklist. There's just less for the player to worry about. And no downsides, unless you consider the ability to put your ship's main engine in the forward-left external slot important. Which i don't.

Is a checklist really that complicated? Are our users idiots? Checklists have been used before (e.g. space empires) and I've never seen anyone say they're confusing to work with. Ever. What's more a special slots system has a major downside you are extremely limitated in what you can restrict.

For example, say you want to have a maximum of one colony module per ship, if you use you're special slot UI then you would need one, and only one colony slot on every hull large enough. It's not too bad if you only want to limit colony moduals to one, and have a minimum of one engine but if you ever want to get a bit more complicated (and some modder will) then this system isn't adequate.

Imagine if you wanted to limit to a maximum of one: temporal manipulator, colony modal, physic shielding, fighter bay and reality manipulator. That's 5 special slots on evry hull, it just doesn't work.

In addition you cannot comfortably use special slots to create rules like "If you have a colony modal you must have at least 1 passenger module"

eleazar wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
In general though, I'd like to avoid things like hard-coded slots as much as possible. More exceptions or special cases in the base design will make future modding more difficult, and might restrict future decisions unnecessarily.
I don't want this requirement to be in the code. I presume the engine-only slot would specified be in the text-file that defines the properties of the hull. Special cases can do something else. My proposal is about how i think hulls should normally be built, not about restricting the engine.

Never underestimate the imagination of modders, I pointed out above some complicated situations that you cannot create with a special slots system. Even if we never use any of them having them available for modders is the right thing to do.


Last edited by Tortanick on Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:15 pm 
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Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:
A design interface that simply doesn't allow the user to create an "illegal" ship is preferable to one that includes a required checklist. There's just less for the player to worry about. And no downsides, unless you consider the ability to put your ship's main engine in the forward-left external slot important. Which i don't.

Is a checklist really that complicated? Are our users idiots? Checklists have been used before (e.g. space empires) and I've never seen any problem with them. Whats more a special slots system has a major downside you are extremely limitated in what you can restrict....

Any complication that's unnecessary is to much complication. I respect the user's time. Dealing with a checklist is not what the player came to FO to do. Unless there is a compelling rational for any game element, it should be avoided. I see little advantage including an interface designed to restrict how a player can build his ship. Unless there's a compelling reason (for instance: engine-less ships are totally useless) to limit the player, he should be able to do what he wants.

I'm not arguing that my system can do everything imaginable, but i believe it does enough, and it does it simply.

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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:28 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
I see little advantage including an interface designed to restrict how a player can build his ship. Unless there's a compelling reason (for instance: engine-less ships are totally useless) to limit the player

But that's the exact reason for the check-list, to make sure a user can't build an engine-less ship. The difference is that you're system is essentially an entire system _just_ to enforce the >1 engine rule. It cannot scale up to more complicated rules, or a lot of simple rules.

The check-list system is equally simple (obviously you'd disagree but I don't) but it dose scale! You could create rules of infinite complexity, and an infinite amount of rules and it would work. We have no idea what ship components will be used but I imagine this feature would come in useful here and their. Maximum of one colony modual per ship may come in useful. A mod that has seprate destroyer, carrier and colony ship hulls will definitely need a checklist system.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:35 pm 
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We could just have warnings. "Hmm, my ship design won't save. Oh its warning me that i need an engine."

Kind of like a quest log, or list of requirements, that you need to achieve before you can finish the design.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:53 pm 
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Isn't that exactly what a checkbox system means?

You have a box with a list of rules you have broken (weighs to much, no engine) that automatically updates as rules are met or broken. Until its empty the save button is greyed out.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:17 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
I see little advantage including an interface designed to restrict how a player can build his ship. Unless there's a compelling reason (for instance: engine-less ships are totally useless) to limit the player, he should be able to do what he wants.

This seems oddly worded... The issue isn't whether to include an interface that restriction what the player can do. We will do so, and there's no way not to do so because balancing will certainly require restrictions, several of which we've already agreed on. These include things as basic as there being a limited number of slots, for example, but also could include various other restrictions imposed for balance reasons. (The fact that an imbalanced ship design is really good isn't reason to allow it...)

Rather, the issue is how to present the restrictions...

Quote:
I'm not arguing that my system can do everything imaginable, but i believe it does enough, and it does it simply.

Having a special case in the GUI just for engines might be simpler if engines were the only nonstandard part, and if there's no way to also add engines as if they were a standard part as well... But we shouldn't assume the former, and you've already proposed to not have the latter.

So, rather than a special case fixed slot for engines, how about we start all ship designs by default with an engine already placed? This would save the player the time of placing the required engine. The player could still remove that engine, but upon doing so, the invalidity of a design with no engine could be made apparent by then disabling the accept design button, and placing an appropriate note next to the disabled button about why, or some other checklist or problems list as appropriate.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:38 pm 
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Okay, my preferences:

Separate in-system and interstellar engines.

In-system engine only ships. Area for interstellar drive is utilised for extra space\slots (weapons, ammo, shields, or additional engines).

Do like a least a single in-system engine only slot, however it can vary in location (inside or outside; front, middle, or rear). Additional engines can be added (including interstellar) if a remaining slot on the ship is large enough to accept the unique "footprint" of an engine slot. One caveat, spinal mounts; engines can be mounted to spinal mounts, however, may require certain tech level.

The power increase from stacking engines can be 100%, or incrementally less per additional engine. It can be either, I have no preference to either at this time.

As to grouping ships of varying speed, simply have a UI checkbox for "make best speed". The individual ships will make their best speed to their destination. I would make this a global preference, in addition to the immediate local UI of the moment.

As for grouping in-system ships with interstellar, and designating an interstellar destination, in-system ships can travel by carrier, or if equiped with spinal mounts, by interstellar tugs. That's another discussion, I know, just showing that in-system ship interstellar travel is possible, and could actually be grouped acceptably.


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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:21 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
eleazar wrote:
I see little advantage including an interface designed to restrict how a player can build his ship. Unless there's a compelling reason (for instance: engine-less ships are totally useless) to limit the player, he should be able to do what he wants.

This seems oddly worded...

Perhaps i should have said, "I see little advantage including an additional interface designed for complex restrictions on how a player can build his ship."


The this slot must be used for this kind of part concept could be easily utilized for non-engine components. I don't recommend the following, but for example, a Colony-ship hull could have a very large slot that can only be filled with a colony module. A space monster (assuming they can be captured and "bred") might have a "Psyonic Brain" slot that can only be filled with a Psyonic Brain.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
So, rather than a special case fixed slot for engines, how about we start all ship designs by default with an engine already placed? This would save the player the time of placing the required engine. The player could still remove that engine, but upon doing so, the invalidity of a design with no engine could be made apparent by then disabling the accept design button, and placing an appropriate note next to the disabled button about why, or some other checklist or problems list as appropriate.

Either of these methods are simply more for the player to deal with. It won't destroy the game, but it's pointless complexity— unless the case can be that a very simple slot design system needs multiple rules or complicated restrictions. IMHO it is out of place, and undesirable with what we've established so far. I certainly don't want Tortanick's scenario of "...more complicated rules, or a lot of simple rules."

If someone can provide another requirement that's remotely as compelling as the "must have engine" rule, then i'll have to find another solution. But the vague reasons i've heard so far don't seem important and look a little like Pandora's box.

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 Post subject: Re: Ships: Engines
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:00 am 
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eleazar wrote:
I see little advantage including an additional interface designed for complex restrictions on how a player can build his ship.

While a checklist could be used for complex restrictions, it's not necessary to use it for them, and the ability to use them isn't the only reason to prefer a checklist and regular slots over a distinctive restricted slot.

My biggest concern is that engines will be treated in two different ways: a part in a special required slot, and also optionally a regular part in general slots. This seems needlessly complicated and confusing to the user, and complicated to impliment...

So, another alternative: Require parts are placed as normal parts in normal slots, and any required parts are placed initially in any new design (enough to meet whatever requirements there are, which will generally be fairly simple). If removing a part would violate a restriction (eg. must have an engine) then the player isn't allowed to make that modification. I'm envisioning an arrangement of boxes in which the player places parts to make a design, where normally you can drag/drop parts into or out of slots, or click on slots to pick a part to put in them. In either case, you'd just not be able to remove a the engine part from the design. This no-removal restriction would be a function of the parts or general rules, and not dependent on a specially-coded slot or part type to function, and would have the same basic interface as other parts (so that if you added another engine, above the requirement, it would work and look the same as the first one).


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