Ship Design

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Magus
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Ship Design

#1 Post by Magus » Thu Nov 24, 2005 7:36 pm

So, I mentioned in the EW thread I'd have my own ship design process up here soon. So here goes...

Here is an example ship, with notes next to each item on its purpose.

Type: Starship -- Thing being designed. Yes, there are other options, mainly Station, Missile, Parasite.
Class: Cruiser -- General size, though Heavy and Light modifiers will effect other things.
Designation: Excelsior -- Name

Core Systems
------------
Hull: Grown Stable Transuranic -- Material and Process are selected, Stable Transuranic Plate would be less effective.
Armor: 0 Tons -- Extra Mass to enhance the hull. Taking 0 is a perfectly acceptable option.
Powerplant: Antimatter -- Powerplant determines how much mass per unit of power is required.
FTL Drives: Warp Shells -- Can be removed if we decide only one type of drive per starship.
System Drives: Antimatter -- See above.
Maneuverability: 20 Tons -- Similar to armor: Extra engines to go faster and dodge more. 0 again is fine.
Fuel Bunker: 30 Tons -- Stores fuel, no more than this amount can be used in combat.
Computer Core: Phased Crystalline -- Computer Core power affects EW, ECM, and Accuracy.
Sensors: Multi-band Tachyonic -- See EW thread.
ECM: Tachyonic Screamer -- Decreases Missile/torp accuracy, but needs good computers to work. Is a jammer for EW purposes
Shields: Gravitic Shell -- Decreases damage, though different weapons may be able to pierce shields.
Cargo Holds: 80 Tons -- Holds supplies, extra ammo, and fuel.

Special Systems
---------------
Gravitic Reinforcement Field -- Special systems can augment core systems, like this which helps shields
Inertial Stabilizer -- Or this which boosts manuverability
Hyperwarp Disperser -- They may also have their own unique effects, like this which decreases Hyper-footprint
Lifeboats/Escape pods -- There is no limit to the number of special systems

Weaponry
--------
3 Heavy Neutron Lances [1] -- There are no limits to weapons either, save mass.
3 Heavy Gauss Cannon [1] -- Weapons are assigned to different firing groups so that they may
8 Ion Cannon [2] -- Be fired at different targets if the player desires.
8 Mass Drivers [2] -- But weapons not specifically aimed at different targets will aim with
1 Antimatter Torpedo Launcher [3] -- The majority of the weapons
2 2-Ton Missile Launchers, 12 Magazine [3] -- Missiles and Parasite Craft have limited ammunition
Default Load: 11 Deathknell-Class, 1 Firestorm-Class -- So space must be allocated to hold them
4 12-Ton Parasite Craft [4] -- If a new Missile or new Parasite Craft of a given size class is designed
Default Load: 4 Ward-Class -- The default load can be changed and ships will be resupplied with the new design
12 Pulsed Lasers [PD] -- Things in the PD category are not controlled, but automatically shoot at all targets

Note that all items on this ship are completely made up on the spot. Most of them would also reduce to simpler names, the "Gravitic Shell" could just be called Class V Shields, for example. On an actual ship design sheet, stats would of course be given.

When a ship has been designed, it then must be Engineered. This costs money, to discourage players from designing whole new Battledreadnoughts when the Widget MK MMLCCXII replaces the old Widget MK MMLCCXI. In addition, the larger the empire and more labyrinthine the government, the longer engineering takes and the more it costs (e.g. DARPA).

In addition to costing certain amounts of time and production to engineer the design, the engineering process will also effect the ship. Better engineered ships cost less, and worse cost more. Ships may get minor benefits to Hull, or Maneuverability if the ships are well made. Ships may have minor design flaws where a ship perhaps can't cover all the firing arc with certain weapons. These benefits and flaws would come from a list and would be applied based on random roll. None should be so major as to overwhelm the actual design, they are there to add character to your ships and to encourage the acquisition of other people's weapons.

The other thing I see people freaking out about is designing your own missiles and parasite craft. I would want this to be optional only. Certain default configurations would be available for you to just pick, if you want a 2-ton shipkiller missile, there will be one available. If you specifically needed a shipkiller to penetrate your enemy's rediculous expenditures on ECM on his ships, you could design one which reduces the warhead for more computational power.

Well, Fire away!

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#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Nov 25, 2005 6:45 am

Could you rewrite that without all the filler technobabble, and just summarize the main points? What is the basic form of a ship design, and what restrictions or limits are there on allowed designs?

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#3 Post by Magus » Fri Nov 25, 2005 6:38 pm

Basic form for a starship is this:

Size, Hull, Armor, Powerplant, FTL Drives, System Drives, Maneuverability, Fuel Tanks, Computer, Sensors, ECM, Shields, Cargo Space, Special Systems, Weapons (With firing groups, magazines, and loadouts). Also, Name and Role.

The ending statistics for a ship would be
HP, FTL Speed, System Speed, Operational Endurance, EW capabilities (rated), Shielding, Firepower (rated), General Role, Tonnage, Hyper-Footprint.

You may make any design you wish as long as it meets the tonnage requirements and basic standards (i.e. you cant make a ship with a powerplant that can't meet power requirements, or a ship with no engines). When you design a ship, the design has to be tested and produced, which takes time and production: the time and production scaled to the inefficiency of your government. Once the engineering period is complete, you may build that ship as normal.

You have no limits to the amount of different ship designs in service, you just have to either spend the time and money to engineer them or the time and money to steal/diplomatically acquire the designs. Ships can be rated as Obsolete and removed from your normal build list.

Hows that?

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#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Nov 25, 2005 8:07 pm

Magus wrote:Basic form for a starship is this:

Size, Hull, Armor, Powerplant, FTL Drives, System Drives, Maneuverability, Fuel Tanks, Computer, Sensors, ECM, Shields, Cargo Space, Special Systems, Weapons (With firing groups, magazines, and loadouts). Also, Name and Role.
To summarize the summary: You want ship designs to have many specific component slots, some of which must be filled and some of which may be left empty, multiple subslots for weapons, with a total ship mass as the main limitation.

If you don't like the term "slot" then replace with "categories".

There seems to be a lot of gratuitious complexity and/or redudancy in your suggested slot types. All of them need to be justified or decided on specifically (separately or as a combined system), which I don't think you've really done, other than the implied liking of complexity. I suspect that in general, what you want is far more complicated that can be justified or which would be ideal for gameplay for most people, or for strategic purposes.

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#5 Post by Magus » Fri Nov 25, 2005 9:45 pm

Well, I basically took the MoO 1 System, and expanded.

Name, Size, Hull, FTL Drives, Maneuverability, Computer, ECM, Shields, Specials, and Weapons are all straight from MoO 1.

The use of a seperate drive for system movement is certainly not a necessity, I just included it for the option of skimping on one or the other if you wanted. Could be esily combined with the FTL drive for one unified drive system.

Armor is a fairly simple addition, as I felt it strange that the only way to make a ship stronger in MoO 1 was to make a very expensive double-hull.

Poweplants existed in MoO 1, they were just tied to the Propulsion system in use. Oddly, the more advanced the propulsion, the less size-efficient the plant...

Fuel and Cargo are resultants of the Supply system. Obviously, if the supply system works out differently then that which this design system had in mind, these could be replaced by something else or flat out eliminated.

Sensors are a resultant of the EW thread, though I decided to combine general sensor jammers into the ECM system.

Role is meant to make ship command easier, as you could give orders by role (All Beam Barges attack this group here).

So all in all, I don't find it all that much more complex than the MoO 1 system, just adding components to deal with a more comprehensive game (the supply components), fallacies within its design system (armor), and increased tactical options (sensors, weapon firing groups)

Edit: If you think this is complex, you should see my first draft :)

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#6 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Nov 25, 2005 11:05 pm

Magus wrote:So all in all, I don't find it all that much more complex than the MoO 1 system, just adding components to deal with a more comprehensive game (the supply components), fallacies within its design system (armor), and increased tactical options (sensors, weapon firing groups)
That MOO did something isn't really a sufficient justification for doing that same something in FO. In particular for complexity of ship designs, since MOO was limited to so few designs, each could be rather complicated without the total complexity and player time required to deal with it being overwhelming, and without the various differences between designs being too much to easily remember and understand. In a game with unlimited ship designs though, it would likely be better to make individual designs simpler so the total

X = (ship design complexity) * (number of designs made)

is constant

Potential simplifications:

Is it really necessary to have multiple weapons types in a single design? It would much simplify the UI if each ship had only a single weapon to worry about; you wouldn't have to deal with differing ranges and changing behaviours as a result, or picking which of several weapons to use in an ambiguous situation. MOO had very limited numbers of designs, and just lumped all ships of a particular design together in battle. FO will likely allow multiple groupings of ships to move about. If each such group has several weapon types per ship (and then perhaps several ship types per group) the control of the groups would be rather complicated. Keeping each ship type simpler reduces or eliminates this.

Do ships need armour AND shields? Why not a single defense component slot, in which you can put armour, shields, point defense, or something else. Yes, it's less "flexible", but is that necessarily a bad thing? It means the player has to choose, and makes differences between different designs more pronounced.

What is the purpose of power? There would already be limits on mass... what is the benefit of the additional limitation?

There's also an issue of bookkeeping. Do we need separate slots for ECM, Fuel Tanks, Computers, Sensors, Cargo, and Specials? Why not a "Payload" or "Misc" slot, which has some limit on number or size of components, in which the player can put as many or as few of the above types of components as desired? This way, if for some time during a game the best way to avoid being targetted is ECM components, but later it's some other type of component that does the same thing some other way, the transition can be made elegantly, without a now-useless "ECM" slot that you don't need (nor another unused slot of some other kind at the start while ECM is useful...).

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#7 Post by Magus » Sat Nov 26, 2005 1:06 am

There is one thing that I don't think you and I see eye-to-eye on. In both MoO and MoO 2, ship design was not just a way to get a given concept into play as a warship. It was fun. Sure, we could just make a system like this:

Beams-Missiles-Kinetic (pick one)
Shields-ECM/PD-Maneuver (pick one)
FTL-Fuel Supplies-System Drives (pick one)
Small-Medium-Large (pick one)

Bang, theres a ship design system, with 81 possible designs. And if we were going to ramp up into a full space-combat system, I'd say that would be a good place to start.

However, I think that the design process should be as fun as the combat itself, hence my system. Now I agree that it probably needs some simplification, for example Power requirements can just be factored into the mass of the component, but I'd like to be able to do stuff in ship design.

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#8 Post by utilae » Sat Nov 26, 2005 1:18 am

Here's my idea:

Ship Properties
==========
Hull
-Type - eg Organic (regenerates), Metal (tougher than organic)
-Size
Armour
-Thickness - Num units (an inch) thick. Affects all areas of cover.
-Cover - Multi check box, eg choose rear, front, sides to have armour on all sides
-Special Properties - eg Laser reflective coating, Stealth shaping
Weapons
-Stats: Damage, Max/Min Range, Firerate
-Mods: eg Piercing, Heavy/Point Defense, Armoured Missiles, etc
-Costs: Space, Money, Power, Stealth
-examples: Beam, Area Effect, Missiles, Fighters, etc
Systems
-Stats: Modifier Effects, eg +50% Damage, etc
-Mods: Possible Mods, eg Shield Radius Booster
-Costs: Space, Money, Power, Stealth
-examples: Engines, System, Power, Shield, Stealth, Computers, Scanners

Costs
====
Basically weapons and systems would have four costs. Money and Space are easy to understand. Power is a means to balance the weapon power requirements with power supply. In this way some weapons may need lots or power, while some may need little power or none at all. If power supply happens to be disabled, then the will hurt a power dependant player.

Stealth is a hidden cost. Each weapon and system would have a stealth rating. A weapon that emits alot of energy and heat and is easily detectable has a low stealth rating. Adding scanners increases the ships detection rating. When one ships detection rating is compared with anoter ships stealth rating, then the target ship is detected (if detection>stealth). Using this system, a ship with alot of weapons and systems would be easier to detect then a small ship that can't fit many weapons, eg a freighter.

Hull/Armour/Shields
=============
Ships would have different types of hulls, eg organic or metal. And organic ship is grown, while a metal ship is contructed. An organic ship would have properties such as regenerating hull and armour. A metal ship while not having regeneration properties, would be stronger and would be able to withstand more damage then an organic ship. There may be other hull types.

Armour would be specified by the player in terms of thickness and cover. So you could choose to have 5 units thick armour at the front of the ship, but no armour anywhere else. To add more flexibility to this system the thickness could be specified for each area of cover, eg 5 at front and 1 thickness at back. Armour does not require space or power.

Shields would be similar to armour, except requiring space and power for the shield generator. Areas of cover would be able to be specified and would be in terms of parts of a circle. A radius would be able to be set, so a larger radius shield would require more power but would be able to cover nearby friendly ships. Also shield strenth could be specified, which would improve damage resistance.

Engines
=====
A ship could have engines placed at various points around the ship and at different facings. To have engines at the front and sides would allow for extra manuerverability, along with the traditional rear engines.

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#9 Post by Magus » Sat Nov 26, 2005 1:28 am

I tried to avoid arc-dependant things for mine, figuring they'd be hard to work with in a 100+ ship environment. Looks interesting though. Want to throw together a techno-crap-filled example ship?

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#10 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Nov 26, 2005 2:16 am

Magus wrote:Sure, we could just make a system like this:

Beams-Missiles-Kinetic (pick one)
Shields-ECM/PD-Maneuver (pick one)
FTL-Fuel Supplies-System Drives (pick one)
Small-Medium-Large (pick one)

Bang, theres a ship design system, with 81 possible designs.
I wasn't suggesting that degree of over-simplification, and something that simple is pretty pointless.

Rather, I envision something with many options for the component in each slot. Something along the lines of Alpha Centauri is a good starting point. SMAC had unit design consisting of
-chassis
-weapon
-armour
-reactor
-special1
-special2

There were 9 or so chasses (infantry, speeder, hovertank, foil, cruiser, gravship, needlejet, copter, missile), though a few (foil/cruiser, hovertank/speeder) were semi-redundant. There were about 20 weapon types, and about 10 armour types. Reactors were a non-issue, as there were only 4 and you almost always just used the best available. The special slots were nice, in that you could only pick two, so which to pick, and what combinations, were difficult choices. There were dozens of specials to choose from.

The net result was that unit design had plenty of possible combinations (they claimed 65 000 or something on the box). Many of the potential designs were very similar or effectively useless, but there was still a lot of meaningful room for variation.

Hopefully FO will have weapons an defenses that aren't differentiated by just their strength ratings, as (mostly) was done in SMAC. Picking one each of something on the order of a couple dozen weapon types, a dozen or so defense types, 6 or so ship sizes, and picking a few of however many special components are available could make for a quite involved and enjoyable ship design system, without resorting to unnecessary or even problematic complexity.

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#11 Post by Robin J. Cartwright » Sat Nov 26, 2005 5:18 am

Why not just have design name, hull size/type & a list of componets instead of a bunch of fixed slots for everything. "Componets" would engulf everything that could conceivably be put on a ship: engines, armor, shield generators, weapons, etc. Componets can be given whatever costs & characteristics we want. If necessary, some hull types might require particular componets be installed (eg. starships require engines). This is (a) simple and (b) flexible. You can have a wide variety of ship designs without the hassle & complexity of all those fixed slots.

I don't think the idea of "power" as proposed in this thread really adds anything in gameplay terms. In order to generate that power you need to install reactors, which take up space. So installing componets with high power requirements is the same as installing componets that take up a lot of space. Power in the version proposed here is redundant and unnecessarily complicates this. The idea of having "antimatter reactors" and the like that you can install on your ships sounds very cool, but it should be done in a different way than was proposed in this thread. Perhaps reactors would reduce the maintenance cost of the ship. Or, if some kind of supply system is incorporated, they could reduce the supply costs of the ship since it can generate its own power.

With regard to shields & armor, I think it's better for each to have different gameplay effects. Otherwise they become redundant, but different gameplay effects can make for interesting strategic choices. Perhaps armor could provide a fixed number of hit points which have to be reduced to zero before the ship or individual componets can be destroyed while shields reduce the amount of damage a ship recieves from each shot by some percentage.

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#12 Post by The_Commentator » Sat Nov 26, 2005 8:44 am

I didn't think ship design was fun in MOO 2; I've said it before and I'll say it again: I would like a combination of auto-upgrades and manual ship design. If we base new ship techs on research like the Civs and the AOE series does, then it might make it easier. I'd like some stock ships though because I think ship design should be a fun option, not an imperative, for the person who would rather focus on other parts of the game [like empire building].

Oh yeah, and one more thing; Trek seperated different ship designs into different classes...we should have an organization system like that in FO.
--T.C.

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#13 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Nov 26, 2005 3:01 pm

Robin J. Cartwright wrote:Why not just have design name, hull size/type & a list of componets instead of a bunch of fixed slots for everything.
I didn't suggest fixed slots for everything... just for some things. The things with fixed slots are those which need to be limited in some way, and it's easiest and clearest to indicate those limits by making those things go in slots. The payload/general/other slot suggested above can have various different misc. components, or not. Likely every ship needs an engine, offensive component and defensive component... though even if they don't, I suggested having each ship have only one of each of these, which would be indicated and specified by the slot mechanism.
If necessary, some hull types might require particular componets be installed (eg. starships require engines). This is (a) simple and (b) flexible.
It's also the same thing as slots...
You can have a wide variety of ship designs without the hassle & complexity of all those fixed slots.
You can also have a wide variety of ship designs with the convenience and simplicity of fixed slots.

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#14 Post by Magus » Sat Nov 26, 2005 4:32 pm

Robin: So you basically want a MoO 3 type system. It basically adds up to the same thing, the main difference is organization. If a ship has a list of components 24 entries long compared to a statblock ala MoO1, one is alot easier to understand at a glance. Also, its alot harder to accidently forget something if there is a slot reminding you to plug in those shields.

As far as power goes, how I'd do it is that with advances in power generation technology, the mass of all power-consuming components goes down, reflecting the shrinkage of the reactor necessary to power the devices.


Commentator: I would certainly be for some kind of autodesign system if a competent one could be made. Just go in and say "I want a Cruiser-size missileboat", and the game would grab the AI design protocols and throw one together for you.

With the "seperated into different classes", do you mean like Frigate as compared to Dreadnought, or Beam barge as compared to missileboat?

Will continue later, have to go now...

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#15 Post by skdiw » Sat Nov 26, 2005 7:35 pm

The_Commentator wrote:I didn't think ship design was fun in MOO 2; I've said it before and I'll say it again: I would like a combination of auto-upgrades and manual ship design. If we base new ship techs on research like the Civs and the AOE series does, then it might make it easier. I'd like some stock ships though because I think ship design should be a fun option, not an imperative, for the person who would rather focus on other parts of the game [like empire building].

Oh yeah, and one more thing; Trek seperated different ship designs into different classes...we should have an organization system like that in FO.
--T.C.
I agree. I think there should be template that's very effective, and the player can tweak the design to his specific purpose.

I think the design we came up with is very good. There are probably links all over the place that you have to look for them. If I remember correctly, there is a slot for shield, armor, weapons, engine, hull, and specials. There are four different major kinds of weapons are sheild/armor, each with its own unique advantages (like AoE, "poison effect", long-range penetration; shields can be regenerative, X-shields...)and has a small rps build in. There is a debate on powerplants, but I think we should forget about power, as our plate is full already. As for sensor and ECM, I don't see why you wouldn't always use the best.
:mrgreen:

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