Ship Design --or-- Stock Ships

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

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Space Krill
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Weak Spots

#46 Post by Slapstick »

I just had an idea to make small ships have a chance against larger ships, but leave large ships as awe-inspiring as they should be. Think about the X-Wing vs. Death Star combat in Star Wars. The Death Star was poorly designed with no real PD, but even if it had such PD weapons, there'd still be that one weak spot in it's structure that'd be fatal to it if it was hit.

How about we assume that all ships have a weak spot, a structural breaking point or critical fule-line or whatever. And there's a % chance of that weak spot being hit every time it's attacked. Except that the smaller the attacking ship is, the bigger the chance for it to hit that %. This % chance could be modified by attackers engine speed, weapons etc. While the defenders % could be modified by armor tech and specials.

A hit wouldn't have to be instant death, it could be critical system damage or 2-3 x structural damage instead of hitting armor. We'd still be able to have large ships rip through small swarms :twisted: but small ships would have a significant "edge" against capital ships.
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#47 Post by jmercer »

I don't think ships should be engineered with flaws. Perhaps if a spy gets the blueprints for some class of ship, there can be a +1% modifier or something like that, but then you're on the slippery slope of having a million mission types for your spies.

Also, something I always hated about MOO1's ship design. If I have a fighter which is 1 point away from holding a class whatever jammer, why can't I just increase the capacity of the fighter? That may effect it's maneuverability, but that's my choice. Perhaps there are capacity "sweet spots" which are optimal for classes, but why tie the designers hands?

A nice option would be a size slider. Pick your base look, like in MOO1 and as you move the slider, it will morph into a vessel of that size. Imagine seeing a 3D view of a fighter and as you slide it's size to the right the body gets larger (cockpit remains about the same size) and it turns into a transport or something, as you keep sliding you get a defined bridge, potential weapon mounts appear etc etc up to a mammoth sized ship. There would be different "families" of ships. Each would have similar traits or hull painting or something, but a ship at any class size could easily be identified as part of the "space 2001-retro look" family. Morphing can be easily done in 3D as it is in 2D, actually, it'd be a lot easier and cleaner in 3D since your control points are vertices of the model.

Once you have filled out your ship, you could drag the slider to the left and it will shrink down to the smallest ship that can fulfill the specs that you defined. One problem with this is armor. Do you specify 3" of duralloy, or 3 tonnes? You could define a ship that has an armor requirement that makes it mostly hollow/unused when you attempt to shrink down to size. All in all, probably not a difficult problem to get past.

Also, it may be that some components require special things that are only available at a certain ship class and above regardless of capacity. Heavy weapon mounts or drydocks perhaps. These would only be defined in models at that size and above. For instance, there is no point in having a fighter bay scale all the way down to a fighter.

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#48 Post by Dreamer »

Mmm, actually a slider is not a good idea IMO. Design a system of counters is much simplier with a discrete scale of sizes. Also, I can be designing a ship more on size than actual components. At least when I play I always start thinking if I want a fast, small, and cheap ship or a big, hard omni-ship. As my first principle for design...

You could have a "design mode" to choose whether the game limits the components to a selected size or it selects the size given the components.

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#49 Post by utilae »

Dreamer wrote: You could have a "design mode" to choose whether the game limits the components to a selected size or it selects the size given the components.
Both would be good to have.
Dreamer wrote: it selects the size given the components.
This is what would be ideal though. Choose lasers, nukes, engines, shield, etc. Hull size calculated, the hull then fits tightly around the components.

Ship class is then calculated based on what range it fits into, eg
0-100 space = fighter
101-300 space = Destroyer

Maybe it could even be a technology, eg "Efficient Hull Design".

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#50 Post by Magus »

What I think would work there is you have your main classes, take these for example:

These classes have a defined size (with the exception of Megastructure, which I'll get to). That size may be slightly increased with some technology, but it generally remains constant. A shipyard can only build up to a given class of ship.
But perhaps you want to overpack a ship. Then you define it as a Heavy ship. (Heavy Dreadnoughts are Superdreadnoughts, Heavy Behemoths are Leviathans). A heavy ship has the advantage of extra space, but less manuverability/acceleration. If you want to underpack a ship, you can make it a Light ship. (Light Dreadnoughts are Strike Dreadnoughts, Light Behemoths are Titans) A light ship is faster and more manuverable, but obviously has less space.

But why would you use light/heavy ships rather than going up or down a size class? First is the shipyard requirement, the world may not be able to build Lineships, but you could get Heavy Cruisers. Next is economics, Heavy Frigates may not quite perform as well as a Destroyer, but they are a fair bit cheaper.
So why would you ever use light ships rather than heavy ships of a size smaller? First, light ships of a larger size class are still bigger than heavy ships of a smaller one. Second, heavy ships get penalized out of proportion to their extra mass for manuverability, a Light Cruiser is probably faster and more manuverable than a Heavy Destroyer.

What about Megastructures? Megastructures are above and beyond the scale of a normal ship. These have no defined size, each one is unique. Think something on the scale of the Death Star or the Alien Mothership from Independance Day. (and that Mothership is at least 5 times the size of the Death Star, so theres an idea of the scales involved.) You can make these whatever size you want, but the larger projects will have times ranging in the triple to quad digits of years. No empire, no matter how powerful, should be able to dismiss a Megastructure easily.

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#51 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

Magus wrote:What I think would work there is you have your main classes, take these for example:
Space is 3d. Thus, they should be ships of the wall, not ships of the line. :D

I refer you to the "Honor Harrington" novels by David Weber. Compulsory reading for anyone with a passion for space empires and battles between dozens or hundreds of capital class warships launching thousands of near-lightspeed torpedoes at each other. They are really, really good.

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#52 Post by Magus »

Yes, but we aren't making an Honor Harrington game, and old terminology dies hard :). Besides, if I started referring to LACs, Ships of the Wall, SD(P)s, and so on, people might get a bit confused.

And actually, Ships of the Wall really only work well in the Honorverse, because I assume FO ships wont have the advantage of invulnerable walls of force dorsal and ventral. Then again, Ships of the Line don't work period in space :).

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Stock vs. Creator

#53 Post by The_Commentator »

Eh, I'm tired of reading through 4 pages of stuff so here's my opinion on the subject of Stock vs. Creating Ships.

I had MOO2 and it drove me nuts that I had to constantly upgrade my own ships.

Here it is: I'd like there to be different stock ships for every civ--they'd gain designs for new ships from upgrading their general technology level [by paying for it like AOEII's resource costs]. At the same time, I'd also still like to try my hand at designing my own ship once and awhile. The design screen needs to be fun.

We should have an online Ship Trade like Roller Coaster Tycoon has an online Roller Coaster Trade. Every player-uploaded ship should be classified by a moderator under a certain level of tech so that players cannot start with a dreadnaught--they have to research that level of tech first.


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