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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:11 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Nobody ever seems to respond to or consider my suggestions along these lines
I plan to get back to that, just (again :() ran out of time allocated for FO. Hope to be able to provide more response tomorrow evening/Sunday.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:55 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Something else to consider is range-dependent stealth modifiers for mobile things (ships). The idea would be to have buildings or ship parts that modify all, an empire's own, allied, or just enemy-owned ships' stealth by an amount dependent on distance. This would not cause one to need to move ships around to re-scan planets, but would make distance from the "active radar broadcast" building or the "stealth vortex" field a factor in how much stealth is needed to actually be stealthy, or how close ships can get and remain stealthy.

Having stealth-boosting or stealth-countering stuff could also require some resource to activate, such as influence (for some varieties of this content).
Notably, I think, having range-dependent stealth-reducing buildings would make it necessary for the player moving stealthy ships to be careful where they're positioned, but wouldn't give the player trying to detect the ships any extra micromanagement to optimize their detection network.
I don't understand how this idea is supposed to work with ship parts - I mean, if I understand correctly the only difference to having to put some kind of "cloaking device" ship part on the ship designs you want to be stealthy would be that you now only have to put that device on one ship which would then project some kind of "cloaking field", with diminishing effect the farther your ships are away from the "cloaker"...?

With buildings that approach might work, as you can only put them on a colony of yours, and they can't move with your fleet, effectively creating a mechanic where your ships need to be close to one of your worlds to "hide" under a "cloak". Of course, this also means that with a mechanic like that stealth will not work deeper in enemy territory, because once your fleets, even if they manage to sneak through the first line of defence, advance deeper into enemy territory, they would loose their stealth quickly because the distance to the stealth field generator increases.

Still, that approach feels a bit too much of a "fix" or "workaround" for the shortcomings of a mechanic we apparently aren't able to design in a way that such fixes won't be necessary. It also feels a bit limitating, I don't think Mats ideas with "pirate bases" or something like that will work with that, for example. Another thing that won't be covered are asteroid ships hiding in asteroid belts gaining increased stealth.

That said, this approach would still be a considerable improvement to what we have now, no question.

Regarding the idea to require some kind of resource to activate stealth, that sounds very compelling and interesting. I'm very much in favor of seriously considering and refining that idea.
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Particularly if the buildings are limited in number and perhaps require a special resource or other limiting factor for their production, there would be no way to micromanage them, but there would be need to carefully select where to put the few a player has available.
Why do you think that would be necessary? What kind of micromanagement is that supposed to prevent?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:33 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
With buildings that approach might work, as you can only put them on a colony of yours, and they can't move with your fleet, effectively creating a mechanic where your ships need to be close to one of your worlds to "hide" under a "cloak". Of course, this also means that with a mechanic like that stealth will not work deeper in enemy territory, because once your fleets, even if they manage to sneak through the first line of defence, advance deeper into enemy territory, they would loose their stealth quickly because the distance to the stealth field generator increases.
I'm more so interesting in having buildings a player can produce that *reduce* stealth of enemy/all ships that are nearby. Particularly if a player can only produce a limited number (strictly or based on strategic resources) of stealth-stoppers, it means that a larger empire is more vulnerable to stealthy opponents, as it can't so easily cover its entire territory.
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Quote:
Particularly if the buildings are limited in number and perhaps require a special resource or other limiting factor for their production, there would be no way to micromanage them, but there would be need to carefully select where to put the few a player has available.
Why do you think that would be necessary? What kind of micromanagement is that supposed to prevent?
Players might want to produce a stealth-reducing building, leave it in place a few turns, scrap it, and produce another one somewhere else, in order to micromanage an effectively wider area under the stealth-reducing effects.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:25 pm 
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I've been growing fonder of the idea of making detection parts vastly more expensive than they are now. Having only a few very valuable and expensive scouts to allocate sounds like it will reduce the micromanagement of whichever stealth mechanics we use. I also think this works well in concert with Dilvish's idea of making ships basically visible if they are in the same system (or perhaps only the turn when they enter or leave a system). I think as costs are now that it would skew the balance heavily in favour of the defender trying to find ships, but if the powerful detectors are rare strategic ships, it makes covert operations a lot more feasible.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:11 am 
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Regarding the issue of making ships basically visible if they are in the same system as a ship of the observing empire, I think we need a little bit of related visibility cleanup in the combat system (distinct from the post-combat visibility issue covered by Mitten's PR). When looking into the combat code recently, I was surprised to discover that right now, combatants are allowed to attack any object for which they have at least BASIC visibility-- there is no requirement for PARTIAL visibility. It hasn't been a big deal to us since there haven't been situations where ships have been just Basically visible, and it's mostly just been unowned stealthed planets getting pulled into combat when they wouldn't otherwise.

But even if we don't do anything to make ships Basically visible, I think those combat triggers should be moved up to require PARTIAL visibility to attack anything (except if that thing has attacked you in combat already, and then it is open to attack no matter what).

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:08 am 
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I'm very reluctant to have an enemy stealthy ship be always detectable (basic or otherwise) by another empire that has a ship in the same system. I'd like it to be possible to have a stealthy observation ship hiding in an enemy empire's territory, and for leader / hero carrying ships to be able to get them to target planets without detection if an empire has sufficient stealth equipment in place to support that.

Combat-related visibility could be made to give (only) basic map visibility about ships that attack an empire's stuff. If being attacked by a stealthy ship, one would be aware that a battle was happening, and how much damage was done by each side, but not what type of ship was attacking, or how close to destruction it was. If basic visibility ships did not reveal their owner, then one could use stealthy ship attacks for potentially interesting strategic purposes as well.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:50 pm 
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About stealthy planets: I quite dislike the idea in general. First of all, the physics argument: If you see any planet in the system, you will find that there must be some additional huge mass in the system due to deviations from the expected orbit. This is pretty much how half of the planets of our solar system got discovered some centuries back. You may cloak EM waves (and thus colonies), but I severely doubt you can cloak gravity (especially on the scale of a planet).


About ships: Do we need to deal in absolutes? Maybe we can use some probabilistic approach. The probability to detect some stealthed enemy could be a function of stealth, detection strength, distance and detection range.

So just for discussion's sake, a simple function for probability p to detect a stealthed ship could look like this (omitting min/max to force 0<p<1)
Code:
 p = (0.5 + .01*(detectionStrength-stealth)) * (1 - distance/detectionRange)^2


As this probability could be calculated for each ship, this could make for some interesting strategic choices - how many scouting ships? Where to put them? Where is the enemy fleet weakest so chances are higher to fly through undetected?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:24 pm 
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Morlic wrote:
About stealthy planets: I quite dislike the idea in general. First of all, the physics argument...I severely doubt you can cloak gravity
A couple of things on this: first and foremost, there is a long-standing FO design principle that reality based arguments are weighted very little in assessing game mechanics-- gameplay value trumps all, quite soundly. All other things being equal, then sure, realism is great. But the gameplay significance of stealth mechanics is just too high let them be influenced by our projections of what might be realistic for spacefaring civilizations, particularly ones that have the potential to bypass the speed of light barrier.

Secondly, I don't think I've gotten much feedback on my proposal that stealthed planets would appear as asteroid belts until the observer had gained sufficient visibility. I personally feel like it both contributes to the gameplay as well as adding some at-least-semi-realistic-fuzziness around the stealthed-planet concept to help smooth people's realism ruffles.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:27 pm 
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I continue to dislike invisible planets, but if we must have them the asteroid idea is passable. I'd much rather scanline them except in very exceptional circumstances (Experimentors for example).

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:00 pm 
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Dilvish wrote:
...my proposal that stealthed planets would appear as asteroid belts until the observer had gained sufficient visibility.
The paragraph in question was somewhat confusing and brainstormy... but basically it was to show stealthy planets as asteroids, I think. What happens when a planet that has previously been observed wasn't clear. I think an important case for stealthy planet would be colonizing one and keeping the colony stealthy even if another empire has previously scanned it... So planets should change to appearing as asteroids upon stealth settlement... so some other mechanism is needed anyway for such cases.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:57 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Dilvish wrote:
...my proposal that stealthed planets would appear as asteroid belts until the observer had gained sufficient visibility.
The paragraph in question was somewhat confusing and brainstormy... but basically it was to show stealthy planets as asteroids, I think. What happens when a planet that has previously been observed wasn't clear.
There are a few aspects to the 'stealthy planet' idea that people have struggled with. This asteroids idea was meant to primarily address people's objections to the current mechanic that if the first time you scanned a system from a distance, if it had a planet stealthed to you, that planet would be totally invisible from a distance, until you actually physically explored the system with a ship present in it, at which point a scanlined planet would suddently pop up for you. Once you have ever had basic visibility of the planet it never goes back to being invisible, if it becomes stealthed you simply gain no more information and it gets scanlines. That's just my summary of the current situation this proposal addresses. The minimal version of this proposal is simply a different treatment for the situation where currently you could see the system but the planet would be totally invisible to you.

Specifically, if your empire has never explored the system (something which is already tracked), and you have never had even basic visibility of the planet, then the server would pass the planet object to you as a plain/empty Asteroid Belt having default minimal stealth (the server version of the object of course retains all the actual info). Once you either physically explore the system to gain basic visibility of the planet, or gain Partial visibility of the planet, then (like now) you see its proper planet type, and if all you had was basic visibility then (according to current mechanics) the planet would be scanlined.

Quote:
I think an important case for stealthy planet would be colonizing one and keeping the colony stealthy even if another empire has previously scanned it... So planets should change to appearing as asteroids upon stealth settlement... so some other mechanism is needed anyway for such cases.
Dealing with the issue of a planet going stealthy after it has been previously scanned, and what to do about a colony on it, is certainly fine as a followup topic, but I think it's best to decouple that from the basic proposal, which is quite independent-- I don't think there is anything about the 'asteroid planet until explored' treatment that complicates the followup treatment any more than the current 'invisible planet until explored'.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:22 pm 
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Dilvish wrote:
...the first time you scanned a system from a distance, if it had a planet stealthed to you, that planet would be totally invisible from a distance, until you actually physically explored the system with a ship present in it, at which point a scanlined planet would suddently pop up for you.
If the problem is planets popping up when a ship enters the system, then it could show scanlined stealthy planets whenever a non-stealthy planet would be shown normally. That meaning, whether a ship is in system or not, the same rules for detecting planets apply.

Showing things as other things (different planet types, different ship designs, different buildings) is a potentially interesting mechanic, but perhaps not necessary in this case...?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:57 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Dilvish wrote:
...the first time you scanned a system from a distance, if it had a planet stealthed to you, that planet would be totally invisible from a distance, until you actually physically explored the system with a ship present in it, at which point a scanlined planet would suddently pop up for you.
If the problem is planets popping up when a ship enters the system, then it could show scanlined stealthy planets whenever a non-stealthy planet would be shown normally. That meaning, whether a ship is in system or not, the same rules for detecting planets apply.
That would placate a lot of people's concerns, yes, though it doesn't seem quite as fun to me :D

Right now stealthed-planet-discovery upon explore results from
Code:
    /** sets planets in system where an empire owns an object to be basically
      * visible, and those systems to be partially visible */
    void SetSameSystemPlanetsVisible(const ObjectMap& objects)
I guess the corresponding change would be to make this method more focused, simply dealing with partial visibility of systems, and then in the System::Copy code we could handle it that any time you have Partial visibility of a System you also get at least Basic visibility of all contained planets.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:12 pm 
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Dilvish wrote:
...it doesn't seem quite as fun to me :D
Perhaps more fun would be buildings that let a player specify what planet type a planet would appear as to other player with insufficient detection to see it without scanlines. Similar things for misleading about ship designs (and owner) might be possible.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:40 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Perhaps more fun would be buildings that let a player specify what planet type a planet would appear as to other player with insufficient detection to see it without scanlines. Similar things for misleading about ship designs (and owner) might be possible.
Those do sound like fun, certainly. The planet type one would not be too bad to implement, I think. The ship one is much more interesting, but also seems much more challenging to implement, unless there is just a small range of preset decoy designs to choose from.

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