Flanking and Shield Facings

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Daveybaby
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Flanking and Shield Facings

#1 Post by Daveybaby » Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:13 pm

Been playing total war again, which got me to thinking about how some of its excellent tactical combat could be replicated in some way for space combat.

One of the key elements to the tactical combat in the total war games is the use of flanking manouevres, if you attack an enemy unit from the side or the rear you are pretty much guaranteed to demolish them. This in turn leads to attempts to out-position your opponent, which makes for interesting gameplay.

So how do we replicate the effects of flanking w.r.t. space combat? By the use of 2 concepts: shield efficiency and shield facings.

Shield Efficiency
"Shield Efficiency?" i hear you say, "what do you mean?". By this, i am talking about shield leakage, or imperfect shields. A 100% efficient shield will absorb 100% of the damage which hits it. A less efficient shield will allow a percentage of the damage to leak through and hit the hull/armour of the ship.

Shield efficiency = the percentage of maximum strength of the shield.

So initially a shield is fully charged and 100% efficient at 50 hitpoints. It is hit for 10 damage, which is all absorbed by the shield, which is now at 40 hp, or 80% charge. A second hit for 10 damage is distributed as follows: 8 damage to the shield (now down to 32 hp) and 2 damage passing through to the hull.

Shield Facings
"Shield Facings?" you roar, incoherently, spitting half chewed potato chips at the screen, where they leave an interesting starfield pattern of saliva and soggy carbohydrates, "WFT d00d liek?!??!!!111eleven????". Hmmm.... okay.... calm down and i will attempt to explain. Anyway. We make it so that a shields 'protective aura' can be distributed quickly (and automatically) around a ship's hull to where it is required, i.e. to where the enemy fire is coming from. If fire is coming from just one direction, then the shield's energy is all focussed in that direction, but if fire is coming in from multiple directions then the shield energy must be spread over a larger area and the shield becomes less efficient. Thus the efficiency of the shield is inversely related to the percentage coverage.

e.g.
0 to 90 degrees coverage = 100% efficiency
90 to 180 degrees coverage = 75% efficiency
180 to 270 degrees coverage = 50% efficiency
270 to 360 degrees coverage = 25% efficiency
(although i think in practice something a bit more analogue with a bit more of an inverse exponental dropoff would be better)

So a shield at 80% of its maximum charge, covering a 120 degree angle would be at 80% * 75% = 60% efficiency.

The Point of it all
"GnnnNNNNhghg!!!!!" you scream, as the orderlies gag you and finish tying the straightjacket. "FFFFFFfffffffffFFFFFFaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg.....". Yes, good question, what would be the effect of flanking a ship using these concepts? Well, you would be able to do damage to armour/hull/internal systems more quickly than if you concentrated all of your fire from one direction, thus you would destroy the target more quickly, taking less damage in the process.

Hopefully, the end result of this would be that space battles arent either the 'huge line of ships firing at another huge line of ships' combat of Moo2, or the 'big splodge of task forces all sitting on top of each other' of Moo3, but something closer to the formations and tactical manouevring of the total war games.

I hope, as you are wheeled away, Hannibal Lecter style, to your padded room, that you meditate on these ideas and will discuss them further. Either post your thoughts and criticisms here, or write them in crayon and give them to the nice man who brings the sedatives.
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#2 Post by pd » Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:50 pm

very interesting, i really like this.

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RRRRNrrGGgnnrngnnnngH!

#3 Post by guiguibaah » Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:16 pm

GGGGGnnnRRRFFFRRGGNNRNGNFFFF!!!!

NNnnNNNGGGG.... buNNIES!!


I think this idea is a good one. It would be interesting if a future technology radically changes your shields from being inneficient, to actually repelling concentrated fire.

One thing I get annoyed at with big battles is the "concentrate all your fire on one enemy" so that ship doesn't even last a turn.

This shield innefic.. HGGGGNNNGNNNRNRNRRRNGRFF!!
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#4 Post by Ablaze » Thu Apr 14, 2005 6:53 am

Sounds neat. You could have shield focuses that automatically track to incoming fire.

An unfocused shield would be something like 10% effective everywhere but as soon as enemy fire or ships are detected your ship’s computer would automatically create a shield focus point and any damage would be calculated based on its distance from that focus.

The charge up time and all these other variables would depend on your shield technology, but as an example a focus point may take 10 seconds of combat time to fully charge, so it would be important that you detect an approaching enemy early. Too pull some more numbers out of my butt, a fully charged focus point might offer 100% shielding on a 30 degree radius, with the strength decreasing like a quadratic after that, and drop the shielding to 0% over half of your ship’s far side. The focus point could track at, say, 1 degree per second. (again dependent on tech)

A brute force assault by easily detectable ships would have to contend with the full force of your shields, but if you also sent a cloaked fleet around behind them and made a surprise attack you would not only have a good 3 or 4 seconds of practically no shielding to block your shots, but any shielding that was engaged would severely limit the strength of the defense against the frontal assault.

I like this idea, it meshes well with the stealthy ships in my game.
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#5 Post by Kharagh » Thu Apr 14, 2005 6:54 am

I like the idea very much.

The more tactics we have in the game the better. The fights in moo2 tended to be a little boring and uneventful once both opponents had a certain number of ships. There was simply not enough room for any big tactical considerations.

With the help of your Shield Efficiency and Shield Facings (and many other improvements in the tactical fights, eg more room , etc) we will be able to spice up the space combat a little.

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#6 Post by Dreamer » Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:29 pm

A warning here: each new feature for a single ship greatly reduce the total number of ships that can be on screen at any given time. I would prefer great, epic space battles (hundreds of ships) more than detailed strategy on each ship. To avoid concentrated fire on single ships I would use more the use of diverse ships class: figthers/missiles don`t do much to capital ships and vice-versa, powerfull beams wont lock at short distance, raids and assault, strategic use of carriers and figther squadrons, hide behind the planet`s moon, etc.

This kind of considerations can make space combat very strategical without adding extra complexity, PC requirements and the need for weird shields.

Maybe something in the middle like distributing shield points at ship design betwee front, rear, left and right. So you can use whole ships as cover if positioned right. But calculating on the run impact trayectory for each attack and distributing shields automatically? And what if I send 3 punny figthers to attack to divert the shields and then blast from the front, what if you want your shields to keep facing the real threat?

Too complex for me at least. Play Nexus:Jupiter Incident if you want beautifull and heavily complex space battle.

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#7 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Apr 19, 2005 8:07 am

I dont see how this reduces the number of ships that can be displayed.

Bear in mind that the shield facings would *not* be controlled directly by the player, its completely automatic. All thats happening is that shield efficiency drops based on the angular spread of enemy attacks. You dont even necessarily have to display the efficiency anywhere onscreen, it should be fairly obvious that a ship or task force has been flanked from the locations of your enemy.

Total war manages a far more complicated combat system than freeorion could ever realistically hope to achieve, and that involves tens of thousands of troops.
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#8 Post by Dreamer » Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:34 pm

Daveybaby wrote:I dont see how this reduces the number of ships that can be displayed. ... Total war manages a far more complicated combat system than freeorion could ever realistically hope to achieve, and that involves tens of thousands of troops.
Well, system requirements will depend in (number_of_ships * complexity_for_each_ship) as each new feature needs code and CPU time. I havent played Total war a lot but 1.- Itś not a game you can play on your Pentium III and 2.- I'm not sure if each individual troop in that game has his own complex code. It seems to me that you play a group of soldiers like a single unit and then display the graphics according to the unit stats.

I donṫ know if the fleets in freeOrion will be composed of squadrons or not, but for now it seems not. And "shield efficiency based on the angular spread of enemy attacks" doesnṫ sound simple if you have a lot of ships and every one of them has to run the same algorithm.
Daveybaby wrote:Bear in mind that the shield facings would *not* be controlled directly by the player, its completely automatic.
So again, if I have 3 small corvettes and 5 slow doomstars I can do this: move the corvettes to each side of the ship and attack from all sides. Based on this the efficiency will be low, then I blast the ship from the front with all the slow ships that couldnṫ get there to flank. Same as before but with an exploit so an enemy ship has reduced shields. To compensate this: you make efficiency decrease accordingly with damage received from each source/direction but then you get more or less the same you had before making any adjustment to shields.

The idea has some merit indeed, but needs to be refined. Hope we can make it ;-)

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#9 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:07 pm

Well, my assumption is this: if youre going to control 100s of ships, then youre not really going to be able to do it individually, they will have to be grouped by task force, or the game will be unplayable.

Also:
(1) the first total war game ran fine on my pentium133
(2) each individual soldier's behaviour *is* modelled in total war. There is also some group level modelling, but i know for a fact that each soldier fights as an individual.

Your second point isnt an exploit, its the whole point of the system. If you manage to flank at all, then the enemy will be severely handicapped, so it is in their best interests to manouevre their ships for position so that this doesnt happen. This is exactly what happens in total war - if your enemy manages to sneak just one light cavalry unit round behind you then you can be in serious trouble, regardless of the fact that all of their heavy troops are still in front of you.

You are right though, that refinements will probably need to be made. There will also need to be a lot more work done on ensuring the combat is tactical and not just a furball every time where the biggest/highest tech fleet always wins.
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#10 Post by Dreamer » Wed Apr 20, 2005 12:38 am

I agree that probably each soldier fights as an individual. What I'm saying is that probably the behaviour and stats for each soldier is minimal. This way to get complex behaviour from populations is well known. But complex individuals create hyper-complex behaviour (and possibly slowness, but maybe I'm exagerating) and that is just unnecesary and sometimes more confusing than anything else.

I propose that each ship can be designed with diferent shield strenght on each side, so you can use them efectively to defend a position/orienttion. A ship with al shields to the front can be a good defender or cover for carriers, but very vulnerable if ships manage to flank them. Other multi purpose ships will have equal shields to each side, but shield strenght will be less.

I think is a good add to ship design (instead on just selecting "shield IV"), a nice stategic option and a good model for flanking without extra complexity.

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#11 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Apr 20, 2005 7:46 am

Having a separate shield on each side creates the exact opposite of what i am trying to achieve. It encourages attacks from just one direction (as in Moo2) in order to just wear down one side of the shields, and avoid wasting shots on the flanks.
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#12 Post by Kharagh » Wed Apr 20, 2005 12:11 pm

We could implement both shield types, each with differrent advantages/disadvantages.

Separate shields:

+ possible to rotate ship if on shield collapses
+ ability to power only 1 or 2 shields (using less power)


One Shield:

+ Flexibility (shield can be reconfigured quickly for current needs)



Well, can't think of more at the moment, feel free to add to it however.

That way every player could take the shield best suited to his/her playing style.
There was a long discussion about shield types some month ago, perhaps something like this has already been mentioned, I don't know atm.

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#13 Post by Rapunzel » Wed Apr 20, 2005 1:25 pm

Having diferent shildtypes is a interresting thing, which could provide for a lot of tactics, but this could make comabt quite compicated. ... But I like the idea.
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#14 Post by Dreamer » Wed Apr 20, 2005 5:53 pm

Daveybaby wrote:Having a separate shield on each side creates the exact opposite of what i am trying to achieve. It encourages attacks from just one direction (as in Moo2) in order to just wear down one side of the shields, and avoid wasting shots on the flanks.
Well, if it were up to me I would make shields lower the damage taken and not have a Hit-point-style resistance. Because it`s different than just adding a regenerative amount of hit points to the ship. For example: received beam for 12 damage. Shields at that side = 5. Total damage taken = 12 - 5 = 7.

This way the shield behaves quite different than just more hit points and doesn`t suffer the problem you mention. It`s more strategic also because it renders ships with heavy shields invulnerable to the attack of little weapons. So you have to develop shield negating weapons, sacrifice your fighters to ram (and cause a lot of damage) or have some cruisers with big weapons. You get more diversity in your fleets and is virtually free resource-wise.

You could also use a stat for max damage received per turn, wich in case of being overcame will overload all shields (not just one side). And other modifications like that. Well, in fact you can add a lot of possible modifications to this idea...

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the effect

#15 Post by guiguibaah » Thu Apr 21, 2005 12:25 am

... that doesn't have a bearing as to what this thread has in mind: increase the benefit of using tactics to outmaneuvre your opponent. If a weapon does 12-5 = 7 damage to a ship regardless of where the shield is facing, you mine as well just gather up your 12 beamships and concentrate your fire on one ship.

The idea of this thread is that if you split your 12 beamships so that 6 were attacking from the front, 6 from the rear you would do more damage to your target instead of just 12 from the rear. It would give bonuses to players who flank or encircle their opponents.
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