In the bolded section you have it backwards. Having simpler game
mechanics so that the player can take in all the info more or less at a
glance, is the ultimate way to allow informed decisions. The more fully
a player understands the mechanics, the better strategies he can devise,
and thus eek out a win in a tough spot.
Bolded section being: "So having that drillability there allows the
player to make more informed decisions and perhaps squeeze out that
extra vital bit in early games, where it matters more." (Repeated for
ease of reading).
I could not disagree more. Simplified game mechanics does not permit
inherently for better strategization; it instead limits the range of
available strategies. Simplified reporting allows for better informed
decisions, and simplified mechanics does
inherently make for
simplified reporting. But complex mechanics is not inherently linked to
complex reporting. That's what I'm talking about w/ scalability.
What this means is that, in an early game, while you might know
//exactly// what's going on there's no options available to you to "eek
out a win in a tough spot." If you have five ships and the enemy has
five ships, each of which are equal, and the other guy hits you first
three of your ships to 75% strength, you have instantly dropped in
firing power and survivability by 15%. If you immediately return fire
you're only going to do 85% as much. There really isn't much,
tactically, you can do about that.
Of course having a great, usable GUI is always going to make
understanding easier, but no-one is arguing for a bad GUI. There
probably will be different ways to emphasize different information on
the battle field, but you shouldn't have to continually flip through
different views to know what's going on.
Of course not. But one
could always give summarized reports by including averages -- i.e.;
allow for multiple items to be selected in the drop-down; so you can see
how both ship speeds and weapons are doing as an average (one bar that
shows the overall of both, which is the lowest -- whatever the player
prefers). You could even use mini-icons which are colored and show how
the average is for each fleet. Speed, weapons, sensors, etc. -- and
have that underneath the 'health bar'. (White = 'good (100%-75%)',
green = 'okay (74%-50%')', yellow = 'poor (49%-25%) , red = 'failing
(24%-1%)', black = 'gone (0%)' -- and you could then allow the
drop-downs to select which icons the player cares about having
underneath the bar, and what level the player wants to see these things
at. (Individual ships or fleet average). This, again, puts the
information there but allows the player to assess it very quickly
without it getting in the way of the flow of the game -- which of
/course/ is the primary concern.
There's nothing in any of the proposals that makes this more or
This being: "allow for a strong sense of combat
simulation where tactical decisions must be re-evaluated based on the
viability of your vessels." Well, certainly. But it's a question of just how much that sense is enriched? The series of choices one must make is between "This ship is at 50% capacity. Pull it back or let it be sacrificed?" And "This ship has all its weapons but it can only move at half speed. Do I leave it behind and blast until destroyed or do I hold it in reserve and lure the enemy in to me?" -- again, it's the //range// of options one is left with when damage is recorded variably from one system to another. You could easily scale that up to higher-level events.
The key is, how quickly can this information be processed? //that// is where decision-making delays can come in. Nobody wants to turn the game into a button-masher, but if combat maintains a relatively quick pace at all times then I'm pretty sure that the 4-6 minute range can be maintained.
I don't follow. 4-6 mins is the desired maximum length of combat (which i didn't make clear earlier). I don't think there's a good way to make most early-game combats take that long, nor is it necessarily desirable.
-- *This* is the crux of our conversational difficulties. I'm //offering// a mechanism to make it wholly viable. And yes, it /is/ desirable to have early and later combats be roughly equivalent in length and levels of decision making. I stand as living proof of exactly that. The key to it is to think in terms of scalability. Allow the player the opportunity, at earlier levels, to be more in-depth and micromanaging. But as the scale of the game expands, decrease the "depth" of the management by leaving filters and grouping mechanisms in place that can be utilized as managing fleets becomes too complicated.
I'll give you one extremely good example of what I mean. I assume that ships having the ability to repair themselves is something we're going to include into the game, on whatever level. (Frankly, since everyone
uses that -- in my experience -- it makes more sense to include it automatically and have techs/widgets that modify the rate.) At the early-stage micromanagement level you have the ability to go in and tell ships which system to focus on repairing first. At later stages, you let ships repair based on the weakest system in a running evaluation. (Weakest until it equals next-weakest, then both until they reach next weakest, and so on). That
is a scalable feature of gameplay. As your fleets get larger and larger, you automate your decisions. You could, for example, assign one fleet the responsibility of maintaining it's weapon strength at the cost of all else -- 'cause you've decided you want to pound the enemy into dust as quickly as possible. OR, you could decided that you're loosing too much in the ability to sense them, so you assign that. OR, you feel you don't want to make that decision at all and let the 'averaging' mechanism do its thing on its own -- which would in fact average out /my/ proposed system into the one currently being followed w/. That's what I mean by re-emphasizing scalability. Sure, it'd take a little more playtesting to keep it to that 4-6 min combat times (Which optimally would be more like 2-3 min) -- but for one, I feel it would be worth it. Again, I'm just a noob. I know I have no control over the shape of the game. I just get to play it.
Nor do i see why a shorter combat is "nearly automated". You have many of the same tactical choices with 5 different kinds of ships at one of each kind, as you do when you have 50 of each kind. Additionally there are a variety of goals each player may have in a battle, and guessing what your enemy is up to and trying to block his probable intentions is about as interesting at either end.
A shorter combat is "nearly automated" for the reasons I outlined above w/ five equal ships on either side. Basically that would boil down to who got the first shot off / who was luckiest with damage totals. There's really very little you can do.
And since we're (By which of course I mean the Code Gods and us puny players) going to be building a game where everyone's fleet strengths start out equivalent to one another -- balanced, anyhow -- then this is a major issue. You might as well, according to this logic, use the automated resolution found in GalCiv (or any of the Civ & Civ-likes for that matter) for the early combats. While, yes, players can choose to move around a deal, at the very early stages (especially when it's one scout v. one scout) these things are essentially non-existent.
And I cannot tell you how many times in MoO I I had to save/re-start when I was running early games because I refused to be the one whose scout fled, and lost the possible resource-advantage that went to the first player to explore a system. These are the kinds of edges I'm talking about.
I know, I know; FO isn't MoO. I'm just using an analogous situation to describe where my sense of importance for this is coming from.