Flanking and Shield Facings

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

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yaromir
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#61 Post by yaromir » Fri May 06, 2005 4:47 pm

I like 4 shield arcs that can be assigned different strengths at design time.

That alone will prompt for some interesting tactics and force-splitting
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trioted
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#62 Post by trioted » Mon Jul 04, 2005 7:16 pm

firing arcs are much better suited to flanking then shield facings,
with firing arc you have to decide, do i spend a turn turning to face the new threat or do i keep shooting the old one?
also if you dont have guns some where (blind spot) it lets fighters chew you up with out getting hit.(you had a bad design)
i propose 5 firing arcs
front,
back,
left,
right,
turret (turrets can only use wepons one slot size lower then them).

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#63 Post by Sapphire Wyvern » Sun Nov 13, 2005 9:45 am

I'd have "broadside" rather than separate arcs for left and right. There's just something so... unaesthetic... about spaceships that aren't axisymmetric. :)

I'd also like to see MoOII style 270º fore and aft arcs. Some really big weapons should be spinal mount. Now that's what I call point and shoot!

I'll add my voice to those calling for flanking maneuvers to reduce shield effectiveness, not increase it. MoOII shields sucked; there was an actual disincentive to outflank or penetrate the enemy lines.

So if there are shield hitpoints, they should not be divided into shield arcs.

A numerically simple way to implement Daveybaby's proposal would be to divide the region around a ship into arcs; each turn, the number of arcs through which the ship takes pre-soak damage equal to or greater than, say, 20% nominal ship hit points is calculated; then the shield efficiency is reduced for each arc above 1 in the previous calculation, and then damage is applied. That saves use of trigonometry, and means that only significant firepower causes shield dispersion. :)

It would be a pain in the ass for a boardgame to do that, but it's A-OK for a computer game.

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#64 Post by Sapphire Wyvern » Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:32 am

Here's an idea: we can use response to flanking as a way to make shields and armour more distinct game-play wise.

Daveybaby has presented some good fysics justifications for having shields respond poorly to flanking tactics. However, it is also justifiable to have armour points be allocated to ship facings at design time. This would mean that different ships would be relatively more vulnerable to attacks from side, front, or rear.

More importantly, however, if armour points are allocated to facings and not a general pool, it becomes desirable to concentrate fire on a particular armour segment so that you can get to the chewy center of the enemy ship more quickly.

If shield points were stored in a single centralised pool and spent less efficiently against flanking attacks, we would then get an intriguing RPS dynamic whereby flanking beats shields, shields "beats" concentrated attacks, concentrated attack beats armour, armour "beats" flanking.

All that tactical goodness without much in the way of complicated rules or numerical analysis at runtime. What do you think?

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Geoff the Medio
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#65 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:46 pm

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:...flanking beats shields, shields "beats" concentrated attacks, concentrated attack beats armour, armour "beats" flanking.
This doesn't really work as RPS, as you've got two sets of two independent choices, one made in battle, and one at design time. If someone in a battle had shields, then you'd flank them. If they had armour, you'd concentrated your attack on them. And whether you have shields or armour doesn't really enter into the choice of what you should try to do in the battle... you still want to flank / concentrated based only on what they have. Unless I'm missing something...

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#66 Post by Sapphire Wyvern » Thu Jan 05, 2006 8:36 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Sapphire Wyvern wrote:...flanking beats shields, shields "beats" concentrated attacks, concentrated attack beats armour, armour "beats" flanking.
This doesn't really work as RPS, as you've got two sets of two independent choices, one made in battle, and one at design time. If someone in a battle had shields, then you'd flank them. If they had armour, you'd concentrated your attack on them. And whether you have shields or armour doesn't really enter into the choice of what you should try to do in the battle... you still want to flank / concentrated based only on what they have. Unless I'm missing something...
Hmm. Well, I think having combat tactics of varying effectiveness versus different designs is a worthwhile aim in itself, especially if it helps to increase the usefulness of military espionage to learn enemy ship designs so that you know which tactics (flanking vs. concentrated fire through a single arc) are most effective against them. Perhaps we would also need to introduce a complementary system of weapons that are of differing power for each tactic; for instance, have beams more effective when the firers are concentrated (synergistic energy output) but missiles more effective when the attackers are spread out (overwhelm point defense systems) to round out the RPS.

In any case, design-time RPSs are a useful feature, as it permits a canny player to learn their enemy's ship designs and design a counter-fleet. This possibility was always a rather cool feature of Stars! IMO. But you're right - there is something missing from my earlier post, and I think having weapons of varying effectiveness when implementing the two tactics was it... under this system, tactical maneuvering would be a case of trying to maximise your own firepower and survivability whilst minimising your enemy's, but incorporating tactics into the RPS rather than equipment alone.

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#67 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:34 pm

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:Well, I think having combat tactics of varying effectiveness versus different designs is a worthwhile aim in itself
Yes, in principle that sounds like a worthwhile goal.
Perhaps we would also need to introduce a complementary system of weapons that are of differing power for each tactic; for instance, have beams more effective when the firers are concentrated (synergistic energy output) but missiles more effective when the attackers are spread out (overwhelm point defense systems) to round out the RPS.
Missiles presumably do damage by exploding. The explosion of one missile might damage or destroy another missile, or cause it to explode too far away to do optimal damage. So if you're using missiles, you might be better off spreading out your attacks to hit many ships or groups of ships (depending on the size of the explosions and size of the units) rather than having them converge to a single target. Beams would not be so limited.

Also, we might want to think about this from the range standpoint: missiles are presumably longer range than beams. I'm not sure what consequence that has, but it might be significant.

I'd also like to see fighters in the mix. They could presumably do either method... by concentrating fire on a single side of a single enemy ship, or spreading around and attacking from all sides of a bunch of ships.

And there are some other possibilities as well. Direct contact in particular is interesting. It'd require getting in very close, giving the ships being attacked plenty of time to shoot at the attackers... except that they wouldn't be using point defenses to do this defensive shooting; they'd have to use their main guns since the attackers are full size ships, not missiles or fighters. If there are spinal mount weapons that can only fire one direction, flanking would presumably be an effective tactic for direct contact attackers.

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#68 Post by Sapphire Wyvern » Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:49 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:Also, we might want to think about this from the range standpoint: missiles are presumably longer range than beams. I'm not sure what consequence that has, but it might be significant.
That's quite a presumption. It has no grounding in reality, and isn't really a universal feature of space opera either...

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#69 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jan 06, 2006 6:01 am

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:Also, we might want to think about this from the range standpoint: missiles are presumably longer range than beams. I'm not sure what consequence that has, but it might be significant.
That's quite a presumption. It has no grounding in reality, and isn't really a universal feature of space opera either...
Assuming beams travel at the speed of light, then the further away something is, the harder it would be to target with a beam, since your targetting delay increases with distance. Beams also spread and are attenuated with distance, even in the vacuum of space.

Missiles however don't attenuate with distance, and can actively seek their target as they travel.

In general, direct fire is a shorter range weapon than indirect fire, whether guided or unguided.

Whether it's beams or missiles with the range advantage doesn't matter so much to the original point, as long as there's a difference.

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#70 Post by Sapphire Wyvern » Fri Jan 06, 2006 6:41 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:Missiles however don't attenuate with distance, and can actively seek their target as they travel.
Only whilst they have fuel. A missile without fuel is nothing but a rock... and barring FTL missiles and sensors, the advantage of reduced targeting delays is less than clear. Besides, if it's possible to build an FTL drive or projectile weapon, who's to say there's no such thing as an FTL beam weapon? Now, sure, it may be possible to have your missile on a ballistic trajectory for most of its flight path - but hypothetically, depending on the relative maneuverability of ships vs missiles, this may not be of any use.
In general, direct fire is a shorter range weapon than indirect fire, whether guided or unguided.
"Indirect" and "direct" fire is a bit of a misnomer for space combat. On Earth, direct fire is shorter ranged for one reason only: horizon. That's not so much a problem in space, as everyone here is well aware. :)
Whether it's beams or missiles with the range advantage doesn't matter so much to the original point, as long as there's a difference.
Well. I would say that range categories are only one way to make beams and missiles differently balanced. We could easily have beam and missile weapon systems of identical range which are still sufficiently different in effect that they are both useful - for instance, by contrasting area-of-effect vs. single target damage, as you pointed out.

In conclusion: I agree it doesn't matter which, if either, has a range advantage, provided that missiles and beams don't end up tactically equivalent. Range envelopes are something that we have an opportunity to decide for ourselves; there is no standard to which we must adhere. Furthermore, by not defining beam/missile distinction primarily in terms of ranges, we leave the door open for both short and long ranged beam and missile systems.

Oh, and of course I too would like to have fighters.. :)

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#71 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:00 am

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:Only whilst they have fuel. A missile without fuel is nothing but a rock...
I'm obviously assuming there's enough fuel to manoeuvre... which I think is a reasonable assumption if a missile of sort in question exists... which yes, is circular reasoning... which is nevertheless self-consistent... by definition.
and barring FTL missiles and sensors, the advantage of reduced targeting delays is less than clear.
If there aren't FTL sensors, that would make missiles' ability to self-target even more important, since any remote targetting system would have delays to detect target position in addition to delays for beam targetting changes to propegate to target (if beams are at light speed).
Besides, if it's possible to build an FTL drive or projectile weapon, who's to say there's no such thing as an FTL beam weapon?
Nothing in particular... tachyons are theorized. But as long as you're propegating either beams or sensor information less than infinitely fast, missiles that can self-target will still have an advantage at some distance, due to their ability to re-target with more immediately accurate target position info.
"Indirect" and "direct" fire is a bit of a misnomer for space combat. On Earth, direct fire is shorter ranged for one reason only: horizon. That's not so much a problem in space, as everyone here is well aware. :)
Well, it's still direct = straght line vs. indirect = curved path, assuming missiles can self-target, which I have. Also, I'm somewhat making an analogy between distances that are long enough that information propegation delays are significant and the horizon on earth, in that they both effectively prevent direct fire. Also also, in both situations, indirect has the ability to avoid direct line-of-sight obstacles closer than the horizon.
Oh, and of course I too would like to have fighters.. :)
And Wave / Ring, and Wide AOE Field, and Contact?

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I think you missed something about MOOII

#72 Post by Airshipjones » Fri Sep 01, 2006 5:08 am

In MOOII, when a ship is surrounded, it becomes easier to hit (less manuevering room for the target) and because of the way damage is figured, all the surrounding ships do more damage with each shot that hits.

From what I have seen here, if I were an engineer building a shield system for a space warship, I would design multiple redundant systems, so that given the power output of the ship, I would never lose shields as long as the shield generators were not damaged. That is just sound design philosophy. If for a small increase in ship-board space I could increase the defensive capability of the shields for a small segment (or one quarter of the shields) through a capacitor system, that would be worth it. But let me ask you all something. How would I know where an attack was coming from to redirect the shield energy to in advance (afterward doesn't really help). A laser or other LS weapon won't be detected until it has already struck. Even a Railgun shot might not be able to be detected in time. Missiles are likely to be explosive, and will/should affect more than one shield facing anyway. I might assume with a large fleet in front of me that having any extra power diverted to forward shields would be wisest (and if I got flanked by smaller & faster ship(s) it would be doing as much damage as the bigger ships in front of me), so I still don't see any reason to change the settings/tactics.

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Re: I think you missed something about MOOII

#73 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Sep 01, 2006 5:19 am

Airshipjones wrote:How would I know where an attack was coming from to redirect the shield energy to in advance (afterward doesn't really help). A laser or other LS weapon won't be detected until it has already struck. Even a Railgun shot might not be able to be detected in time.
If we have FTL ships, we can have FTL sensors. And it's not necessary to know that at time X there will be a shot coming from a certain direction, as long as you know that any shots at or around time X will be coming from a that direction. This could assume that there are no flanking ships, or that the ship's tactics will ensure all shots come from a certain direction, such as by doing a strafing run past another ship at high speed, in which you'd need only forward shield before you get there, and aft shields after you pass by.

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Not sure it is that important

#74 Post by Airshipjones » Fri Sep 01, 2006 6:47 pm

If we have FTL ships, we can have FTL sensors. And it's not necessary to know that at time X there will be a shot coming from a certain direction, as long as you know that any shots at or around time X will be coming from a that direction. This could assume that there are no flanking ships, or that the ship's tactics will ensure all shots come from a certain direction, such as by doing a strafing run past another ship at high speed, in which you'd need only forward shield before you get there, and aft shields after you pass by.
Even if I have FTL sensors and detect that the flanking ship is charging weapons, unless it is a bigger threat than the ships directly in front of my fleet, I just don't see changing how my shields are charged as wise. And the thought of having shields changed automatically when an enemy gets beside/behind me which weakens my front shields is stupid. And if it switches to meet whatever is the greatest threat (since we are assume FTL sensors), then why bother to mess with shield facings at all?

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#75 Post by utilae » Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:24 pm

Yes, if shields can switch facing instantly, then they can face whatever direction weapon fire is coming from, asborb it, then switch to the direction that other weapon fire is coming from and absorb that.

So it makes sense not to worry about distributing shield energy to specific areas to block attacks.

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