Request for Comments: Ship Design

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

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marhawkman
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#16 Post by marhawkman » Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:26 pm

Yeah... The biggest limitation of designing ship hulls(from a programmers standpoint) is that you have to visualize what it will do and then make it able to do that without making it too weak/strong.

why bother? It adds a bunch of needless complexity to the game. sure it's kinda interesting in Stars how you need to decide what hull design to use for something, but it gets really tedious. Especially if your neat idea fails because you can't find a spot for one tiny component.

I think it'd be best to make it so the player researches to increase the maximum size of ship they can build, and leave it at that.
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#17 Post by Yeeha » Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:29 am

marhawkman wrote:Yeah... The biggest limitation of designing ship hulls(from a programmers standpoint) is that you have to visualize what it will do and then make it able to do that without making it too weak/strong.

why bother? It adds a bunch of needless complexity to the game. sure it's kinda interesting in Stars how you need to decide what hull design to use for something, but it gets really tedious. Especially if your neat idea fails because you can't find a spot for one tiny component.

I think it'd be best to make it so the player researches to increase the maximum size of ship they can build, and leave it at that.
Well theres easy solution to that, make ship hull files easyly moddable so if u play one test game and think its too strong remove one weapon slot or equipment slot from hull and try again, i would be willing to testplay like that.
Think how much nicer battle would look if battlescreen aint filled with same looking doomstars with different capabilities. Example:

Leader 1: hmm he sees my cloaking ships! which enemy ship has ultra hyperscanning array?? To enemy player: could u tell me which ship has ultra hyperscanning array searching for it from ship status list takes time.
Enemy player: hmm let me think... NO!
Leader 1 after 10 minutes: aaah here it is doomstar 57!

With different ship designs u can pretty much guess whats enemy is planning without looking through all ships status info. And u can make strategical choices in battle thus much easyer, battle wont be simply collision of 2 forces then.

Edit: that reminds me... who of u actually tryed to control battle instead of letting it run in moo3 :P?

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#18 Post by marhawkman » Fri Mar 02, 2007 4:37 pm

there's a problem there. beyond the previously mentioned one. one thing I've noticed from playing SE is that special hull types tend to get targetted first. If they know which ship it is that has the special stuff they'll just blow it away and your special stuff is worthless. while it does make sense for you to be able to identify which ship it is, making it that blatantly obvious is as bad as not having it visible at all.
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#19 Post by utilae » Fri Mar 02, 2007 7:37 pm

Yeeha wrote: Edit: that reminds me... who of u actually tryed to control battle instead of letting it run in moo3 :P?
Um, maybe all the people that thought the game would be something you would be able to play, rather than watch. Burn Moo3 !!!! :twisted:

8)

Now, if we have hull types like Stars, then the external appearance does not have to be a combined set with the internal layout. If there seperate, then the enemy will never know which ship has which internal layout.

I think though that once they see your ship blow one of there ships to pieces in one shot, then that will make them decide to kill that ship of yours first.

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#20 Post by marhawkman » Sat Mar 03, 2007 12:08 am

Yeeha wrote:Edit: that reminds me... who of u actually tryed to control battle instead of letting it run in moo3 :P?
Mostly against those stupid Guardian things...... The rest of the time I just annihilated them.
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#21 Post by skdiw » Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:52 am

Geoff wrote:
eliminate the problem of traditional design where the player just stacks the latest tech onto their biggest hull.
From the first post,
Each [ship] size will likely have different advantages and disadvantages in and out of combat, none being the best at everything or particularly better than the others.
Consequently, there will be more to ship design than putting the best parts in the biggest hull. Other ship sizes will be better than the biggest at some (most) ship roles.
I'm just wondering how we are planning to design this. People oppose hard bonuses and penalties. For example, instead PD weapon A that gets a bonus against fighters a missiles, it would be better maybe allow the player to refine a weapon to PD version and it decreases the firepower of the weapon and increases the rate of fire so it's more effective at destroy many low HP things. basically you try to use as much of the few game concepts as possible.

if the tech progression is small hull -> medium -> larger -> huge, then it's necessary that the bigger hulls are better the predecessor. it's hard to make make older techs useful since research is suppose to make your empire better in general. To make old tech useful, you can make each ship size parallel or do something like command points in the tech tree.

also, ship size is boring, FO should get away from just more and more space for players to put things. ship class is more flexible concept. instead of more space, we can say this ship class reduces components on it. effectively it's the same as more space, but there are more flexibility of what we can do for a ship class and better fluff we can add.
Command points limits the amount of ships you can build for a fleet depending on the hull size and ships in a fleet gain special bonuses.
For this discussion, if releavnt, assume there are no command or logistics points limits, and that a player can use as many of whatever types of ships he or she has available, in or out of a battle. If we need limits later, we can use them with just about any ship design scheme.
command points isn't just a dummy limit; it adds certain bonus to the ships grouped together in a fleet. this is critical because it allows players to build a big ship with everything on it and have it competetive that uses many smaller specialized ships because the player makes the decision between going down better ship class or use more of the old ships more effectively.

command points is one method that will effect how ships are design. if command points weren't use, you need some other mechanisms of making old techs un-obsolete, encourage ship roles yet still allow other players to build massive do-it-all doomstars. for example, you might add a concept that each adding additional of the same component takes less space progressively so that encourage ship roles. so that effects how ships are design. then you need something that allow doomstars to be effective and make old ship class useful.
In general, I don’t like ship direction with functional game purposes. If there is ship direction complexity added, then I think a simple 360 arc and forward 60 degree direction is sufficient.
There will be relevance to ship direction / facing in some capacity.

if ship direction is a factor then i assume speed and angular rotation is gonna be a factor in the game as well? elaborte weapons schemes are also in the game. if stealth and detection is gonna be a continous integral part of the game too, do we really want that many features? how do we and how long to program the AI to do all this?
PD weapons presumably will try to shoot down everything in range without ever being aimed or activated.
What if they can only engage a limited number of targets? Should ship AI decide which 2 of 5 incoming missiles to shoot down, or should the player be able to specify?
i don't think the player even wants to specify 9999 missiles and fighters targets every 1 ms of tactical combat. i think letting the AI decided which target posses the biggest threat compare to its ability to protect the ship is fine.
However allowing multiple LR weapons or multiple fighters types in a single ship would indeed complicate the UI. Depending on what other choices are made, a limit on the number per ship is reasonable.
Any ideas how to impose such a limit?
i think player is allowed to control how specials are fired. weapons should be left to the AI.
I believe predetermined hull kits with set slots is the scenario best suited to having a ship's function and abilities discernible on sight.
Lack of visual distinctiveness is a big downside with fully freeform design, though I'm not sure how effective kits would be at making the visual distinctiveness correspond well to ship abilities. Assuming a kit still lets the player customize the ship to a significant degree, the particular weapons, defenses and other parts that are on the ship could still be quite different, making similar-looking kits not in practice similar-behaving. How would you set up a kit, with what sorts of restrictions or options on ship designs, in order to make them convey strategically or tactically useful information in practice?[/quote]

i guess a not so good idea is limit amount of designs a player can have.
skdiw wrote:the question should more [be] how much customization and gizmos do players want to fit on their ship?
Agreed... So what's the answer?
some players want lots of customization and stuff, some players like ship roles. i think we can do both by making two style progressions seperate. so a player can research into making their tactics/roles more effective through something like command points making more of the same stuff more effective grouped together or miniturization so the player can add pack more of the same component or the player can reserach ship class with larger space.
Also, in terms of graphics, it is much simpler to have 5-6 different sizes of ships with unique graphics for each size. If ships are role-specific, would we have unique graphics for each role-specific ship with different sizes, which could be many times more graphic models? If there will be no unique design within a size, what is the point to restrict ships design anyway?
the player can make a ship design be roles specific by the components he puts on it.

Completely open ended ship-design would:
• create ship which had little connection to their on-screen representation, and/or
• add several more years to development.
first point isn't necessary true. in galciv2, there is a graphical representation for each component that you tack onto a ship model during ship design.

people should be more aware of the second point.
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#22 Post by Yeeha » Sat Mar 03, 2007 5:12 pm

marhawkman wrote:there's a problem there. beyond the previously mentioned one. one thing I've noticed from playing SE is that special hull types tend to get targetted first. If they know which ship it is that has the special stuff they'll just blow it away and your special stuff is worthless. while it does make sense for you to be able to identify which ship it is, making it that blatantly obvious is as bad as not having it visible at all.
Well thats all balancing issue, ultra hyperscanning array scanning radius shouldnt be so weak that it must fly in first wave with real battleships.

I agree with skdiw that doing specialist ships and jack of all trade ships is best way to go. Trying to invent jack of all trades design that can exploit some enemy specialist ship flaw can be interesting :) .

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#23 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Mar 03, 2007 5:54 pm

skdiw wrote:if the tech progression is small hull -> medium -> larger -> huge, then it's necessary that the bigger hulls are better the predecessor.
No, that's not necessary. As long as each hull size has certain properties or jobs that it's best at, there will be a use for all hull sizes and a reason to build them, and to invest in any research and infrastructure they require. Multiple different hull types complement eachother by covering other hulls' weaknesses, making a fleet with a variety of hull sizes better (in general) and more flexible than a fleet with just one size.

Remember: ships do more than just shoot at and get shot at by other ships. In general, larger ships might be more cost-effective in combat (though not necessarily true at the largest sizes), but getting the ship to the combat can be difficult if it's large, slow and expensive to move. Ships can also do things in combat other than shoot, as well, such as scouting or blockade running / raiding planets or support / effects-generating roles. Stealth is also a big issue, with larger ships being much less stealthy, in combat or on the map.
...it's hard to make make older techs useful since research is suppose to make your empire better in general. To make old tech useful, you can make each ship size parallel...
Though ambiguously worded, the basic idea that you can and should use multiple hull sizes simultaneously, as well as continue researching them after unlocking other hull types, is appliable.
also, ship size is boring
It's a standard space opera setting concept, which can be quite evocative and dramatic. Consider the opening space scene of most Star Wars movies, and most 3D space fighter simulations with large capital ships and smaller fighters in the same battle.

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#24 Post by eleazar » Sun Mar 04, 2007 3:25 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
skdiw wrote:if the tech progression is small hull -> medium -> larger -> huge, then it's necessary that the bigger hulls are better the predecessor.
No, that's not necessary. As long as each hull size has certain properties or jobs that it's best at, there will be a use for all hull sizes and a reason to build them, and to invest in any research and infrastructure they require. Multiple different hull types complement eachother by covering other hulls' weaknesses, making a fleet with a variety of hull sizes better (in general) and more flexible than a fleet with just one size.
I agree with Geoff's comments.

I don't see the need to make hull size a tech. I think it's best as in Moo1, you can theoretically build any hull size from the beginning. However there's a strong economic barrier against the larger hull sizes until the production power of your empire has grown.


Random idea:
I think it would be interesting if "fighters" weren't a different kind of ship, but merely small ships optimized to fight— not to travel, and thus are carried by larger, faster ships. Or to rephrase it the other way, that any ship could be outfitted to carry any sufficiently smaller ships, not just a special class of ships, "fighters."

Your old fleet of fighters with obsolete jump engines, might still serve you as cheap fighters, ferried into battle by a new speedy carrier.

Or a carrier ship might drop off nearly immobile defense platforms or cloaked monitor probes. Or simply carry moderately sized ships more quickly across the galaxy.

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#25 Post by marhawkman » Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:01 am

eleazar wrote:Or a carrier ship might drop off nearly immobile defense platforms or cloaked monitor probes.
Do you have any idea how much I exploited that in SE? :D I'd go and hide surveillance satellites EVERYWHERE!

Anyways.... After contemplating what Geoff is proposing.... and true to my former(and contrary) approach, I think I've come up with a better idea than either.

Do hull designs like in SE.

Stars! and SE have one big factor in common, requirements for hull designs. There's certain stuff you must do, and stuff you can't do. But that's where the similarities end. In Stars the only way to improve a ship is by researching better components. Hulls are constant, they always have the same number/type of slots. However, in SE you can do research to improve the capacity of your hulls, thus allowing you to stick more components into the hull instead of having to use better components.

Also the two games have radically different reasons for using different hulls. In Stars!, you need new improved hulls to give you the ability to build ships using that layout, or because of a special feature. However in SE, ship hulls are far more versatile in that you have a few requirements, and everything else is free to anything. Thus giving you far more options, while still keeping your options (reasonably) limited.
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#26 Post by eleazar » Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:11 am

marhawkman wrote:However in SE, ship hulls are far more versatile in that you have a few requirements, and everything else is free to anything. Thus giving you far more options, while still keeping your options (reasonably) limited.
That sounds like essentially what i was envisioning when i referred to "hull kits". Hull types should have some obvious advantages, and logically tend to be used in certain ways, but shouldn't rail-road the player into making only one narrowly-defined type of ship.
marhawkman wrote:
eleazar wrote:Or a carrier ship might drop off nearly immobile defense platforms or cloaked monitor probes.
Do you have any idea how much I exploited that in SE? :D I'd go and hide surveillance satellites EVERYWHERE!
In an open project like this i believe we have a good chance at balancing, so that schemes like this are useful strategies but not over-powerful exploits. We'll have plenty of playtesters to find the loop-holes.

Of course the real trick will be constructing the rules and AI so that the AI can employ and counter any strategy a human could.

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#27 Post by skdiw » Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:17 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
skdiw wrote:if the tech progression is small hull -> medium -> larger -> huge, then it's necessary that the bigger hulls are better the predecessor.
No, that's not necessary. As long as each hull size has certain properties or jobs that it's best at, there will be a use for all hull sizes and a reason to build them, and to invest in any research and infrastructure they require. Multiple different hull types complement eachother by covering other hulls' weaknesses, making a fleet with a variety of hull sizes better (in general) and more flexible than a fleet with just one size.

Remember: ships do more than just shoot at and get shot at by other ships. In general, larger ships might be more cost-effective in combat (though not necessarily true at the largest sizes), but getting the ship to the combat can be difficult if it's large, slow and expensive to move. Ships can also do things in combat other than shoot, as well, such as scouting or blockade running / raiding planets or support / effects-generating roles. Stealth is also a big issue, with larger ships being much less stealthy, in combat or on the map.
i see how you are designing. older techs have a weakness which new techs will cover so there is a need to progress foward. just be sure that newer sizes justify the rp investments to cover the weakness.

...it's hard to make make older techs useful since research is suppose to make your empire better in general. To make old tech useful, you can make each ship size parallel...
Though ambiguously worded, the basic idea that you can and should use multiple hull sizes simultaneously, as well as continue researching them after unlocking other hull types, is appliable.
i just want to make sure we aren't carried away with smaller, tactical aspect of the game and forget that FO is a 4X strategic game. Research is suppose to make a player in a better situation in general. A high tech psilon being able to stretch its research advantage will beat other race irregardless of any other factors. research is growth part of macro rps game so any design under that umbrella should reflect that accordingly. remember growth > defense > offense. i just want to make sure a player who spends 1 zillion rp into better hulls should have a porportional advantage in your design, otherwise research becomes a clutterer.
also, ship size is boring
It's a standard space opera setting concept, which can be quite evocative and dramatic. Consider the opening space scene of most Star Wars movies, and most 3D space fighter simulations with large capital ships and smaller fighters in the same battle.
[/quote]

you don't understand yet, ship "class" does Not preclude size. a ship class II could mean, but not limited to, increase in size over ship class I. However, large hull size, by definition, means bigger size than medium hull size. The former can be even more dramatic since we can say transcendence class ships has the same space as previous class ship, but the components are stretched into n-dimensional space so components takes less space than previously. Effectively, transcendences class ship doubles the hull size, but does it in more interesting way. we can more easily add more properties into ship class, rather than size. for example, if there is a need that stealth becomes more powerful mid-game, we can easily incorporate that property in some fantasy class ship more easier than say new medium cruiser class ship got some perfect balance between speed and hull size.
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#28 Post by MareviQ » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:09 pm

I've been playing Eve Online lately and that got me thinking....

Ship Design:
- All hull sizes aviable up front
- from the ship outfitting standpoint in each hull size class there are individual hull shapes, each defined by a amount of weapon mounts, capacity and mass

- weapon mounts are either ship-long forward-facing or multidirectional (defined by the hull shape, not player)
- no PD/Stnadard mounting difference
- each weapon is defined by its mount type, damage, range, volume and tracking ability - small weapons easily target and hit small, fast targets, but do litle damage.
- when mounting a multidirectional weapon it can be chosen to work as a normal gun (will attack only the ships player ordered to attack) or as point defence gun (will shoot at anything that comes in range)

- the leftover capacity can be filled with anything (well... mainly engines, shields, additional armor plating, etc.) and those modules aren't represented graphically (too many possibilities to actually make it meaningful)

- ships speed will be calculated by it's mass and engine power (it should be updated as the player adds any modules) and capped at a certain value by the hull (citing materials stress resistance)

this allows ship customization and allows it to look properly in-game (the gun mount-points are defined by the artist so all the in-game effects can look properly cool) by perhaps attaching gun-models to the ships hull

Research Importance
So you get all the ship sizes up front. What does that leave you to do? Well, in the begining the larger ones are hugely expensive (and slow and relatively weak, and ridiculously slow - the ship's structure is pretty fragile then and can't be put to much stress). That's becouse the technology is inefficent - you can develop technologies to make them cheaper, lighter, more durable, etc, but the hull sizes stay the same.

This also gives possibility to develop hull shapes, which may have smoe bonuses in some areas, giving possibilities to make better gunships, transports, etc.

And another thing to research - intelligent PD weapons targeting systems - at first they shoot at anything that gets in-range, later you can specify to target missles or enemy ships, or enemy ships but switch to missles if any are detected, etc.

the why and how
If you didn't bother to read all this this is a short summary:
- ship hulls researchable, but only to add some bonuses or to get more weapon mounts
- amount of weapons to be fixed on a hull defined by the artist making the ship model
- reasearch important to make large ships affordable and effective
- targeting of PD guns defined by mounted targeting module (researchable)

I believe theese points are actually possible to implement, and enforce the typical hull size progression not by force but rather economical and tactical reasons (note: you wll need huge ships if you're planning planetary bombardment or invasion... you can't really get an invasion army on a ship the size of a Millenium Falcon and bombarding a planet takes a LOT of firepower)

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#29 Post by marhawkman » Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:54 am

not bad.... but never having hulls get bigger seems just as bad.

I'm leaning in the direction of making hull designs that have special attributes.

say....

Generic ship(only hull available at start)
--colony
----freighter
--generic warship(has built-in features making it better in combat, but less versatile)
----stealth warship(requires you to research stealth technology)
----carrier(requires you to research fighters)

Etc.... once you have the ability to build a certain ship type you would have the ability to continue to research that hull type in order to improve it's abilities and size.

As for me and my abuse of surveillance satellites.... Lets just say the AI's loved to blow them up.....
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#30 Post by utilae » Tue Mar 06, 2007 5:15 am

I like having all ship hull sizes available at the start while still maintaining the need for research (since realistically bigger hulls cost more, etc etc).

Whether ship roles should researchable is another question.

I would like it so that weapon are defined by their mount as well, eg a fixed (shoot in one direction), rotatable (turret / shoot in more than one direction via rotate to face). I would also like weapons to not be limited based on what they are. Eg PD weapons traditionally are short range and can shoot in any direction (rotatable), but it should be possible to have long range PD weapons that are super accurate and have fast fire rates. All comes at cost of course, but flexibility would be great.

I'm not with the idea of hull types having certain attributes, eg freight hulls, must have X, carrier hulls must have Y. Lets just have hulls, and if their are fighters inside, well its a carrier. If we put penalties or restrictions in it limits design. Eg I don't want to see "you put 30% fighters, this means you cannot have 30% lasers, no you have to have 10%".

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