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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discord
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#76 Post by discord » Sun Jul 10, 2005 8:31 am

personaly i dont like the idea of 'cloaking' as in reality it is just a active sensor dampner, and therefor just part of the stealth category.

ECM/ECCM all there is to it really....or if you want to go over board, ECCCM.

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#77 Post by Hexxium » Mon Jul 11, 2005 6:07 pm

On the original topic: I think that we need some kind of player-controlled combat system for 1.0. For earlier versions some automatic computing will do, which can stay in 1.0 for AI battles and as an option for players.

The ability to design ships would be nice, but it's not a must-have for 1.0.

However, there should be ship types like Scout, Indirect Fire, Beam Weapons and so on. A set attack/defense/speed(/evade/...) value for each ship, depending on tech level, could do - at first.

There has to be the possibility to group ships into task forces at the beginning of combat, for usability reasons, but I think it's necessary to be able to assign orders to each single ship, if the player wishes to do so. If at some point you have one huge task force left, while the opponent has two single ships, you'll want to split your task force to pursue both enemy ships at the same time.

By the way, I'd prefer seeing battles between a few strong ships over battles with hundreds of ships involved. However, for huge battleships, we'd need the ability to split firepower between several targets (or assign an individual target for every weapon type on board), or we'd get the same problem as with the "unsplittable task forces" described above.

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yaromir
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#78 Post by yaromir » Mon Jul 11, 2005 6:53 pm

Sandlapper,

I think we are talking about different things. Take moo3 for example, huge map, terrible sensors, enemy in one corner you in the other. No cloaking, ECM, ECCM.

By the time you find each other it's minutes of...fruitless flying around. I really don't want that. I hated that! I imposed 2 min combat limit for that reason.

It should be assumed that all combat will happen at strategic points like stargates, bases and planets, searching minimized.
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Impaler
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#79 Post by Impaler » Mon Jul 11, 2005 7:59 pm

I was just thinking perhaps we want to limit the number of ships types that can go in a task force, between 9 and 12 seems most reasonable to me. The advantage would be that you could have a small graphical display on the screen which would show a breakdown of the numbers of each ship type and other vital information.

If we use the Core/Escort/Picket system to define the roles of the ships in a Task Force then we have a few little slots for each type. Only a single ship type can go in the slot and it forms a ship stack much like Moo1, the damage assignments could be more sophisticated then "destroy stack one by one" though personaly I dont see much problem with that as long as their some potential for all the ships in a stack to get damaged at once from normal attacks.

Once we have this set up it becomes easy to do the temporary Task Force splits by spliting Core/Escort/Picket groups off as a seperate taskforce and then to merge it back in at a later time in the battle or automaticaly at the end of battle. Vertical division would also be possible. Splitting off one of each type and calling these the Port/Center/Starboard Groups. Again Task Forces automaticaly re-merge after battle.
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Sandlapper
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#80 Post by Sandlapper » Tue Jul 12, 2005 1:08 am

@ yaromir

You are assuming FO will have the same, relatively flawed, combat engine as MOO3. MOO3 is one of the very reasons that FO is being made in the first place. I would be shocked if there are no vast improvments made to FO combat engine.

The FO combat engine isn't finalised yet. I believe intentions are to explore the feasibility of a 3d engine. In my mind's eye I see my fleet arriving into a system(or system's edge) via starlane. I would scan the system instantly. I would expext system-wide info from scans in mere seconds. The exceptions are: ships in the blind side of planets, moons, suns; tech level of sensors, tech level of enemy ECM; and the ultimate ECM-Cloaking.

As soon as fully cloaked ships\fleets become pervasive, you will have the cat\mouse scenario discussed earlier. As long as sensor tech levels are continually improved, decent near instant scans should be expected until latter half of game, when cloaking starts to dramatically improve. As stated earlier, you will always need to explore the blind areas for hidden fleets. This shouldn't take long to explore, unless it's a very large system.

I think there should be a tech for developing a capital sized ship specialising in penetrating cloaks system wide (it would be heavily armoured to withstand all but the heaviest onslaughts, and escape). It should be hideously exspensive, but worth it's weight in gold. It would make combat much more basic and less cat and mouse, for those who prefer that.

@ Impaler

I have no problem with some form of stacks and limited ship types, ala MOO1, but I detest pre-assigned task force slots. I want complete flexibility in fleet assignments. If stacks and limited types are required to achieve this, so be it.

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#81 Post by skdiw » Tue Jul 12, 2005 4:37 am

If I remember correctly, moo 1 had ECM and such. They were abstract and calculated into the background. Scouting is basically sum up in initiation. Cloacking basically gives you first strike and it's balanced because your weapon vectors gives your position away and it costs some resources for the cloaking device.

moo3 had task force in a ~10 ships range. I don't mind task force, but I do mind what ships you had to add into it, especially scout ships that you had to go out of your way to build so you can create a large task force. Scout ships added dectection though it hardly changed the game. I thought moo3 combat was fine except early battles where it took 5 min. for ships to fly into each other because propulsion system is slow and weapons are short range. If you do system-based combat like Utilae's where all the system's planet are on combat screen then it would take forever to resolve a battle, even without complicated scouting. Imagine each ~5 min. times 5 battles in turn for multiplayer and random exploration encounters.

As for ship types, I like to keep the number small as possible while making some sense. It's really weird that same hull size have weird bonus while the exact same hull don't have that bonus because hull A is designated as "missile cruiser with '+1 missile rack'" and another hull A is called "destroyer with '+1 speed'". I like to balance ship types by the nature of the weapon or some easy-to-learn trends. For example, missiles launchers are medium size in nature so only medium and larger size hulls can carry them. Lightly armed ships are faster because of better mass/power ratio. These 'natural' ship types as result of your design are better than cookie-cutter types, imo.

I think active sensing and scout ships isn't worth the trouble. There aren't even space anomolies in FO to add value to scout ship.
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Daveybaby
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#82 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:45 am

I've always looked on Cloaking/Stealth and ECM/ECCM as different things:

:arrow: Cloaking/Stealth makes you more difficult to detect, i.e. it increases your apparent range from the enemy for the purposes of detection.

:arrow: ECM makes you more difficult to hit, i.e. it effectively increases your evasion (or decreases enemy weapon accuracy).

Obviously IRL ECM can be used to fudge detection by jamming radar - but you will definitely know there is *something* out there if it starts jamming you, so in terms of gameplay it might be good to just keep the two completely separate.
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#83 Post by yaromir » Tue Jul 12, 2005 6:11 pm

You are assuming FO will have the same, relatively flawed, combat engine as MOO3
Not assuming anything. In fact, I hope combat will be turn-based instead of RT.
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discord
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#84 Post by discord » Tue Jul 12, 2005 6:17 pm

being unable to ascertain the exact number of enemy craft, is a form of cloaking, as it removes intel from the enemy...actualy, i would not want 'full cloaking' at all, or VERY late game, as it removes much of the fun.

design of a low signature, stealth vessel, would mean plenty of 'compromises' all the way, as you need a shielded power source, a 'quiet' engine, sensor dampning hull coating, instead of laser/blaster/kinetic reflecting such, low emission weapons(and other modules), low emission cooling systems, good passive sensors(as active would give away your position) and so on. so a good stealth ship, would not have the same fire power as a ship of the line, with similar cost, but it is more difficult to detect/target, a question compromises.

as i said earlier, i would prefer some kind of uncertainty and variation, as it makes things more interesting....

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utilae
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#85 Post by utilae » Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:25 am

We are going to have cloaking/stealth.

And cloaking is invisibility/hard to detect. ECM is to do with making missiles miss.

Let's not sideline the issue. Back to the detection discussion.

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#86 Post by skdiw » Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:14 pm

I believe the original issue was the bare minimum for space combat for v 1.0. :o

I don't want complicated dectection system. There are plenty of variations in the main game and in other parts of space combat. A detection/stealth feature is just going to create yet another mini-game within space combat within main game that only prolongs the game times the number of battles people will have. Players are just going to spend more time with their main fleet moving their main fleet or scout ship around until they find the other fleets. I say players can see the whole tactical map and they chose their coordinates on the tactical map, with some safe margins for the planets, to warp in. Then a fast forward button in case players warp themselves far apart from each other.

There still can be cloaking somewhere mid or late in the game. Cloacking just make you invisible on the galaxy and tatical map, until you perform an action.
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#87 Post by Dreamer » Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:37 pm

I know that a lot of people are looking for something much more complex than this, but how about something like the kind of combat in X-com Terror from the deep? All it needed is for you to specify the kind of behaviour you wanted to use with your ship (with previous knowledge of your ship configuration).

We can have simply an animation of 2 colliding fleets composed of task forces and you can specify a strategis behaviour to each task force:

- hide
- stay away
- fire at long range
- fire at medium range
- full frontal assault
- escort / defend other task force

Also have a "ship type" so each task force behaves in a smart way to each of the commands mentioned before, depending on actual ship configuration. Ship type can also be calculated from the ship configuration of weapons, shields, engines, etc. For example:

- Assault squad
- Bomber squad
- Destroyer
- Long range carrier
- Missile nullifier

A good system of counters can be used between beam weapons, missile weapons, types of shields and armor, ship speeds and size, etc. So each task force is more or less effective against certain task force or effect.

Other optional commands can include formations in a task force and between task forces, where each formation gives advantages and disadvantages. Examples:

- Defensive sphere
- Scattered forces
- spear shaped formations to pierce an enemy formation so enemy shots hit other enemy ships.
- etc.

that would be even more than a bare minimum for 1.0. It provides with a lot of strategies but allows for simple managements in game and a simplier development. As I have serious concerns with the speed of this proyect. I know this topic is a little sensitive, but most open-souce proyects try to get fast, functional versions before putting more and more effor in extra funcinality. As far as i'm seeing it here FO is meant to be a game with a LOT of features and very complex... in 9 years more or so. Only good-intended feedback :D

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yaromir
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#88 Post by yaromir » Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:50 pm

I know that a lot of people are looking for something much more complex than this, but how about something like the kind of combat in X-com Terror from the deep? All it needed is for you to specify the kind of behaviour you wanted to use with your ship (with previous knowledge of your ship configuration).
Hrm, I found it to be...well unimpactful.

Augmenting it the way you suggested is perfectly fine. Paradox's games have essentially auto-resolve combats and they are very enjoyable.

I really enjoyed MOO2 battles though.
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Cloaking

#89 Post by guiguibaah » Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:03 pm

Hmm - from a birth of the federation view of shipcombat, everyone could see everybody unless they were cloaked.

for those who like stealth and cunning, implement the cloaking device as a major transition of period warfare.

Ships are invisible until they fire.

Starbases are invisible until they fire...


No other way to detect invisible ships. Oh, and once they uncloak, they stay uncloaked.

It guarantees a tactical first strike... yet you won't know if the guy you are attacking just happens to have 18 cloaked battlecruisers behind your now-uncloaked starships.
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utilae
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#90 Post by utilae » Sat Jul 16, 2005 2:59 am

It seems like they are going to have active and passive sensors in Supreme Commander, an RTS game, the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation.
"Similarly, radar and sonar are powerful tools but they come at a price. The designers are exploring the idea of having both active and passive sonar and radar. "Active" means that the radar is sending out pulses and reading the reflections -- this means you can see any non-stealth metal targets in the vicinity, but you also make your presence known to any nearby listening stations. "Passive" radar means that you don't send out any pulses of your own, you merely listen for the radar of the enemy to see if he gives away his location. For this reason you might not want your radar towers near your base. Or, you might risk a single radar pulse to see what's out there before going silent again. It's the same with subs and sonar. With such powerful weapons of mass destruction at your disposal (artillery can nearly fire across the map), finding out where the enemy's forces are while keeping yours hidden is half the battle. "

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