The Basics of Ship Combat

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

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mvor
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RFTS for starters

#31 Post by mvor » Wed May 11, 2005 12:52 pm

I think that a combat system like the one featured in Reach For the Stars (SSG, 2000) would be simple enough to implement and also could be a good starting point for more 'complex' combat rules.

Beginning from a simple combat system like the one featured in the game I mention would allow that, in the future, FO could offer two distinct brands of combat experience: the 'simple' or 'abstract' one, and the 'detailed' or 'involved' one.

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#32 Post by Laccase » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:02 am

Decloak! (Cue cool Star Trek decloaking SFX)


Hi, I'm new here though I've been lurking for almost a year. I've finally decided to decloak when I've come across this gem from http://www.strangehorizons.com/2005/200 ... -1-a.shtml. I know the forum's policy on Realism (TM) but its worth a look. I think its relevant to this thread although to be honest, I just skimmed through (lots of lab work).

P.s. I won't be posting alot, but if anyone needs input on Biology, Microbiology or Biochemistry, give me a ping.


We've been detected, power up the cloaking device! Easy on the thrusters, helm...
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Impaler
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#33 Post by Impaler » Thu Jun 30, 2005 10:55 pm

I think some of the points on Sensors and Stealth should be considered.

* Major difference between Active and Passive Sensors
* Engine Thrust/rapid manuvering makes one easy to detect (Even more then the use of Active Sensors)
* Large ships are not inherently slow
* Maximum acceleration would be limited by safty of crew and structural strength of ships

These elements would add to the strtegic depth and fun of combat and should be included for these reasons, the inspiration may be realism but gameplay is the real reason to use them. For example the idea that Lasers would be impractical must simply be ignored, they are absolutly going to be in the game, end of story.

Also I realy liked that Orions Arm website linked to on that Article. It looks like a great source of Hard Sci-Fi material (we will ofcorse water it down a bit to make it fit in with out other material).
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

METhomas
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#34 Post by METhomas » Fri Jul 01, 2005 12:05 am

Interesting article, Laccase.

One thing regarding beam and missile weapons though. Missile weapons would still have to accelerate to their target, thus leaving a signature to be detected for as long as the missle accelerates. Initially, this would give away the position of the firing ship as well. (Unless the weapon was laid like a mine and then fired later after aquiring a target ... but I digress....) When the missile approaches the target, however, it could be destroyed with beam weapons, or other smaller missiles designed specifically for that purpose. Thus, point defense would become extremely important in space combat.

Further, the engines on a warship would be much more powerful than those on a missile or drone (just as they would be more powerful than those on a fighter). So I'd imagine a warship would simply be able to accelerate away from the missile and use whatever time such maneuvering might allow to destroy the missile with beam weapons or other point defense weapons.

If the missiles are soon expended, beam weapons would come into play as the primary weapon. The ships would then have to close into whatever range their beams weapons would require. Using lasers to target would be important, and once a target was aquired laser weapons or particle weapons could be utilized.

Regarding FO, such approaches to space combat might be considered according to the technological levels of the combatants. Primitive space combat might be played out like the submarine warfare described in the article. However, future technologies could address the issues brought up in the article with solutions.

Just a thought.

Once last thing ... Have any of you ever played Rules of Engagement? In my opinion ROE1 and ROE2 were the best tactical starship combat games ever made. ROE2 was released in 1993, so it's an old game, but it was remarkably detailed and the re-paly value was second to none.

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#35 Post by Dreamer » Fri Jul 01, 2005 2:46 am

Another thing left outside of the article regards shields,and i'm guessing that we will have them. I had an idea when I read the article and i hopeyou like it. What if missiles can be fired from longer range but be less effective against shields than beam weapons (lets say that shields can handle explosives better than concentrated energy) that added to point defence can balance both types of weapons for different use.

I imagine a great fleet advancing towards other and then firing a couple of missiles and then aproach to have better targeting for the ships. I disagree with the use of small figthers (I like them) because even if larger ships are equally fast this ships are indeed small. As stated in the article, maned ships can be a lot faster and I don't see large unmanned destroyers there. Then small ships are back in the game. Also a large ship in movies should be faster because they have a lot of engines in proportion to it's mass, we can have less propulsion in a big ship so they would be a little slower. Not mentioning that large ships should stay somehow out of the way and provide support to prevent the loss of it.

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#36 Post by Laccase » Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:34 am

Hi Dreamer, I think shields were mentioned in Part II of the article. The link is on the right-hand side bar of the page. Its under the "magnetic fields" and the "electrostatic defense field". BTW, I agree with many of the points raised by Impaler and METhomas. I want my super-duper Battlecruisers to have death rays, damnit!. I still want my space battles to be tactically challenging though, and not just a matter of who has the largest fleet.
"Research is the act of going up alleys to see if they are blind" - Plutarch

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Daveybaby
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#37 Post by Daveybaby » Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:02 am

METhomas wrote:Further, the engines on a warship would be much more powerful than those on a missile or drone (just as they would be more powerful than those on a fighter). So I'd imagine a warship would simply be able to accelerate away from the missile and use whatever time such maneuvering might allow to destroy the missile with beam weapons or other point defense weapons.
I disagree.

A missile's engines will form a far greater proportion of its mass than a warship's, so the thrust:weight ratio will be much greater for a missile, and its acceleration will be much greater.

In addition, a ship will be carrying people, which puts an upper limit on its acceleration before you end up with a ship full of strawberry jam. Of course, there could be techs which counter this effect.

Finally, the game should be designed so that missiles, beam weapons, fighters and PD all have effective roles to play, regardless of any other considerations. Design the game to be fun, then shoehorn scientific justifications in afterwards, if you want them.
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Impaler
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#38 Post by Impaler » Fri Jul 01, 2005 4:02 pm

Good point Davey.

I think the main thing we need to do is have a good strong unified Sensor and Detection based system that can handle all the different factors discussed. Ideal it would also cover the out of battle scanning too.

My idea is to use a "Signal" "Sensitivity" based system. All detectable objects have a Signal value the more easily they are seen the greater the signal. Actions like Cloaking or firing Engines incresse or decresse Signal acordingly. All Sensors are Passive and have a Sensitivity threashold, lower sensitivity is better because only things with a Signal higher then the Sensitivity of the Sensor can be seen. Distance diminishes the effective Signal of an object and the rate of drop off is the square of the distance (double the distance and the Signal is halfed). Active Sensors send out a "ping" that can incresse the signal of another ship, but it incresses your own signal much more. Active Sensors are NOT cumulative, only the most powerfull Ping counts.
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#39 Post by Ablaze » Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:12 pm

I really liked that article, I hadn't considered an Electrostatic Defense Field before. I'll be sure to add it to my technology list.

If you come across any simular articles, please don't hesitate to drop another link.
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#40 Post by METhomas » Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:03 pm

Daveybaby said: "A missile's engines will form a far greater proportion of its mass than a warship's, so the thrust:weight ratio will be much greater for a missile, and its acceleration will be much greater.

In addition, a ship will be carrying people, which puts an upper limit on its acceleration before you end up with a ship full of strawberry jam. Of course, there could be techs which counter this effect.
"

I certainly see your point about acceleration. The ratio would depend on the proportion of additional mass (other systems) on the missile and the warship as compared to that of the drives. A warship could be proportioned exactly as missile, substituting the warhead's equivalent mass for some other system/s. This would, presumably, make the warship less effective though.

I think your second point is the most important. A strawberry jam crew would probably be the end result of any combat mission between high velocity craft. It would, I think, be irrational to have manned warships at all. Thus the ratio would decrease for the warship (having all the life-support, etc. removed). Even so, I bet you're still correct, and the missile would still have a greater proportion of its mass devoted to its drive/s.

Both the missile and the warship would be commanded by a highly advanced AI. Would the difference between the computer systems on the missile as opposed to those on the warship, allowing for the same proportion to each, give the warship an advantage because it has more mass available, in absolute terms, to devote to computer systems?

And could similar logic be used regarding sensors? Again, the warship might very well have more powerful sensors due to that absolute difference in size even if proportions are equal. This would allow the warship to detect the missile more easily than the missile would be able to detect the warship, especially during manuevers?

Hmmm ... that article really was interesting. The possibilities it presents are food for thought.

Anyway, I agree totally with your final statement. The design of ship-to-ship combat should be fun. (That's not to say that a "realistic" or "probable" model wouldn't be fun.) But I think we are all looking for a space-opera in FO, not hard sci-fi.

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skdiw
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#41 Post by skdiw » Fri Jul 01, 2005 11:05 pm

My bare minimum for combat is somthing like civ. no minigame required, just two icons clashed together, a couple of beeps, and some paint spray.
:mrgreen:

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utilae
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#42 Post by utilae » Fri Jul 01, 2005 11:20 pm

Nice article, though I hardly think we are gonna make the game too realistic. The only thing I thought that could be added to FreeOrion was some of the weapon and defense ideas and the fact that ship acceleration could be limited based on crew safety.
Daveybaby wrote:
METhomas wrote:Further, the engines on a warship would be much more powerful than those on a missile or drone (just as they would be more powerful than those on a fighter). So I'd imagine a warship would simply be able to accelerate away from the missile and use whatever time such maneuvering might allow to destroy the missile with beam weapons or other point defense weapons.
I disagree.

A missile's engines will form a far greater proportion of its mass than a warship's, so the thrust:weight ratio will be much greater for a missile, and its acceleration will be much greater.
Would weight or mass even matter in space. So all that matters is total engine strength, since power to weight ratio does not exist in space.

As to what was being said about capital ships should travel faster than fighter. The reason capital ships won't travel as fast as fighters isn't because capital ships are too slow. If they move too fast they would hit the other ships in their fleet. Even hitting an enemy ship could destroy the capital ship. Since fighters are smaller, they can go faster because they can easily following a path that does not hit ships.
Impaler wrote: * Major difference between Active and Passive Sensors
Could you explain the difference between active and passive sensors.
I so have an idea for stealth and detection.
Impaler wrote: * Engine Thrust/rapid manuvering makes one easy to detect (Even more then the use of Active Sensors)
My idea could also include this idea as well.
Impaler wrote: * Large ships are not inherently slow
I tihnk in star wars a capital ship would still be faster than a fighter. The only reason I can see that the capital ships don't fly so fast is because they would hit other ships. A fighter could at least dodge all the obstacles in its path, but a capital ships would be too big to "try and fit between those two capital ships". So really capital ships have to go slow.
Impaler wrote: * Maximum acceleration would be limited by safty of crew and structural strength of ships
I tihnk this should be a morale tech that effects space combat. You research tech that makes it so that crew can handle greater Gs and it effectively raises the acceleration cap on your ships. But this also might not be a good thing to have, unless we do it right.

My detection/stealth idea.
================
Basically each ship has a detection rating and a stealth rating, eg
Ship A: Stealth Rating=90 Detection Rating=50
Ship B: Stealth Rating=60 Detection Rating=100
If ShipAs detection rating is >= than ShipBs stealth rating than ShipA is detected. So since ShipBs detection rating is higher than ShipAs stealth rating, ShipA is detected. Ship A cannot detect ShipB because ShipBs stealth rating is too high (by 10).

However if ShipB moved this would decrease its stealth rating, so 15 is subtracted, eg
Ship A: Stealth Rating=90 Detection Rating=50
Ship B: Stealth Rating=45 Detection Rating=100
Now ShipA can detect ShipB.

===
This idea is simple and also you can see how easily I incorperated the idea of giving away your position when you activate your ships engines.

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#43 Post by Sandlapper » Sat Jul 02, 2005 12:23 am

Would weight or mass even matter in space. So all that matters is total engine strength, since power to weight ratio does not exist in space.
Mass would matter. If a fighter and capital ship are going at the exact same speed on a head-on collison course. The capitol ship would plow thru the fighter without batting an eye. If both were undamaged, the fighter would ricochet in an opposite direction. If the fighter was of greater strength of construction, it would likely punch thru the capitol ship's hull like a bullet. If the fighter is weaker, it likely will crumple or disintegrate.
Could you explain the difference between active and passive sensors.
Active is a probing sensor sent out to find the enemy (radar, sonar), passive is using sensors to find an enemy without giving away your position (by using a traceable signal like radar or sonar) in a receptive way (receive visual or sound indications of an enemy presence). Basicly, active you immediately find the enemy, but immediately give away your position. Passive you wait for enemy to give away it's position with movement or noise,etc., while you don't give away your position.

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#44 Post by Impaler » Sat Jul 02, 2005 12:26 am

Though objects do not have "weight" in space they still have MASS and INERTIA. What we call weight is pull of the earths gravity on all masses in proportion to that mass. Inertia is the fundamental property of mass (everything that has inertia has mass, all mass has inertia). Inertia is the resistence to acceleration regardless of what force (say gravity or a rocket engine) exerted the force. A ratio of Thrust to Mass will determin how fast a ship accelerates, it will NOT effect top speed though. A missle that is little more then a flying Engine with a bomb on its tip is going to be capable of faster acceleration alowing it to chase down a ship that is trying to flee. A ship with the same ratio of mass to thrust would also be capable of the same kind of acceleration BUT the strawberry jam problem makes this impractical. The solution used in StarTrek was that of the "Inertial Dampener" that prevents or counter-acts the acceleration on the crew.



More on Sensors, all Active Sensors are realy a combination of a "Pinging" Device and a Passive Sensor. The Ping is some kind of Energy that radiates out (sound, radar, light, quantum gravity waves..) it then reflects off of things and this reflected energy can be picked up by its original sender to "see" objects that are not giving off sufficient signal on their own to be detectable. The down side is that the very signal that bounces off the enemy is easily detectable (if it wasn't then their would be no point). Now their is no guarantee that the active sensor WILL detect something, the distance may be so great that the "Ping" or return signal fades to nothing. The signal/detection based system I proposed models reality and is thus more intuitive in its handling of distance. The equations are..

My Detection value vs (Enemy Signal / Distance squared ) For Purly Passive

My Detection value vs (Ping / Distance squared) / Distance squared For Active Sensor, the second division by Distance squared represents the fact that the return signal must travel back across the same distance to be detected.
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discord
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#45 Post by discord » Sat Jul 02, 2005 6:33 am

thrust/mass is important, for ANY newtonian system, period.
active/passive both sensors AND dampners(cloaking for you that dont understand what a sensor dampner is.)
adding in a 'signature' value on components, will make for a realistic system, when it comes to sensors....however, i somehow doubt it will make it's way in....

as in reality, it is about signature radius, and sensor precision...and some random factors, although they are fewer in space, there is ALWAYS random factors.

and ofcourse components should have both passive&active signature value.

but as so many other ideas i have come up with, and shared here, it is usualy considered by others "to complicated, and does not add anything worthwhile to the experience.", although i disagree, but it is a question of the whole picture....one such detail makes it out of place, if it all follows the same thinking it fits, however, it will not happen. as it goes outside the stated guide lines.

//edit
edited for spelling
/edit

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