Are Ginormous Ships Necessary?

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Geoff the Medio
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#76 Post by Geoff the Medio »

marhawkman wrote:One example of this is the way engine tech works in SE3. The high level engines cost the same as the low level ones, but they make your ship go faster anyways.
What exactly is that an example of? (quote the specific thing, not the whole post you're replying to...)

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#77 Post by marhawkman »

Geoff the Medio wrote:
marhawkman wrote:One example of this is the way engine tech works in SE3. The high level engines cost the same as the low level ones, but they make your ship go faster anyways.
What exactly is that an example of? (quote the specific thing, not the whole post you're replying to...)
Of how tech advancement increases the total effectiveness of your ships. Sometimes without increasing cost.
Computer programming is fun.

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#78 Post by skdiw »

ewh02b wrote: the rest of your post was very thoughtful, but I thought I'd have some insight into the last sentence above. I think Geoff is advocating player choice. Geoff (from my reading of previous posts) thinks that if a player puts all of his/her research into medium ships and fighters (tiny), and another player puts their research into large ships, the medium player should still have some advantages against the large player.
Geoff has a linear progression. there is no choice. you go from big to even bigger ships. the strategic value of bigger ships needs to be greater. what you suggested is more like parallelism.
Chess has no RPS. Can I say that a rook beats a queen, and a queen beats a knight and a knight beats a rook. Yes. But everything beats everything. In Chess, queen is > all. It's just a variation on movement limits and starting position of pieces.
you need to develop your pieces, that's growth. there are openings for defense or offense so that's obvious.

strategic rps has already been discuss. try searching for it.

try playing a game, any game you like, you'll find offense > growth > defense. defense is more cost-effective than offense so defense > offense. over time, you have better econ and you beat your opponent. if you don't believe me, just try playing some games.


your suggestion is also parallelism.

however, try using your design but make medium sized ship cost + rp cost = 800 and large cost + rp cost= 1600, each with proportional space increase. they are still even, which is my point and problem. research serves no purpose as i said way back.
The high level engines cost the same as the low level ones, but they make your ship go faster anyways.
yes, increase benefit:cost is how most game does it. in other words, T increases as you progress.
:mrgreen:

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utilae
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#79 Post by utilae »

The setup below is probably more likeable. The way this would work is:
-More space means more Mass
-More Mass means less Stealth, Fuel Efficiency, Manueverability, Speed
-More Mass means more Cost
-There is no Cost for having more Stealth, Fuel Efficiency, Manueverability, Speed. You only pay for space. Money does not go into making the hull stealthy or fuel efficient, because those advantages (for smaller ships) come naturally as a result of size of the hull.

HULL SIZE_____SPACE__FUEL___STEALTH__COST__RP COST
Small_________50______150____150_______50____400
Medium_______100_____100____100_______100___400
Large_________150_____50_____50________150___400

The above table obviously still has the issue, that the only way to make larger ships cost more to research is to decrease the advantages for smaller ships. Basically it comes down to "Is Space more important then Stealth, Fuel Efficiency, Manueverability?". How do we weight them? Do we make Space cost the most in RP. And the others cost lesser amounts in RP.

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#80 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

Hmm. If I'm interpreting Geoff's writing correctly, perhaps the thread topic should not be "Are Ginormous Ships Really Necessary?"

Perhaps it should be "Are Very Large Numbers of not-Ginormous Ships Really Necessary?"

Now, the idea of balancing smaller ship classes so that they are uniquely useful in their own right is very appealing to me. I am in favour of the idea that at end game, all the ship classes should still be useful/usable. Balancing the different ship classes with respect to things *other* than straight combat utility seems to be an excellent route to that goal.

Geoff's approach seems like it would end up with a sort of Laser Squad Nemesis feel where you control a combined arms force with relatively few units. In contrast, the "traditional" approach of having hundreds to thousands of the smaller vessel types would be more akin to a Total War game where a single "unit" might contain a very large number of individual combatants, naturally resulting in a great many combatants on screen during a given battle without (necessarily) compromising on controllability.

While gameplay should definitely be the overriding factor in our final decision, we also need to consider another stated design goal of FO: that FO should have a feel of "Epic Space Opera".

How essential are mass numbers of vessels in space combat to achieving that "Epic" feel?

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#81 Post by skdiw »

Geoff's approach seems like it would end up with a sort of Laser Squad Nemesis feel where you control a combined arms force with relatively few units. In contrast, the "traditional" approach of having hundreds to thousands of the smaller vessel types would be more akin to a Total War game where a single "unit" might contain a very large number of individual combatants, naturally resulting in a great many combatants on screen during a given battle without (necessarily) compromising on controllability.
acutally, a traditional approach would lead to fewer vessels, because they are all big and better than smaller ships. Geoff's approach, if managed to have it worked out properly, will have a mixture of different classes of ships. they won't be few ships. they would have roughly equal ratio in terms of resources spent (or populations if you like)

there can be a lot of epic "feel" and strategic value, depending on how it's done. i think the rps component and strategy will add to the epic feel, since it creates more highs and lows for the player. people find more drama and struggle when the stories has ups and downs.
:mrgreen:

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#82 Post by Geoff the Medio »

skdiw wrote:
Geoff's approach seems like it would end up with a sort of Laser Squad Nemesis feel where you control a combined arms force with relatively few units. In contrast, the "traditional" approach of having hundreds to thousands of the smaller vessel types would be more akin to a Total War game where a single "unit" might contain a very large number of individual combatants, naturally resulting in a great many combatants on screen during a given battle without (necessarily) compromising on controllability.
acutally, a traditional approach would lead to fewer vessels, because they are all big and better than smaller ships. Geoff's approach, if managed to have it worked out properly, will have a mixture of different classes of ships. they won't be few ships. they would have roughly equal ratio in terms of resources spent (or populations if you like)
My suggestion should hopefully be independent on the total number of ships, so the total number could be decided upon separately... it could be either rather small, allowing for lots of detail for each ship, or rather high, making for big numbers of ships that most people seem to equate with epic (though arguably a single ship exploding could be considered epic in some cases...)

If a player wanted to use ships to fight other ships, it would be so inefficient to do this using large numbers of small ships that you wouldn't have any player motivation to do so, and instead players would just build relatively smaller numbers of medium or large ships for direct combat. If players wanted to use ships to do things that medium or small ships can do more efficiently for the cost than than large ships, they would have motivation to build moderate numbers of small or medium ships. If players wanted to have the ultimate fleet (at the expense of other aspects of their empire) they could build some of all size of ships, in roughly equal numbers.

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#83 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

acutally, a traditional approach would lead to fewer vessels, because they are all big and better than smaller ships. Geoff's approach, if managed to have it worked out properly, will have a mixture of different classes of ships. they won't be few ships. they would have roughly equal ratio in terms of resources spent (or populations if you like)
My writing was insufficiently clear. By "traditional", I meant the types of proposals I have seen on these forums in the past, rather than resembling earlier MoO iterations. Hence the "quote marks". I think I should have explained that rather than leaving it implied. :)
My suggestion should hopefully be independent on the total number of ships, so the total number could be decided upon separately... it could be either rather small, allowing for lots of detail for each ship, or rather high, making for big numbers of ships that most people seem to equate with epic (though arguably a single ship exploding could be considered epic in some cases...)
I agree, a single exploding ship can indeed be epic. To my mind, epic feel is largely a product of graphic design, music, and cunning camera work rather than sheer number of objects on the battlefield. However, I thought that some other people here might disagree, so I posed the question to poll the crowd anyway.

There's no rule in place that ship modelling must be equally detailed for all sizes of vessel.
If a player wanted to use ships to fight other ships, it would be so inefficient to do this using large numbers of small ships that you wouldn't have any player motivation to do so, and instead players would just build relatively smaller numbers of medium or large ships for direct combat.
This is an invalid assumption. Going back to the Total War example, it is still efficient to build large squads of individually weak units, rather than building exclusively the individually strongest and numerically weakest units. In fact, a balanced mix of unit types (both numerous and elite) is supposed to be the most effective.
If players wanted to use ships to do things that medium or small ships can do more efficiently for the cost than than large ships, they would have motivation to build moderate numbers of small or medium ships. If players wanted to have the ultimate fleet (at the expense of other aspects of their empire) they could build some of all size of ships, in roughly equal numbers.
This is, I think, the best feature of your proposal, and it's something we should strive to retain no matter what we eventually decide. Simple reduction in ship counts is really only a side-bonus to my mind.

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#84 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:
If a player wanted to use ships to fight other ships, it would be so inefficient to do this using large numbers of small ships that you wouldn't have any player motivation to do so, and instead players would just build relatively smaller numbers of medium or large ships for direct combat.
This is an invalid assumption.
This is not an assumption, it is a design feature.
Going back to the Total War example, it is still efficient to build large squads of individually weak units, rather than building exclusively the individually strongest and numerically weakest units. In fact, a balanced mix of unit types (both numerous and elite) is supposed to be the most effective.
All you do in total war is fight other units, however. My plan / suggestion for FO is to make small and medium ships very inefficient at fighting other ships, specifically so that nobody will build a lot of small and medium ships to fight other ships (regardless of those other ships' size(s)).

This should be possible while still making small and medium ships useful by giving small and medium ships other jobs, both out of an in battle. In battle, they would be useful for things other than directly fighting other ships, but which assist the ships that are directly fighting to do their job even better. Accordingly, the optimal battle fleet would a mixture of all ship sizes: large ships fighting, small/medium supporting and huge projecting interesting effects.

"Supporting" jobs for small ships in a fleet with large ships might entail scouting for the enemy in battle, if there is fog of war. Alternatively, just being close to the enemy ships might provide targetting info, giving a to-hit bonus. Alternatively, small ships might be very effective fighter missile screens, or perhaps damge-absorbing-tanks (admittedly counterintuitively), or some other job we'd find for them that they can do more cost effectively than large ships.

However, if you weren't focusing your strategy entirely on ships, you might not have all ship sizes available. In this case, if you still wanted to use ships primarily to fight other empires' ships, you'd be best to build large ships, since they're the most efficient fighters on their own. Stealthy incursions might best use smalls, mediums could be all-purpose or average in most activities except with the longest range, and huge would be for effects-projection on the map (similar to their use in battle).

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#85 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Sapphire Wyvern wrote:
If a player wanted to use ships to fight other ships, it would be so inefficient to do this using large numbers of small ships that you wouldn't have any player motivation to do so, and instead players would just build relatively smaller numbers of medium or large ships for direct combat.
This is an invalid assumption.
This is not an assumption, it is a design feature.
Ah, I see. I missed the implicit qualifier "In my proposed system..." at the start of your original statement about small ships being inefficient.

So we're both right. You are correct that under your system, it's a design feature. I'm correct that "small ships are inherently inefficient" is a decision required to underpin your proposal, but not actually inherent in the structure of 4X games in general.

Now that we (hopefully) both understand each other... I do agree with the remainder of your points.

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#86 Post by solrac776 »

Geoff the Medio wrote: All you do in total war is fight other units, however. My plan / suggestion for FO is to make small and medium ships very inefficient at fighting other ships, specifically so that nobody will build a lot of small and medium ships to fight other ships (regardless of those other ships' size(s)).
I definitely don't like this "very inefficient at fighting other ships". I agree that smaller ships should be measurably less efficient for fighting than what a larger ship would be. So in terms of combat ability: small < medium < large. BUT ships of the same size (with the same tech and armaments) should be an even match (i.e. small == small, etc. ) and shouldn't require a drawn out battle because they're "very inefficient at fighting other ships".

I agree with Sapphire (and similar-opinioned posters) in that a number of smaller ships should be able to overwhelm a larger ship. e.g. (X x small) > (1 x medium) Like many lions attacking an elephant. And in any case, such a fleet of only small ships would suffer noticeable losses in each encounter with a larger ship.

If we made small ships too inefficient in combat, then we would be removing options from the player -- including the option (useful in early to mid game) of responsing to an impending invasion by having all his systems build small ships and send them to the endangered system. Then when the invading force arrives there would be at least a token fleet to meet them. Depending on the size of the invading force, this token fleet could still be overwhelmed, but it could also provide more time for planetary defences to respond or it could even provide enough defence to fend off the invasion on its own.

I assume that the whole point is to make more tactical options available to the player, instead of less. So removing these options would be undesired.
Geoff the Medio wrote: If a player wanted to use ships to fight other ships, it would be so inefficient to do this using large numbers of small ships that you wouldn't have any player motivation to do so, and instead players would just build relatively smaller numbers of medium or large ships for direct combat.
To make it inefficient to regularly overwhelm larger ships with smaller, just have it that the total costs of these smaller ships is greater than the cost of the larger ship. Then if one player spent 10000PP building just small ships and another spent the same 10000PP on medium ships (or even a combination of sizes) then (assuming equal tech) the second player's fleet would be the stronger (in terms of combat strength). This inefficiency would be more pronounced the larger the size difference.
Geoff the Medio wrote: This should be possible while still making small and medium ships useful by giving small and medium ships other jobs, both out of an in battle. In battle, they would be useful for things other than directly fighting other ships, but which assist the ships that are directly fighting to do their job even better. Accordingly, the optimal battle fleet would a mixture of all ship sizes: large ships fighting, small/medium supporting and huge projecting interesting effects.
It seems to be the consensus that the idea of each ship size being better-suited at a particular task is acceptable. If so, then we already have an agreement that each ship size is better suited to a certain role.

Having each ship size have innate properties, in combinations different from the other ship sizes, will automatically achieve this to some degree. Then if we have a combat model with fog of war, range of vision, and a targeting range that's larger than the range of vision, your example support roles for small ships would be implicit and available to the player.

We should build the roles into the game. Not into the ship sizes.

Assigning such roles too explicitly and making each ship size measurably effective for only one thing, will remove from the player the choice of how to use his ships. Then what's the point of designing your own ships? If they want to design and build a combat fleet of several small ships, they should be able to do so -- let them risk the disappointment of encountering a smaller (and less expensive) fleet of more efficient, larger ships that will trounce them. If they want to design a large ship to perform the same role as a small ship -- even though that large ship wouldn't be as good at that role as what a small ship would be -- then let them do so. Make it the player's choice.

The beginner player, ignorant of these roles, should be able to build his fleets and throw them into combat anyway he wants (with appropriate success). The refined player, one who recognizes the advantages of these roles, would have a more varied fleet composition and would use each ship appropriately. The beginner player would have some success versus other beginners, but would be trounced every time by a refined player's more-varied and better-utilized fleet.

Using reasonable innate properties like Utilae suggested would achieve this; severely restricting the combat effectiveness of ship sizes and just forcing them into roles, wouldn't.

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#87 Post by Geoff the Medio »

solrac776 wrote:...shouldn't require a drawn out battle because they're "very inefficient at fighting other ships".
(cost) efficiency has nothing to do with how long the battle would take. eg. maybe small ships are very cost inefficient because they blow up if you look at them funny, whereas larger ships take a beating and keep beating back.
...a number of smaller ships should be able to overwhelm a larger ship
Particuarly for higher-tech small ships, but also for equal tech, this is expected in my suggestion. The point is that it's very cost inefficient to beat larger ships with smaller ones, not that it's impossible.
If we made small ships too inefficient in combat, then we would be removing options from the player -- including the option (useful in early to mid game) of responsing to an impending invasion by having all his systems build small ships and send them to the endangered system. Then when the invading force arrives there would be at least a token fleet to meet them. Depending on the size of the invading force, this token fleet could still be overwhelmed, but it could also provide more time for planetary defences to respond or it could even provide enough defence to fend off the invasion on its own.
Alternatively, having a few small ships running around spotting for the planetary defenses might make those defenses much more effective, just like the above-suggested system of having small ships spot for big ships helps them...
... total costs of these smaller ships is greater than the cost of the larger ship.
I'm suggesting that the more battle-effective sizes would have better battle cost-efficiency. If you held the battle effectiveness of the fleet constant, then this would imply that the smaller ships-based fleet would cost more. I'm essentially saying the same thing, but in a more general sense.
Then if one player spent 10000PP building just small ships and another spent the same 10000PP on medium ships (or even a combination of sizes) then (assuming equal tech) the second player's fleet would be the stronger (in terms of combat strength).
This is just what most previous games did and is what I'm trying to avoid. I want the most effective and cost-efficient battle fleet to have roughly equal numbers of all ship sizes, not just the biggest ships. Having only the biggest ships be worth using is boring.

solrac776 wrote:It seems to be the consensus that the idea of each ship size being better-suited at a particular task is acceptable. If so, then we already have an agreement that each ship size is better suited to a certain role.
I wasn't suggesting that ship sizes be optimized for different roles, but that they have different advantages and disadvantages that influence their effectiveness in a variety of different roles. It's not like "large ships = best short-range beamships" and "small ships = scouts", but rather that large ships can carry more stuff, but have a mass penalty, and small ships can go fast on the map and are stealthier in general, but can't fit many parts, etc. Going fast on the map, stealth and being able to carry more stuff are both benefits for a short-range beamships and scouts, though some of them are more beneficial than others for short-range beamships, and others are more beneficial scouts.

Edit: fixed quote attribution
Last edited by Geoff the Medio on Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#88 Post by skdiw »

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Then if one player spent 10000PP building just small ships and another spent the same 10000PP on medium ships (or even a combination of sizes) then (assuming equal tech) the second player's fleet would be the stronger (in terms of combat strength).
This is just what most previous games did and is what I'm trying to avoid. I want the most effective and cost-efficient battle fleet to have roughly equal numbers of all ship sizes, not just the biggest ships. Having only the biggest ships be worth using is boring.
for clarification, geoff really means equal resources spent for each size. otherwise, 50 scout + 50 cruiser + 50 death stars is pretty much back to the old drawing board.
I wasn't suggesting that ship sizes be optimized for different roles, but that they have different advantages and disadvantages that influence their effectiveness in a variety of different roles.
i would interpret a set of measures in which there are advantage and disadvantage as having roles. for example, it's unlikely the player would use large slow ships for scouting. scout ships have speed advantage, hence they are more suitable for scouting. hence scout ships have the role of scouting.




Geoff, if you want to proceed with your idea, I highly recommend you don't limit yourself with increasing ship size. I would start more open with ship "classes." it could be that you may choose that each classes is bigger in size than before. but i would start designing in more general terms, like a set of measure that you would like to see for each ship class, as oppose to ship size that's constrained to larger hull and slower speed. as i mentioned before, ship class has better immersion anyway and no sacrifice in gameplay.
:mrgreen:

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#89 Post by Geoff the Medio »

skdiw wrote:for clarification, geoff really means equal resources spent for each size. otherwise, 50 scout + 50 cruiser + 50 death stars is pretty much back to the old drawing board.
No, I mean equal numbers of ships of each size. That's the whole point... to make the numbers of each size in your fleet roughly equal, so that you can have a consistent level of detail for each ship. How cost for this same number of ships would differ between levels is left to be balanced later. Presumably smaller would general cost less to produce, though we could come up with justifications for the difference being relatively minor.
i would interpret a set of measures in which there are advantage and disadvantage as having roles. for example, it's unlikely the player would use large slow ships for scouting. scout ships have speed advantage, hence they are more suitable for scouting.
However the same size that is suitable for scouting might also be suitable for several other roles.
...I highly recommend you don't limit yourself with increasing ship size. I would start more open with ship "classes."
I somewhat dislike predefined ship classes, if that means you have to pick the "battleship" hull to make a battleship, or a "scout" to make a scout. I'd rather have a ship's characteristics be defined by the components put into the hull. In practice though, the distinction might be trivial. Using a slot-based design system, if you put some big guns and lots of armour onto a large hull, you'd have essentially made a battleship. In a medium-sized ship, those same parts would make a cruiser, due to the longer range and reduced combat effectiveness. We can probably have all the benefits you envision for "classes" while keeping size an more abstract choice between small/medium/large/huge. But by not having an explicit predefined set of classes the play can choose from, we would better retain the sense of actually designing the ship, rather than picking a ship to build and tweaking it a bit within a more obviously restrictive limited set of options.
...ship class has better immersion anyway...
You're going to have to re-explain that... It doesn't make much sense to me.
...and no sacrifice in gameplay.
Things are really to undefined at this point, but I disagree, as above.

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#90 Post by ewh02b »

Does a regular army have the same number of scouts as it does tanks?

It does not, because the purpose of an army is to kill people and break things, and the army should have more of the units that kill things, and just enough supporting units to make the killers more effective.

Does a regular army have an artillery battallion for every infantry batallion?

They don't, because artillery is expensive, bulky, and slow. Artillery also relies on other units for targeting and defense. An infantry battallion can move faster (depending on terrain), capture locations, and kill individual units, while artillery merely saturates an area with destruction.

Armies use a mixture of units to maximize their abillity to kill people and break things. The mixture should not be equal units of each type; the correct mix does not involve one cook per soldier.

What is so important about having equal numbers of every kind of ship?

A combined-arms approach does not mean we should build 5 small ships per 5 medium ships per 5 large ships per 5 huge ships. Each unit is useful for something, but that does not mean they should be built in equal numbers.


=====
Scouting units (small) are only needed in sufficient numbers to scout out the enemy. Excess is wasted.

Infantry units (medium) are useful for fighting other infantry units and scouts, and can be deadly if they get close enough to tanks and artillery. However, a tank batallion can usually destroy an infantry batallion.

Tank units (large) are excellent at fighting, able to take punishment and dish it out in decent quantities. Tanks are also more expensive than infantry. Tanks need infantry to protect their flanks and scouts to check their path.

Artillery units (giant) dish out enormous amounts of damage, but are extremely expensive. They are also vulnerable to attack by units inside their minimum range, and need other units to designate targets for them.

====
We should emphasize the usefulness of all ship sizes to the players, but requiring them to build an even number will probably require all sorts of artificial balancing. If a player wants to build nothing but Death Stars, their opponent should be able to see it coming from several star systems away.
The Death Star should move at an incredibly slow rate and have a slow rate of fire. Ideally, the rate of fire would make its weapons impractical for use against fighters. All hits against it should be guaranteed to hit, unless a missile is intercepted.

We want the Death Star builder to also build smaller ships to support it, as per my army allegory above. But a 'balanced' army shouldn't include one TIE fighter, one Star Destroyer, and one Death Star--that seems silly to me.

====
One last suggestion--ships under construction should be attackable. This means that the player who builds scouts and uses them to discover a Death Star in progress, should be able to take his X-Wings in and destroy it before it is fully operational. To balance this out, a portion of the weapons of the Death Star should be functional as well. The battle of Endor was truly epic in feel, and makes an excellent model to build on, IMO.

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