Combat Requirements Doc - Preliminary

Past public reviews and discussions.
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Combatjuan
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Trying to get a handle on the project.

#76 Post by Combatjuan »

First Post!

I'm a _long_ time MoO/4x space game fan. I've also spent about the last year planning and creating technology demos for my own space strategy game. I'd have gotten much further on the project except that I got married 7 months ago. (-8

Anyway, having read through the whole of this combat discussion, I've got to say that you guys sure work well together. I worked with the Battle for Wesnoth folks for quite a while, and while they are a fantastic bunch with amazing talent, there was much less cohesion in the group. I applaud how well you are all considering one another's opinions and offering highly constructive criticism.

That aside, I'm interested in getting involved with FreeOrion at the expense of my own project. One of my favorite aspects of Master of Orion was the ability to customize my ships. I'm the kind of player who likes to invest myself emotionally in every one of my space-faring bearers of destructions. I want each one to be unique, each to have a designation, each to have a purpose, each to be able to make a very noticable impact on the battle -- each one to matter. Wesnoth (I apologize for the abundant references, but if you haven't tried it, please do http://www.wesnoth.org) was very good at fulfilling my need here. Each unit had a name. You smiled when your archer leveled up into a ranger, you cried when he died.

You see where I'm going here. I want each ship in the battle to matter. You can have 'epic' your 2000 ship battles where 500 small ships are lost and no one really cares. They are only epic the respects that there is lots at stake, and lots of explosions. But does your hand tremble on the mouse when one of your best captains perishes in a suicidal ram to save the remains of your fleet? No. Of course not. No one ship matters. There is no personality. That's the trouble.

Of course not everyone will agree with this, but I'd much prefer a fleet of 50 ships to be considered completely enormous. The largest of ships would require the resources of many planets to be built. Slightly smaller ones would require the same - but at a much lower technology level. Smaller ships would still have a general speed/manuevering/lower chance to be hit bonus, but the idea of what a 'small ship' is would change throughout the game. This would keep fleet sizes small and highlight the importance of the ship design aspect as well as having experienced crews if you plan on implementing such a thing.

Depending on how you implement your 3D engine, I think that 50 ships can easily look gorgeous and even quite epic. I'll discuss more, but one thing at a time.

I'll take a look through your source and the requests on sourceforge and see if I can be of any use to you. Thanks and keep up the good work!

-Charles

zobo
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#77 Post by zobo »

A suggestion to make turtling just a bit less effective strategy.

If we are to have techs like space combat doctrines (as I understand our
tech model does have some similarities) we could have those technologies require actual combats.

This would be realistic: How does one create perfect strategies without seeing wars?

This would be good for the game: Peaceful nations may have more ships, more technology, but the warring nations understand war. They might hit better, have better morale, better commanders and experience.

Thus war would lessen the resources of both sides (as ships get blown away) but give an edge with the doctrines. Waiting in sidelines now
has a penalty to it...

Just how much combat does it take to unlock those doctrines is a good point for discussion.

Combatjuan
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#78 Post by Combatjuan »

zobo:
Great idea. Regarding the "how much", I would suggest making it at least somewhat random. If it were a system that said something like...:
5 Enemy Ships destroyed: Gain Flanking Doctrine
20 Enemy Ships destroyed: Gain Evasive Doctrine
50 Enemy Ships destroyed: Gain Aggressive Doctrine
...

I could easily see players fighting just enough battles to get some comfortable level of doctrine and then sitting down for a rest. It'd be better to make the decision to war a little less weighted by "if I attack this enemy colony then I /will/ get a new doctrine so it's that much more valuable to me."

My only concern with this is that the created model would have to be flexible enough so that if a player started down the warpath early (spending more resources on ships and whatnot and getting behind technologically and industrially) that they would be able to switch gears if their situation necessitated it. I suppose that what I'm saying is that it ought to be balanced which I guess goes without saying. So I'll shut up now.

-Charles

solidcordon
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terrain.

#79 Post by solidcordon »

blah
Last edited by solidcordon on Fri Dec 15, 2006 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ewh02b
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3-way Combat

#80 Post by ewh02b »

I think we can look to realism, not for its own sake, but to help prevent 3-way stalemates.

Situation 1: A fleet defending, B & C fleets intruding
A fleet begins combat in center of system, speed 0.
B fleet enters system at high speed from galactic east, speed 100
C fleet enters system at high speed from galactic north, speed 50

A fleet either was probably defending a planet. They pretty much have to engage, but they probably have missile bases to help them out.

B fleet came in from a distant system (10 parsecs?) at a constant acceleration down the starlane, and so built up a lot of speed. They may be able to stop before encountering A fleet, but there is a bonus to B fleets missle speed and range if missiles are launched from a higher base velocity. The higher speed helps overcome defensive systems. B fleet can also alter course and escape the system more easily with its higher velocity, or even do a single punishing run on A, but be unable to stop and take over the planet.

C fleet came from a closer system (5 parsecs?) at a constant acceleration. They can more easily stop and disengage, as compared to A or B. They can also continue heading in, either increasing or decreasing speed. C fleet can choose to head for either A or B fleets (especially if C is reinforcing A, and arrived in the nick of time to assist in system defence).

====
there are several more permutations to all of that, but basically, players would be forced to engage to a greater or lesser extent. Larger ships in B and C would have more inertia and a harder time stopping; smaller ships could escape more easily, but most players would find sacrificing their capital ships to be unacceptable.

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MikkoM
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#81 Post by MikkoM »

I don`t know should this issue be brought up at this point or not but I think it is very important considering the battles.

The thing I very much hated in MOO 3 was that the ships usually lasted only one or two enemy shots before they were destroyed and so the technological improvement of your race did`t seem to have very much effect on the game.

Of course this kind of fast battle may occure between two species which are in very different stages of technological development, but if two quite equally matched species meet on the battlefield I think these kinds of strategy games should take the technology in consideration. For example why should you waste very much time and money on developing new shield technology if this new shield doesn`t give you more than a few seconds of endurance.

What I personally love in these kinds of games is to see the clear effect of the more advanced technology.

Of course there should still be some weapons which make a great deal of damage like the Stellar converter in MOO 2, but if every ship is destroyed by just a few shots I think it makes the battles very dull experiences.

I am also in favour of battles of atleast hundreds or thousands of ships, because I think that big space empires should have big fleets and there for the battles should be big. Of course you could limit the amount of ships participating to a battle at a specific time and leave the rest of the ships in reserve to enter the battle when the first wave of ships has been destroyed.

Also the idea of splitting your forces to attack different planets within the system sounds good to me.

I think that the amount of detail on each ship should also be creater than in MOO 3 if it`s possible to do, because the ships in MOO 3 usually looked almost as simple as if you had a triangle flying in space and ships looking that simple don`t actually give you an epical feeling of battles and star empires.

ewh02b
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#82 Post by ewh02b »

hmm...I just had an idea, kind of in response to MikkoM's post.

Production
I really don't want to micromanage building 1,000 ships. I know that FO has a good queuing system, but that's a bit crazy.

Ideally, the game would produce a squadron of frigates instead of only one, and the 4 (or 8?) frigates would move and do everything in sync.

Combat
I also don't want to be forced to give orders to 1,000 ships. The moo2 system of either giving orders for every single weapon system on every single ship, or putting it on auto, is not ideal.

On the other hand, I would like to see 1,000 ships in combat. I would like to be able to give lots of orders, but not to take forever doing so, or get bogged down in orders. I would like to see three types of orders:

Examples:
1. Standing orders, to fire countermissiles at incoming missiles, etc. These would be set by default, and (maybe?) be countermanded by the player, but would generally be an automatic thing.

2. Standard orders, to have all ships fire at a particular enemy or group of enemies, or in order of hull size (either increasing or decreasing). There should be some sort of display (red line for fire, green for movement) showing what the current orders of my ships are.

3. Special orders, to have one ship or group of ships use a special device or weapon. This would be micromanagement, but admirals do in fact give such orders.

marhawkman
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#83 Post by marhawkman »

ewh02b wrote:Combat
I also don't want to be forced to give orders to 1,000 ships. The moo2 system of either giving orders for every single weapon system on every single ship, or putting it on auto, is not ideal.

On the other hand, I would like to see 1,000 ships in combat. I would like to be able to give lots of orders, but not to take forever doing so, or get bogged down in orders. I would like to see three types of orders:

Examples:
1. Standing orders, to fire countermissiles at incoming missiles, etc. These would be set by default, and (maybe?) be countermanded by the player, but would generally be an automatic thing.

2. Standard orders, to have all ships fire at a particular enemy or group of enemies, or in order of hull size (either increasing or decreasing). There should be some sort of display (red line for fire, green for movement) showing what the current orders of my ships are.

3. Special orders, to have one ship or group of ships use a special device or weapon. This would be micromanagement, but admirals do in fact give such orders.
solution: Implement the Stars! combat command system. There is no direct player control of combat. You give them a vague set of instructions on what to do when they encounter enemies, and they execute combat following your orders.
Computer programming is fun.

Zpock
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#84 Post by Zpock »

marhawkman wrote:solution: Implement the Stars! combat command system. There is no direct player control of combat. You give them a vague set of instructions on what to do when they encounter enemies, and they execute combat following your orders.
I like your way of thinking marhawkman, It is refresing to see someone proposing more stars! oriented design :)

The stars! system could be expanded upon as it was rather limited in what options it offered even tough the basic idea is excellent. I don't think going overboard here is right either, such as introducing custom ai scripts. A few interesting battle order options should do. Perhaps groups within a fleet could be organized and given different objectives to follow, such as flank from above, guard these, head on assault, hit and run etc.

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#85 Post by ewh02b »

Zpock wrote:
marhawkman wrote: I don't think going overboard here is right either, such as introducing custom ai scripts.
Why not have scripts? The game could come with a half dozen default scripts, players could write their own, and share them online. Perhaps something similar to the Starcraft Campaign Editor (select general command, and change underlined words to match something more specific--Outlook e-mail filters are the same way) could be developed. Basic players can get by fine with the scripts included in the game; advanced players playing their 20th game can make things more interesting by writing a script to split their fleet into three pieces and attack from all sides.
A few interesting battle order options should do. Perhaps groups within a fleet could be organized and given different objectives to follow, such as flank from above, guard these, head on assault, hit and run etc.
This is actually what I was going for with my three types of rules. The standing orders can be abstracted into the game. The standard orders would be just like you say--groups would be organized and told to do a certain thing. AI scripts could be used, or a system where all possible maneuvers are listed.

The special orders would be point'n'click affairs, where the admiral decides exactly when and where to deploy his special weapon--no AI script would be able to handle these situations.

marhawkman
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#86 Post by marhawkman »

ewh02b wrote:
Zpock wrote:I don't think going overboard here is right either, such as introducing custom ai scripts.
Why not have scripts? The game could come with a half dozen default scripts, players could write their own, and share them online. Perhaps something similar to the Starcraft Campaign Editor (select general command, and change underlined words to match something more specific--Outlook e-mail filters are the same way) could be developed. Basic players can get by fine with the scripts included in the game; advanced players playing their 20th game can make things more interesting by writing a script to split their fleet into three pieces and attack from all sides.
A few interesting battle order options should do. Perhaps groups within a fleet could be organized and given different objectives to follow, such as flank from above, guard these, head on assault, hit and run etc.
This is actually what I was going for with my three types of rules. The standing orders can be abstracted into the game. The standard orders would be just like you say--groups would be organized and told to do a certain thing. AI scripts could be used, or a system where all possible maneuvers are listed.

The special orders would be point'n'click affairs, where the admiral decides exactly when and where to deploy his special weapon--no AI script would be able to handle these situations.
Stars actually did have a sort of scripting thing. Not a very good one though. too simplistic. I like the idea of scripting though. have a set of default orders, and a way to customize them and make your own special orders.
Computer programming is fun.

Zpock
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#87 Post by Zpock »

If custom scripts as in written code are introduced the thing will take on a life of its own. Maybe simply an option to allow custom scripts in multiplayer since few players will be able/want to compete in this area I think. Also if everyone has a bunch of scripts modded into the game this could work too. IE someone releases a pack of scripts for common use that everyone uses.

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MikkoM
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#88 Post by MikkoM »

marhawkman wrote:solution: Implement the Stars! combat command system. There is no direct player control of combat. You give them a vague set of instructions on what to do when they encounter enemies, and they execute combat following your orders.
No direct player control of combat doesn`t sound very good to me. I don`t know the system Stars! used, but I would like to command my ships personally and not just give vague orders since I think the space combat is a very important part of these kinds of games. A lousy space combat was the main reason for example why I didn`t like The Galactic Civilizations at all when it was published even though the local game media gave it very good grades.

It would seem to be a good idea to have space battles which would have easy to learn basic commands for beginners and those who don`t want to micromanage their ships and more complicated set of commands for those who want to give very specific orders to their fleet. But of course it is quite obvious that if you have a thousand ships to command you can`t command them like in MOO 2 or you will go crazy. Therefore the single ships should be put to bigger groups, but I think there should still be an option to disband the group during battle and give orders to a single ship as well.

Also could it be possible to do some sort of battle experience system, where ships would gain experience according to their kills and damage afflicted to the enemy. This experience would then give them minor bonuses in the future battles like having a better moral, if the ships have a moral, gaining less damage from the enemy fire and having better targeting systems. This kind of system would also give players some more tactical options because they could decide where to put their Jean Luke Picards and the less experienced captains. Also this could add the value of a single ship in the large fleets and therefore make them more unique.

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#89 Post by ewh02b »

Zpock wrote:If custom scripts as in written code are introduced the thing will take on a life of its own. Maybe simply an option to allow custom scripts in multiplayer since few players will be able/want to compete in this area I think. Also if everyone has a bunch of scripts modded into the game this could work too. IE someone releases a pack of scripts for common use that everyone uses.
That is precisely my suggestion in my previous thread.

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Krikkitone
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#90 Post by Krikkitone »

Actually I think Non-direct control is probably the best method for doing this.

Assuming a system wide field, a fleet is given strategic orders, ie
Defend planets X and Y
Attack planets X and Y
Assault Planets X and Y
Attack enemy fleets
Attack enemy shipping
Defend shipping
Capture enemy fleets
and a few others

These then could be modified by 'aggressiveness settings' so your fleets could be conducting guerilla warfare (assuming that sensors are at least somewhat balanced by cloaking technologies at the proper distance...or that your speed is sufficiently higher than the enemy) OR you could be sweeping the system for those guerillas.

The two basic settings would be
fleet division (wide area covered) v. fleet concentration (your fleet is together and ships support each other better)
And
Overall agressiveness ie willingess to retreat to preserve the fleet compared to achieving the goals set. (kamikaze v. coward)

The way I see it a battle would begin with 'scout engagements' as recon vessels, (small fast+with good sensors) picked up each other [or if they were lucky the main enemy grouping] the scouts might engage the other if they thought they had a ship advantage/were highly aggressive, or more likely they would retreat back towards their fleet.

Then the main battle fleets would attempt to manuever towards each other in a way that would give them an advantage.

To allow for some actual strategic role to movement/position (besides speed v. weapon range), either terrain or orientation should matter. (orientation seems like an easy one in space, terrain slightly less realistic, but facing into/away from the star could matter at certain distances, planets themselves would matter for planetary assaults, all sorts of other 'terrain' is possible)

As for experience, the idea of an empire wide pool of experience sounds good (although perhaps some ships could also get some special experience...the ship gets a reputation therby attracting the best crew, and resulting in somewhat of a loss to the empire's "glory".. the ship's experience.. when lost).

The idea of the ships acquiring a personality is important and there should probably be some ships (numbering less than 50 for an empire that are Major ships... essentially the ship the rest of the fleet revolves around.

The key to that would be making sure that as an empire got more resources it didn't just build more and bigger ships but built the big ships bigger (and a few more) and more of the supporting ships (and made them somewhat bigger).

Probably the best way to do this is to try and match a tech levels utput per planet with the tech levels Weapon/ship cost per amount of size (so that the over all size of a one planet fleet would stay the same, that fleet would just grow more deadly)

This means that more ships would mean a bigger empire...which would means more places you Needed those ships (more borders) so the fleet battles wouldn't grow out of control.


As for the tactics growing out of war... perhaps some of the experience you gain in battles can be added directly as research toward various tactical technologies. Perhaps depending on the type of enemy you fought, what your weapons were, etc.... so that if you were fighting beam v. beam battles eventually you couldn't learn any new tactics with that... you know the best tactics to fight that. (of course that could also depend on the tactical abilities of those you were fighting against.)


I think one other advantage to the purely strategic combat method is that it allows multiple turn battles, ie I could put a fleet in your system to raid shipping/spy on your fleets, which means I will be doing lots of running away and hiding in the system, and you will spend lots of time sending sentry ships out to look for the pirates/spies,... Very boring if I have to do this tactically but quite reasonable if it is automated and all I have to do is place those settings and the computer will tell me that it has a battle sequence for me to observe when we get a kill.

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