I don't quite follow you on "special rules".. I'm proposing that there be no special rules at all.
No. I'm proposing that there be no special rules at all.
You get informed when someone has chosen to engage you, and you're told everything you can currently detect about their fleets,
This is the special rule I'm talking about. You get informed when someone has chosen to engage you. If a fleet's stealth is higher than your detection, you cannot detect anything
about their fleets, including whether or not they exist. This is passed design and not up for discussion. Because of this, the player must receive information beyond
what he is able to detect normally, which means that there is a special rule about what information about the gamestate is given to the player specifically for instances in which the player is attacked by ships whose stealth is higher than his detection. I am proposing that no information be given to the player outside of what he should already know according to established, consistent game rules.
If you pick the wrong one and fight a stealth scout instead of a stealth death fleet, well, you picked the wrong one. But you will be basing this decision on the value of the property you are defending. I don't care if the enemy brings a giant death fleet to destroy one of my scouts on some valueless asteroid, but I would care if the enemy brings anything to attack my homeworld.
I'm pretty sure you'd care if it was the scout that was going after your homeworld and the death fleet that was going after your main industry world. There isn't going to be just one target of value in an empire...
since such a ship is undetectable at any distance on the tactical map, unless its stealth actually decreases, due to firing weapons, exiting an asteroid belt, etc.
As far as stealth and the tactical map, you are saying that range has zero effect on stealth detection? Just want to make that clear.
The following calculation is used only to determine whether or not the ship's location on the tactical map is made known to the player: If EnemyStealth > FriendlyDetection - (TacticalMapDistace*ScalingFactor), the friendly empire is made aware of the enemy ship's location on the tactical map.
It is obvious that in this case, if enemy stealth is greater than friendly detection, the friendly ship cannot detect the enemy ship on the tactical map at any distance. In all cases, this equates to a situation in which in-system detectors also cannot detect the ship on the galaxy map at any distance. However, the distance apart two vessels are on the tactical map does not affect how far apart they are on the galaxy map. The distance between them on the galaxy map is 0, which means that if a given ship can be detected at any distance on the tactical map, the player will have visibility of it on the galaxy map, and therefore will have knowledge of its presence in the system, and all knowledge that it can acquire by scanning it at distance 0 on the galaxy map.
How about this for a situation: The person you are playing with is going for the meta-game strategy of "I'm going to annoy you into submission by engaging you one scout at a time, in essence, I'm going to use douchebag tactics to waste as much of your life as possible." If you don't think this isn't a common reality, then you probably don't play many online games. I state this strictly from the perspective of a player, not a designer. I've spent many an hour corpse camping people too weak to fight back against me just to ruin their day and waste their time. If possible, I'd like to see rules which prevent meta-game tactics of this type.
Better to have your life wasted one scout at a time than have your manual combat wasted defending your homeworld from a scout while the massive stealth death fleet wipes out your main industry world. My priority is on preventing those
types of meta-tactics first and foremost. Besides, don't forget that your opponent has a limited amount of combat time too. It's not like he gets to waste any more of your time just because you
get a free combat.
The "arbitrary special rule" is just a basic, from-the-start assumption that once a unit has engaged you, you are able to lock onto it and determine it's presence in-system, even if it goes back into stealth. Whether or not you can see it and target it aside, you *know* that it is in-system, until it is destroyed or flees. As far as only wanting to engage with half your fleet: if you don't like the music, don't come to the party. Like you said, it's not in a players best tactical interest to engage with less than his full force anyways. If it's in-system, it's a fleet asset that is involved in the combat, whether you want it to be or not. I'd prefer if you could get a count of the number of ships stealthed in a system.
I've explained clearly how this doesn't scale up to combats involving three or more empires. What would be useful from your end is to explain how it can, without unnecessarily revealing a stealthy third party or introducing a lot of other special rules about when combat ends, whose forces are revealed to whom, etc.
I know this is just making you scream, but otherwise stealth (at a level which is undetectable by your enemy) becomes the massively-all-powerful tool that everyone is going to go for. Aside from being completely untargetable, untrackable on the galaxy map, and invisible on the tactical map, the benefits of stealth allow you to drift in and out of combat at will and pile up forces literally anywhere you want them. This encourages players to do whatever is cheaper; either research max stealth technology and become godlike destroyers of all in their path, or research max detector technology so that stealth is useless against them. There isn't a whole lot of give-and-take or strategy involved here. If your stealth is higher than your enemy's capability to detect, you pretty much win, because he can't effectively fight back against you, concentrate forces against you, or defend against you.
There will be other counterbalances to stealth to avoid making it the end-all massively-all-powerful tool that everyone goes for. For example, creating ships that have stealth exceeding the detection of the opponent will require significant research dedication, to the exclusion of many other potential advantages. Ship hulls with naturally high stealth will have drawbacks such as low HP or capacity, and ships who equip stealth parts will no longer have an internal slot available for other special equipment, which will be generally be just as useful as the stealth part, if not more so. Stealth is good, yes, but by no means unbalanceably overpowering.
My concern is that when a unit "stops firing", and goes back into an undetectable state, it may still be on your list of threats, but you have no idea if it has fled, or if it's still lurking about waiting for reinforcements. I want to be able to know one way or the other whether it is in-system or not. There has to be some kind of balance to the seemingly overwhelming power of undetected stealth.
I’m sure you do want to know what the other player is doing. Speaking as a player, I’d certainly like to have the entire gamestate sent to my client, but speaking as a designer, I can clearly see that it would be bad for strategy (and therefore actually make it less fun for me as a player). The fact that the player does not possess information which he should not have according to the rules of the game is not a design flaw in and of itself.