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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:19 pm 
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One point, the shield / Weapon / Engine can be done with minimum micromanagment

Implement "energy" in a queue system

Each standard sized Weapon(at least beams), Shield, and Engine system has a standard level of consumption 1 energy per system, and a maximum energy of consumption (2?)

Each standard sized system also includes the ability to generate 1 unit of energy

Weapon energy 'charges the weapon up' so that it can fire (the standard rate gives the standard cooldown for the weapon, extra charges it up faster)
Engine energy alows the engine to move (standard rate give standard movement, extra allows faster movement)
Shield energy either recharges the shields or strengthens them (so that less gets through)

The "queue" a ship used would be based on which order it is given

Standard Attack Move
Std Engines->Std Weapons->Std Shields->Max Weapons->Max Shields->Max Engines

Agressive Attack Move
Std Engines->Std Weapons->Max Weapons->Std Shields->Max Engines->Max Shields

Defend Move
Std Engines->Std Shields->Max Shields->Std Weapons->Max Engines->Max Weapons

Move
Std Engines->Max Engines->Std Weapons->Std Shields->Max Weapons->Max Shields


any time the ship is not moving, then Engines would consume no power
any time the weapons are fully charged up, the Weapons would consume no power (firing the weapons would return their charge to 0 and start them using power again)
Shields should probably Always be using energy, so that theres is always some use for excess power... if you are recuperating in the back lines. Your shields will be stronger.

This also allows extra systems that only generate power to 'amplify' your system.

This way the 'micromanagement' would be limited to giving agressive attack move orders to your ships if you needed to destroy the enemy quickly, and move orders to ships to pull them out, (in the back they will recharge) and Defensive Attack move orders when you expect a slugout.

No slider balancing, just 4 different 'stances' a ship can take.


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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:26 pm 
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Quote:
In fairness to IConrad, he doesn't' know that ideas similar to his have been extensively presented at dozens of points over the course of combat design. And the game design philosophy has been debated in probably thousands of posts. In all aspects of the game, this project has always decided against complex mechanisms which the player won't want to mess with most of the time and thus requires some sort of automation. For a project as big and slow as this one, trying to including those sort of mechanisms would be fatal.
I can only re-emphasize my sentiment that excessive simplification will reduce the quality of the game. I can see that I am by no means alone in that sentiment.

It is not, however, my choice to make and I freely acknowledge that.

In response to the question of multiplayer combat; obviously a single player could not 'pause' the game without the consent of all parties involved. So that would, as combats scale outwards further, tend to reward the player who uses the less micro-managing styles of control over those who do not. I will freely concede that at least in the 0.4x run combat should be kept as simple as possible for implementation's sake.

I will wrap up my input on this thread by saying that it is my extremely strong opinion that the current approach is over-simplifying in a manner that detracts from, rather than contributes to, the quality of the game in design; and that I have come -- again -- to expect superior quality from FO. Like it or not, combat will always be a pivotal role to any 4x game. And it is my personal estimate that the proposed system of combat will come across as an "afterthought". I mean, comparatively speaking -- in terms of depth and richness in other areas of the game compared to this area -- we're talking on the order of combat in "Millenium: Return to Earth" here.

I will say this, however -- it was precisely the lack of management options in combat for MoO III that was the final straw in that game, for me. If that had been less overview-only, the game would still have been rated "decent" and "playable" for most of the people I know. And while FO, being a FOSS project, does not have any requirement to cater in a marketing sense -- what other sense does one rate a game than its ability to be enjoyed by the target audience? (4x players)

Not that it would be a show-stopper for me; I've always been more of a research and over-view guy. With that -- I'll stop agitating the crowd. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:01 am 
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I think Geoff's proposal is a really good idea. I have some quibbles. I don't think the term "meter" should be applied to shields or armor. Meters in FO have a special status. They increase over time (game turn to game turn), and can only range over the interval [0, 100]. Presumably, there is no max shield value, and if there were, we should probably pick something other than 100, since that might mean that the earliest shields give 0.03 shield points or something. The same argument can be applied to armor. We should just have points of shield and armor instead.

Now that I've said that, I realize that we need to account for the repair of armor (presumably, the shields are fully recharged after each combat, right?) between turns. A meter might be appropriate there, since it has the [0, 100] range representing percentage, and increases over game turns. I'm thinking now that each ship should have S points of shields, A points of armor, and an armor repair meter Ma. Effective shield points at the start of combat will always be S. Effective armor points at the start of combat will be A * Ma / 100. Ma will naturally rise between game turns, presumably by a lesser amount when out of supply.

Also, we need to think carefully about the notion of reducing the effectiveness of all component stats when the components take damage. Specifically, I'm thinking of the idea of reducing stealth, sensor range, and speed/mobility in addition to damage output. This little bit of double jeopardy might make light scouts infeasible -- if you can damage them a little, you can see them a little better, which lets you damage them more easily, etc. It might only pay in the end to have larger, more robust, scouts. Just something to keep in mind when we start talking about balance.


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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:19 am 
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well the idea of a light scout is that, if it is hit, it runs. (it probably also cheap and disposable)


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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:00 am 
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IConrad wrote:
And while FO, being a FOSS project, does not have any requirement to cater in a marketing sense -- what other sense does one rate a game than its ability to be enjoyed by the target audience? (4x players)
Well, pretty much everyone who participate here is a 4X player. As each of us has different favorite 4X games, so any given decision will tend to alienate some segment of the 4X world, while pleasing another segment. There's not much point in making that kind of appeal.

I don't think anyone has pointed you to this link yet. Here's what we've established for combat thus far. This thread is about a specific aspect of combat... There's a lot more to it.



tzlaine wrote:
I think Geoff's proposal is a really good idea. ...We should just have points of shield and armor....

I presume you use "armor" as a synonym for "health", "hitpoints", or "structural integrity", and not as a second line of defense that must be depleted before the functioning of the ship is harmed?

tzlaine wrote:
(presumably, the shields are fully recharged after each combat, right?)

I would think so, but not necessarily at the beginning of the turn, if the ship is involved in a multi-turn combat.

tzlaine wrote:
Also, we need to think carefully about the notion of reducing the effectiveness of all component stats when the components take damage. Specifically, I'm thinking of the idea of reducing stealth, sensor range, and speed/mobility in addition to damage output. This little bit of double jeopardy might make light scouts infeasible -- if you can damage them a little, you can see them a little better, which lets you damage them more easily, etc. It might only pay in the end to have larger, more robust, scouts. Just something to keep in mind when we start talking about balance.

I'm not sure specifically what role you expect "light scouts" to play, but it may not be important yet. Sure, some ship configurations and strategies will be more viable if damage effects all function, or if it effects only weapon power. I don't know if anyone could figure out which scenario is better without trying it out.

It seems to me that "damage effects all functioning" is the most intuitive. Why don't we start like than, and then exempt systems from the rule, if during testing it feels too crippling?

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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:11 pm 
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IConrad wrote:
eleazar wrote:
If there's only a single human player, he can probably pause the game as often and as for as long as he wants. However this is a multi-player game and combat has to work in that situation too.

In response to the question of multiplayer combat; obviously a single player could not 'pause' the game without the consent of all parties involved.

Actually I disagree, we have simultaneous turn based combat, key word: "turn". A single players should be able to order a pause between turns. We might have an option at game creation limiting the length one player can pause each turn. If you've never tried simultaneous turn time combat (and you have a windows box) I'd give the laser squad nemesis demo a try. IMO its not that good a game but it gives you an idea how how simultaneous turns work.


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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:06 pm 
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Quote:
Actually I disagree, we have simultaneous turn based combat, key word: "turn". A single players should be able to order a pause between turns. We might have an option at game creation limiting the length one player can pause each turn. If you've never tried simultaneous turn time combat (and you have a windows box) I'd give the laser squad nemesis demo a try. IMO its not that good a game but it gives you an idea how how simultaneous turns work.
Since this is a different topic, I feel I could respond. It would be an //extremely// good idea to 'bump' someone who lags out of a combat. I, personally, am not a multiplayer-style person. I don't enjoy it. But, that being said -- the idea that someone might try to just walk away from his computer in order to 'outwait' me is irritating to the point where I would expect a decent game to have something built in to prevent this. I would go so far as to say that if a player puts no inputs at all within a minute, all their vessels auto-default to retreating, or go idle if they are immobile.

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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:55 pm 
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Well they could simply be taken over by an AI for simplicity... that way if you suddenly have to go do something, the game will take care of that. (if they try to outwait you, you could leave and get a sandwich, if you feel your forces could handle thiers under an AI


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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:47 pm 
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This is really getting off topic. It's not a big deal in a brainstorming thread, but this is an official design thread trying to accomplish something specific.

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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:14 pm 
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Duly noted.

As to how battle math itself should be calculated, (as opposed to how damage is assigned) I would like to see something akin to the following (for beams):
Code:
  |ShipMaxSpeed - ShipCurrentSpeed|    |  WeaponMaxDamage - ( WeaponMin*WeaponRand )  |
  |-------------------------------| *  |----------------------------------------------| = Damage
  |        1-ShipAccuracy         |    |  WeaponMaxRange - ( 1 - WeaponCurrentRange ) |


My reasoning/thinking in this formula?

  1. Stationary beam platforms are more accurate.
  2. All values calculated by the game are listed as absolute positive percentages -- this should, I hope, simplify coding.
  3. "WeaponRand" = the random number value designator, which will be assigned per weapon as "a random number between 1-4"
  4. "WeaponMin" = the size of the increments by which the max damage would be reduced.
  5. By incorporating current ship accuracy into the damage calculations, this gives sensor equipment a high value in determining how much damage a ship can do. (Accuracy would be equated to your sensor equipment - the enemy's stealth/ECM rating.)

The above means that the only time you'll do the maximum damage with any given weapon is if you are within "point-blank range" while sitting immobile, with fully accurate 'scans' of the enemy, and you get a lucky shot (or use a fixed-damage rate weapon; the randomized/event-dependent variables above //can// be set to 'zero').

This would, then, Give a high prioritization to immobile/lightly-armored long-range beam weapon ships (which could dodge and weave at a distance and take pot-shots, because they sacrifice their armor for powerful sensor equipment -- or stay well back, hold out on high armor, and let scout fleets pick out where the baddies are so your weapons platform can fire away at relative safety) as well as stealthy/well-armored short-range beam-weapon ships (that could just take a beating until they get in range, plant themselves down and then blast the crap outta you at close range -- or act as spider-traps while your scout fleet 'lures' the other person into ambush) -- and I think that this would give a built-in balancing mechanism between the ship design approaches.

(I am assuming that armor and speed would be inversely related to one another; I am making no assumptions to how armor will be calculated in and of itself, beyond the idea that one would be allowed to plate as much extra "health" as they desired on any vessel, so long as you're sacrificing speed and material cost for doing so.)

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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:52 am 
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Can I just bullet point my thoughts? Thanks.

1. I like the idea of just armor and shields. Anything else seems redundant.

2. Ship efficiency being linked to it's hull/hit points is a good compromise for detail. It keeps the system from feeling like it was swiped from straight from Star Craft.

3. I haven't heard much anything about the role of anything but damage points thus far, so what about weapons accuracy or other things (that I'm sure people are equally concerned about) that also have to do with battle math?

4. There is opposition to something called micromanagement, but at the same time, I think that there is such a thing as good micromanagement. It is difficult to explain, perhaps if you were familiar with cyber sports, but I know automating things to the point a hamster could do it is not good, so I guess I'm saying just be careful. IMHO have some provisions for some kind of micromanagement so the player doesn't feel like a hamster.

5. Could the system possibly be more detailed? I realize simplicity is the point, but it seems like now the system is too predictable, something you'd draft up for a complicated RTS perhaps (is there such a thing?).
For example, could there be provisions for the style or the method in the way one goes about shooting up ships, ala fallout or XCOM? What would be the ship equivalent of a head shot for example? Is there any specific reason I can't set my phasers to stun?

6. Something else I like about this system. It's simple. I appreciate that, just in case that wasn't clear before.

7. I concede that the system is probably good enough as it is. If anything it leaves detail for everything else.

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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:13 am 
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Well Factors that we want

1. Weapon Damage ... this is minimum

2. Weapon Accuracy? (can be whether or not it hits and/or how much damage it does)

3. Range (Can affect whether or not it hits and/or how much damage is done)

4. Ship speeds [I am against this, but that could also affect it]

Any other suggestions for what should affect the damage coming Towards the other ship

The next issue is how the damage is dealt... even with just shields and health, there is the issue of how damage is allocated to each... all to shields first , etc. In that case should a weapon have a 'penetration'?


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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:26 pm 
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Regarding issues of accuracy of weapons, as a property of the weapon or depending on whether the shooter or target is moving or other properties of either, this was addressed in my original post:
The first post of this thread wrote:
Every weapon that fires at an object that it can target (can be seen and is in range of the weapon) hits the target.


Regarding damage done by a weapon, it wasn't clear in the first post, but I'm suggesting having a fixed damage rating per turn or per hit for all weapons, that doesn't depend on distance, an accuracy rating, target status or condition or anything else. Any hit by weapon X does Y * H damage, where nothing changes Y after the start of a battle, and H is a number between 1 and 0 corresponding to the health of the attacking ship.

There is no randomness in the battle math I've proposed.

Several people have expressed concern that this is too simple and removes any strategy or tactics. IConrad provided a good example of strategy that could arise out of more complicated damage determination. However I'm not convinced we need anything more than what I've proposed above.

Consider Advance Wars, where a damaged unit deals reduced damage proportional to its health remaining. Otherwise every unit in AW has a fixed amount of damage against every possible target, except for a relatively small random factor that usually only changes the result by 10% damage either way (and damage is tracked on a scale of 1 to 10 in AW) which usually isn't tactically significant.

Regarding range dependence for damage of beam weapons in particular, I don't think this is necessary. Short range beams will be only useful at short range regardless of whether their damage falls with distance or is constant with distance, because short range beams have a short range, beyond which they can't damage anything.


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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:46 pm 
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I hinted at it in my previous post, but i think it is appropriate to adopt a much more iterative approach to v0.4 design. Geoff's proposal (with the addition of damage effecting more than just weapons) is all that we clearly need to go and actually implement something.

Other ideas like:
    * Kricktone's "stances"
    * an accuracy variable
    * damage fall off with range
    * gradual recharging of shields during combat
    * a random element to damage,
    etc.

... are things that reasonably could be added once we get something running. The decisions would be easier and better informed if we had an operational prototype. Which might require several alternating rounds of design discussion and implementation-- a change, but one that seems warranted by the nature of v0.4.



geoff wrote:
Several people have expressed concern that this is too simple and removes any strategy or tactics. IConrad provided a good example of strategy that could arise out of more complicated damage determination. However I'm not convinced we need anything more than what I've proposed above.

I'm very wary of trying to deepen strategy by having a lot of commands to give the ships--- that doesn't scale very well with a lot of ships.
The strategy will come from
    * The designs of your ships
    * the numbers of different types of ships you deploy
    * supply lines and how you keep ships in repair.
    * the arrangement of a star-system
    * how you group ships and deploy them against your enemy(s)
    * concealing your objective and trying to guess your enemy's
    * etc.

IMHO it's fine that when two groups of ships go toe-to-toe the outcome is pretty deterministic. Everything that has leads up to that moment is where you find the strategy-laden variables. Frantically changing options in an effort to give your stack and edge is the sort of thing IMHO that starts on the path to a click-fest.

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 Post subject: Re: Design: Battle Math
PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:44 am 
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eleazar wrote:
I'm very wary of trying to deepen strategy by having a lot of commands to give the ships--- that doesn't scale very well with a lot of ships.
The strategy will come from
I would have to say that I disagree in the idea that having a number of commands doesn't scale very well. It scales quite easily if you limit the number of units you are giving commands to, but allow for any number of ships to be present within a specific unit. This is where the "fleets" idea from MoO III actually worked quite well.

Also, as an alternative route, another thing that somewhat worked out alright w/ MoO III was the AI that was used for combats. But I would much rather see something akin to what the cRPG series Star Ocean uses for automated units -- where you can establish a number of priorities and allow your fleets to operate based on which AI prioritization scheme you have decided. As long as you have the //ability// to override your AI's and take direct control at a fleet level, this leaves the player open to much more macromanagement yet still feeling "in control" -- even with complex strategies and approaches. So, complex commands are by no means unscalable. This goes back to my suggestion of "having the cake and eating it too" -- leave the complexity there, but don't require the player to confront all of it at the lowest-order. That's the difference between micromanagement and macromanagement: scalability. As the game scales up in dimension, so too should the tools the player has available to him to command the game itself scale up in dimension. This would make early-game combat as relevant as later-game combat... something that thus far it really seems (again, this is purely a personal observation; I do NOT want to imply that I'm claiming any sort of superiority to or expertise over anyone else here!!) that I've been the only person to give a suggestion to aside from shrugging one's shoulders and saying, "It can't be done."

I agree with the majority of what you right about strategy -- but let's not forget that there is another aspect to combat: tactics. I'm seeing a strong theme of high disregard for sophisticated tactics, to be totally honest -- and that does not make for an enjoyable combat sequence. I'll give an example of what I mean. So far, with the system of battle-damage being implemented as a ubiquitous value, we are over-prioritizing for stealthiness at the cost of scouting. Scouting devices and stealth devices would have to take up a certain amount of space on a ship, and if combat damage is applied ubiquitously then the overwhelming prioritization goes to getting to be the first person to lay the blows down in combat. This over-prioritizes stealth over detection. (Why? Because stealth and detection units will be weighted against one another -- they //have// to be. This means one will have to choose between more stealth and more detection. Which means players will always choose stealth -- as it guarantees you, effectively, the first strike; you out-stealth the opponent's detection, you get to hit first.) What does that lead to? Entire 5-minute combats (or potentially longer if there's no "time's up" limiter) where nothing ever happens -- because neither side's fleets can detect one another.

With that being the case -- why even bother having scout vessels or stealthiness? It detracts from and makes the game more complex. If I sound condescending here, I have to admit that in some part I am. I have stated I feel it's an unwise decision to follow that course as a final-approach. I do not, however, mean to directly offend anyone and I apologize for any insult or sleight received by anyone reading this. That's not what I want to happen. :) But I digress.

Quote:
IMHO it's fine that when two groups of ships go toe-to-toe the outcome is pretty deterministic. Everything that has leads up to that moment is where you find the strategy-laden variables. Frantically changing options in an effort to give your stack and edge is the sort of thing IMHO that starts on the path to a click-fest.
I would //like// to see the game take a course where the in-built systems are robust enough that the player will only have to take intercessionary actions; much the same way a general would. Hence the previous idea of giving fleets strategies (I.e.; 'keep your distance'/'go in for the kill', 'lie in wait'/'hunt-and-destroy', etc.) These strategy-choices would be tiered, and that should keep a fleet operating the way a player wants without the player being forced to give a fleet direct commands. (Always, of course, allow for direct commands to be given in a way that over-rides the ships' actions.)

I'm fully aware that this increases the coding complexity of the game, as well as requiring yet another AI system to be engineered. However, I don't think it'd be something that would increase the 'clickfestiness' of the game, yet would allow for robust strategies with players only having to intercede on occasion to ensure the precise /tactics/ they desire are kept up.

One area I would disagree with is this:
eleazar wrote:
concealing your objective and trying to guess your enemy's
-- this is something that is only viable in with a combat engine that is sufficiently sophisticated. Otherwise, there is only one possible objective: pounding your enemy to dust. While that's //always// the goal, if there's only a limited number of ways to go about it, there's really no guesswork at all.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Regarding range dependence for damage of beam weapons in particular, I don't think this is necessary. Short range beams will be only useful at short range regardless of whether their damage falls with distance or is constant with distance, because short range beams have a short range, beyond which they can't damage anything.
Just because something isn't necessary doesn't mean it wouldn't enrich the game without increasing the difficulty of maintaining facile control over what's going on in the game by the player. One could even go so far as to use the system to pull a fast one -- give long-range beam weapons a minimu distance over which they operate effectively as well. (One example of how this could operate has actually been suggested for the Star Wars program, in the real world we all live in; columnized positively-interfering beams. They would have to be 'calibrated' to a set distance, and have a minimum distance for the same reason that we can't see the tips of our fingers if they're exactly between our eyes. This is all somewhat off-topic, however.)

Okay -- back on topic and such: I will easily concede that for 0.4.0/1, there's no reason to implement anything higher in order than "beam weapon hits, beam weapon does damage". But by the time we get to 0.5.0, in that far-off distant day only prolonged in distance by agitators such as myself (smile; I'm trying to be self-deprecating here!! :) ) it would be nice to see a combat engine that satisfies the space-militarists out there to at least a degree equivalent in value to the over-arching quality of what FO is. :)

Oh, and by the way -- "The first post of this thread" is a subtle fellow. :p Nobody, by the way, was suggesting that weapon-accuracy would be determining if weapons hit or miss -- but rather the range of damage done. :) It would be //nice// to see that sort of complexity introduced. (Especially since a player could wholly bypass it as a problem simply by using missile or fighter-based strategies.)

krikkitone wrote:
The next issue is how the damage is dealt... even with just shields and health, there is the issue of how damage is allocated to each... all to shields first , etc. In that case should a weapon have a 'penetration'?
If ship health is going to be insular without 'armor' being a separate damage category, and if that is going to be affecting ship systems, then it is imperative that shields not be penetrable, and all damage go to shields first.

As an alternative, we could use a system where shields have a damage-reduction-per-hit value, and then add armor as well as health -- this keeps us w/ two meters to worry about, as before.

I'll quit now. :)

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