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 Post subject: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 10:30 am 
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I recently opened two pull request concerning the blockade UI (https://github.com/freeorion/freeorion/pull/1570) and a pedia entry for the blockade mechanism (https://github.com/freeorion/freeorion/pull/1579). Some discussion has developed around

  • if "blockade" should be renamed to reflect that it does not only affect the planets in the system, but also the system itself with starlanes, etc.; suggestions from me were "system control" or "~ superiority", or "system blockade", and MatGB suggested the term "interdiction". Dilvish expressed he would like to stick with just "blockade", but seemed inclined to add "system" before that in some cases.
  • what UI changes would make the blockade concept more easy to grasp for the player. Discussed have been adding a marker to blockaded planets, systems as well as an additional eta marker that is shown if a fleet can't exit a system due to blockade.
  • and lastly, currently planetary meter growth is suspended if a planet has been attacked. I (and I think MatGB) had thought it was actually the blockade which caused this. Also, MatGB pointed out that if meter growth is suspended whenever a planet is attacked, this might be exploited by repeatedly sending in single ships. So the question is if meter growth should be suspended by the blockade instead of an attack.

Please correct me if I got something wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 11:14 am 
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The Silent One wrote:
what UI changes would make the blockade concept more easy to grasp for the player. Discussed have been adding a marker to blockaded planets, systems as well as an additional eta marker that is shown if a fleet can't exit a system due to blockade.
Also, a hint in the sitrep when you get your first system blockade, explaining the (new) player how it works. In my case, the first time one of my systems was blockaded, I was able to easily see that the system was disconnected from the rest of the supply line because of the wasted PPs in there, but didn't realise immediately that each planet on that system was also disconnected from the others (so that in order to give a use for those wasted PPs I had to place building orders for every planet).

The Silent One wrote:
if meter growth is suspended whenever a planet is attacked, this might be exploited by repeatedly sending in single ships. So the question is if meter growth should be suspended by the blockade instead of an attack.
I'd prefer that (supply-dependent?*) growth meters are suspended by blockades while direct attacks affect the actual values. I mean, currently a ship attack can reduce shield and defence meters, and a ground invasion can reduce troops meter (and if invasion is successful, happiness and other meters are also set to zero); I'd make that ship attacks can lower some other meters apart from shields and defence (happiness, infrastructure... maybe that's it), proportional to the attack strength, once shields are zeroed. Thus, a single weak ship attack would cause no meter reduction, you'd need a real attack force to be able to surpass the planetary defences to be able to harm the other meters.

(*) I don't know how it works currently (I just know that I don't want any of my systems blockaded and act for it), but I would expect that population, research and industry meters' growth were not affected by blockades except for the bonuses coming from buildings in other planets (i.e. supply-dependent bonuses), so that population in a planet can growth unless under direct attack (zeroed shields).


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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 11:29 am 
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Oberlus wrote:
I mean, currently a ship attack can reduce shield and defence meters, and a ground invasion can reduce troops meter (and if invasion is successful, happiness and other meters are also set to zero); I'd make that ship attacks can lower some other meters apart from shields and defence (happiness, infrastructure... maybe that's it), proportional to the attack strength, once shields are zeroed.
Ship attacks already reduce infrastructure:

https://github.com/freeorion/freeorion/ ... m.cpp#L379

Reducing happiness is something that should be species-dependent... some might like being in combat. Other meters are probably best reduced by bombardment, which is presently a distinct concept from a ship attacking a planet during system combat.


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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 12:17 pm 
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Fair enough.
Regarding game playability, it's good. And regarding the irrelevant "realism" subject, if I acknowledge that planetary defences and shields are orbital structures so combat is only in the atmosphere, then it makes total sense to not disturb population dependent stuff unless using actual bombardment.


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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 9:53 pm 
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It is possible to blockade a system without initiating combat with the planets or having planetary defences fire, I'm still not sure if stealthed carriers are overpowered but they're definitely useful for interesting strategic choices (until the target detects them at which point Boom).

I've also long been in favour of linking some production and population bonuses to infrastructure rather than population, this both makes sense to me in terms of 'realism' and would add an element to the game currently lacking, it would also if done right mean players have a reason to defend all planets from raids and monsters, etc.

Regarding how blockades/interdictions should work, I do think that troop growth shouldn't be restricted by having a scout ship suicide, but I also think that drydock repair should be, they're currently gated by the same script.

I'm in favour of splitting terminology for precision: if we've got a concept that's causing confusion then having it mean different things adds to confusion, the first time I had a the blockade mechanic explained to me it was in terms of blocking ongoing movement through a system. That's completely different to controlling a system and stopping the planets from sharing resources, especially if it's a friendly fleet interdicting the system and preventing a blockade of the planets.

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 11:28 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
the first time I had a the blockade mechanic explained to me it was in terms of blocking ongoing movement through a system. That's completely different to controlling a system and stopping the planets from sharing resources.
I don't really understand how it matters if you got an incomplete description of blockades at first. Stopping deliveries to a blockaded port and stopping/restricting enemy transit in a particular maritime region are related enough that the term "blockade" covers them both in real life (even it military personnel may use a more specific term for different aspects sometimes), so it seems like a reasonable option for us to do so also unless it really helped clarify things to use different terms.

And looking at the Wikipedia explanation of Maritime Interdiction, it sounds like a really general term also, the major different between that and the the Wikipedia explanation of Blockade seems that the term Interdiction appears to be more specific to being in the vicinity of some more major battle area. I just don't see how it helps us, beyond maybe being a portion of our description of what an FO blockade involves.

If you have some specific way in mind for interrelating these two terms that you think is more clear than just writing it up all within the Blockade heading, then perhaps I would have a different opinion if I actually saw that writeup.

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 12:33 am 
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I note three different cases of blockading (plus special rules for monsters):
  1. Supply propagation: supply is prevented from entering, leaving, or passing through the system.
  2. Local supply: supply is blocked within the system (keeping in mind the future ability of ships to provide PP/RP/etc)
  3. Starlane access: ships are prevented from leaving via specific starlanes.

I agree with Dilvish that "blockade" is general enough to summarize all 3 (a system blockade).
For specific terms of one portion, I like interdiction, but feel it more aptly describes starlane access (e.g. interdiction field).

"When a system is blockaded, enemy supply is blocked (even between local objects) and all starlanes are interdicted."
And then expand on the definition and nuances of interdiction.
Other systems might have side effects from that blockade (loss of supply), but are not themselves blockaded.

Any effects on planet meter growth (and description of such) could be left to combat with a planet
Expanding on previous suggestions, only prevent growth if the planet is directly attacked.
This would exclude combat with unarmed ships as well as armed ships that only attack other ships, giving a little more leverage to defenders.


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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 2:01 pm 
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Here are some suggestions how the effects of a system blockade could be represented by the UI.
Features of the blockade are, as dbenage-cx summed up above:

- cuts off systems and planets from supply

UI representation: Supply lines around system are cut off and colors reversed. This sufficiently indicates that systems are cut off from supply; that planets cannot share their production while being blockaded should also be indicated. I suggest to add a marker to the planet panel (two attempts at such a marker on the mockup below). Since it is possible that multiple empires blockade a planet at the same time, there should be a tooltip which provides information on which empires are participating in the blockade.

- blocks starlane entries (for blockaded fleets)

UI representation: So far only the red color of the eta marker hints at the blockade of starlane entries. I believe this is too subtle, so I suggest that when a blockaded fleet is selected, movement dots are tinted red when the fleet is trying to move through a blockaded exit. Also, an eta marker could be placed at the system's exit, maybe reading "1" or "x".

Also, there should be an indication who is blockaded and who is blockading whom:

- if a player fleet is blockaded, it receives a red outline. a tooltip will provide information which empire is blockading it. Since multiple empires may block the player, the outline should always be red.
- if an enemy fleet is blockaded by the player, it will receive an outline with the color of the player's empire.
- blockades between two empires unrelated to the player will show as a grey outline around the fleet btn of the blockaded side.

Below is a quick&dirty mockup that illustrates some of these ideas. At Qar'To ß, the player = bright blue empire is blockaded by dark blue empire, but blocks the yellow empire. Trying to move "south" produces red movement dots and an "x" eta marker at the system exit.

Quote:
TL;DR:
suggestions for new UI to show a blockade
- colored outline around fleet buttons for blockaded fleets
- graphic on planet image for blockaded planets
- red movement dots when trying to exit through blockaded starlane entry, red eta marker at system exit
- tooltips who participates in blockade


Attachments:
blockade UI concept.jpg
blockade UI concept.jpg [ 208.04 KiB | Viewed 353 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:11 pm 
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I definitely agree this needs to be put into the UI, I'm not 100% sold this is the best way to do it but I really suck at UI design and this is a big step forward.

I definitely like the 'x' on blocked exits feature, it would also be useful if that showed up for unowned monsters so players can clearly see when they've pinned down something big. I'm not as sold on the X marks on the blocked planets, but I'd rather that than nothing.

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:01 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
Also, there should be an indication who is blockaded and who is blockading whom...
- if a player fleet is blockaded, it receives a red outline. a tooltip will provide information which empire is blockading it. Since multiple empires may block the player, the outline should always be red.
- if an enemy fleet is blockaded by the player, it will receive an outline with the color of the player's empire.
- blockades between two empires unrelated to the player will show as a grey outline around the fleet btn of the blockaded side.

I like the idea of an extra contrasting perimeter border if a fleet is blockaded; it's related to adding the extra ETA marker like you propose, but the ETA marker would only be displayed if you actually select the fleet, whereas the extra border would always be visible, so I definitely like it (though it probably also requires more work to implement, for the extra set of outlines for each different ship shape). Not all of the empire colors strongly contrast each other, though, and rather than having the outline color be determined by the empire imposing the blockade, I think it should simply be the color complementary to that of the empire being blockaded (just like wasted PP coloration for core starlanes).

I have much more mixed feelings about adding tooltips to "clarify" who is blockading you; the situations where that actually adds any information you don't already have seem very limited, and I think the cost in misleading new players would far outweigh any extra value it might have for experienced players. In general, if you are blockaded at a system you need to plan to deal with all your enemies there. The only situation where I see even some small bit of value to an experienced player would be if empire X is blockading you, you send ships there and then at the same time they arrive, or later, then a third empire Y arrives with warships, and all 3 empires have warships surviving together for at least 1 turn for you to start doing this extra planning. Then this proposed tooltip would let an experienced player know that they need to destroy X's warships but only need to survive against Y in order to break the blockade. But it could very easily confuse a new player into thinking they don't need to worry about Y's warships. And that is the only situation I see it providing any additional value to anyone. Plus there is the issue that our blockade system does not currently keep track of this extra info about who is imposing the blockade, so it is more backend machinery to work out, in addition to the UI work.

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:29 pm 
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Sorry for taking so long to answer. I will be pretty much absent for 1-2 months, after which I'll pick this up (coding-wise etc.).

But to sum up the discussion so far: we seem to have consensus on the extra "x" eta marker, the outline for blockaded fleets (for which, I agree, we should use the complimentary color of the owning empire), and that we need some indication if a planet is blockaded (with the current icon solution being not optimal, so more consideration is needed).
If the tooltips are really necessary we can evaluate after aforementioned features are implemented (probably not).

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:51 am 
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How about graying out blockaded planets (assume Eos Gamma were blockaded)?


Attachments:
grayed_planets.jpg
grayed_planets.jpg [ 182.75 KiB | Viewed 186 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:59 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
How about graying out blockaded planets (assume Eos Gamma were blockaded)?
Personally I prefer some kind of icon overlayed on the planet pic.


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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:17 am 
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I agree with Vezzra there. The point of this is to call significantly more attention to the fact of the blockade than is currently done, to make it clear if the user was too focused on something else to notice. Simply graying out the planets won't do much to grab a player's attention (especially if there are just one or two planets in the system and they are all owned by the player, the player's subconscious would have to be finely tuned to distinguish them from Tundra).

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 Post subject: Re: blockade discussion
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:43 am 
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In general, using an icon rather than a colour change is better to indicate things, where applicable, as it gives the player something specific to mouse over to find out what it means, and is generally clearer that it is a notification. Using gray in particular is a bad idea, as it seems more like a UI notification about selectability, rather than a gamestate indicator.


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