Adding Interest to Combat

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Krill Swarm
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Re: Adding Interest to Combat

#16 Post by Rawng » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:51 am

Hello everyone, I'd just like to chip my two cents in and support adding eleazar's proposed orders as aggression settings.
eleazar wrote: Besides stealth i've never like how the aggressive/passive setting functioned. Most of the time it just doesn't matter because the other side will be set to aggressive and can see you. If we give those settings more significance in how combat plays out and/or add more options, it simply requires the player to make decisions about combat without usually knowing what that combat is going to be like. Players usually don't send a war fleet against an enemy knowing that they will be greatly outnumbered. It's when you make that discovery that a "Retreat" order really becomes useful. Yeah if "passive"="retreat" it would work great for unarmed ships, but that's about it.
The player will know if they want their ship/fleet to remain undetected that they should send stealthy hulls and/or equip stealth parts. Furthermore, if a player wants to move into a system outside of detection range but doesn't want to do it blindly, the onus is on them to gather the desired intel beforehand. The game already supports this; for example, cheap suicide ships or parts that increase detection range. Also, I think that relying on these mechanics supports the kind of emergent behavior phyvo was referring to, as opposed to making the potential consequences of acting without relevant information less severe. Just to be clear, I support the ability to try to retreat, but not being given the choice before every combat.
eleazar wrote: Considering efficiency, IMHO for a non-wreckless player using those fleet settings (if they mattered more) would take more time, since you have to hunt around to make sure all fleets are set appropriately for any potential battles, many of which won't actually occur. Making a decision only when battle occurs, provides with the info on the actual battle should allow quicker, better decisions, and the more fun, more in-control, less frustrating experience that is the goal for this topic.
I don't think the situation you describe will occur. When I am producing ships I tend to have a pretty good idea of what I want to use them for. Therefore I will be choosing the desired aggression setting at the same time I move the ship to the desired location or it will assume the aggression setting of the fleet that it is merged into upon its arrival.

It does not seem unreasonable to assume that the average player will be aware of their intents for their various fleets, and if they change their mind ("this incursion into enemy territory isn't going so well!"), they are likely to already be looking at the fleet and can change the aggression setting when they realize that that's what they want to do.

As for the orders/settings themselves, I think eleazars suggestions on the effects they would have are great starting points. In particular, perhaps the combat speed attribute could finally be put to use. However, "Hide"/Stealth should remain as one of the options in order to allow ambush/stealth bomber type "missions". I will explain below my thoughts on how to react if, despite trying to hide, combat is initiated anyway.

One issue with choosing aggression settings before battle is initiated is that the player cannot evaluate the circumstances and choose responses accordingly. At what level of being outnumbered should the fleet retreat if the player is not making that decision on a case by case basis? There is also the issue of what the fleet should do when combat is initiated due to being spotted.

For the question regarding retreat circumstances, choices could be provided to retreat if outnumbered by 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, etc.

As for the reaction to being spotted, allow the player to choose from the aggression settings minus hide. Selecting retreat from these options would produce the choices I outlined above.

Finally, I'd like to suggest that if this is implemented the aggression setting button be changed from a toggle to a drop-down menu. The choices described above for the retreat and hide settings could be implemented as sub-menus.

Aggression setting menu items (charge, attack, etc) should be represented with color-coded icons for quick recognition and tool tips that explain their effect on the battle.

My proposed aggression stance drop-down menu:
  • Charge!
    • "Retreat if outnumbered by"
      • 25%
    • "Action upon being spotted"
      • Charge!
        • "Retreat if outnumbered by"
          • 25%

Space Squid
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Re: Adding Interest to Combat

#17 Post by pheonixstorm » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:01 am

Not sure how it works now but if a fleet is set to hide or passive and has no stealth it should still be able to avoid combat provided it has a higher combat speed compared to its aggressive counterpart.

Which.. in turn should open up a new research line. Boost starlane speed or combat speed. Perhaps even have an engine tech that can boost both.

And along lines with most other 4X games i've played... combat speeds based on hull sizes. While I don't think all hulls have a size range you could, I guess, vary the speed based on the amount of internal/external slots or what goes into said slots.

Space Kraken
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Re: Adding Interest to Combat

#18 Post by shawndream » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:51 pm

I strongly agree that battle (or avoiding battle) should be more controllable, but it shouldn't be a speedbump in your play.

Battles CANNOT be modal. The player must be able to save the game at any time, even in the middle of a battle. (MOO1, 2, Age of Wonders II I'm looking at YOU!)

Battles SHOULD be multiplayer friendly, and not a heavy burden for Players either, which means fewer turns and streamlined options (so people can make faster choices each turn).

Battles SHOULD be handleable by AI generally. (All weapons and tactics should be designed with AI use in mind)

Battles should have interesting tactical options, despite being simplified.

I think all of these options are best handled not with a 3d OR a 2d combat system, but something more like a card based system.

Each fleet is the hand of the player controlling it, and each round of combat they get to chose what their orders are. When every player in a combat has assigned actions, the actions of the others are revealed (depending on stealth), and a new round starts. Thus, players get to choose their actions whenever they wish, and there is a minimum of waiting for others. A combat button could display how many combats are in progress, vs how many are ready for their actions. (Clicking it could open that combat window)

Each ship, planet, or base has agressive or defensive actions available:

Incoming (all ships coming in from outer space get this status their first X rounds (may be Hiding instead). Can not attack, but will counterattack attacking ships)

Hiding (If attacked, counterattack only those ships that can see it)

Standoff (Do not attack immobile objects, but strike first any visible attacking or flythrough object. Immobile objects are always in this mode unless Hiding)

Attack (Attack all enemy ships visible)

Flyaway (Every ship in Flyaway is subject to attack by all enemies in standoff or Attack mode, this attack takes place in a seperate round of combat outside of normal attacks, if not destroyed after Y turns, they are out of combat)

Any combat where only one empire is doing something other than hiding or standing off for Z turns running ends. (The enemy is playing defensively and survived). All Fleets not destroyed could stay in system to try again next turn.

X, Y, and Y should be modified by technology. Faster engines make for speedier arrivals and departures, but warp countermeasures could reverse that. Z is more of a game setting preference (I recommend 3).

I would use ship speed difference as a modifier to weapon damage. Faster ships can position for maximum damage and evade better.

Weapon damage * attacker speed / defender speed.

I would allow scanning tech, umbrella shields, etc to only apply to your ships taking the same actions.

So if you have scattered asteroid ships, and they are attacking, they only benefit other attacking ships (and not your planets), and your scanner ships have to be with the attack fleet to allow them to attack hidden ships.

PS - I'm a strong proponent of MAKING hull sizes as a very significant thing.
Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, and Huge Hulls as standard unlockable techs (ideally each size with their own upkeep modifiers).
Larger ships should have higher base structure, slots, and starlane speed, slower base battle speed. (and of course bigger slot types).

PPS - The above action types are an example. Having just a handful of options is key, but I would want to do more work making the different options have easy to grasp tactical consequences.

PPPS - Perhaps have fleets that arrive at the planet later in the turn start combat later.
Everything I post is self-created unless noted otherwise. It is simultaneously released under GPL 2.0 or later, CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, and GNU Free Documentation 1.2. Make something awesome with it please!

Space Kraken
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Re: Adding Interest to Combat

#19 Post by Hihoo » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:17 am

From my player's experience, current ACTIVE/PASSIVE settings
just have 2 possible effects with all of your fleet on PASSIVE:

1. Planetary ground-defenses won't attack you IF there are no ACTIVE enemyships around

2. Having stealth beyond your enemies detection capabilities, you won't be attacked at all.
Point 2 doesn't work with tamed monsters on either or both side(s).

(3. Both sides on passive - who cares betting on that)

Retreating from an already ongoing fight is trivial enough

What wasn't mentioned here up to know and would be interesting I think
is a fleet-order to attack specific targets

a) attack planetary defenses first
b) attack troopers and colony-ships first
c) attack battleships first

default could be the same as now

I would advise against a prearrangeable "retreat on enemy contact"
because it would devaluate or supplement current stealth- and intelligence- options

If you insist on plunging in on an unknown system you *SHOULD* be afraid
Don't take the thrill out of the game.

Generally speaking, the more information is available to the player, the more interesting a feature gets. Think of Bridge vs Whist. Meaning without a combat-documentation worth speaking of only the most stubborn will get to the bottom of it.

Speaking of stubbornness, is "combat speed" actually used with combat resolution?
If so, it should be easily accessible to the player when considering combat

Space Kraken
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Re: Adding Interest to Combat

#20 Post by shawndream » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:39 pm

Currently, when I examined the battle code, combat speed had no effect.

(Which is probably good, as hulls seem somewhat random).

Yeah I was trying to balance the possibility of having combats NOT resolve completely, (which is definitely a thing now) with the possibility of stopping the enemy at the border (if you have sufficient stealth detection and force).

The option to toggle prioritization of troop and colony ships seems shaky. I would prefer no colony actions be permitted while any enemies were active at the colony. (No colonizing, troop landings, planet destruction, bio attacks).

As for choosing exactly what to attack, that kind of fine strategizing multiplies the load on the player and UI (and AI trying to keep up with player smarts). I think we would be better off always leaving target selection to AI, reducing the load on player and UI. After all, individual ships are likely to be destroyed by another attacker, requiring either incredibly fiddly micromanagement by the user, or some sort of smart failover anyway. Perhaps AI can start with random, and as battle computer components are added improve to things like focusing fire where it will do the most bang for it's buck.

Attacks should be made based upon the target's status last turn. So it's not a guessing game, just a reactive one. If your ships run out of targets from last turn however, they can fire on valid targets from this turn (respond instantly to new attackers).

I think I have it boiled down to 3 good statuses that are obvious and have strategic value.

Defensive - Ships have this status for X turns when incoming, then after Y turns with it afterward may leave the battle. Show a countdown timer in both cases. Ships in defensive get a bonus when attacked but are penalized when they attack. Also they may only be attacked/attack foes charging them. (Unless they have no defenders, see below) Immobile objects (planets etc) are always in defensive, but can never leave the battle.

Battle - The default balanced setting after ships have arrived fully in system. They may attack any enemy charging them, and any enemy in Battle mode, and any defensive enemy who lacks protection by ships in battle or charging you. In this setting they protect any defensive ships from being attacked, except by enemies charging your empire specifically. There are no modifiers to attack or defense in this mode.

Charging <A specific enemy> - Allows the unit to attack even defensive units of that enemy, also provides a bonus to attacking, but a penalty when attacked. Non-charging units of that enemy may not attack defensive units on the same side. Other sides of the battle may attack the defensive units of the charging side without first destroying the charging units (although they must be charging or have destroyed your battle units). Also any unit in battle (even those from empires you are not charging) may attack your charging units if you have no battle units screening them from the larger conflict.


A monster is orbiting a frontier world, with an incoming enemy.

The enemy would reach the world after using more than half of their fleet's starlane speed, so they start out as merely a Fleet symbol counting down from 2.
The Monster is a particularly nasty lurker, in defensive mode.
Your planet and bases are stuck in defensive mode as immobile, and your ships start there too. (No reason to make attacks easier on enemies).

You and the other player are notified there is a battle you are engaged in, and can go look at it at any time, but only you and the monster need to make actions this round.

You charge the monster with all your ships, trying to drive it away before your enemies arrive.
The monster chooses to stay defensive, it doesn't like it's odds of survival if it attacks your fleet.

Round resolution:
Each ship is assigned a turn randomly
In the combat resolution your ships get an attack bonus targetting the monster, which has a defensive bonus from last round.
The monster is still defensive so it only fires upon attacking ships. Last turn no ships were attacking or charging, so it checks this turn and discovers attackers. It fires upon them with it's defensive attack penalty and their attacking defense penalty.
The incoming fleet ticks down by one.

This continues until the 3rd Round begins with the enemy fleet fresh and stuck in defensive with a new countdown from 2 (for closing into the solar system), while your fleet and the monster are both damaged. You would both be less damaged had you placed your ships in battle instead of charging, and not damaged at all if you had stayed defensive.

If your choose to continue charging the monster, the enemy ships will not have any valid targets (but will also not be damaged when they arrive).

If you pull your ships back into battle mode they could attack both the monster and the enemy ships (even in defensive, with no ships in battle to shield them, battle attackers can engage them). The monster and the enemy ships would not be able to fire upon each other however, as long as both stayed defensive.

If you pull your ships back to defensive with your planets there will be no more combat (except the defending monster would get a parting shot at his attackers from last round) unless someone leaves defensive.

If you choose to charge the incoming enemy, it will be similar to how the battle with the monster went... except the Monster also has the possibility of entering battle mode and firing upon your defending planet with no ship interference, or charging the planet, or even the charging enemy you charged (allowing him to attack both you and them).

And of course, you could give mixed commands, sending some ships to charge either and set others to battle, and still more on defense.
Everything I post is self-created unless noted otherwise. It is simultaneously released under GPL 2.0 or later, CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, and GNU Free Documentation 1.2. Make something awesome with it please!

Space Kraken
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Re: Adding Interest to Combat

#21 Post by Hihoo » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:59 am

thank you for the idea of a new battlecomputer-tech which would be a nice prerequisite for my proposed addition.

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Space Kraken
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Re: Adding Interest to Combat

#22 Post by LienRag » Mon May 27, 2019 3:50 pm

Wouldn't a formation combat mechanism be preferable?
That way instead of making specific choices at all and every battle one can finely craft desired formations in a specific panel (akin to the ship design panel) and would only need to choose which formation to use when a fleet is on the field (the same way that passive/agressive works right now, but with a drop-down menu instead of a toggled button).
In the Formation design panel the player uses mock categories ("heavy ships" "support ships" "attack ships" and so on) that he puts on a grid, with orders to each of the ships (even queued and/or conditional orders if we want to go that way, but that's not mandatory and can indeed complicates things a lot).
All ships will be of a certain category, fixed by the game for pre-designed ships, fixed by the player at the ship design phase for player-created ships.
When a formation is chosen, each fleet ship gets assigned to one of the categories (or "groups" if we allow the division of categories in sub-units like "left wing" "front wing" etc.) by the computer, applies the orders of its category/group and the combat is resolved round per round. That way it's entirely scalable and the same formation can be used by any fleet whatever its size.

Number of formations available, of categories, of groups per category can even be dependant on specific techs or policies/leaders.

It obviously will work better if range-based combat is implemented (as the grid to place ships on in the formation panel can be tiered between say front, middle and back tiers, with the ships from the front tier being at a distance of 1 of the enemy front tier and of 3 to the enemy back tier), and can be very cool if combat speed is actually used (for maneuvers, pursuit, charge and so on).

Formations can have effects on starlane speed or even stealth derived from the orders of the ship (more aggressive being faster, for example).
If we decide that changing the formation of a fleet takes a full turn we have the classic Napoleonian dichotomy between line and column formations (and all its tactical consequences) directly available...

(and yes I know that the topic is old but it's still in Top Priority Game Design isn't it?)

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