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 Post subject: Combat: When to Fight?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:24 pm 
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This thread is to discuss the issue of when to have battles and when players can and should manually control battles that occur.

The main concern is that in a multiplayer game, there could be many battles on the same turn for a player, and no battles for another player. If the first player controls, for example, five battles, and each takes five minutes, then the other player(s) will have (with some downtime between) about half an hour per turn with nothing to do but look at their empire while waiting for other players to finish. This is obviously unacceptable in most cases.

So... we need a reasonable ways to:
- limit how many battles per turn a particular player can control
- determine which battles a player controls and/or has the option of controlling if there are more battles than time allows
- deal with multiple conflicting preferences between players about how to pick which battles to control (does an AI take over if one player wants to control a battle, but the other player(s) don't?)

Mixed in with this, we should also consider whatever ways we can to limit the number of trivial battles that occur. Alternatively, we can try to reduce the motivation for players to control these battles, perhaps by making the effect of player control minimal compared to automatic combat resolution (unseen by players) in trivial cases. This is useful for both multiplayer, and in single player games.

A relevant brainstorming threads are:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=852
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1176


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:43 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
So... we need a reasonable ways to:
- limit how many battles per turn a particular player can control

User definable - 1 to X

Geoff the Medio wrote:
- determine which battles a player controls and/or has the option of controlling if there are more battles than time allows

Player picks one or two.
Or player may nominate allied player to manage a battle.
Otherwise AI options are available.
Or player can choose auto resolution (higher stats wins, etc.)

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Mixed in with this, we should also consider whatever ways we can to limit the number of trivial battles that occur. Alternatively, we can try to reduce the motivation for players to control these battles, perhaps by making the effect of player control minimal compared to automatic combat resolution (unseen by players) in trivial cases. This is useful for both multiplayer, and in single player games.

If the was a Lite-Battle mode it could be interesting. Basically AI controlled, battles would mostly be influenced by ship design. Allied and enemy fleets would basically move torwards each other and destroy each other/hunt each other down. Maybe the player has high level control only, ie cannot control each ship but instead can control only groups of ships.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 9:14 am 
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I still think the only solution to this is to redesign the battle system itself so those issues aren't a problem. Copy the Simultanious turn based mode from games like Laser Squad Nemisis, once per turn players give the orders and the ships move and fight between turns.

It works with play by E-mail games, it lets players control every battle one after the other if they decide, trvial battles can be cut down to about 10 seconds to order your vastly superiour fleet to attack everything.

It doesn't entirely fix the problem with mismatched turn lengths but it dose cut down the amount of time required, your only giving orders rather than watching an entire battle.

Still I'll probably be vetoed on this so I'll just leave this thread to the rest of you, good luck.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 9:18 pm 
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Goodmorning all:

Regarding when to fight.

I seam to remeber reading someplace of allowing A player to nominate an ally to fight a battle for them, if they have several battles. If such a system were to exist, an obvious ally is the 'AI' ally of yourself.

I think turn baced combat, with action happening betten (desition making )rounds *as suggested and used in Email games* is an excellent idea. semi abstract orders *attack that, find cover . . . * given on a round to round basic *or skipped entirly in most cases* would make for sufficient player interaction, while keeping 'rounds' short, and simultanious order giving is an added bonus.

Any Combat where one side "significantly" *precice definition to be finetuned* outstregths the other probably deserves an auto-auto play *altought the player may choose to force play such a battle if they want to gloat over the demise of the last reminance of a once former glorious empire as it's surcomes to its once underling psudo-slave race*

It might be more tactically interesting to limit the number of battle rounds the user can 'change' battle plans.

rather then limit the number of battles they can do, have groups of ships have standing battle orders *attack all out, run away, snipe weakest targest, raid shipyard. . . .* and you can chose to enter a battle or not, but in a given game turn you can only provide a limited number of round by round change of plans *have to deside to maximize the efficency of a given battle, or save your influance for a more important battle* This would effectively limit the total time a player could spend in battles, regardless of how many "fights" they have. (also with the battle sharing, a 'Peaceful race''s user can still get in some battle time by accepting to command battles which are not his/hers).

Also this makes alliances between human players more fruitful *you can assume a human player will play better then the AI, so assigning a friend to your second most important battle might gain you that needed edge.*, and gives intersting new ways to backstabe your ally *did s/he intentionally loose that Super Frigit in that big battle, or just fail to notice / run out of actions this turn. . . .* . . .

Just my thoughts on the matter.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:04 am 
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Robbie.Price wrote:
I seam to remeber reading someplace of allowing A player to nominate an ally to fight a battle for them, if they have several battles. If such a system were to exist, an obvious ally is the 'AI' ally of yourself.

Yes, this was my idea (2nd post). You could also choose a plain AI to do the battle, we'll call it space combat AI, it would be like 'Auto' in Moo2.

Robbie.Price wrote:
Any Combat where one side "significantly" *precice definition to be finetuned* outstregths the other probably deserves an auto-auto play *altought the player may choose to force play such a battle if they want to gloat over the demise of the last reminance of a once former glorious empire as it's surcomes to its once underling psudo-slave race*

Yes, if there is a space combat where the players side is so favoured to win, that it is predictable that the players side will win, then it might as well be recommended to the player to have an AI control it and fast forward (at variable speed) through the battle, essentially an 'Auto' like in Moo2. The player may take the recommendation, and 'Auto' a bunch of space combats playing only the challenging ones or choose to play these battles and piss off his fellow players.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:24 am 
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Well I personally favor a highly abstracted System where all you do is give Goals (Taking+Destroying+Defending X planets/Preserving+Destroying fleets/Gaining Info) and set priorities. (how important is it that the Fleet Survive as opposed to accomplishing its goal)

[These, and the ships you bring to the battle should determine the result]

Being able to See the result might be good (ala MOO2 ground Combat)

if the player was involved in the battle they could change those Orders as the battle played out, but not... target this weapon on this ship... maybe Target this Ship in general.

Player interaction with Battles could be useful if they realized they didn't set priorities well.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:24 am 
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The degree of direct control a player has over ships or fleets in a battle that the player is actively observing and controlling is not up for discussion now. See the v0.4 Design Pad for what's already been decided. This discussion is just about picking which battles to control, assuming that controlling a battle will take a lot of time, and that the player will only be able to control one battle at a time, and that in multiplayer games, players might be very bored if they have to wait for other players to finish controlling a battle.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:31 am 
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Another idea is some kind of combat scheduling system.

Maybe X battles per player are allowed per turn. If your have >X then the excess battles move to the next turn.

The only issue here is would this muck up peoples plans if they went to attack world A, but were attacked at their own world, and the one they didn't choose would be moved to the next turn. Would it have great negative effects?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:20 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
The degree of direct control a player has over ships or fleets in a battle that the player is actively observing and controlling is not up for discussion now. See the v0.4 Design Pad for what's already been decided. This discussion is just about picking which battles to control, assuming that controlling a battle will take a lot of time, and that the player will only be able to control one battle at a time, and that in multiplayer games, players might be very bored if they have to wait for other players to finish controlling a battle.


Well in that case it seems the only options are
1. Fixed Battles per turn/Accumulated Battle points per turn/Fixed Time per turn for Battles/Accumulated time per turn for Battles [with time for battles as long as you have at least 1 second left you can do another battle]
AND
2. When you pick which battles to play
(Do you find out about the results of a Battle before determining if the next one is going to be auto resolved or not)
AND
3. When you play them
(Battles can happen in either Random or Player Determined order)

Player Determined Order is probably complicated. for Multiplayer.. if I want to see the results of Battle B before those of Battle A, and my opponent in both of those fights wants them in reverse order, then resolving it could be difficult

So I'd favor Random order (or perhaps some Fixed determination)

The options in #1 should all be options in Multiplayer (although for the 'accumulated' versions they should have a cap, about 20-50 turns worth of accumulated Battle points or Battle time can be stored, excess is lost)

As for #2, I'd say probably do the Battles one at a time... I might be sending multiple 'conquest/stellar convertar' fleet out to my opponent, and I might want to know if the conquest is as easy as I think it is.


One Idea, it might be good to Have it look like this
Location: Terra
Estimated Fleet Strength Ratio: 90% (9 of ours for 1 of theirs)
Battle Directions: Select options
Manual Control (Yes/no)
Commitment v. Cost (Suicidal->Safe)
Goals (Conquer / Destroy / Guard, etc.)
etc.

So that you can give that minimal control over battles that you are autoresolving. And so that you have the minimal information needed to determine if it is worth manually controlling, (in cases where the EFSR was more than 95% or less than 5%, it shouldn't be worth controlling manually, as the result is basically assured)

In any case, by giving good auto options, it will be less annoying to be denied manual resolution.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:04 am 
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utilae wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
So... we need a reasonable ways to:
- limit how many battles per turn a particular player can control

User definable - 1 to X


In my opinion, and I haven`t played any multiplayer games in games like this, what utilae is probably suggesting here would seem to be the best option. And if this same system will also be in single player games then I would consider a user definable amount of battles and also an option to command all your battles a must. This is because of, one of the things that I really hate in some games is that there is some great feature in the game, which here could be our combat system, but then the creators of the game in their wisdom have decided that it would probably be mega cool if the player can only use that system occasionally. And so even if the game itself is great you can`t really fully enjoy it, because the game makers have already limited your options.

Now some sort of a limitation system is of course a good thing, but by allowing the player to influence what the limit will be can hopefully satisfy the needs of different types of players.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
does an AI take over if one player wants to control a battle, but the other player(s) don't?


This was probably already suggested in some thread, but could this be done so that first both players decide whether they want to control a particular battle or not, then their selections are presented to each other and if one player has chosen to control the battle and the other hasn’t, this player has the option to change his/her mind before the battle starts?

And what comes to the waiting for others to finish their battles in multiplayer, there was an interesting suggestion in some thread about using spies to monitor other players in combat. Now this of course doesn`t solve the whole waiting time problem, but it might offer something possibly even useful to do for those waiting. But then there are problems like, can it be done so that the player watching the battle can`t help one of the players in combat by giving him/her important information about the enemy? Would this kind of a system be hard to build? Would it give an unfair advantage to those players with good quality/ a lot of spies and time/interest to watch others do battle?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:26 am 
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In single player games, or in multiplayer if players wanted, we'll let people control as many battles as they want, if all players in a game all agree to let every control all battles... I don't think anyone is currently suggesting having a hard, unadjustable limit on allowed battles per turn, especially in single player.

MikkoM wrote:
...first both players decide whether they want to control a particular battle or not, then their selections are presented to each other and if one player has chosen to control the battle and the other hasn’t, this player has the option to change his/her mind before the battle starts?

Keep in mind that there can be more than two players in a game. If four players all want to control a battle against the fifth player, and player five can only choose one, the other three players might want to pair up for some alternative battles instead if their battle isn't selected. Multiple rounds of battle negotiation might be required...

Also, consider that sometimes, a player might have more than one *really important* battles on on turn, and no important battles on others. We might want a system that includes the possibility for players to have extra battles on the same turn, even if it means other players have to wait longer, in limited cases... Perhaps an "extra battle" token given to players every few turns, or the always-present option for players to waive any battles limit established for a particular game on a given turn, if another player can make a case why it's warranted.

Quote:
[Can spying] be done so that the player watching the battle can`t help one of the players in combat by giving him/her important information about the enemy?

If a player has a spy, or other in-game justification for being able to observe a battle they aren't directly participating in, and they want to help someone in a battle by providing information, presumably they should be allowed to do so. It makes sense in context, and provides something for the other players to do if they dont' have a battle of their own.

If spies are involved, then letting neutral players observe battles they aren't involved in would probably be a configurable server setting. You can't do much without trusting the other players to play fair.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:20 am 
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A "battles per turn" setting would be cool, if you configure the game to allow for it to be an ignorable setting. IE not something that always must be used. Maybe have it default to infinate?

But yeah, I like the idea of combat being optional. Always doing battle with anyone you aren't friends with gets to be a major drag. One thing I loved about BotF was that it'd ask you if you wanted to attack when your ships encountered enemies. Unfortunately if you decided not to fight and they decided to fight you'd pretty much automatically lose(your fleet). Aside from that though the concept was nice. Deciding not to attack lesser races made them like you much more than bribing them would.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:38 am 
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Idea for new rule: It can be also be modified by current comm tech - in the meaning of "this fleet is to far for real-time management from and I can only observe the result of the combat. Or the second option "this combat is vital - I will fly with fleet, by Empire will be managed by AI".


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:37 pm 
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hissun wrote:
Idea for new rule: It can be also be modified by current comm tech - in the meaning of "this fleet is to far for real-time management from and I can only observe the result of the combat. Or the second option "this combat is vital - I will fly with fleet, by Empire will be managed by AI".


No No No No !!!!

A finite limit to number of battles is ONLY for making multiplayer easier
If FO said that you can control 0* or infinite** battles its ok as a fundamental part of the game.
A Finite limit on the other hand is ONLY to prevent other 'multiplayers' from getting bored.
in game events should have NO effect on how many battles you can control.


* my preferred situation for 4X games, players control no battles other than goals, treating battles the same as the economy
** The standard and what FO is going with


Last edited by Krikkitone on Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:52 pm 
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Krikktone, is right.

One of our design goals is to avoid making a game that the AI plays for you.

While it's necessary to provide a way to auto-resolve battles to make multiplayer playable, we're not interested in methods to permanently take away control of certain kinds of battles from all single and multi-player games.

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