Battles, battles and MORE battles ! Turn based vs real time.

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

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jbarcz1
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#46 Post by jbarcz1 » Wed Jul 02, 2003 7:54 pm

I wouldn't mind having a less restrictive version of task forces. I.E. you could assign small ships to encircle and defend bigger ones. I did like that about MOO3's TF system.
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Nightfish
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#47 Post by Nightfish » Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:07 pm

jbarcz1 wrote:I wouldn't mind having a less restrictive version of task forces. I.E. you could assign small ships to encircle and defend bigger ones. I did like that about MOO3's TF system.
Yes, that's along the lines I was thinking. I'm going to think about this some more and probably post my thoughts tomorrow. Good to see that we don't have to reject a system just because MoO3 screwed it up.

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#48 Post by krum » Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:29 pm

Let's not have TF just for the sake of it either... I think we need a good reason, if we're not going to have 100+ ships as something commonplace.

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#49 Post by Nightfish » Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:30 pm

Another thought: Have any of you played one of Black Isle's D&D games like Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale? I'm not talking about pausable combat this time, we already had that idea. But those games also let you assign scripts to your characters if you didn't want to issue all orders manually. How about stealing that idea? We could assign each of our ship designs its own script. Like, how aggressively to attack, what other ships to capture, whether to launch fighters aggressively or defensively... stuff like that. Of course those things would still be subject to override if you issue direct orders during combat, but they might help handling medium to large fleets.

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#50 Post by krum » Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:33 pm

Now THAT, my dear Fish, is somehitng I'd love. :D

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Nightfish
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#51 Post by Nightfish » Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:43 pm

If that is so, stay tuned for my upcoming thoughts on real time combat, scripts and taks forces to be posted sometime tomorrow. :wink:

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#52 Post by tzlaine » Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:54 pm

Nightfish wrote:
jbarcz1 wrote:I wouldn't mind having a less restrictive version of task forces. I.E. you could assign small ships to encircle and defend bigger ones. I did like that about MOO3's TF system.
Yes, that's along the lines I was thinking. I'm going to think about this some more and probably post my thoughts tomorrow. Good to see that we don't have to reject a system just because MoO3 screwed it up.
Me too. I don't supose anyone here remembers the extremely lengthy discussion abou TFs from the early days of the old board? We came to a near consensus on a lot of important points. If only we could get it back...

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#53 Post by Nightfish » Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:59 pm

Could you post those points from memory? No need to drop the old consensus just because we lost the board. If it still makes sense, I'm sure people will support it.

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#54 Post by utilae » Wed Jul 02, 2003 9:41 pm

Nightfish wrote: I prefer to keep ground combat and space combat separate. And I think attacking one planet per turn is plenty. I could live with several attacks if the player had to split his forces to do so, but I'd prefer the system to remain a little more simple and straight forward.
Space combat and ground combat would be seperate. Both would continue over multiple turns, so battles after a set time would halt and continue on the next turn. In space combat if a troop pod made it to the planets surface this would halt space combat and ground combat would start. When ground combat is done, you would continue space combat. This method would allow for ground combat strategies that effect space combat. Like on star wars, how han solo, etc destroyed that base that made the shiled around the deathstar, ships could then destroy it.
eg.
Say there was a planet that had a powerful long range laser battery, but no pd. You would keep your ships out of range and send in troop pods, which could only be hit by pd fire. The troops who land on the surface would destroy that long range laser battery, which cannot attack them (as it is ground to space). Back in space combat your ships can now continue battle.

There is an advantage in having all planets in a star system in the battle, where you could destroy/capture all planets in a star system within one battle (might take a few turns, but space combat would continue).

advantage:
You don't have to manually destroy every planet in every star system seperately, like Moo2, when there is 50 star systems, each has 3 planets, you have to enter battle 150 times. But if you could destroy all planets within the entire star system you would enter battle 50 times.
Nightfish wrote: Also I'd like planets to have different role in space combat than they did in MoO2. I mean, really, I can fit one missile silo on it with 2 x 7 missiles? A medium sized ship carries more than that. That's not just unrealistic, that's highly illogical, and while I don't mind a decent amount of unrealism, that's just too much.
Because there could be more than one planet in a battle, like I said, both planets could attack your ships at the same time. On a planets surface you could have ground defence installations (ground to ground), to protect missile silo's (ground to space), etc.
Nightfish wrote: I do think there is one thing we can safely say: We cannot use MoO2's system as is for our game.
I have a very good idea that is the ultimate improvement over Moo2s system and it is TB. It is, however, best to show it with pictures and explanations (all draw up something in paint & post it).
Nightfish wrote: For one MoO2 allowed you to have more ships than could enter combat. If we have something similar to that, this will disadvantage species with a high number of low quality ships.
We could use that command points system in battle, so as many ships as you want throughout the universe, but limited ships entering battle. Larger ships would cost more, so you could have 50 very small ships VS 5 very big ships. It would make for interesting battles.
Nightfish wrote: The other - more obvious - reason is that late game battles tended to be extremely tedious and long winded. I don't really see away around that using a TB system.
This idea of mine, allows for great macro and micro control. Both players would issue orders, move and target and then all orders would be executed in real time based on your orders (more like Moo2). Ships with higher initiative would act before those with lower initiative, initiative being a representations of physical and mental reaction and could come from the pilot, computers or any equipment.

One more thing, this system could do battle with more than 2 sides, easily with no extra hassle to the player.

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#55 Post by tzlaine » Wed Jul 02, 2003 10:05 pm

Nightfish wrote:Could you post those points from memory? No need to drop the old consensus just because we lost the board. If it still makes sense, I'm sure people will support it.
I'm not 100% on any of it, but here's my memory of the gist of the consensus.

No one liked TFs as done in Moo3; they were poorly explained, poorly implemented, too resitrictive, etc., etc.

Almost everyone liked the idea of grouping ships together, some for making it easier to order groups of ships, some for the effect that you see in RL task forces, where the outer ranks of ships protect the inner ones. I'm really partial to the second reason.

I think it was also pretty established that our TFs should be flexible in both composition and when you can organize, reorganize, and disband them.

In a somewhat related area, there was also a long discussion about reserves. The consensus was that they were a good idea, in that they allowed you to both a) represent strategic (as opposed to operational) movement in an abstract way, and b) reduce the amount of work you have to do when building a fleet from production at several planets. Remember all those lines in Moo1, converging on one of your border worlds for the 50 turns it took to buld a large fleet?

Also lost to history was the rather good idea of having all ship production happen at a few, very expensive shipyards that can only produce a max number of each hull size per time period. These would be fed by production at the planets; the planets produce the parts, taking up production, while the shipyards assemble everything for free. This makes shipyards juicy targets and gives the strategy a new dimension besides conquering planets on at a time. Anyone ever play Federation and Empire?

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#56 Post by utilae » Thu Jul 03, 2003 10:21 am

TFs were bad. There was one way to put your ships into a group and that was it, no flexibility, plus to have a TF you needed 100% the exact ships required.

Grouping would be cool.

Also ground TFs should be more flexible as well.

For reserves there should be no mobilisation centers. Putting a ship in reserves would put the ship at the nearest colony. You have to be at the colony to put them in reserves and they automatically upgrade (I'm insure whether this would be good or bad having it automatic).

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#57 Post by krum » Thu Jul 03, 2003 11:23 am

tzlaine wrote:Also lost to history was the rather good idea of having all ship production happen at a few, very expensive shipyards that can only produce a max number of each hull size per time period. These would be fed by production at the planets; the planets produce the parts, taking up production, while the shipyards assemble everything for free. This makes shipyards juicy targets and gives the strategy a new dimension besides conquering planets on at a time.
Too bad, that sounds really interesting. Maybe a space contruction planet classification, without the fed by production from all planets part... space construction is really different from usual construction, the cost of getting something into space would always be great, nomatter how cheap they could make it... I'm starting to think about asteroid fields and planetary gravity :)

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Nightfish
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#58 Post by Nightfish » Thu Jul 03, 2003 12:15 pm

All right, here are my thoughts on ship design, taksforces and real time combat. All in one post because they sort of belong together. I think it’s needless to say that we need to provide good documentation about all our features, both in game (right click) and outside of the game, in our manual.

Starting with ship design: MoO2 didn’t do too bad a job here. There are only a few things I would modify. First of all I’d change the place where the ship design screen is located. I’d place it somewhere on the main screen rather than 3 screens deep in the planetary qeue. A hotkey is also a must have. But on to the screen itself:

I’d add a place to give a ship an AI script. Scripts like “escort”, “beam attacker”, “carrier”, “boarding ship” and “all-purpose ship” leap to mind. Sliders could be used to set the aggressiveness and to tell a ship when to retreat (like hit points dropping below 20% makes the ship retreat).

One small thing I’d add is a version number for the ship design (like Mk I, Mk II, MkIV and so on) to assist in refitting ships. That number would automatically increase by one each time I upgrade an existing ship design.

Next, I’d split the special systems screen into three screens: Offensive, defensive and misc. Systems. That makes it easier to select stuff and to tell what an existing design has selected. Selecting wouldn’t kick you back out of the screen each time, rather than that I’d use checkboxes to select things. (You enter the list screen, select your things, leave again and the ship design screen displays only what you chose)

The rest is more or less okay, maybe we can use a drop down menu to select ship size in order to save some space on the screen.


Next up are taskforces: I’d “design” a taskforce in a similar way I design a ship. Either this happens when you issue the order to build a taskforce or you design a TF first and then send an order to your shipyards.

The design: I’d use two “rings”: outer and inner. The outer ring holds escort ships, not necessarily only point defense ships, carrier taskforces might have a cruiser or two, too. The inner ring holds the mission critical ships. Depending on the TF’s job, those are carriers, beam attackers, boarding ships, interdictors or whatever else we can think of. The outer ring is probably optional, not all ships might require escorts. The total number of ships in a taskforce is subject to debate. I’d rather base it on command points than headcount.

Finally, I’d give the whole taskforce another AI script. You can consider the ship-level script the captain and this script would be the commodore or whatever the next higher ranking member is called. Here I’d set the general behaviour of the taskforce: Engage or stand-off, loose or tight formation and so on. Like the captain script, this one would be subject to player’s override orders.

Also, I’d like some things to be true about taskforces:

More than one ship-producing site (ship yard or planet, hasn’t been decided) can take part in construction.

The taskforce gets assembled at a rally point set by the player. The taskforce is operational as soon as the first ship has arrived. If the player moves the taskforce before it is completed, ships that are completed after the taskforce has moved will follow and join up automatically.

There will need to be some sort of feedback to tell the player what ships are done and what ships are present. Maybe we can use little icons of varying color to indicate this: green – present and operational; grey – not constructed yet; white – en route; red – destroyed. This red icon leads us right to the next thing: replacing losses:

On the TF screen there’d have to be a button that allows you to send a request for replacement ships out. If we have reserves, the order would end up there first. If reserves can’t meet the demand, the order gets relayed to the ship yards.

Refitting the ships: I’d prefer it if the player wouldn’t have to refit each ship manually. I’d do it this way: First the player upgrades his current designs. Unless he wants something complicated (like refitting half of his ships of Design A to Design B and half of them to Design C) all he’d need to do is push one button to refit the entire taskforce or fleet. If he wants to do some complicated things, he needs to select groups of ships first.



Okay, now we have designed ships and taskforces, refit ships, replenished damaged taskforces, all that remains is combat:

As I mentioned before each ship has a captain (AI script) and each taskforce has its commodore (higher ranking AI script). These two things should ensure that ships start moving in the right direction as soon as combat begins – if you set the right scripts, that is. Both of these scripts can be overridden by players input. It’s also possible to expand the scripts to help the player even more. Like setting priority targets for capturing or destroying ships.

Now for direct player control: In single player, it’s real easy, you just give the player the option to pause the game by pressing space, just like in baldur’s gate. Variable game speed helps, too, of course. In MP things get a little more complicated. The scripts would probably go a long way to help the player, if we chose to have them. Not everyone is comfortable with giving up control over his units. Giving players a limited number of “timeouts” like those in SP might help, too. I don’t think slowing down combat every once in a while as was proposed on the old board will help a lot. But maybe that’s just me, because I’d find it annoying.


I hope nobody mistakes my post as some sort of final concept. I’m just tossing around ideas here. Productive comments are very welcome. And I thank everyone who had the patience to read completey through my post :wink:

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#59 Post by mr_ed » Thu Jul 03, 2003 4:11 pm

utilae wrote:
jbarcz1 wrote:I'm actually curious to see 'staggered' real-time (combat is paused, you issue orders for the turn, then combat is allowed to run for about 10 or 20 seconds while your orders are executed.
Ever played Dungeon Siege or Baldurs Gate 1 & 2, they are real time RPG ...
These two ideas were exactly what I had in mind.

I would be leery of the pause button though. Down the road, could we have 3-way battles?

I put all my money behind the phased turn-based combat.

No clickfest required.
We could put a time limit on this if there's a problem with someone taking eons between turns.

Here are some of the limitations I see:

Firing at multiple targets.
If my ship blows an enemy one up, will it attempt to fire on another ship with its remaining weapons?

Holding back weapons. Fire this, but not that. Could apply to one-turn delay weapons and such. This wouldn't pose too much of a problem..

If I tell my ship to move to a certain spot (shift-click or ctrl-click?), and that other ship has moved out of range or firing arc during the phasing, will it fire on another one?
(We could have that as an option -- always fire all weapons by end of turn?)

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#60 Post by mr_ed » Thu Jul 03, 2003 4:46 pm

tzlaine wrote:Also lost to history was the rather good idea of having all ship production happen at a few, very expensive shipyards that can only produce a max number of each hull size per time period. These would be fed by production at the planets; the planets produce the parts, taking up production, while the shipyards assemble everything for free. This makes shipyards juicy targets and gives the strategy a new dimension besides conquering planets on at a time. Anyone ever play Federation and Empire?
I think that Fed and Empire did this very well. I'm all for this approach. Actually, it would be a good idea to use more than that from F&E.

Have we gone off-topic from real-time vs. turn-based here, though?

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