Stealth as a combat strategy / mechanic

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Re: Stealth as a combat strategy / mechanic

#31 Post by Oberlus » Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:52 pm

MatGB wrote:I'm not sure a player ought to know if your own stuff is losing stealth to, for example, a hidden stealth reducing effect. Or even a visible one. How would you know?
I don't have an opinion on this, but as a (elitis?) player I can answer: you would know once you find out your ships are getting detected by empires with apparently insufficient detection strength.
From RL and other games, I'm used to have to suspect, or deduce from facts, the detection strengh of enemies (instead of knowing it from "banners").
What could be good is to have the UI expose info already discoverable through Objects, like turns in system or turns since last battle, because if a scout is equipped with equipment that reduces stealth by 10 per turn it's stationary, then knowing it's been there for 5 turns is useful info because that's public anyway
Regarding levels, I have zero objection I just don't know what it's achieving that the current numbers can't do, we have a UI for the current system, it's not ideal but it works and is consistent with other UI elements.
I also prefer something like the previous systems (i.e. simple formula) rather than the table. I don't like table-based calculations. Anyway, there is a formula that gets you the values of the table (based on discrete levels of detection and stealth) as well as one that gives you the same results (in terms of when the ship becomes detected) based on the turns under detection range and the stealth/detection strength.

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Re: Stealth as a combat strategy / mechanic

#32 Post by Dilvish » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:37 pm

MatGB wrote:I'm not sure a player ought to know if your own stuff is losing stealth to, for example, a hidden stealth reducing effect. Or even a visible one. How would you know?
You'd know because your science officer gave you a report like "Captain, subspace of this quadrant is filled with technobabble waves that make all electronic circuits, including those of our ship, squeal like stuck pigs and disrupts our cloaking device."
I think that easily knowing there is a broadly applicable stealth-reduction effect in a region is reasonable and is pretty much mandated by our current visibility system (though you may not necessarily know the name of the effect).
Oberlus wrote:From RL and other games, I'm used to have to suspect, or deduce from facts, the detection strengh of enemies (instead of knowing it from "banners").
Detection strength is one of the many empire characteristics that I think knowledge of which should eventually be gated by some kind of espionage system. If we are going to have a release cycle focused on stealth, then I think that probably we should also put into place the rudiments of an espionage system-- perhaps not the "spy projects" aspect, but requiring the observing empire to have various spy techs researched in order to observe certain characteristics of an enemy empire (like their detection strength).

It's also making me think that perhaps we should add some more fine-graining to our visibility system; this would not even require that we change our set of 4 visibility tiers, but only how we handle them . To illustrate, let me start by recapping the current visibility system with some specific reference to ships and fleets.

Visibility/stealth Recap:
The info your empire gets about all objects in the universe is packaged by the server; it makes special copies of every object of whose existence your empire has some awareness. First the server filters out all objects whose stealth is not greater than your detection strength, then it checks to see which of those are within your detection range. (There are also some special situations where some visibility could be otherwise be granted.) This object starts with essentially no info other than what general type of object it is, but as you catch glimpses of the object the server updates the info in your copy of it. If an object has higher stealth than your empire detection strength. There are four tiers of Visibility:

No Visibility: You have no current knowledge of this object's characteristics other than general type, but if you have previously got some more information about the object from better visibility of it, then you still have access to that stale info. Ships and Fleets you had previously observed but now have no visibility of get displayed by the UI at their last known location, with scanlines to show the info is stale.

Basic Visibility:: This is basically a radar blip-- for fleets and ships you know their location and direction of movement (what system they are heading towards, but not whether they will stop there **and note for Geoff or LGM-Doyle it seems to me there is some inconsistency that m_next_system is shared at Basic Visibility but the truncated travel route is only calculated at Partial Visibility). You know they have a stealth that is higher than your detection (their meter just shows a super high value). The most common case for basic visibility is that if one of your ships enters a system with a stealthed planet you will get basic visibility of that planet, but in rare situations it can arise for ships & fleets. The object will be displayed with scanlines, and if you have previously observed the object with better visibility, you can figure out (i.e. the UI knows) it is the same object and you have access to that previous (stale) info, but otherwise you won't even know who owns the object.

Partial Visibility: You know almost everything about the object, except for orders like the full fleet travel path or whether a ship has been ordered to colonize a planet. You get all their meter values, though the tooltip detail may show some contribution amounts with 'unknown' cause. This is the highest level of visibility that a non-owner gets.

Full Visibility: This is the full shebang, what the server and owner see; I'm not aware of any info held back from this copy under any circumstances.

Some Possible Additional Fine-graining
Any extra fine-graining is extra complication, which might or might not be worth it. But here are some things that come to mind that I think are worth at least considering (most or all of which has come up in previous discussions, I'm not taking credit for these ideas but just showing how they could fit in with our visibility framework).

Barely Detected Right now Basic Visibility is only granted only in some special situations (like for a planet whose stealth is higher than your detection, if you have a ship enter its system you'll get Basic Visibility no matter how high the planet stealth, but no visibility otherwise). Instead of the server filtering out all objects whose stealth is even a smidgen higher than the empire's detection strength, it could allow Basic Visibility for objects whose stealth is just a small threshhold above the empire detection strength. For current numbers a threshhold of 5 or 10 might make sense. If you started seeing basic-visibility white radar-blip fleets showing up then you'd likely want to quickly start focusing more on detection strength. This "barely-detected" idea seems to me it would be easy to implement and have a good value-to-complication ratio.

Finer Grades of Information Transfer Right now you get the same information for a Partially Visible object no matter how big or small your margin of detection was. Perhaps if you had a really big margin of detection you should be able to know if a fleet's current orders were to stop at the next system (though of course it might get a last-minute change of course that you wouldn't know about until the next turn). Or perhaps if your margin of detection was very small you might only know what a ship's maximum structure was but not what its current structure level is at, or for a planet you might know its max Production but not its current Production. I think I'd be in favor of being able to get that extra bit of course information; I'm less sure about the partial meter disclosure being worth the extra complication.
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Re: Stealth as a combat strategy / mechanic

#33 Post by LGM-Doyle » Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:47 pm

MatGB wrote:I'm not sure a player ought to know if your own stuff is losing stealth to, for example, a hidden stealth reducing effect. Or even a visible one. How would you know?
I think Dilvish already covered this but here is another analogy. Assume I'm stealthily hiding in the dark. If someone shines a flashlight on me, a stealth reducing effect, I know that my stealth is reduced for everyone who can see. However, if someone else is also in the dark wearing infra-red goggles, a powerful stealthy detector, then I don't know that their increased detection strength has detected me.

Dilvish wrote:a tiered detection strength (if that is what you are referring to here as 'dynamic')
By dynamic I mean MatGB's dwell time mechanic where some aspect of the stealth/detection interaction changes with time. By tiers I mean discrete detection strengths, so that the appearance of the detection strength is tiered like a ziggurat. For example a detector, colony or ship would have an inner tier of high detection strength surrounded by an outer tier of lower detection strength and greater range.

It is not possible to display,...
Dilvish wrote:...any local variance that applies only within a system
I agree, any system effects that have no area of effect are difficult to intuitively display with the UI. There is a limit to the number of meaningful affixes or typesetting effects that can be applied to a system name. I was anticipating either presenting in UI, or actually modeling system wide stealth/detection effects as a small (1/2 minimum range between systems) area of effect circle. For a system wide effect known to your empire that either increases detection strength or reduces stealth that would appear as an increase in intensity of the halo around the system.

Dilvish wrote:that does not mean that the benefits of the enhanced tooltip should be considered as benefits of the tiered detection strength idea
I agree with that.
Dilvish wrote:It also seems to me that you are not really considering how tricky it might get to count bands
Most of the time players won't be using the tooltip. Band counting will be local. I have an example using the individual-empire-detection view.

Extend your idea of modifying the ETA markers to modifying the fleet movement lines so that they are rendered with the scanline renderer in the areas where the your empire thinks that the foreign empire can not detect your fleet. A player selects their fleet, moves to attack and then selects the foreign object being attacked.

The UI will display the detection halos and universe objects from the point of view of the foreign empire. If the player's fleet movement line is rendered with the scanline renderer from its current location all the way to the attack location, then it will be attacking from ambush. If the end of the attack run is rendered normally it is a normal attack. If the change to normal rendering is at the point where it crosses the last change in detection halo intensity, the player knows that they need one more level of stealth to attack from ambush.

Using discrete levels/tiers, a local direct observation in the map window determines the stealth-detection gap. The player does not need the tooltip.

Dilvish wrote:Visibility/stealth Recap:
Good recap.
Dilvish wrote:Barely Detected
This is interesting for a couple of reasons.

It makes the current sensor ghosts more intuitive. Currently, ships leaving your sensor range, or moving into an Ion Storm produce a sensor ghost that does not move. It would be more intuitive if the outer edges of the Ion Storm resulted in radar-blips, that moved and became static sensor ghosts when they reached the core of the storm.

Radar blips coupled with higher short range detection strength and lower long range detection strength would mean that the radar-blips would appear at the edge the detection range and transition from basic into partial visibility as they move into the high detection strength empire core.

Are you envisioning radar-blips as being different than the current sensor ghosts?

How does this affect combat? Currently, granting basic visibility to a fleet would strip it of any combat advantage from stealth.

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