Personally, I don't think the formula should be changed like that, since part of the point of the old formula was that even a small increase in stealth was always advantageous, because you could always get that much closer to the enemy without being seen. Now, no increase in stealth anywhere beneath enemy detection is any good at all, and since detection will be greater than stealth for a large majority of the game, that makes improvement of stealth technology mostly useless, while an improvement of detection technology is always useful... from a gameplay perspective, the new formula is just a bad idea, IMO.
I believe the idea is for this change to apply to the galaxy map only. Incremental stealth improvements still have the same value in combat. My complaints about detection don't entirely apply to combat where objects are generally in constant motion.
Even then, we're left with a scenario where increasing up to 20 below the enemies detection is useless (because the player will still be detected by the empire from all the way across the galaxy map), and only increases between 20 and 0 are noticeably valuable. This, admittedly, isn't nearly as bad, but it does have the added problem that we need to make stealth and detection rules different on the galaxy map and in combat, which is unintuitive. Furthermore, having different stealth and detection rules on combat and on the galaxy map means that stealth and detection parts have vastly different value in combat than they do on the galaxy map, for example, with a detection of 80, a ship with stealth 79 could be seen from 800 units away, a significant portion of the galaxy, and on smaller galaxies, definitely the whole thing. In combat, such a ship would only be visible at a distance of 1/10 the system's radius - hardly an intuitive system.
But we really only need to add another simplifying factor to solve this UI problem: Make detection strength the same for all detectors on the galaxy map:
That sounds like it would make the idea of detection ship parts obsolete, unless ships actually have two detection meters, one for combat, and one for the galaxy map, which I think is bad. Not only that, but it would make a newly constructed outpost have the same detection level as a highly developed colony. I think it makes more sense if it takes a little while for the detection meter to grow to maximum.
If this is a little too flat for the galaxy map you could split the concept of detection strength and detection radius. I.E. you could build a telescope building could see further (bigger detection radii), but it couldn't spot ships more highly stealthed than any other detector.
This further necessitates splitting galaxy map detection into two values - one for range, and one for strength, which adds up to three detection meters per ship, overall. These new stealth and detection rules aren't very intuitive, and seem like they would add complexity to the rules themselves, even if it would end up simplifying the UI a bit.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
I'm reluctant to make the detection rules on the galaxy map and in combat significantly different. Having detectability use a distance vs. detection - stealth rule in combat, but a single value threshold and independent distance vs. detection rule on the map would make things a lot harder for players to understand than having consistent rules.
If you're suggesting that the visibility rules for combat should be changed to this new formula as well, I have to disagree. Currently, the system works quite well - early game ships have minimal stealth and 20 detection, meaning that they can see each other from anywhere on the galaxy map. Early game improvements in stealth technology and stealthier hulls can decrease this distance significantly, perhaps to half-way across the galaxy map. This can then be countered by an early game increase in detection technology, which will again allow the enemy to be seen from anywhere on the galaxy map, and this competition between stealth and detection proceeds throughout the game. If the formula is changed as you suggest, then the first stealth tech would either allow ships to go right up to starting game ships without being detected, which is overpowered for ships at similar tech levels, or it would do nothing, in which case what's the point of even researching it? This actually applies similarly to the galaxy map - either the first stealth tech is useless, or it allows ships to go right up to an enemy colony without being detected. The current visibility formula is much more balanced and intuitive.
On a vaguely related note, it might be nice if there was some way of knowing which objects are visible to which empire, aside from looking at the object's stealth meter relative to all visible objects owned by the empire in question, and measuring all the distances.
WARNING: Terrible Mockup Alert. I've somewhat figured out how to use(/abuse) GIMP, so now I can provide mockups to (kind of) express my ideas:
Screen shot 2010-03-05 at 1.06.24 PM.png [ 190.38 KiB | Viewed 861 times ]
As you can see, all objects are visible to all empires except Doow-tsae, which is invisible to the Metallic-Blue empire, Phad, which is invisible to the Dark Purple empire, and the unexplored red star, which is visible only to the Yellow and Light Blue empires. Also, I wasn't even going to try to put the panel behind the Dark Purple fleet en route to Vindemiatrix, though presumably, upon mouse-over, both the fleet and its visibility panel would become visible.
This has the advantage of making the need to see the other empire's detection radii much more rare, so the player won't have to be constantly switching between views and setting various threshold values.
There are a few problems with this particular implementation though, for example, part or all of a circle can be covered with a system's name, requiring the player to mouse-over the fleet to see which empires can see which fleets. A blue star covers a large portion of the system's circle, and would therefore make it fairly difficult to see the visibility panel behind it. Fleets require more space, as you can see from the four fleets orbiting Grue, which makes it more difficult to display many fleets at the same system.
Better suggestions or mockups for how to display which empires have visibility of a particular object are welcome, since giving this information to the player like this prevents a lot of unneeded clicks to figure it out.
Would it resolve this objection if a totally different meter was used for seeing on the galaxy map?
I don't think so - it's still troublesome if the player has to keep track of two separate meters and two separate sets of rules for the galaxy map and the tactical map. Plus, there would need to be separate "scanner" and "detector" techs, which would seem to add unnecessary clutter for a concept that can be defined by a single meter and a single set of techs.
Not to be realistic about it, but it is also a barrier to understanding when a tiny detection radius explodes into a much larger one when switching between system and galaxy maps if indeed the rules are supposed to be the same.
Don't think about it that way: on the tactical map, the player gets the same information that he gets on the galaxy map, based on the same set of rules - he knows which system the enemy ship is in, because the galaxy map visibility calculation for distance 0 allows him to detect the ship. So even when the player is in combat, his galaxy map detectors are still active, and give him the same information that they would on the galaxy map - knowledge that a particular type of enemy ship is present in the system. To get even more detailed information, that of the ship's location within
the system, the player has to be even closer
than merely being in the same system - he has to be within a certain distance on the tactical map. So it's not like the detection radius is massively different between the two, it's just that you have to be closer to get more detailed information about the ship's location