RonaldX wrote:I get the clarification, but the whole system has the effective possibility of a single player being drawn into and out of the same combat repeatedly over a turn. To my mind, this is just an annoyance.
Let's solve this problem then - if a player detects an enemy ship once, that ship is added to his list of enemy ships for the remainder of the quantum (as of now, I'm assuming that the revealing of any
new ship, regardless of owner, will be sufficient cause to summon the player onto the tactical map). It will only be removed from that list if it is destroyed. Because it can no longer be detected though, it is impossible to assign combat goals such as "search and destroy", since such a ship is undetectable at any distance
on the tactical map, unless its stealth actually decreases, due to firing weapons, exiting an asteroid belt, etc. The only valid combat goal is "defend against enemy forces", which will allow the player to remain in combat until he is convinced that he will not be attacked again (or until the enemy forces in question are destroyed, which will be detected by the player and cause the ships to be removed from his list). Furthermore, if the same
ship revealed itself again, the player would not be re-alerted if he had already left combat, since he already was aware of the presence of that ship in the system, and his ships have already been given combat orders for the AI to carry out. This way, the only way for the player to be brought back
into a particular combat will be if:
- the enemy chooses to attack again
forces that the player did not previously detect, and
- the player either chooses to leave combat before this occurs, or all forces that the player did
previously detect are destroyed.
How often will this happen? I would say less than once per game, simply because it's almost never practical to send in cloaked ships one at a time. Situations in which it would be practical to send in less than your whole stealth fleet include (and as far as I can tell, are limited to) the following:
- The enemy wants to use a particular ship or ships to lure the player's fleet into a trap, in a case where the cloaked fleet's stealth bonus is conditional, for example because they are in an asteroid belt. If done successfully, this does not result in the surprised player being brought in and out of combat repeatedly, because the enemy's cloaked fleet will have to engage the player before the bait ships are destroyed, otherwise, the player will not go any further, and it will not be practical for the enemy to show his fleet. If
the bait ships are destroyed before the player is in range of the enemy's fleet, and if
the enemy thinks that his failed tactic will work if he tries a second time (trying will likely cost him more ships, which means that there is definitely a cost to trying again, and it's actually less likely to work the second time around), then the player will be brought back into a combat which he has already left. Those are some big "if"s, particularly the second one, and when you consider how difficult it actually is to get stealth above
enemy detection in the first place, you can see why this is going to be an extremely rare situation (it's dependent on an enemy who has the strategic skill to get his ships in that position in the first place, with a stealth advantage over the player's detection, being such a tactical dunce that he's going to try his failed tactic again
, thus losing even more ships to the player's fleet).
- The enemy wants to attack and destroy the player's fleet without showing him the full magnitude of his stealthy forces in the system. If done successfully, this also does not result in the surprised player being brought in and out of combat repeatedly. Even if done semi-successfully, it does not result in the surprised player being brought in and out of combat repeatedly. Even if it fails entirely, the surprised player won't be brought in and out of combat repeatedly unless the cloaked enemy has very deliberately gone and ordered his fleets to act in a really stupid way. When it becomes obvious that the forces he has dispatched are going to be insufficient, he should either dispatch more before
all his other ships are destroyed, to minimize casualties, or he should just not dispatch anymore, if he doesn't want to reveal that he has more forces in the system. Either way, the surprised player is only brought into this combat once
the enemy significantly miscalculates the force required to destroy the player's fleet, and if
he fails to activate his reinforcements until after his entire initial force is destroyed, then the player will be brought back into a combat which he has already left. Again, you can see how this will be an extremely rare situation.
Both these situations are reliant on the cloaked enemy acting against his best tactical interests. Worrying that these situations will actually end up being significantly annoying game-slowing factors is ludicrous.
There is however, one particular situation in which a player could potentially get brought back into a combat which he has already left without
his enemy being a complete idiot. This situation is also extremely rare, and seems like a good situation in which being brought back into combat wouldn't
If there is another
cloaked enemy in the system who chooses to surprise attack you after
the initial stealthy attack failed, then the player would be brought back into combat again for the second surprise attack. This is obviously an extremely rare situation, and it's therefore not unreasonable for a player to be brought back into combat a second time.
RonaldX wrote:Effectively, an undetected stealth unit is either: something that you can't see on the galaxy map, can't see on the tactical map, and can't target in battle, but if it chooses to engage you, you know that it exists, versus an undetected stealth unit being for all intents and purposes, not there at all.
The first option is perhaps less realistic, but considerably simpler. Like you said, realism isn't even remotely close to being one of the motivations for this model of combat/system action.
Adding a special-case rule for when an empire is made aware of the presence of an enemy unit isn't simpler at all, and adds a lot of annoying restrictions. For example, what if I have 10 stealth units in the system, but I only want to attack with five of them? It's impossible, because all units in the system are
present on the tactical map, and in the system you propose, combat will not end until all of the cloaked ships are destroyed, or a cease-fire is ordered, which means that the surprised player must know how many enemy ships are present. In the system I propose, the player is free to attack using whatever ships he wants, without having to give any special commands or being limited by seemingly arbitrary special rules.
Or, consider this more troubling situation - there are three empires in a system, Red, Green and Black. Blue can detect Green, but cannot be detected by Red. Black can detect Green and Red, but cannot be detected by either. Blue chooses to engage Red. How can this combat possibly occur without revealing Black's presence without a bunch of weird, complicated special rules about which forces are involved in combat and when combat ends and whose forces are revealed to whom? Simple - by making this combat just like any other system action. No special rules, no arbitrary revealing of ships, just giving your ships orders, and when a player who is not in combat learns of a new ship revealing itself, he is summoned into combat. The combat/system action model I'm proposing is actually the simplest possible, since it fully unifies all system action under a single set of rules, regardless of how many players are present, whether its 2, 10 or just 1. This simplicity also gives the system inherent flexibility, which will allow a greater variety of interesting strategies and tactics. What you're proposing on the other hand, appears to have been designed for a two-way combat scenario, which is not useful if all combat assets in a system are present on the tactical map during combat.
RonaldX wrote:Again, the entire thing hinges on how stealth is interpreted.
1) A stealth unit would be able to sneak up on you, and might be invisible on the tactical map (and therefore cannot be targeted), but once you got into combat with it, you would know that it was hanging around there somewhere, until you located it and destroyed/retreated/cease-fired/etc.
As mentioned, this is not plausible in combats involving three or more empires.
2) A stealth unit is considered completely not there at all unless it is currently in detection range, if an enemy ship ducks into an asteroid belt to hide, it is essentially gone from the combat.
As I've mentioned above, these aren't the only two options. If a ship which was previously visible becomes invisible, it is assumed by the empire's little list of enemy ships to still be present in the system until the end of the quantum, but no active goals can be taken against it. (There might be a situation in which the player can be certain the ship has not left the system, for example, if it was hiding in an asteroid belt, there's no way it could get to the starlane entry undetected. In such situation, the ship would probably stay on the empire's list indefinitely. However, there's no real guarantee that such a situation will be possible, since there may be other ways for the ship to escape, perhaps through a cloaked stargate or somesuch.)
RonaldX wrote:-Red and Blue are both dropped onto the tactical map, although Red cannot see any Blue units. Blue brings in his ships and a battle ensues. Red gets the best of Blue, and Blue attempts to run away, moving his surviving fleet assets out of range of Red's detection. The battle, however, does not end, because Blue still has assets in the system and they have not agreed on a cease fire (Red can't see them, but knows they are there).
Technically, all Blue has to do is stop firing, and his stealth will go back up above Red's detection, at which point Red cannot detect Blue at any distance, and cannot confirm that Blue's forces are still in the system (but they are assumed to be in the system for the purposes of Red's list of enemy ships)
RonaldX wrote:-Combat ends for Red when Blue either reaches the starlane and flees the system, or else Red hunts around until he finds and destroys the Blue fleet remnants, they agree on a cease fire, Red hits "auto resolve", or time runs out.
-Combat ends for Blue when Blue either reaches the starlane and flees the system, or else Red hunts around until he finds and destroys the Blue fleet remnants, they agree on a cease fire, Blue hits "auto resolve", or time runs out.
This situation depends on Blue's fleet having a higher
stealth than Red has detection (otherwise, Red would be able to confirm Blue's presence in the system normally, based on the rules of galaxy map detection), meaning that Red will not be able to detect Blue at any distance unless Blue deliberately engages him (even assuming, as you propose, that Red can still confirm that Blue's forces are still in the system - the calculations for visibility simply forbid Red from detecting Blue without Blue firing or leaving an asteroid belt or whatever, therefore no amount of "hunting" will do Red any good).
RonaldX wrote:-The combat manager has these players play out unrelated combats if possible, before the Blue player engages the Red fleet at planet X.
This should be changed to "The combat manager matches up a time when both Red and Blue players are available."
RonaldX wrote:-Blue player is put onto the tactical map, and moves to engage the Red player.
-As soon as he moves within Red's detection range, Blue player is held up until Red player is available to join the battle (hopefully, the combat manager has minimized this wait time, although it cannot be guaranteed).
No. Combat does not begin until both players are available. Red must be waiting while Blue moves his fleets on the tactical map. This guarantees that combat will proceed seamlessly when Red enters.
RonaldX wrote:-As soon as he gets far enough away that he can no longer be detected, Red is given the option of ending the conflict, as he can no longer detect any Blue ships. If he decides to end the battle, and Blue regroups for another attack, he will be once again prompted to re-enter the battle and gets free manual control again.
As before, it's not a matter of distance. In fact, there is no possible situation in which distance on the tactical map affects whether or not a player has knowledge of another player's presence in the system. Regardless, it's not at all clear what you mean by "Red is given the option of ending the conflict." Because of the "memory" of enemy ships I mentioned earlier in this post, Red's ships will
stay on "Defend against enemy units" until the end of the quantum, and Red is free to select "Auto-resolve" whenever he wants. If the same ships attack again, Red will not be prompted to re-enter the battle. If new ships attack which previously could not be detected, (which as I've shown, is highly unlikely), Red will be prompted to re-enter the battle.
RonaldX wrote:-The battle ends for Red when either they make a cease-fire, Red can no longer detect Blue units and elects to leave combat, Red selects "auto-resolve" or time runs out. (He never really knows whether or not Blue has additional assets in system that he just can't detect)
The two options that I bolded are, in fact, the same option, and are independent of Red no longer having visibility of Blue units - "electing to leave combat" is no more than simply selecting auto-resolve (barring any diplomatic cease-fires).
RonaldX wrote:I know my vote doesn't count, but I'd cast it for for the system with less waiting. In the first system, the player has to decide whether or not to fight without knowledge of what he is fighting, based on the value of the property he is defending, and that is that; he can't potentially get a free half hour of battles if his enemies decide to attack him with a bunch of stealth units,
It's true that this way, the player can potentially get free battles. The amount of extra time that the other players have to wait because of this should be minimized by the combat manager. However, I think you're really exaggerating the magnitude of time that would be spent on such battles. "Surprise attacks" due to stealth happen only
when the enemy actually has higher
stealth than the player has detection (which is very difficult - getting a whole fleet with such high stealth would be even more so). Such combats are a rare, special occurrence in which IMO, giving the player a free combat is justified.
RonaldX wrote:especially considering there are literally a hundred different combinations for when stealth units can be detected.
The fact that the stealth and detection meters go to 100 isn't really relevant to the number of possible times a player could be "surprised" in a single combat. There a fixed turn limit per quantum - a rough estimate is 25, which means that the player could, at the absolute maximum
, be surprised 12 times per quantum in a single battle. In addition, this combat will not take any longer than a regular combat simply because the player is jumping in and out - it will take exactly the same amount of time as any other combat which takes place in the same number of combat turns. The only thing that makes it take any extra time at all is the fact that the player gets a free combat, which as I've said, is justifiable in such a rare situation.
RonaldX wrote:4X games are big, complicated, involve a ton of thought, and typically really suck to play in multiplayer for just that reason. Putting in a few hard and fast rules to save time is going to make multiplayer less grueling to play, without effecting single player at all.
There is already a hard and fast rule to save time in my system which makes multiplayer less grueling without affecting single player - players can't manually control a combat in multiplayer unless they have a combat objective. Since this is not a gameplay rule, but rather a "When to Fight" multi-player rule, much like any limitation on manual control, it will not affect single player, and it's fine that it's a "special-case rule". What you are proposing for this purpose is a rule that actually affects gameplay, and therefore applies equally to multiplayer and single player games, namely that all players know beforehand when a stealthy fleet is going to attack them, and will be controlling their ships on the combat map before the stealthy ships reveal themselves.
In addition to the problems I mentioned above, this also has the weakness that a player might be tricked into wasting manual combat on weak unknown forces when a huge stealthy fleet is about to attack somewhere... that's not good at all. The more special rules you add to gameplay itself, the more complicated things get and the more unpredictable gameplay problems you run into. If this means that there needs to be special rules for when players can manually control combat in multiplayer, so be it; we all knew that that had to be the case to a certain extent anyway.
Krikkitone wrote:The "Cease Fire" would work like this
I don't know how "cease fire" will work, but it sure won't work like that. If every empire knows every other empire's cease-fire status, then every empire knows what other empires will be in the system. I may have to make a thread on ending combat to sort this out - based on the name of this thread, it should be relevant here, but since we're actually talking about something quite different, I'd rather not get into the details of mid-combat diplomacy here.