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 Post subject: Combat: Entry and Exit
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:08 am 
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This thread is to discuss how fleets enter and exit battles, as represented on the battle map.

Interstellar travel is based around starlanes, so there are a very limted number of directions a fleet might arrive from or leave along. Should this be represented on the battle map with specific objects or spots that are the starlane endpoints? If so, where should these be on a system map (assuming the star in the centre and planets around it)? Should they always be at the edges, or could they move around the system, possibly near planets or the star, by some mechanism?

Or, should a ship at the edge of a system be able to leave along any starlane connected to the system? In this case, where would ships arriving in a system at the start of a battle appear in the system / on the battle map? Would we allow the player to pick any spot on the edges, or away from anything already in the system? (Details of how players would pick fleet start position, if they have the option to do, so can be discussed later, along with issue of how fleets already in systems before the start of a battle are placed by players or automatically)

Or, should ships be able to leave a system from anywhere in it (or anywhere far from planets, the star or enemy ships), but require a delay or "spooling up" time in order to engage their FTL drives in the middle of a battle? Again in this option, where would ships appear at the start of a battle when arriving?

Are there any other alternatives I haven't mentioned?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:36 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Interstellar travel is based around starlanes, so there are a very limted number of directions a fleet might arrive from or leave along. Should this be represented on the battle map with specific objects or spots that are the starlane endpoints?
If so, where should these be on a system map (assuming the star in the centre and planets around it)?
Should they always be at the edges, or could they move around the system, possibly near planets or the star, by some mechanism.

This would be the most logical option. To have starlane entry/exit points at the edge of the system. I guess that the location (outer or inner system) depends on whether the starlane itself is located deeper in the system. Though this idea might be a bit too far. It should be suitable to just have starlane entry/exit points at the edge of the system.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Or, should a ship at the edge of a system be able to leave along any starlane connected to the system?
In this case, where would ships arriving in a system at the start of a battle appear in the system / on the battle map?

The ship will leave along the starlane it is closest to by default.
Ships arriving in a system would appear closest to the starlane entry point they came through.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Would we allow the player to pick any spot on the edges, or away from anything already in the system? (Details of how players would pick fleet start position, if they have the option to do, so can be discussed later, along with issue of how fleets already in systems before the start of a battle are placed by players or automatically)

It could be done. For instance, the fleet commander would be choosing where the individual ships will move to upon exiting the starlane.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Or, should ships be able to leave a system from anywhere in it (or anywhere far from planets, the star or enemy ships), but require a delay or "spooling up" time in order to engage their FTL drives in the middle of a battle? Again in this option, where would ships appear at the start of a battle when arriving?

No spooling time. They just leave/enter on the nearest starlane entry/exit point. Star system distance is minimal when using FTL, so if that engine is usable instantly, then we won't need to do anything funny like increased turn time for getting out of the system.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 9:18 am 
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My suggestion would be to have large areas on the outersystem each connected to a diffrent star lane, any ship on those areas can jump out in about 3 seconds (including animation time).

When you arrive the player can deploy his ships anywhere in the area for the starlane they arrived in, when retreating the player chooses witch starlanes and all ships dash for the closest one, if they escape they escape on whatever starlane they reached in the battle.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:20 pm 
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I think a Moo2 type of combat setting is the best.

As a review, Moo2 combat represented a small area of space (maybe a few million miles across, but "small"). It was almost always around a planet as a fleet attacked, all the defending ships in the system responded at that planet. Deep space combat occured only when a system's blockade was being attacked by defenders who decided to come forward (so there'd be no starbases, missile bases, etc. to support)

The only problem is that FTL could be used anywhere in Moo2 as long as it was operational and there was no Warp Dissipator in the area. If we're gonna have sub-light movement between planets & star-lanes, a ship (or fleet) should have to be faster while using sub-light drive than its' enemy to retreat. There should be a distance that has to be achieved between forces when no weapons can possibly hit. This way if the retreating forces have a very minor propulsion advantage, the forces giving chase will have alot of opportunity to keep firing and hopefully disable some of the fleeing ships' engines before they get away (out of maximum weapons range). Likewise, if you're slower and you've damaged or disabled the enemy ships' propulsion, you may then retreat. Combat should never end until the forces are out of maximum weapons range of each other, or both sides run out of munitions, fighters, and all energy weapons have been destroyed.

Realism would not be an issue if the Moo2 "little area" scale is used. No borders are needed, and the map should either be ridicolously huge or even infinite (kind of like adding tiles to the edge where the action is heading in a dice & counter game)
The retreat should automaticaly be back to the star lane or planet which the attacking ships came from. Defenders who retreat stay in the system if they have another planet, or they go for the starlane to the nearest system they own.
I'm a proponent of this combat scale because accurate weapons fire beyond these distances would probably be impossible for anything except a missile. The precise aiming of a beam weapon to hit at even 1 million miles requires amazing robotics. Besides, you can almost start to dodge the beam as it would lag over 5 seconds at a million miles, curving like a flamethrower.

The reason I'm against a system map during combat is that then you would have to seriously think about a time limit for combat within one turn. Otherwise, one surviving attack ship could travel around & bombard until everything's gone.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:52 pm 
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The scale or size of the combat map is not up for discussion now. See the v0.4 Design Pad for what's already been decided.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:12 am 
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Ah my bad, sorry. If weapon ranges are measured by AU's, then sure, full-steam-ahead with a system map.
I think entries & retreats should be the star-lane ends.

The speed advantage stuff holds true though, if you *can* run, you can run. If they *can* chase, they can chase. Until you get to the star lane atleast.
I wonder if we'd have anything like engine disrupting weapons, other than just tractor and/or repulser beams.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:20 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Interstellar travel is based around starlanes, so there are a very limted number of directions a fleet might arrive from or leave along. Should this be represented on the battle map with specific objects or spots that are the starlane endpoints? If so, where should these be on a system map (assuming the star in the centre and planets around it)? Should they always be at the edges, or could they move around the system, possibly near planets or the star, by some mechanism?

Or, should a ship at the edge of a system be able to leave along any starlane connected to the system? In this case, where would ships arriving in a system at the start of a battle appear in the system / on the battle map? Would we allow the player to pick any spot on the edges, or away from anything already in the system? (Details of how players would pick fleet start position, if they have the option to do, so can be discussed later, along with issue of how fleets already in systems before the start of a battle are placed by players or automatically)


If we would have specific starlane entry/exit points at the edges of the system, could this possibly make manoeuvring a little bit more important? Now if you are the attacker for example and there is only one starlane entry/exit point in a system that leads to a friendly system you would probably want to be careful not to leave your only good escape options to the enemy. And what comes to the defender in some cases it might be interesting to block the attackers only good escape route and force him/her to either try to fight through your blockade or to retreat to an unfriendly/neutral system. This of course assumes that the fleet has to travel to the starlane entry/exit point to use the starlane. It also assumes that starlane entry/exit point A leads to only one specific star system and you can`t use starlane entry/exit point A to travel to any other starsystems which are connected to the "battlefield" starsystem by other starlanes.

Also if there will be specific starlane entry/exit points it would probably be a good idea to let the player decide which starlane the fleet uses for their escape attempt. The default setting could of course be the starlane which was used for entry, but allowing the player to change this if the original starlane entry point has been taken over by enemy fleet could prevent the total destruction of the fleet. And it could possibly also lead to some interesting diplomatic negotiations to get your fleet home, if the starlane used for the retreat would lead to a star system controlled by a neutral empire.

This might be a little too detailed for this discussion or just too obvious for any discussion, but it would probably be a good idea if we will have specific starlane entry/exit points to present the following kind of information to the player on the battle map: the name of the star system to which the starlane leads to, the name of the empire/empires controlling that star system and the current political situation of the players empire towards the empire/empires controlling that star system (perhaps simply by ally, neutral, enemy). This way there would be enough information available for the player to make an intelligent decision about the starlane which will be used for the retreat.

And what comes to the question of starlane entry/exit points being located at the edges of the system, it would only seem natural to have them at the edges, since if they would be for example near the planets I would imagine that the planetary orbitals could instantly attack the attacking fleet. And so there would be little time for the attacker to think about things like manoeuvring, ship type/group usage etc.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 8:30 pm 
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One point on SL entry/exit points, if they are fixed in system, then I see this situation

I have a fleet in the Centauri system with 3 starlanes, 1 goes back to Earth (HW), 1 goes to Epsilon Eridani (another Part of my Empire) and 1 goes to EvilStar .. the only starlane I share with my enemy

My combat fleet in Centauri will be entirely positioned at the Entry point from the Evilstar system

Now if the enemy capture Epsilon Eridani, and I Can't sense an enemy coming down the Starlane, my fleet will probably be more centrally positioned (with scattered scouts / reconaissance) so that I can move to block them from coming from either of those systems to Earth


(This also points up a possible order that fleets should have... pursue enemies through starlane, so if they go the same speed they might arrive in the same system as the enemy after a short amount of time... [so Earth only needs to hold out for a combat turn or two untill the Centauri fleet comes in to reinforce them])


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:50 pm 
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I've added a bit about starlane endpoints to the design doc on the wiki.

Essentially, starlane endpoints are "moderate" sized areas at the edges of systems. They're big enough to deploy a fleet in, but don't cover the whole edge of the system. Ships arriving on the starlane deploy there, and ships have to be within the endpoint to retreat along the starlane.

Leaving on a starlane takes a few battle turns in the endpoint area, and ships can be attacked (and attack back) while attempting to leave.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:14 pm 
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What about combat entrance? Do both players have a pre battle turn to place ships? Do all ships arrive at once or not?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:11 pm 
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Tortanick wrote:
What about combat entrance? Do both players have a pre battle turn to place ships? Do all ships arrive at once or not?

All players (might be more than two) arrange their ships before the battle starts. Fleets arriving by starlane arranges within the starlane endpoint. Fleets already in the system can be arranged anywhere in the system. Arrangement is done simultaneously and nobody who's not allied can see anyone else's fleets being arranged.

For 0.4, all ships that get to a system during a turn are placed and appear at the start of the battle. If necessary, we can have different fleets appear after a delay in a later version.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:12 pm 
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Most of the above is fine by me :) but I have press for further discussion on
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Fleets already in the system can be arranged anywhere in the system.

The problem is with Long Range Ships being used by the attacker, and Short Range defenders. In theory you could deploy the Short Range ships in the start area* and shred the Long Range Ships on entry.

I can think of a two solutions:
The obvious: a buffer around the start area that the defenders can't deploy in. Some technobable explanation like "TrueSpace ships are in danger when HyperSpace ships emerge into TrueSpace. HyperSpace ships are safe from this"

Make it part of the game: If we assume that defenders are expected to, at the very least, seriously consider this tactic. we can allow attackers to prepare a counter if they think they will receive this. Example strategy's include building bombs that warp in slightly before your ships or sending Short Range Ships in slightly before the Long Ranged Support. Possibly tieing it into the espionage system. Actually regardless of this issue, using espionage on deployment info is an idea worth thinking about.


* Not knowing what entry point is being used dosn't count as a counterarguement since its probably quite predictable from the relative placements of the empire, or only having one starlane that isn't leading deeper into your territory.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:19 pm 
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Tortanick wrote:
...a buffer around the start area that the defenders can't deploy in.
[...]
Make it part of the game

A combination of these works. Also, the attacker arriving by starlane with long-range ships can bring some short range as well, and deploy them in front of / around the long-range in the starlane exit.

Quote:
* Not knowing what entry point is being used dosn't count as a counterarguement since its probably quite predictable from the relative placements of the empire, or only having one starlane that isn't leading deeper into your territory.

Unless there's a reason not to, I'd assume the entry point of each starlane is in a specific area determined by the angle at which the lane leaves the system on the map, and that it's clear which is which.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:54 am 
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Quote:
The problem is with Long Range Ships being used by the attacker, and Short Range defenders. In theory you could deploy the Short Range ships in the start area* and shred the Long Range Ships on entry.

Isn't that a more of a game feature? If I saw an enemy fleet coming down the star lane, that's the first thing i would do. The design pad says:

Quote:
SR is short range, direct-fire weaponry that is good against ships, but bad against fighters.

When you attack a system, you'd have to take into account the fact that the defender Short Range ships are going to be within short range. It's what their for. The only need for there to be a buffer around the start zone is to prevent ships from ending up directly on top of each other. Other than that, the defender should be able to place his ships as close as possible.

As for an actual game play device to counter it, that could add some interesting possibilities. Maybe Long Range ships could fire off a couple rounds before entering the system (depletes ammo and can't be aimed at a specific ship, but can target an area around the entrance). Being able to order ships to enter the battle at specific times would come in handy as well, but would require some balancing, ie. what if the initial attack force was destroyed before the rest of the fleet showed up?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:15 am 
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The reason I brought this up was because I thought it may be unbalanced and make LR ships useless in offence. I admit that's also the first thing I'd probably do if I ran a real space empire.

That said there is no reason why it can't be part of the game if we take steps to balance it out.


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