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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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Ship Design

#46 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:36 pm

mZhura wrote:2."would make it much easier to balance engine characteristics against other hull properties" - please explain why number of free sockets and cost to build doesn't allow to balance ship properly?
That doesn't say that number of slots couldn't be balanced against cost. The point is that there wouldn't be anything besides cost (ie. "other hull properties") to balance against. By fixing a hull's battle and starlane speed properties, fuel capacity, stealth, health, numbers of external and internal slots, cost and build time, there are many more options to vary to make each hull good or bad in specific and different ways. This makes each hull more interesting and distinctive, as opposed to just having a single axis of tradeoff between number of slots and cost.
"much easier" - i'm ready to agree, but who said that easier - the better?
Difficulty often leads to poor balance, and good balance is important and good. Therefore, easier balancing is good.
3."There could still be add-ons or other engine-related parts to alter engine-related ship characteristics" - that part looks to me like avoidable complication. if (2) would be "much easier" than (3) would be "much harder" and again we're back to where we start. only the concept of ship design receive some additional predefined restrictions that complicating original task
You seem to be mixing up the role of the game designer and the player. The goal of the designer isn't to give the player everything they could possibly want or to remove all possible restrictions. The goal of the designer is the give the player difficult and interesting choices. That means limiting player options in some cases, to avoid there being an obvious best choice. This "complicates" the player's decision making, yes, but that's not a bad thing.

The possible engine-related parts will be carefully chosen as well. If a particular engine modification is impossible to balance, we won't make it available. That might mean only certain tech tree branches unlock certain kinds of engine modifications, while other branches in which they would be too powerful won't have access to them. Or, a particular engine property might not be modifiable with any parts. I suspect ship speeds in particular will be difficult to modify with parts in most cases.
4. "various hulls have distinctive characteristics that affect their usefulness for particular roles" - and where the "chip defense", i mean engine-less ship just for defending shipyard system?
I'm not sure what you're asking, but I don't expect to have any hulls / ships without capability for interstellar travel. This complicates fleet management, and could lead to cases where there are no-travel ships mixed with travel-capable ships, but the resulting fleet couldn't move. It's also just conceptually simpler to have a ship always be able to travel between systems (aside from fuel limits).
about hull "shape" - i think it must identify ship main role, but i see absolutely no reason why role must be bound with speed. what if i want some "fast colonizer" for my own tactical purpose, and no matter the cost?
Again not sure what your point is... There's nothing in the design that prevents us from having a hull that is fast and which can mount a colony pod. However, we might find that this ability would lead to imabalance, so we might try to limit it or make it more difficult to get a hull with both these properties, at least earlier in the game. If the design system has too few ways to restrict what players can do, making this sort of balance modification might be impossible.

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Re: Ship Design

#47 Post by mZhura » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:38 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:I suspect ship speeds in particular will be difficult to modify with parts in most cases.
that's exactly what i most afraid of! because current selection of ship speeds make game more boring than fun :( i agree that balance is most important thing, but why do you think that speed is most hard thing to balance?

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Re: Ship Design

#48 Post by marhawkman » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:41 pm

As a general rule, faster is better. Therefore people tend to build ships that are as fast as they can afford.

It's why most games stop at letting you choose what type of engine.
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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Ship Design

#49 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:03 pm

mZhura wrote:because current selection of ship speeds make game more boring than fun
The current selection of speeds are arbitrary filler or test cases. The small selection of hulls in v0.3.13 will be replaced with a much more varied and interesting set that actually make use of all this balance theory I'm talking about.
why do you think that speed is most hard thing to balance?
It's not necessarily difficult to balance speed, but it is a very useful property (or properties, since starlane and battle speeds are distinct) to have to make hulls different from each other and make things balanced overall.

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Re: Ship Design

#50 Post by TerranStarCommand » Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:06 pm

I don't expect to have any hulls / ships without capability for interstellar travel. This complicates fleet management, and could lead to cases where there are no-travel ships mixed with travel-capable ships, but the resulting fleet couldn't move.
I'm not sure why we couldn't have two tabs on the fleet menu - one for "Orbitals" and one for "Ships"

Anything without an ISD classifies as an "Orbital" and is listed under that tab.

Putting an ISD on a ship allows it to sort under the "Ships" tab.

That's neither here nor there though, back to the 'hulls/engines' discussion.

My argument for replaceable engines comes from an entirely player-oriented perspective. The player will most certainly expect to upgrade ANY ship with ANY parts available. If I research Xentronium armor, I would expect to be able to refit my old hulls with the new armor. If I research death rays, I expect to be able to refit my ships with the new weapons. If I research Antimatter engines, I would expect to refit my old hulls with the new engines, but under an engine/hull hybrid system, I am required to build a completely new ship, with all associated costs.

Argument from balance is irrelevant - balancing an engine/hull combo is marginally more difficult than balancing engines and hulls separately.

I read in the original thread that people wanted 'multiple' engines available for hulls - I agree that 'one engine per ship' is fine, especially since the COST of that engine would presumably scale with hull class - the same way the UPKEEP of an expensive/complicated/faster/better engine would also be higher withe correspondence to tech level and size. Perhaps this would be a valid method of balancing Hull vs. Engines - faster engines would cost more to build and maintain, especially per ship size. A hyperfast fleet of scout-size ships would cost 10 times more overall (but travel 4x as fast) than a fusion-drive torchship colony fleet.

Ultimately, I don't see why we're changing something that MOO2 did perfectly well. Their hull sizes and engines were disassociated, and balanced just fine. I won more than a few games by maxing out engines/weapon tech and simply hit-and-run smashing my enemies with a widely-distributed fleet that was extremely maneuverable.

The idea of adding 'extra slots' to improve ship speed, but disallowing an engine slot seems redundant. As someone said above, why not just call that extra slot 'engines'?
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Re: Ship Design

#51 Post by mZhura » Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:05 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:The small selection of hulls in v0.3.13 will be replaced with a much more varied and interesting set that actually make use of all this balance theory I'm talking about.
ok. let's test your balance theory :) but when this happiness fall upon us?

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Re: Ship Design

#52 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:00 am

TerranStarCommand wrote:I'm not sure why we couldn't have two tabs on the fleet menu - one for "Orbitals" and one for "Ships"
It's possible, but would complicate actually using the UI quite a bit. There are also the icons representing fleets on the galaxy map, which could be confusing if they sometimes represent ships that can move and sometimes ships that can't.

Really, the issue isn't "could we do it?" but rather is "why do we need to?" and "is it simpler to not?".
My argument for replaceable engines comes from an entirely player-oriented perspective. The player will most certainly expect to upgrade ANY ship with ANY parts available.
How upgrading will work is not decided, and is likely a whole separate discussion, but players can easily learn that only parts, but not hulls, can be upgraded. If there is no "engine" part in a design, then there will be no expectation to replace it.
Perhaps this would be a valid method of balancing Hull vs. Engines - faster engines would cost more to build and maintain, especially per ship size.
That there could be a way to balance separate engine and hull selections is not relevant. There are other reasons, discussed above, to give hulls fixed values of the ship properties sometimes determined by engine parts.
Ultimately, I don't see why we're changing something that MOO2 did perfectly well.
Similarly, that MOO2 did something isn't a valid reason to prefer it over other options. We're not remaking MOO2, or any other MOO, or any other game. Other games also don't all do things the way MOOX did; SMAC, for example, had unit designs comprising one chasis (which is the equivalent of hull + engine), one weapon type, one armour type, one power plant, and up to two special abilities.
mZhura wrote:let's test your balance theory :) but when this happiness fall upon us?
Depends how many contributors there are to coding and content creation and how fast they work.

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Re: Ship Design

#53 Post by mZhura » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:19 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:If there is no "engine" part in a design, then there will be no expectation to replace it
i guess ongoing discussion already proved that you are wrong. engines doesn't exist but still very estimated, and not only by me as you may see :) however that doesn't mean that your balance theory are bad.

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Re: Ship Design

#54 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:31 pm

mZhura wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:If there is no "engine" part in a design, then there will be no expectation to replace it
i guess ongoing discussion already proved that you are wrong.
My comment was about players, about which a design discussion doesn't prove anything.

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Re: Ship Design

#55 Post by fat_32_alex » Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:00 pm

The most interesting ideas about ship desing were written by balls.
1. The new concept of energy as the main resource and the space of the ship as the only restriction. You can put only 1 gun on the ship put super powerfull reactor and give all the energy to that gun, but this ship won’t move anywhere, because it has no engines. Such a ship can be some kind of “battle platform” on the planet’s orbit, for example.

2. I dream about the game which will allow to build ships from different parts. Let it be several different part types as I have it in case of the car in the real life and each type will have some variants of design (shape) as balls wrote “Hull shape; Box, Cylinder, Airframe, Spherical”. It would be great! The game need have a constructor which will allow us to creat our own ships as we want.

In the real life some people build their cars with extra big wheels (bigfoots), in FreeOrion we can build some space ships with extra big engines, or put 5 engines instead of only 1.

All the types of basic ship parts will be available from the 1st move till the end of the game. All the sizes which will be measured in tons (as balls proposed) will be available also. This means that if I want to build the ship which has the size of 1000000 tons then I can start to build it from the 1st move of the game, but it will built for very-very-very long time with basic construction tech.

For example, the basic types of the ship may be: hull, external element (like weapon turret, bridge, manipulator or some kind of healing staff and etc), engine gondola (as it is in Star Track), radar, shield generator. Each part can be places by ship constructor any where I want. Each part will have it’s own size, armor strength and weight depending of the size and armor. In the battle each part receives damage independently, for example, I can loose all the engine gondolas and my ship will stop or I can loose all the cannon/missile turrets and ship can not fire any more but can move and escape from the battle.

I can try to make 3D model of what I mean.

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Re: Ship Design

#56 Post by RonaldX » Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:03 am

I've poked through this thread and the design pad and I have a few quick questions I hope someone can answer for me.. I remember reading another thread related to this some time ago but I can't find it now. I'm going to try to phrase the questions so you can answer with as little detail as possible in the interest of saving time.

Before I start, I understand the established principles in the design pad, no weapon facings, etc.. I have no objections to the already-decided design, my questions are regarding things that I know have been discussed but are not in the design document as canonical.

***

Has any determination been made on exactly how different hulls are going to be set up for different combat roles? (ie. different speeds, different weapon/system types allowed/disallowed etc.)

Are ships going to be pre-determined as LR, SR, and PD, or could a single ship (provided it was large enough to equip more than one) use weapons/systems of each type and be more versatile?

Also, is it decided how many slots are available in each hull type/size, and how many slots the average component takes up?

Is "number of slots" the real gameplay difference between hull sizes?

***

I'd like to take a stab at developing the concept of ship design a little further, or at least throwing some math at the wall and seeing what sticks, but without the answers to these questions there isn't much point.

-Ty.

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Re: Ship Design

#57 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:23 pm

RonaldX wrote:Has any determination been made on exactly how different hulls are going to be set up for different combat roles? (ie. different speeds, different weapon/system types allowed/disallowed etc.)
No. This is more a matter of content creation than actual design.
RonaldX wrote:Are ships going to be pre-determined as LR, SR, and PD, or could a single ship (provided it was large enough to equip more than one) use weapons/systems of each type and be more versatile?
There are no restrictions on the type of weapons that can be mounted on a ship beyond the number and type of slots available, though I suspect the player will find it desirable to specialize his ships into particular roles anyway, since ship placement for ships of different roles is important, and a single ship can only be in one place at a time. The player might also have the option to set a player-defined "role" for his ship that will have some effect on the ship icon.
RonaldX wrote:Also, is it decided how many slots are available in each hull type/size, and how many slots the average component takes up?
The average component takes up a single slot - in fact, all components take up a single slot. There may be larger slots, to limit the use of particularly powerful ship parts to certain ships, but this feature has not yet been implemented.
RonaldX wrote:Is "number of slots" the real gameplay difference between hull sizes?
The idea of hull "size" is obsolete.
RonaldX wrote:I'd like to take a stab at developing the concept of ship design a little further, or at least throwing some math at the wall and seeing what sticks, but without the answers to these questions there isn't much point.
What kind of development did you have in mind? The large majority of what needs to be done for ship design involves the creation of content such as parts and hulls.
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Re: Ship Design

#58 Post by RonaldX » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:15 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:
The idea of hull "size" is obsolete.

What kind of development did you have in mind? The large majority of what needs to be done for ship design involves the creation of content such as parts and hulls.
Thanks for this info.. I'm going to take some time and review everything before I venture further into it. Later tonight or this weekend I'll decide where I feel I can contribute best.

-Ty.

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Re: Ship Design

#59 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:25 pm

RonaldX wrote:Thanks for this info.. I'm going to take some time and review everything before I venture further into it. Later tonight or this weekend I'll decide where I feel I can contribute best.
If this is any help: the most recent school of thought dictates that there should be constructed hulls, asteroid hulls, organic hulls and energy hulls, each of which should have some characteristic attributes, but also variety within the particular line of hulls.
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Re: Ship Design

#60 Post by RonaldX » Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:34 pm

In going through this data and poking through the text files on the tech tree (ironically enough, FO won't compile on this computer, but I can figure enough out from the text files to understand it), my only concern is that if there are roughly a half dozen hulls of each type, then you're looking at around 20-25 ship models per race, times 12-18 races, is a crapload of artwork. Is there any plan to re-use certain hull type artwork? I don't see how there would be very much variance in energy or asteroid hulls, while I could see every race having it's own distinct flavor of constructed and organic hulls. Just doing that would cut the required amount of artwork nearly in half.

The other thing is that I feel there may be a requirement in further separating the type of slots available. Rather than just Internal (systems) and External (weapons), it would be useful to have "Heavy Mount External" and "Heavy Equipment" Internal slots, to prevent players from loading massive weapon systems onto ship hulls designed to be small fighters or utility craft.

In this manner, you could logically separate a great deal of functionality between hulls and give them unique purpose without introducing arbitrary limitations that don't make sense. This way, a limit to the size of a system is simply a function of the hull itself.

Certain weapon systems might fit into both a heavy and normal sized mount, but likely with different properties. A normal mount "Laser Cannon" might become a more power "Laser Battery" when put into a heavy mount.

I would think that the concept of heavy/normal mount slots could also be the main engine driving ship combat roles. I would think that Long Range weaponry would mostly be Heavy Mounted Missile launchers or Mass Drivers, while SR and PD weaponry would be laser batteries. If it isn't possible to put a LR weapon into a normal mount, then ships with several heavy mount slots make themselves ideal candidates for "Missile Boats", while ships with large amounts of normal slots would be better SR ships. So hull balance would come down to juggling how many slots of each type are appropriate.

As far as Heavy Equipment vs Normal Internal slots, normal internal slots would be useful for stealth/detection/etc. components (fancy electronic systems), while Heavy Equipment might be Troop Pods, Heavy Armor, Colony Modules, etc (things that take up lots of physical space/weight). Again, the uses come in balancing.

For example: A certain hull might have
* average intrinsic speed
* poor intrinsic armor/shields
* 4 heavy mount external slots
* 1 normal mount external slot
* 1 normal mount internal slot

The player can see right up that this hull is well suited to LR combat, but terribly suited to a close-range slugfest. Even if it can equip a number of heavy weapon batteries for close-in combat, it's low armor and inability to equip more would make it a glass cannon in close range combat.

That's a pretty blunt example, but given 20 ship types I could develop a decent array of possibilities that give the ships some versatility while keeping them from becoming too generic.

Anyways if you're interested I'll work on this further.

-Ty.

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