The Basics of Ship Combat

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drek
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The Basics of Ship Combat

#1 Post by drek » Sat Apr 30, 2005 3:58 am

An unoffical post, ignore my title.

There are lots of ideas for space combat on this board; obviously there's no way every idea can make it into the game--at least not the first version :P.

So I'm wondering: what would be the absolute bare minimium people would be happy with in a combat engine for FO v1.0....if it were stripped down to it's very core, what would be the must-have defining features?

If you only had an hour or two to throw together a board-game version, which aspects would be included?

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#2 Post by pd » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:51 am

i think the main question first is, do we have battles on system or planet scale?

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Geoff the Medio
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#3 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Apr 30, 2005 3:26 pm

pd wrote:i think the main question first is, do we have battles on system or planet scale?
That's relatively cosmetic / trivial decision. I think what drek's getting at is the really basic stuff... like:

Do we need to have some sort of RTS fleet battle minigame?

Does the player need to control it, or can the game simulate and display or report the results?

What level of control does the player need? Is just agressive/defensive/retreat settings ok, or do you need to be able to give specific orders?

Do we need to keep track of much information about individual units (ie. ships or fleets, depending what they player controls or what is displayed to the player, independent of the number of "individual ships"), or can they just be either alive or dead (or equivalent)?

Do ships need to be able to have different kinds of weapons in an interesting and complicated (= hard to implement and balance) web of counters, or can it be literally rock paper scissors?

Do we need to be able to design ships, or can a few premade stock ship types be sufficient?

(And any other issues I've not mentioned...)

Any additional complexity quickly spirals and compounds and there's a real risk of the game never getting done if things are designed too complicated... And there's also the issues of whether the game benefits from the additional complexity in any given case, in both hard-to-quantify fun-ness, and issues relating the designing and easily implementing a practical UI with limited resources to do so.

EDIT: And remember, drek is asking about the bare minimum of what is acceptable... not what people think would be good or the most fun or balanced or "worth" the extra time it would take to implement.

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#4 Post by Ablaze » Sat Apr 30, 2005 6:21 pm

In my mind the bare minimum would be a simple equation that took into account three factors: offense, defense, and mass. Your offense would be divided by the other side’s defense to produce damage which would then be distributed to a random ship on the other side after both sides had fired. The amount of damage a ship could take before being destroyed would be its mass. This equation would be solved over and over until one side was either destroyed or both side’s defense were greater then their offense.

When you entered a battle it would play out instantaneously. If you were the winning side you could then use non combat ships like troop transports or colonists.
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#5 Post by Dreamer » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:10 pm

Agree. A RISKII-like (board game) combat style should be enought to start. Each fleet have a size and tech level. Damage is done in several round to each side acording to both factors (some formulae) and luck (some random number). Each round a fleet can choose to withdraw or continue. Combat ends when a fleet withdraw or is destroyed.

And I think that this simple version should be available even when a more complex one exists. Detailed space combat and ship design is after all a game into the game and not necesary at all for a 4x game (combat in civilization, galciv and others is a proof of this).

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utilae
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#6 Post by utilae » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:16 pm

Bare minimum:
-Direct control over groups of ships
-more than two sides/palyers in combat at once
-System based combat
-No computer controlling your units at all (unless there allies, they would then be treated as a computer player, but on your side)
-2d graphics
-phased time movement (half turn based/half real time)

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#7 Post by Dreamer » Sun May 01, 2005 12:19 am

utilae wrote:Bare minimum:
-Direct control over groups of ships
-more than two sides/palyers in combat at once
-System based combat
-No computer controlling your units at all (unless there allies, they would then be treated as a computer player, but on your side)
-2d graphics
-phased time movement (half turn based/half real time)
LOL. If that's your "bare minimum" a programer would be almost afraid of asking for your "standard requirements" and absolute terrified to ask for "ideal features".

By the way, I saw your combat proposal and liked it, but have some questions about it (like how planetary defenses work). I will abstain of doing it here since it'snot the main topic.

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#8 Post by utilae » Sun May 01, 2005 9:24 pm

My minimum is definately not gonna be "battle starts . . . calculating . . . here are the results".

Glad you like my space combat proposal. It's evolved a little bit from what is shown on my website. We had a big discussion about system based combat and phased real time type combat.

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#9 Post by Dreamer » Mon May 02, 2005 12:30 am

I would like to have a simple combat system anyway. I like playing risk games and the like. I have always thought that this kind of game can be divided a lot into game modules. You choose a resource model, a map model, space combat model, planet invasion model, diplomacy model and tech model and voila, your own game from scratch ;-)

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#10 Post by Ran Taro » Mon May 02, 2005 3:53 am

Dreamer wrote:I would like to have a simple combat system anyway. I like playing risk games and the like.
I wouldn't mind that either. Especially if you're talking about minumum requirements. If you're getting down to a bare minimum you can be talking about the choice between a well designed, engaging simple mechanic, or a badly implemented complex one.

In some games I find tactical combat becomes a repetative distraction from the main strategic elements.

IMHO a nice minimum would be autocalculated battles that you could replay in real time to analyse how your ship designs went. I think someone posted a simple example of this, coded in Visual Basic, some time ago.

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Re: The Basics of Ship Combat

#11 Post by Rapunzel » Mon May 02, 2005 7:35 am

drek wrote: what would be the absolute bare minimium people would be happy with in a combat engine for FO v1.0....if it were stripped down to it's very core, what would be the must-have defining features?
A good old "Spaceward Ho!" style of combat would resolve the conflict, but wouldn't satisfy me. I want to research the right tech (weapons, shilds or whatever) and build Ships with these techs, which I want to use in taktical combat. This way a tech could not only give more firepower but some other tactical advantage.

I would go conform with ulitae in this matter:
-Direct control over groups of ships
-more than two sides/palyers in combat at once
-System based combat
-No computer controlling your units at all
-2d graphics (and 2d manouvering)

since I have not read the discussion about phased time I would say
- turn based ( everything moving at once, after every party gave their orders )
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Re: The Basics of Ship Combat

#12 Post by noelte » Mon May 02, 2005 7:46 am

Rapunzel wrote: since I have not read the discussion about phased time I would say
- turn based ( everything moving at once, after every party gave their orders )
Hmm, shoot me, but that's phased real-time :-)
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#13 Post by Rapunzel » Mon May 02, 2005 1:56 pm

All right then. I go conform with your posting ;-)
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#14 Post by Kharagh » Tue May 03, 2005 9:31 am

In my opinion automatic battle calculation by the comp would be ok für any version befort 1.0, but definately not for the finished game.
After all what do I research all those techs for and why do I bother designing my ships, if I can never actually use the tactics I designed them for in combat.
You would have to design your ships in such a way, that the ai would be able to use them most efficiently if you wanted to be victorious. That just won't do.

Therefore I agree with utilae and Rapunzel about the minimum requirements (see above)

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#15 Post by Daveybaby » Tue May 03, 2005 1:09 pm

I have a problem with anything *too* simplistic, e.g. just calculating who can make the most/biggest bangs because it could make a large number of ship design techs irrelevant. e.g. stealth techs, missiles vs beams, etc etc. The space combat system is intertwined with the techs it uses.

So as a bare minimum, I'd like to see at least some player input into the battle, even if the battle itself was automated, because letting the player at least choose basic strategies for different ships will allow those different techs to be utilised.

Let the player assign initial orders to ships - nothing too complex (dont want to end up like Moo3 ground combat), just a small number of simple roles which have markedly different behaviours and outcomes, e.g.
:arrow: Close Assault
:arrow: Standoff Attack
:arrow: Flank
:arrow: Defend / Hold
:arrow: Evade/Hide
Effectively they are splitting their fleet into a small number of task forces, each of which has a different role. The computer then calculates the outcome either by a one-time numbers game, or by actually simulating (with some visual representation) the battle. Hopefully the outcome would depend on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the ships assigned to the different roles - kind of like a weighted RPS game.

So, for example, an attacking player might assign most of their heavy hitters to close assault, their missileboats to standoff attack and their carriers to evade. Their fighters might be split between close assault (to take out the enemy) and evade (to protect the carriers). The defender might keep most of their forces in defend mode, but assign a portion of their ships to try to flank and take out the enemy carriers and missileboats.

There are a lot of different ways this could be handled - the above is only an off-the-top-of-my-head example, but it should be possible to work out something so that players decisions have some effect, even if combat is fully automated once it starts.
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