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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Daveybaby
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#61 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Jul 05, 2005 1:36 pm

utilae wrote:
Sandlapper wrote: @ Utilae
I think you need to dramaticly increase your active detection. I would think passive would be no better than 10% of your active sensors at best.
Ok, that would just require increasing a ships detection rating by a larger %. It's a balance issue really, tweaking is all that is needed.
Surely they should be pretty much independent? An active sensor is, after all, just a passive sensor with an emitter to 'illuminate' your target.

So passive sensor range depends more on the 'noisyness', or output, of the enemy, while active sensor range depends more on the enemy's ability to absorb your sensor's emitter output.

So, a ship with radar absorbent paint would be harder to detect via active sensors than a ship without it. If it had stealthed engines it would also be hard to detect passively. HOWEVER: if it started to use an active sensor itself, it would suddenly become highly visible to ships using passive detectors. The same would apply for firing weapons (though i think that some weapons, e.g. stealthed missiles, should be a possibility, and wouldnt affect your stealth rating).

The point being that a ship using an active sensor would be detectable by a passive sensor just as far away as its own detection range (or in fact much further).

This could lead to some interesting cat & mouse gameplay. If you feel you have a superior force, you might choose to use active sensors in order to seek out the enemy quickly to engage them, not really caring that they cant see you easily. However, if you are at a disadvantage, or are not sure of the enemy's numbers, you might wish to go fully passive, and hope to spot the enemy before they spot you, and try to get in a decisive first strike.

However I agree that in the general case, when neither ship is emitting, active sensors will have a much greater range than passive ones (10x is a bit much though - maybe 4x). My point is that this shouldnt be just a straightforward relationship, but that the design and behaviour of the enemies ships should also be taken into account.
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Impaler
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#62 Post by Impaler » Tue Jul 05, 2005 5:45 pm

Indeed that is can be even more independent then that. I think we shoud have them as two seperate devices. Passive Sensors simply listen and are likly on most combat ships. "Active Sensors" are a bit of a mis-nomer as their would not be a device that is both active and Passive at the same time, rather a seperate device "Pinger" if you like would be put on a ship. Only thouse ships equiped with such devices would have the option to use them, these ships need not even HAVE any real sensors of their own. Its perfectly possible to have one ships fire the Ping and have another ships at a wholy different location do the listening.

The Ping is a Signal like any thing else a ship dose that makes if easier to see (such as Weapon and Engine usage) So if a Ship normaly had 20 Signal and it use a Ping device that sends out a Ping of say 50 power that ship has incressed its signal value to 70 making is much more visable to its oponents, if its firing its Engines as well that will add even more signal. That 50 Ping travels outward in all directions and "hits" every object that needs detecting. The Ping is lossing energy as it travels outward so when it hits something the strength of the hit is equal to ( Power / Distance squared ). The object hit might have some radar absorbing paint as Dave Babby describes. That paint could have % absorbtion value that reduces the Signal further. This reduced value is then added to the Signal Strength of that Object. After all Active Pings have resolved for a turn all the Passive Sensors resolve with the hightened Signal values of their targets hopfully making the difference. Lets try an example...

Active Ping of 50, distance 12, Absorbtion 20%

500 / ( 12 * 12 ) = 03.4 * .80 = 2.72

This may not seem like much but consider that if a fleet of these ships were Pinged the Signal value of every ship would increese resulting in a considerable increese in the Fleets Signal value, especialy if these are stealthy craft one is aiming to detect.

Now a point about ship size and its effect on Stealth. First off small ships have smaller engines, weapons and power systems meaning that their raw Signal values are smaller then thouse of large ships. A fighter might have a Signal of 20 and a Capital ships 100. In addition small craft get a free Base Absorbtion value. A small fighter without any special modifications might have 40% absorbtion. This reflects the small size of the craft reflecting less energy. Conversly Large ships get negative absorbtion which dose just the oposite, it increeses the reflected signal by a %, ofcorse various modifications can be used to reduce that value quite a bit but it will be nearly impossible to make it as good as a fighter. The combination of these two effects is that small craft are MUCH MUCH more stealthy and THIS is their greatest tactical advantage. A swarm of fighter craft have a much lower signal then an equivilent mass of Capital ships and can literaly "jump out of noware" to strike targets of oportunity. Active Sensors are likly to be a major defence against Fighter craft.
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#63 Post by skdiw » Tue Jul 05, 2005 8:41 pm

I don't see what passive and active sensors is going add combat other than un-needed complexity. Assume there are both passive sensors and active, the player has to switch between the two in-game. Since there are hundreds of ship on each sides, each side will have a small number of "pingers" aka scouting ship for the sole purpose of detection and basically negate the whole passive-active sensor distinction part of the game. The feature is similar to moo3's concept of having scout ship in a fleet. The whole job of the scout is that it has higher detection for the rest of the fleet. People didn't like it and it was far less complicated than here. Furthermore, stealth didn't matter much since there are hundreds of ships, one of them got to bound to detect something even it only has 1% chance/turn/ship; and in fact in the real game, it didn't mattered other than annoyance for most people, who modded the scout fleet requirement out and even the useless "scout" ship job-class out.

The idea of stealth and sensor is okay, but it needs to be more involved. Maybe stealth can be factored into defense and sensor is factored into weapon accuracy.
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#64 Post by Impaler » Wed Jul 06, 2005 12:33 am

We have been planning for most battle control to be done at "Task Force" Level rather then individual ship levels. The play will be instructing ships when to use their Active Sensors just as you have to tell you ships to do things like move or bomb a planet, to say that adding a desision for the player to make is a bad thing is short sighted. The question should be is the desision important and I think in this case it definatly will be as DaveBabby explained Active sensors are a risk you take to try to nutralize an enemy advantage, depending on situation it may be good or bad for you and judgment will have to be exercised.

Note the fundamental difference between this system and what you described in Moo3. Their the player put the Scouts in their main fleets (note I havent played Moo3 for more then 5 minutes). On the other hand under my proposal the best strategy is to send off the scouts in their own seperate Task Force to get in closer Ping the enemy and determine their disposition. The main fleet would hold back untill the enemy has been probed, then it can come in guns blazing and active sensors running full blast or try to cat and mouse the enemy. But by using active sensors your going to reveal yourself (or atleast your scouts). If the enemy knows he is outmatched he want imediatly run away ofcorse but that has a good chance of revealing him. Everyone has important choices to make in this type of battle.

I think it would also be possible to varry the level of detail revealed to the player based on how much Signal they get from the enemy. It could varry from ambiguos "Sensor Anomaly off the Port Bow" to "Krovian Crusier at 16 degree, range 2500 km, their charging weapons captain!!". The liklyhood of weapons to hit their mark could also be modifiend by how good of a "Lock" you have on them.
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#65 Post by Sandlapper » Wed Jul 06, 2005 12:42 am

@ Daveybaby

You got it exactly the way I picture it. There would be sensor tech and stealth tech that would alter a ship\fleet's combat ability and signature. And yes this would open up cat and mouse tactics. Imagine- your fleet arrives in system cloaked and passive. You pick up nothing, but... you sense something is not right. So you wait a few minutes for a pre-designed arrival of an active sensor probe to sweep the area. It arrives, and starts it's sweeping pattern. Suddenly, contact!... and silence. The probe apparently has been destroyed by a stealth missile that it sensed at the last second. So! We are not alone! What do you do next? Go active, search and destroy; try to find them passive and destroy; send a steath probe requesting reinforcements; or retreat?

Btw- As to active range versus passive, I was thinking along current tech. You can see or hear an aircraft a few miles away, with radar you can pick it up hundreds of miles away.

@ skdiw

Passive sensors are always on, active sensors are used as needed. Passive sensors are benign with no tell-tell signature to give itself away to the enemy. Passive would involve visual\video, sound, electronic\communications chatter, magnetic anamoly, space field disturbance, propulsion trail\residue, mass detectors, temperature, etc. Active will create a tell-tell signature- radar, tachyon emmiter, weapons fire(hit a target, you then know it's there), sonar(sound waves), etc.

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#66 Post by utilae » Wed Jul 06, 2005 2:04 am

Daveybaby wrote:
utilae wrote:
Sandlapper wrote: @ Utilae
I think you need to dramaticly increase your active detection. I would think passive would be no better than 10% of your active sensors at best.
Ok, that would just require increasing a ships detection rating by a larger %. It's a balance issue really, tweaking is all that is needed.
Surely they should be pretty much independent? An active sensor is, after all, just a passive sensor with an emitter to 'illuminate' your target.

So passive sensor range depends more on the 'noisyness', or output, of the enemy, while active sensor range depends more on the enemy's ability to absorb your sensor's emitter output.
Ok, so you think that the passive sensor should be active all the time and the active sensor should be treated like a weapon. In this case it would behave like this:
Player chooses active sensor, select target, click. Detection rating increases. Stealth rating decreases. Target range is further than passive sensor range. Area pinged. Any ships found make them stay visible until your next turn. Your ships detection rating and stealth rating return to normal your next turn. However like a fog of war if the enemy moves while undetected, they will be shown on the map where you last saw them (last sentance optional).


Is this what you image (note that I have used my math system for this, but I'm sure Impalers system could be used along these lines as well).

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#67 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Jul 06, 2005 8:10 am

Sandlapper wrote:Btw- As to active range versus passive, I was thinking along current tech. You can see or hear an aircraft a few miles away, with radar you can pick it up hundreds of miles away.
Thats fair enough, but bear in mind that if you were using passive sensors such as IR detectors or a telescope you can see things much further away than that - maybe not as far as using radar, but the 100x factor gets scaled down a bit.

Plus, if the aircraft has its radar switched on, you will be able to see it much more easily.


@Utilae
Yeah, that pretty much what i was aiming at. As impaler suggested, each task force would be in either active or passive sensor mode, toggleable by the player.

In fact, this could be tied in to a more general 'stealth' mode for each task force, with 3 states:
:arrow: Stealthy = passive sensors only, engine speed reduced to dampen signature and hopefully avoid detection, cloak fields on, shields down (?), etc.
:arrow: Normal = Ship behaves normally, but only uses passive sensors.
:arrow: Active = Same as normal mode, but ship uses active sensors.
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#68 Post by Impaler » Wed Jul 06, 2005 2:21 pm

A few posts ago someone mentioned ships that ships might loss Detection when they are moving. Think of the noise of their own engines and power systems as jamming their sensors. The more powerfull and noicy the Engines the more your own sensor power is reduced. All engines would have a "Noise" value and when the engines are firing they incresse the ships signal by this amount AND reduce the ships Sensor value by that amount. The same could apply to weapons and other things that in general are "noisey" except for Active Pings as theses are coherent focused waves of energy your sensors their effects can be canceled out and Sensors are not blinded. Oh and I was imagining Active Sensors as being untargeted, they simply go out in all directions like a Radar (the original Active Sensor). Focusing the Ping in one direction dosn't realy seem that usefull to me.

The net effect here is that accelerating will reduce your ability to detect the enemy, the best detection range active or passive will come from being silent and stationary yourself. In the heat of battle your own weapon fire and Engine noise is going to blind a ship to anything not in its imediate visinity, even if its using active Sensors (and this is asuming it has the Energy output to spare) it will see reduced Sensor range. Thus ships engaging in combat are more easily snuck up on by other ships and ships not involved in that combat are likly going to be able to escape easily.

As for the basic Mathematical system to employ I should point out that the system I have worked out has demonstrated the ability to efficiently and fairly lump together Signal and Sensor values for groups of ships and thus avoid the potentialy thousands of ship-ship comparisons that would be nessary without such a system or the alternative of taking the most Sensitive / highest Signal ship to stand in for the whole of the group which would fail to acuratly reflect the overall sive of the group. Oh and incase anyone was wondering Active Sensors can be combined in the same mannor of Squaring/Summing/Rooting to produce a "Ping" strength for a whole taskforce.

Lastly let me point out the the system I have described could have many aplications outside of combat, the same basic sensor mathematics could and should be employed for ALL Detection and Discovery type events. Planetary or System based Sensors would operate in the same mannor (Theirs very little Danger in a Planet using Active Sensors as theirs no point in the Planet trying to Hide, unless you realy are hidding under the planets surface and dont want anyone to know your their). The Discovery of wormholes and Starlane Entry points has been discussed and again this could be handled using the fleets Sensor values. All that is needed is a Distance value to compute a "Found" "Didn't Find" result. My thinking was to Roll a Random number for the fleet when an Empire gives a Fleet a "Seach" order. They use that number for Distance in their Search that turn. Each subsequent turn the number is decremented by a value coresponding to the Speed of the Fleet (they search a larger area) and used again. Thus they get close and closer each turn but you cant predict at any point when anything will be found. If you stop searching at some point the number gets saved for future use so your progress in searching is never lost.
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#69 Post by skdiw » Wed Jul 06, 2005 2:57 pm

Impaler wrote: Note the fundamental difference between this system and what you described in Moo3. Their the player put the Scouts in their main fleets (note I havent played Moo3 for more then 5 minutes). On the other hand under my proposal the best strategy is to send off the scouts in their own seperate Task Force to get in closer Ping the enemy and determine their disposition. The main fleet would hold back untill the enemy has been probed, then it can come in guns blazing and active sensors running full blast or try to cat and mouse the enemy. But by using active sensors your going to reveal yourself (or atleast your scouts). If the enemy knows he is outmatched he want imediatly run away ofcorse but that has a good chance of revealing him. Everyone has important choices to make in this type of battle.
That's was my point: all the players is going to have a seperate scouting fleet to scout out the enemy, then it negates the whole sensor-stealth game. Scouting would just be another extraneous must have job-class in their entire fleet, which then it adds no game value. Plus, the player can divide his task force into several one-ship task force so he gets the benefit of 1% detection times 300 times for each of his one-ship task force so he naturally gets liek 99% effective dectection even if passive sensing has a low probability. If you balance it, then you will have game balance problem with low ship count battles. Moreover, the switch to activate active sensor for the scout is added annoyance imo; since sensing is the primary job of the scout, might as well make it as a default. Lastly, whatever happend to probes?
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#70 Post by Impaler » Wed Jul 06, 2005 7:00 pm

Skdiw: Have you read any of the system I proposed it is NOT based on a % to detect. It involves Signal Values assigned to Objects such as ships and Fleets and a Sensitivity value for Sensors these values are then compared. Detecting your opoonent involves NO randomized numbers in any way. Further more the math clearly gives a bonus to the sensitivity of a Group of ships their is very little insentive to break up the fleet into multipudes of small scouts (unless you realy had to go search in several far apart places) 2 or 3 scout groups would be more likly. Their is an insentive to break up Attack fleets to make them stealthier but this risks the force being destroyed piece-meal. Scouts, particular ones using Active Sensors are going to be very easy targets as well so their are risks involved. Scouting and Detectiong your enemy is certainly a "must have" element in any tactical engagment, we just want to make it more sofisticated them "Move the fleet around untill the fog or war is revealed". This system involves much more interesting desisions for the player

Probes haven't been discussed yet but if by them you mean some kind of limited range, unmanned vehicle that is just left to sit in space then yes that could easily be done by designing such a thing and deploying it in battle to aid you.
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#71 Post by discord » Wed Jul 06, 2005 9:57 pm

skdiw: dude, did you totaly miss the part where it was said 'or you could just use active from the beginning' it is a CHOICE, me for one like to have choices, and such a sensor system, would make 'stealth' more interesting then 'i have a cloaking device, i WIN!'

and actualy, having several ships pinging at the same time, could actualy make it MORE difficult to locate the enemy, due to extra noise....just a thought.

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#72 Post by skdiw » Wed Jul 06, 2005 11:52 pm

Impaler wrote: Scouting and Detectiong your enemy is certainly a "must have" element in any tactical engagment, we just want to make it more sofisticated them "Move the fleet around untill the fog or war is revealed". This system involves much more interesting desisions for the player
I don't see how "move the scouts around until the fog-of-war is revealed" is more interesting.
Probes haven't been discussed yet but if by them you mean some kind of limited range, unmanned vehicle that is just left to sit in space then yes that could easily be done by designing such a thing and deploying it in battle to aid you.
Probes don't have to be limited range. A ship can just deploy a bunch of cheap probes for active detection and that would be the end of initail "scouting phase" of every combat. Why design a whole new ship class when a simple probe can do the job.
discord wrote:skdiw: dude, did you totaly miss the part where it was said 'or you could just use active from the beginning'
Imagine how the system will play out. At start of the combat, both player scramble their scouts and use active sensor. A moment later, both player located each other's main fleet or tactics and battle begins. If you chose not to activate sensor, then you can't see the enemy and die. If you try to delay activation and try to destroy their scouts when they ping, then your weapon signatures will give your position away. So there is one and only one choice really, because any sensing tactic you try to deploy will end up with the same result.
it is a CHOICE, me for one like to have choices,
For every feature we employ into the game, another has to be taken out. Each feature needs to have some significance or meaningful effect. I don't want to choose what clothing my admiral will wear every turn because it affects the fleet morale by 1%.

So far, I see a new ship class, prolonged battle, and a choice created for a feature that doesn't do much as far I can see.
'i have a cloaking device, i WIN!'

Obviously you never played moo.
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#73 Post by Sandlapper » Thu Jul 07, 2005 1:33 am

@ Impaler
Probes haven't been discussed yet but if by them you mean some kind of limited range, unmanned vehicle that is just left to sit in space then yes that could easily be done by designing such a thing and deploying it in battle to aid you.
We've discussed this before, back in 2003:

viewtopic.php?t=400&highlight=probes

One thing that may need discussing, is whether to delay cloaking tech until very late in tech research? Sensor tech and stealth tech will constantly evolve from the beginning, but cloaking could be delayed until very late game.

Btw- A good analogy for passive and active- You are an officer of the law, in a pitch dark room, trying to apprehend a reluctant suspect. Your eyes, ears, nose, and sensativity to temperature are your passive sensors. Reaching out to touch, and also firing your gun would be forms of active. But for the sake of our argument, consider active as a flashlight or lantern. The light immediately finds the suspect, but it immediately gives away your position too.

As for using cloaked scouts, I would only use them in passive mode. If they actively ping and find an enemy fleet, they will die. I would use them with a fleet that could protect them. To actively ping an unexplored system, I would send an exspendable probe, or a fleet en masse.

edit:spelling

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#74 Post by yaromir » Fri Jul 08, 2005 7:49 pm

erm... much of this seems like uneccessery and un-fun compllication.

Who wants to run around the map for 5 minutes trying to locate the enemy???

I would prefer scanning to be abstracted, and maybe after being rolled give you an advantage on positioning (relative to the enemy)

If you have sensors 100 and cloaking 100 and the enemy has sensors 1 and cloaking 1, it reasonable to assume you can choose any attack vector (positioning). So enemy deploys the ships first, then you can deploy your ships anywhere on the map.

with 50/50 arrangements each party takes turns deploying ships at stand-off (or detection) range.

Please don't chew my head off, I just thought of this on spur of the moment. I really hate the searching parts of combat, Moo3 drove me blue in face...X-Com series, which I absolutely love, drives me nuts towards the mid-game.

Flying scouts around trying to locate enemy so you can obtain better positioning? That I'd rather automate.

Also, I heard that some game had RT searching and TB combat.
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#75 Post by Sandlapper » Sat Jul 09, 2005 12:35 am

Who wants to run around the map for 5 minutes trying to locate the enemy???

I would prefer scanning to be abstracted, and maybe after being rolled give you an advantage on positioning (relative to the enemy)
No one has to spend 5 minutes, if they don't want too. But if you send in a scout (or any type ship) into an unexplorered system, and it is instantly destroyed, without the slightest hint of the enemy's strength and position, what do you do? You already don't want to search for the enemy, so you either ignore\avoid the system, or send an actively scanning probe (or ship, and hope it survives long enough to send you useful data), or send in a fleet and hope it's strong enough to carry the day. Bear in mind we are dealing with cloaked\highly stealth ships which may be a late game tech.

As long as someone codes it in, there no reason not to have automation, if desired.

Additionally, I can't see 5 minutes being needed, even for passive, unless it's a very large system with lots of planets to search(fleets hiding in shadow of). Also, as to "positioning", it's not needed, unless your own fleet is cloaked and you are creating an ambush; or if the enemy flleet is too strong to simply attack head on, and you desire to flank the enemy.

Put simply- don't want to spend time searching for cloaked ships? Don't! But be prepared to send a large fleet into every unexplored system, just in case it's needed to scare away, or defeat the enemy (if there).

The obvious advantage to searching (successfully), is to be able to send an appropriotely sized superior force, versus sending the whole grand fleet (because you are going in blind).

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