Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

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

Moderators: Oberlus, Oberlus

Message
Author
User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1499
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#31 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:01 pm

RonaldX wrote:
So.. this doesn't answer the question of "what if I'm involved in another fight at the same time?" I assume then that I can let my other fight auto-resolve and switch to this one? Or let this one auto-resolve and stick with the other. Because either way if I can't switch back and forth between combats, one or the other will have to be auto-resolved, even if I have SA remaining..
No I think the player, at that point would put one battle on hold while resolving the other one (if they wanted to do both manually)

Also... this allows Battle Quanta to be eliminated altogether.

At the beginning of the Turn you give orders (spending SA if those orders involve manual activity in a system..ie starting combat with forces already present)

As the turn resolves, whenever new forces arrive/are detected in the system where you are not manually resolving things you have a chance to spend an SA on manually resolving it. If you are currently manually resolving something else, then you get to choose which one to put on hold. As soon a you finish resolving one, then you can choose from the existing "SA spent, on Hold" combats where the other party is present to pickup.

This Would allow you to bounce back and forth between combats but only as they changed.

User avatar
Bigjoe5
Designer and Programmer
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Orion

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#32 Post by Bigjoe5 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:06 pm

RonaldX wrote:I want to make sure I understand this..

Every time you give a fleet an order to do ANYTHING, hold position, bombard, move through a system, etc. etc. it ALWAYS happens on the tactical map, you just don't necessarily have to control it.
Yes.
RonaldX wrote:(Though, you do have to watch it/place units?)
You don't have to do anything for auto-resolution of a system action that you wouldn't have to do if system action was restricted to regular combat. My system does not add any need to watch or place units for auto-resolved system action, at all.
RonaldX wrote:If I'm ordering a fleet to just hold position, and a stealth enemy attacks them, I get alerted to the fact that this has happened, and if I have enough SA left, I can manually take over from the AI at that point.

So.. this doesn't answer the question of "what if I'm involved in another fight at the same time?" I assume then that I can let my other fight auto-resolve and switch to this one? Or let this one auto-resolve and stick with the other. Because either way if I can't switch back and forth between combats, one or the other will have to be auto-resolved, even if I have SA remaining.
Bigjoe5 wrote:a given system action [occurs] automatically until forces belonging to a new empire (“new” meaning “not previously known to be present in the system") are detected, at which point combat is paused, and brought to the player’s attention, so that he can re-evaluate whether or not he wants to continue auto-resolution.
This means that the combat in question is paused, and brought to the player's attention as soon as he's no longer involved in another combat. The combat in question remains in pause until the other player is free. While the player is in combat, he is never alerted to anything from outside. That would be silly, and lead to problems like the one you mention here (and the ones you mention below).
RonaldX wrote:The concept is interesting, but I don't see a huge advantage over the vastly simpler "There are cloaked units here but we cannot determine what type." combat description at the start of a quantum.
"There are cloaked units here but we cannot determine what type." isn't simpler at all. In fact, it's vastly more complex because it requires a special-case rule for cloaked ships engaging in combat with enemy ships, and in turn will require a whole host of other special-case rules for actually placing units in combat, so that cloaked ships are actually interesting, and some more special-case rules for disengaging from combat when there are only cloaked ships left in the system. What I'm proposing is essentially the simplest possible solution in terms of gameplay. If that introduces a bit of complexity to the multi-player combat manager, the gameplay value more than outweighs it.
RonaldX wrote:You're adding features that make stealth combat more interesting, but at the cost of forcing the hand of the player and introducing some potentially massively unbalanced strategies for stealth wave attacks. Consider what happens if I engage a player with 3 stealth scouts, one combat turn apart, while that player is already fighting a major battle. He either gets to ignore all my scouts and continue his battle, but if he decides to see what my scouts are up to, his important battle gets auto-resolved for no real gain.
Now that you understand that the player is never alerted to anything from outside in the middle of a combat, I trust that you can see this is no longer a problem.
RonaldX wrote:Benefits: allows you to start a battle mid-quantum, and preserves the tactical advantage of stealth units during the engagement part of combat
No. Well, yes to the second part. But no. Battles never start mid-quantum. Battles always start at the beginning of a quantum. Always. The distinction is that players can re-evaluate their decision to auto-resolve a particular system action, each time a new empire is detected in a system.
RonaldX wrote:Disadvantages: forces players to auto-resolve combats in order to deal with one or the other unless he's allowed to switch between combats at will, potentially unbalanced when attacked by multiple stealth units on same turn.
Again, no, because as I've explained above, the player is never disturbed by battles by anything from outside.
RonaldX wrote:Tbh I'd rather not have the ability to chop up battle quantum even further. You already have the ability to introduce new units to an existing combat via reinforcement between quanta, being able to start a fight 30 seconds into a 1 minute battle quanta isn't enough "cool new functionality" to justify the annoyance of having to constantly switch between battles, or else be forced to allow the AI to take over for many of your battles (depending on the prevalence of stealth and detection levels).
Luckily, it doesn't have to justify either of those things, because neither of those things actually happen as a result of this system.
Krikkitone wrote:No I think the player, at that point would put one battle on hold while resolving the other one (if they wanted to do both manually)
As I explained before, no. While the player is in combat, he is not alerted, ever, to anything outside of his current combat.
Krikkitone wrote:Also... this allows Battle Quanta to be eliminated altogether.
Definitely not, because there would then be a potentially infinite number of times per turn that the player could be called into the combat manager to re-evaluate each situation. Battle Quanta are still necessary for all the same reasons as before.

It looks like every single disagreement on this topic has stemmed from one single misunderstanding, so I'll clarify now:

When the player is in combat, he is never alerted to anything from outside of the combat he is currently fighting. The combat which the player is not currently controlling manually is put on hold until after he has finished his other combat. (Alternatively, the combat scheduler would work in such a way that such events would never occur while the player is in another combat.) Sorry for the misunderstanding - I hope that this clears things up a bit. I'll edit it into my original post for clarity.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1499
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#33 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:57 pm

BigJoe wrote: When the player is in combat, he is never alerted to anything from outside of the combat he is currently fighting. The combat which the player is not currently controlling manually is put on hold until after he has finished his other combat. (Alternatively, the combat scheduler would work in such a way that such events would never occur while the player is in another combat.) Sorry for the misunderstanding - I hope that this clears things up a bit. I'll edit it into my original post for clarity.
So this Could lead to extra time being taken in the following scenario

1. Player A conducts a stealth Attack on Player B's Fleet
2. Player B is currently in a long Battle with Player C
3. Player A has to wait for that battle to be over before Player B can decide...just keep resolve it automatically

so what Could have been
A v. autoresolved B simultaneous to B v.C
is now

B v. C ... A waits (after their initial first strike)
followed by
A v. autoresolved B... both B +C wait (B can watch his fleet)

Seems reasonable... potential extra time taken to deal with the situation, but preserves stealth's usefulness.

Although I would go with the 'Time' idea instead of the 'System Actions'
Any time you are acting and someone else is not... you lose time. (this encourages turning a battle In Progress over to the AI to finish up if you are in the 'mop up' phase..it saves your time, or it causes everyone elses to start going down).

User avatar
Bigjoe5
Designer and Programmer
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Orion

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#34 Post by Bigjoe5 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:24 pm

That's true. There would in that case, be a bit of extra time, but that's not very concerning, IMO.

What is a bit concerning is that the player who is doing the sneaking around will automatically know when he has been detected, because combat will pause for an indefinite period of time. This is very bad, because if the other player had a strong detector which either

- the stealthy player couldn't detect, or
- the stealthy player couldn't scan due to some kind of jamming field,

then that player should not know that he has been detected.

I have a suspicion that someone, somewhere is going to bring up the following point, so I'll address it now:

"why not just let the player always know when an empire can detect him?"

Because that's a bad idea. So many interesting tactics can happen when a player can detect a player who can't see him. Furthermore, the entire discussion we're having right now would be useless, since players who are detected by someone would just be brought into combat immediately. In other words, it's a bad idea for all the reasons that this system itself is a good idea, and then some.

This means that the problem needs to be resolved with the combat manager. If Red wants to ambush Blue, Blue must be available for combat when Red initiates combat, and be certain not to enter any other combats before the Red-Blue battle finishes.

This is impossible in a system in which the player chooses which battle he will play first, which he will play second, etc. Therefore, the multi-player combat manager must fully manage the order of the player's combats. That way, the player won't know whether his wait time between battles is because of a combat that one of his opponents is currently in, or a combat that he himself is in.

So it would work in this order:

1. (On the first quantum, or on any further quanta in which something has detectably changed in the system) Players have a list of all potential systems in which they could take action that quantum. Goals are set for each system (in which the player wants something to change from last turn), and the player decides for each battle whether they will auto-resolve or manually resolve. Fleet orders may also be changed, on the rare occasion that would be necessary.

2. (On quanta in which any player has chosen to manually control system action) Players are taken through their combats in an order defined by the combat manager, based on the most efficient way to get through all manually resolved combats, including combats which a player could potentially take over in the middle due to having detected a new empire.

3. (At the point where a player is ambushed by the enemy) Two options:

- If there are no other players manually controlling actions in that system, the player is taken to a screen in which he can choose whether or not to manually continue the combat, at the cost of Battle Time/SA Points/whatever. This, like any combat involving Blue, should not happen at the same time as any other combat involving Blue.

- If another player is manually controlling the combat, the player is immediately take to the combat in question, where he can continue to resolve the combat manually at no extra cost. Combat will continue seamlessly, and there will be no out-of-context indications to the stealthy player that he has been detected.

I don't see a huge problem with that, and I don't think it's substantially different from what anyone has been assuming about the combat manager. I think it's just fine, and shouldn't take much more time than it would take if the player actually could resolve part of a combat while the other player was in a different one. The most important thing is that players never get any out-of-context indication that another empire has detected them or is present in the system with them.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1499
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#35 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:12 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:.
- If another player is manually controlling the combat, the player is immediately take to the combat in question, where he can continue to resolve the combat manually at no extra cost. Combat will continue seamlessly, and there will be no out-of-context indications to the stealthy player that he has been detected.

I don't see a huge problem with that, and I don't think it's substantially different from what anyone has been assuming about the combat manager. I think it's just fine, and shouldn't take much more time than it would take if the player actually could resolve part of a combat while the other player was in a different one. The most important thing is that players never get any out-of-context indication that another empire has detected them or is present in the system with them.
Actually this would mean a "Stealth attack" gives the 'surprised' player a Free Action...I don't agree with that.

I think
IF this happens, then the 'surprised' player gets ~10-20 sec of "Free control", after that, if they want to Continue Manual control then it will cost them Battle time/SA points.


A possible problem

If you can be summoned into a Stealth Combat... there will be a pause as you decide what orders to give your ships for this 'phase'...(after all the screen suddenly popped up with a combat that is In Progress)

If you pause at all to issue any orders, the other player will know you have detected them


Another possible problem

I am involved in 0 combats this turn... that I know about. so I decide to go get a sandwich while the other players fight.

How does this system stop me from going to get a sandwich because I "might be needed"?

The only way (that doesn't give the surprise attack away) is for Every player to assume they Might be involved in a Stealth attack and so Noone can "relax" while other players battle.

User avatar
Bigjoe5
Designer and Programmer
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Orion

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#36 Post by Bigjoe5 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:08 pm

Krikkitone wrote:Actually this would mean a "Stealth attack" gives the 'surprised' player a Free Action...I don't agree with that.
I don't see what's really wrong with that. A "Stealth attack" is an in-game action, and a Free Action is a token for manual control in multiplayer. If you're arguing that the player shouldn't be rewarded for letting himself get snuck up on, you're comparing apples and oranges. If you're saying that he just shouldn't ever get free actions, then yeah, I can see what you're saying; I had thought that he wouldn't be holding anybody up, since he has to be available for the rest of the combat anyway, in case another empire shows up, but I can see now that that wouldn't always be the case.
Krikkitone wrote:I think
IF this happens, then the 'surprised' player gets ~10-20 sec of "Free control", after that, if they want to Continue Manual control then it will cost them Battle time/SA points.
So this is fine.

Krikkitone wrote:A possible problem

If you can be summoned into a Stealth Combat... there will be a pause as you decide what orders to give your ships for this 'phase'...(after all the screen suddenly popped up with a combat that is In Progress)

If you pause at all to issue any orders, the other player will know you have detected them
That's not a problem with the system we're discussing, that's a problem with pausing in general, which will have to be solved on its own (I have a few ideas, but they're off-topic here).

Krikkitone wrote:Another possible problem

I am involved in 0 combats this turn... that I know about. so I decide to go get a sandwich while the other players fight.

How does this system stop me from going to get a sandwich because I "might be needed"?

The only way (that doesn't give the surprise attack away) is for Every player to assume they Might be involved in a Stealth attack and so Noone can "relax" while other players battle.
Now, that is a big problem. Playing the game shouldn't be stressful in a bad way like that. Luckily, I have a solution to this problem:

The player is told when all of his system actions are completed. If it happens right away, and he's still waiting, he can go get his sandwich secure in the knowledge that he won't be summoned into combat.

There is another slight problem with this, but I have a solution to it also:

The problem is that if stealthy A has a system action in the same system where B's ships are stationed, A might manually control his system action without even alerting B to his presence. The fact that B had to wait and nothing happened means that there is definitely a stealthy fleet in one of his systems.

The solution is, for multi-player games only, to disallow manual resolution of [edit] combats in which the player's objectives are exclusively [/edit] non-combat objectives. [edit]If the player thinks he'll have to fight his way through, then that qualifies as something he could potentially set a combat objective for, and implies that he will have to show himself to the enemy fleet somehow.[/edit] So, yes, it could still technically happen, but it would be the result of A being a moron, by setting a combat objective, then taking manual control of the system action and not actually doing that objective, just to prevent B from getting a sandwich. If that's the case, A deserves to lose the confidentiality of the fact that he's in the same system as B. Presumably, any weapons fire would be detectable, even if the ship that fired the weapon is still undetectable. The weapons fire would then summon B into combat, for example, in the situation where A and C were fighting, and neither of them were visible to B.

This is actually very reasonable, as it will cut down on wasted combat time in multi-player games.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1499
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#37 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:10 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:Another possible problem

I am involved in 0 combats this turn... that I know about. so I decide to go get a sandwich while the other players fight.

How does this system stop me from going to get a sandwich because I "might be needed"?

The only way (that doesn't give the surprise attack away) is for Every player to assume they Might be involved in a Stealth attack and so Noone can "relax" while other players battle.
Now, that is a big problem. Playing the game shouldn't be stressful in a bad way like that. Luckily, I have a solution to this problem:

The player is told when all of his system actions are completed. If it happens right away, and he's still waiting, he can go get his sandwich secure in the knowledge that he won't be summoned into combat.

There is another slight problem with this, but I have a solution to it also:

The problem is that if stealthy A has a system action in the same system where B's ships are stationed, A might manually control his system action without even alerting B to his presence. The fact that B had to wait and nothing happened means that there is definitely a stealthy fleet in one of his systems.

The solution is, for multi-player games only, to disallow manual resolution of [edit] combats in which the player's objectives are exclusively [/edit] non-combat objectives. [edit]If the player thinks he'll have to fight his way through, then that qualifies as something he could potentially set a combat objective for, and implies that he will have to show himself to the enemy fleet somehow.[/edit] So, yes, it could still technically happen, but it would be the result of A being a moron, by setting a combat objective, then taking manual control of the system action and not actually doing that objective, just to prevent B from getting a sandwich. If that's the case, A deserves to lose the confidentiality of the fact that he's in the same system as B. Presumably, any weapons fire would be detectable, even if the ship that fired the weapon is still undetectable. The weapons fire would then summon B into combat, for example, in the situation where A and C were fighting, and neither of them were visible to B.

This is actually very reasonable, as it will cut down on wasted combat time in multi-player games.

There's one problem with that... the player being 'surprised' in a Combat will always know they are being surprised.

So why not just let it happen in the beginning

ie
Each player gets a
1. List of all systems in which they have detected enemy forces
2. They decide which ones they want to do combat in
3. The game then lets players know which systems there will BE combat in (so on turn Dec 1941 the US gets the message that there will be a combat in the Hawaii system... but it has no idea what forces will be involved)
4. The players decide which of those they want to manually resolve.
5. If a player chooses to manually resolve a battle, they will be given control of their fleet as soon as their ships detect an enemy. (since you are forcing them to wait there anyways)

The players only get to manually resolve actions in systems where there is combat (although they can "Look" just as well)

User avatar
Bigjoe5
Designer and Programmer
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Orion

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#38 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:26 pm

Krikkitone wrote:There's one problem with that... the player being 'surprised' in a Combat will always know they are being surprised.
No he doesn't. He finds out that he's going to be surprised after he issues orders to all his fleets. In gameplay terms, he is effectively finding out about the surprise attack as soon as it happens, since there is no opportunity for him to give additional orders between the time he finds out about the surprise attack and the time he is actually brought into the combat in which the surprise attack occurs. The fact that he "finds out" about the surprise attack as soon as all his other combats are done and he's still waiting is irrelevant, because he is unable to give any additional orders in that period of time.
Krikkitone wrote:So why not just let it happen in the beginning
Because what you propose is incompatible with the single-player game, in which the player can control any system action. There’s no reason that the list of systems in the combat phase needs to be significantly different in single-player and in multi-player, and it’s much more efficient if goal-setting and deciding whether or not you’re going to resolve the combat manually happen in the same screen, particularly in single-player.

Furthermore, if players know that they’re going to be attacked by a stealthy ship, then we’re back to the same problem as before, where a player could be tricked into allocating his limited manually-controlled combats to a battle where the player doesn’t even show himself (the only reason he engaged was to divert him from more important combats).

Further furthermore, the player can’t intelligently set combat goals if he doesn’t even know which empire is going to be attacking him (and there’s no way you can justify giving him a list of all cloaked empires in the system), so the several free combat turns he gets will be adequate to intelligently set combat goals, once he knows the identity of his attackers.

So it’s better if the player just gives all his orders and chooses which combats to control manually in one phase, then when a surprise attack occurs, he is pulled into combat. Plus, the player wouldn’t even “always” know when a surprise attack is about to happen - only when it happens after all his other combats are complete, which should be minimized (but cannot be eliminated) by the combat manager.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1499
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#39 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:14 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:clarifications
OK, it works like this
1. Players give orders to all fleets

2. Combats determined

3. Players set combat goals and Manual/Automatic control for combats they Know they will be in

4. Combat manager works as a matchmaker, matching players that Have Manual Combats with each other as soon as they are Not in combat.

5. If one player is Manually controlling a Stealth Combat, the "Manager" acts just the same, the entire combat doesn't start until the other player is ready

6. However it does not tell the other player that they are technically "in combat" for the purpose of the manager the 'surprised' player is in combat ie unavailable, but the player thinks they are available (and waiting)


Since the 'surprised' player is technically "In Manual Combat" with another player.
They will no longer be able to issue orders in other combats Until the stealth player reveals themselves.

So My proposal is as soon as the combat manager 'matches' the Surprised player up with the Stealth player, The surprised player is able to issue combat goals, including just turning this combat over to the AI.
Those combat goals will not be in force until the player is actually summoned into combat, due to detecting the enemy forces, but they will give the player an opportunity to prereact... something to do while they wait for their ships to detect.

It also gives the player the ability to more readily react so that there is not a sudden pause.


Actually, the "Surprised" player should probably be put into the combat directly, just without the opportunity to give orders (at least that way they can see their majestic fleet sailing to its doom.... and possibly group it for proper control..ie assigning hotkeys, etc.)

So the Only difference between a Surprise combat and a Regular combat is

"Goal"+"Manual/Auto"+Knowledge that there will be a combat in this system
Regular=Before combat matching
Surprised player=After combat match has occured

Manually controlled Forces respond to orders
Regular=On every phase, including initial force placement
Surprised player=only after detecting enemy forces

A "Surprised" player is any that can't detect Enemy forces in their system at the begining (stealth isn't actually required just a peace treaty... assuming peace treaties can be broken by shooting first)

RonaldX
Space Kraken
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:40 am
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#40 Post by RonaldX » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:03 pm

My concern with this is tied into stealth and it's uses. Being that stealth is a 0-100 scale, would it then be possible to make a fleet with a bunch of different ship designs with different stealth values, and "surprise" an enemy 100 times in a single combat?

If an enemy has one ship left with a stealth level too high for you to detect, do you know that it is there and waste time playing hide-and-go-seek, or is the battle considered over as soon as you can no longer detect any enemies?

If the battle is considered over, is it over for him as well, or could he then "surprise" you by attacking after you have left the combat?

In this system:
Krikkitone wrote: So why not just let it happen in the beginning

ie
Each player gets a
1. List of all systems in which they have detected enemy forces
2. They decide which ones they want to do combat in
3. The game then lets players know which systems there will BE combat in (so on turn Dec 1941 the US gets the message that there will be a combat in the Hawaii system... but it has no idea what forces will be involved)
4. The players decide which of those they want to manually resolve.
5. If a player chooses to manually resolve a battle, they will be given control of their fleet as soon as their ships detect an enemy. (since you are forcing them to wait there anyways)
That isn't as much of an issue. The assumption is that you can detect (from tachyon bursts or active enemy radar or whatever) that they ARE ships in the system, but stealth precludes you from seeing what they are, or perhaps how many there are.

I looked through the design documents on stealth, and what exactly the effect of stealth is isn't really made clear. I get the whole detection and range thing, but I'm not sure on what "being stealthed" actually causes? Can you just not target a stealth ship directly? Could you fire into space at random and hope to hit something? Are stealthed units considered "out of combat"? Does firing once make them visible for the rest of combat, or can they just vanish again if they run far enough away? All these things are kind of important for determining at which point a battle involving stealth units starts and ends, if it doesn't end due to last-man-standing or end-of-quantum situations (as would be the case if every unit was non-stealth).
Bigjoe5 wrote:Furthermore, if players know that they’re going to be attacked by a stealthy ship, then we’re back to the same problem as before, where a player could be tricked into allocating his limited manually-controlled combats to a battle where the player doesn’t even show himself (the only reason he engaged was to divert him from more important combats).

Further furthermore, the player can’t intelligently set combat goals if he doesn’t even know which empire is going to be attacking him (and there’s no way you can justify giving him a list of all cloaked empires in the system), so the several free combat turns he gets will be adequate to intelligently set combat goals, once he knows the identity of his attackers.
I'm going to work on the assumption that you want to resolve the issues by giving surprised players a "free action" which allows them to control any battle (in part, if not in whole) in which they are surprised. This seems like a good time-eater for the people who are waiting for their turn, and as such is undesirable.

The benefit of a steath unit is that the enemy doesn't know what or how powerful it is. That's the entire point of building one. If you don't know how powerful a force the enemy is attacking you with, then you will simply have to decide whether or not it's important enough to spend your system actions on. If you have nothing more important to do, then sure, spend some time on it and maybe get kited around by a stealth scout, but that's a decision you're going to have to make. The alternative, as you suggest, is to get a free pass into manual control of every single combat in which you are surprised, during which you get only a short time to give a few orders, regardless of the importance of the fight.

In any system where you are informed that you are being attacked by "unknown units", the important thing isn't what is attacking you, but what you are defending with, since the location of the attack is what you are going to care about. If it's just a scout on an asteroid, you can always auto-resolve it and then look at the report to try to guess how powerful a fleet you are being attacked by and adjust orders for subsequent turns. If your homeworld or death fleet is being attacked, then you probably want to manually control it start to finish, which you can't do if you have already used your system actions and are being given 20 seconds of free time with which to defend your most important strategic assets.

I think alot of this discussion hinges on how powerful and how prevalent stealth is going to be, particularily depending on the conditions under which a combat is considered "over."

-Ty.

User avatar
Bigjoe5
Designer and Programmer
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Orion

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#41 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:38 am

Krikkitone wrote:OK, it works like this
1. Players give orders to all fleets

2. Combats determined

3. Players set combat goals and Manual/Automatic control for combats they Know they will be in

4. Combat manager works as a matchmaker, matching players that Have Manual Combats with each other as soon as they are Not in combat.

5. If one player is Manually controlling a Stealth Combat, the "Manager" acts just the same, the entire combat doesn't start until the other player is ready

6. However it does not tell the other player that they are technically "in combat" for the purpose of the manager the 'surprised' player is in combat ie unavailable, but the player thinks they are available (and waiting)
This doesn't quite work. 3 should be just "Players set Manual/Automatic control for surprise attacks," the justification for this being that in attacks that aren't surprise attacks, setting goals and manual/automatic combat resolution is done in step one, "Players give orders to all fleets." Also, setting combat goals cannot occur until you actually have visibility of enemy forces in the system, which means that the player who is surprised cannot give any orders until he is actually dragged into combat. But if the player selected Auto-resolution, he will not be dragged into combat, and it's awkward to have the AI set combat goals for the player.

So the only real differences between a surprise attack and a regular combat should be that the surprised player is in the waiting screen until he is summoned into combat, surprised fleets will carry out their non-combat goals until they are attacked, and the player gets some free combat time.
Krikkitone wrote:Actually, the "Surprised" player should probably be put into the combat directly, just without the opportunity to give orders (at least that way they can see their majestic fleet sailing to its doom.... and possibly group it for proper control..ie assigning hotkeys, etc.)
See this thread. There would be no additional time for him to give orders beyond what is allowed by the predefined game settings.
Krikkitone wrote:A "Surprised" player is any that can't detect Enemy forces in their system at the begining (stealth isn't actually required just a peace treaty... assuming peace treaties can be broken by shooting first)
There will probably be other instances besides a stealthy surprise attack in which a player will need to be summoned into combat, but determining all potential instances of this is not practical here - the important thing is to determine that such instances exist and how they will occur.
RonaldX wrote:My concern with this is tied into stealth and it's uses. Being that stealth is a 0-100 scale, would it then be possible to make a fleet with a bunch of different ship designs with different stealth values, and "surprise" an enemy 100 times in a single combat?
Theoretically, a player could design ships all with the same stealth value, and "surprise" an enemy an indefinite number of times in a single combat. However, there are good reasons that this won't happen:

- sending in all your stealthy ships one at a time is stupid
RonaldX wrote:If an enemy has one ship left with a stealth level too high for you to detect, do you know that it is there and waste time playing hide-and-go-seek, or is the battle considered over as soon as you can no longer detect any enemies?
There are two completely different ways of (not) being able to detect an enemy. If the enemy's stealth is greater than the detection of your strongest detector, you don't even know he's in the system. He doesn't appear on the tactical map, and he doesn't appear in your little list of enemy fleets. If that enemy's stealth > detection - distance between you * scaling factor, then you cannot know his location in the system at all, and he does not appear to you on the tactical map. Even if this is the case however, it is still possible for a ship's stealth to be lower than your detection, meaning you still know he's present in the system, and he appears on your little list of enemy ships, and you still have information about his ship design (to the extent allowed by the rules of galaxy map stealth and detection), but you just can't tell where he is in the system.

If a ship whose stealth exceeded your detection attacked you (thus decreasing its stealth by firing weapons), you would gain visibility of it for the duration of the attack, and similarly gain knowledge of its design according to the same calculations as before based on its now-decreased stealth. If such a ship were to break off the attack (thus resuming its previous stealth levels), it would no longer be present in the system, according to the information which is given to you. You would then be informed that your combat goals cannot be completed to any further degree, and would be removed from combat and asked to define the goals for that fleet's next (obviously non-combat) system action.

Remember - a combat in which no enemy ships have a stealth meter which is actually equal to or greater than the detection of the empire's strongest detector present in the system is not a "surprise" attack (not by virtue of the ships' stealth, at least). This means that the player has the option to engage in combat with an enemy that he can't actually see immediately on the tactical map, but which he knows to be present due to his visibility of these ships on the galaxy map. In addition, he will know the number, strength and stealth of these ships, allowing him to make an intelligent decision about how to engage, and whether or not to leave it to the AI.
RonaldX wrote:If the battle is considered over, is it over for him as well, or could he then "surprise" you by attacking after you have left the combat?
The mechanics of ending combat haven't been discussed in detail, to my knowledge. Bear in mind that since all system action occurs on the tactical map, "ending" a combat is nothing more than turning the system action over to the AI. In multiplayer terms, where a player cannot manually control any system action in which he does not have combat objectives, this means that he will automatically be removed from combat once his combat objectives have been completed to the greatest possible degree - that is to say, the combat goals he has selected are no longer valid, and he cannot, or chooses not to select new ones. This might be due to all enemy ships being destroyed or retreating, or in the case of a surprise attack, all enemy forces no longer being visible to the player (which is essentially the equivalent of the other two - from the player's point of view, there are just no other ships present), or perhaps the colony he ordered to be bombed has been destroyed, or perhaps all of the player's ships have been destroyed (no system action goals, combat or otherwise, are valid if the player has no ships), etc. Also, "defend against enemy forces" is a mandatory (or at least default) combat goal whenever there are enemy forces in a system, which is why a player can be summoned into combat - his ships now have a combat goal. If there are no enemy forces left to defend against, this goal is no longer valid.

Long story short, yes, the other player could "surprise" you again, because he can still potentially have combat goals in the system, due to having knowledge of the presence of other ships, in which case the other player would be summoned back into the same combat. I expect this to be a very rare occurrence however, as it is usually not tactically sound to disengage from a stealth assault and then re-engage with the exact same forces.
RonaldX wrote:That isn't as much of an issue. The assumption is that you can detect (from tachyon bursts or active enemy radar or whatever) that they ARE ships in the system, but stealth precludes you from seeing what they are, or perhaps how many there are.
Well, we can make the player assume anything if we want, but that's not the issue, and realism isn't even remotely close to being one of the motivations for this model of combat/system action.
RonaldX wrote:I looked through the design documents on stealth, and what exactly the effect of stealth is isn't really made clear. I get the whole detection and range thing, but I'm not sure on what "being stealthed" actually causes? Can you just not target a stealth ship directly? Could you fire into space at random and hope to hit something? Are stealthed units considered "out of combat"? Does firing once make them visible for the rest of combat, or can they just vanish again if they run far enough away? All these things are kind of important for determining at which point a battle involving stealth units starts and ends, if it doesn't end due to last-man-standing or end-of-quantum situations (as would be the case if every unit was non-stealth).
That probably explains a lot of misunderstandings related to this topic. I wrote a bit about this earlier in this post, but I'll reiterate it here for convenience.

On the galaxy map: If EnemyStealth > FriendlyDetection - (GalaxyMapDistance*ScalingFactor), the friendly empire does not know the enemy ship exists. As far as his empire is concerned, that ship does not exist. That information is simply not sent to the client.

On the tactical map: The above calculation for the galaxy map is used to determine whether or not the friendly empire even knows about the enemy ship (obviously, GalaxyMapDistance = 0 for any two ships in the same system). Since this is a Galaxy Map calculation, any detector at any other location can be used for this calculation, based on its condition at the beginning of the quantum (meaning that the detection level of remote detectors - that is, detectors which are not present in the same system - is a constant throughout the combat). If the player has galaxy map detection of a ship, either by a remote detector or one present in combat, it is placed in his list of enemy ships, and he gains appropriate knowledge of its design. The following calculation is used only to determine whether or not the ship's location on the tactical map is made known to the player: If EnemyStealth > FriendlyDetection - (TacticalMapDistace*ScalingFactor), the friendly empire is made aware of the enemy ship's location on the tactical map.

Weapons cannot be fired at a target whose location on the tactical map is unknown, and cannot be fired at all without a target.

Combat takes place over the whole system, and involves all combat assets present (so no, stealthed ships are not considered "out of combat", but the fact that they cannot be detected (based on the galaxy map calculations) will affect the validity of combat goals, so combat can still potentially "end" due to there being only stealthy ships remaining).

There are factors which can potentially increase a ship's stealth in combat, which means a ship can potentially "disappear" under the right circumstances (entering an asteroid belt, for example), but it is undetermined whether or not firing once will decrease stealth for the entire battle (I personally don't think it should).

Also, even if there are no stealthy ships, "last-man-standing" and "end-of-quantum" are not the only valid ways to end a combat. If both sides declare that they have no more combat goals in a system, combat will end (again, this is referring to a multi-player situation in which no manually controlled system action is allowed without combat goals - combat "ending" just means that the AI takes over and does some non-combat stuff, like holding position). A primitive combat diplomacy system will probably be necessary for both sides to mutually agree to a cease-fire in that system for the remainder of the quantum, which would result in all combat goals for both sides being terminated, if neither side wants to continue combat, but that's a topic for another thread.
RonaldX wrote:I'm going to work on the assumption that you want to resolve the issues by giving surprised players a "free action" which allows them to control any battle (in part, if not in whole) in which they are surprised. This seems like a good time-eater for the people who are waiting for their turn, and as such is undesirable.

....

If you don't know how powerful a force the enemy is attacking you with, then you will simply have to decide whether or not it's important enough to spend your system actions on. If you have nothing more important to do, then sure, spend some time on it and maybe get kited around by a stealth scout, but that's a decision you're going to have to make. The alternative, as you suggest, is to get a free pass into manual control of every single combat in which you are surprised, during which you get only a short time to give a few orders, regardless of the importance of the fight.
This is a combat manager/When to Fight issue, which means that it is a problem which will need to be minimized/avoided as best possible, but not a problem which can be considered a legitimate objection to a system with inherent gameplay value (taking a really excessive amount of time would detract significantly from gameplay, and would therefore be a significant gameplay issue, but I don't think any extra time that this system would require comes anywhere close to qualifying). Plus, if the other guy was already in manual combat anyway, it's not like any extra time is wasted, unless the surprised player is needed for a later combat (which is something which can be minimized by the combat manager). Remember - having your stealth surpass your enemies' detection values is very difficult, which makes genuine "surprise attacks" quite rare.
RonaldX wrote:The benefit of a steath unit is that the enemy doesn't know what or how powerful it is. That's the entire point of building one.
The benefit of a stealth unit is that the enemy doesn't know it's there, which is much more interesting than simply hiding what type it is.
RonaldX wrote:In any system where you are informed that you are being attacked by "unknown units", the important thing isn't what is attacking you, but what you are defending with, since the location of the attack is what you are going to care about. If it's just a scout on an asteroid, you can always auto-resolve it and then look at the report to try to guess how powerful a fleet you are being attacked by and adjust orders for subsequent turns. If your homeworld or death fleet is being attacked, then you probably want to manually control it start to finish, which you can't do if you have already used your system actions and are being given 20 seconds of free time with which to defend your most important strategic assets.
That's a good argument in favour of having the player be given an entire free combat. After all, if it's unimportant, it won't take long, and if it's really important, the other player is probably also holding things up by manually controlling the combat anyway.
RonaldX wrote:I think alot of this discussion hinges on how powerful and how prevalent stealth is going to be, particularily depending on the conditions under which a combat is considered "over."
You're right, and I hope my clarification on these issues (bearing in mind that most of what I've written isn't on the design pad, and therefore isn't official design, but more of a very precise and detailed speculation on how things will end up being done, based on the natural consequences of what is on the design pad) makes the whole system make a bit more sense.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

RonaldX
Space Kraken
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:40 am
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#42 Post by RonaldX » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:13 am

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. If a player is told "Unknown Enemy Forces are engaging you in system X" and allowed to decide whether or not to manually control the battle, it's a simple matter of "when those units are dead, time runs out, or both sides decide to stop fighting, the combat ends."

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.

Again, the entire thing hinges on how stealth is interpreted.

Either:

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.

Or

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.

I'm going to set up a small example to illustrate how radical the difference between the two is..

Red Empire has a stationary fleet on planet X. Blue Empire attacks it with a stealth fleet.

System 1:
-Red player is given a list of contested systems at the start of the quantum. At planet X, he doesn't detect the Blue fleet and is not given the option to engage.
-Blue player is given a list of contested systems at the start of the quantum, he knows about the Red fleet and chooses to engage it.
-Both players now get a list of systems where combat WILL occur. They have the option of controlling these battles manually or not. Both opt to manually control the battle at planet X. (All system actions are spent right here)
-The combat manager matches up a time when the Red and Blue players are both available.
-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).
-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.

System 2:
-Red player is given a list of contested systems at the start of the quantum. He chooses which ones he wants to engage in, and which he wants to manually control, since he does not know planet X is contested, he does not have it on his list.
-Blue player is given a list of contested systems at the start of the quantum. He chooses which ones he wants to engage in, and which he wants to manually control, he chooses to engage at planet X.
-The combat manager has these players play out unrelated combats if possible, before the Blue player engages the Red fleet at planet X.
-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).
-When Red player is available, he gets free automatic control over the rest of this conflict.
-Red player and Blue player battle, and Blue player is losing, so he tries to escape.
-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.
-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 battle ends for Blue when either they make a cease-fire, Blue is totally destroyed, Blue selects "auto-resolve", Blue retreats from the system, or time runs out.

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, especially considering there are literally a hundred different combinations for when stealth units can be detected. 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.

-Ty.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1499
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#43 Post by Krikkitone » Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:30 am

RonaldX wrote:systems.
I'd go with the first one too with 2 modifications
1. Have it be "Battle Time" so that if Red realizes the stealth threat isn't significant he can just click autoresolve and not have lost too much time.

2. Red can only 'queue up' orders until Blue is detected. (Red also loses no time under thse conditions...some sign on the screen says NO COMBAT STARTED)

So Red is forced to wait in a sense, but Red loses no "Battle Time" for waiting.

I would make one change to the way it ends...it ends when
1. Time is up (for both sides)
2. The player hits auto-resolve (for that player only)
3. The players "Cease Fire" (both sides)

The "Cease Fire" would work like this

Whenever both players have their "Cease Fire" on, Combat ends.
Players can turn their "Cease Fire" on and off at any time, with one exception.
If a Player has lost all their ships in the system, their "Cease Fire" is turned on and they can't turn it off
Players always know about the "Cease Fire" status of all other player involved in the combat.

So If Red sees that Blue's "Cease Fire" is on they know
1) Blue has lost all ships in the system (either destroyed or moved out)
2) Blue wants them to Think they have lost all ships in the system, and just want to hide his remaining ships
3) or Blue just wants a legitimate 'cease fire'

If Red can detect Blue's ships, then Red knows #1 isn't an option, so if they want to they can go after those ships in the time remaining.

However, If Red cannot see Blue's ships, then Red has to decide if the mesage popped up because Blue lost all their ships or because Blue wants to hide and wait for reinforcements.

This
1. Allows Red to leave if they are OK with Blue continuing to hid in the system
2. Prevents Red from knowing if Blue is just hiding till next turn, or if all thier ships actually left/were destroyed.

RonaldX
Space Kraken
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:40 am
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#44 Post by RonaldX » Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:23 pm

I can live with the "cease-fire" modification. It prevents Blue from re-engaging and pulling Red back into the same combat on the same turn, since the combat was over as soon as they both hit "cease-fire". Blue would have to pull out of detection range and effectively shut off all "detectible active systems".. Once they shut everything down and hide, they are no longer a threat in that quantum.

Still, you're looking at a situation where you don't know that a ship is there or not. The Blue player could concievably start the fight and immediately hit "cease-fire" in order to hide troops in a system and attack over and over every turn.. An annoying meta-game tactic. Does the "cease-fire" light come on during Red's turn if he destroys Blue's last ship, before Blue has an opportunity to "fake" it? At least this way Red would know if all the ships were destroyed or not.

The strategy I can see this leading to is players feeling the need to station a max strength detector at every system so that enemies can't just stockpile stealth forces on one or all of your worlds under the "cease-fire" guise. I can live with the change, but I'd still prefer if once you had been engaged by the enemy, you knew it was there until you destroyed it, or it fled.

Also, I still would have the combat start pulling time from Red and Blue as soon as it starts, though. Remember that Red chose to manually resolve the combat, knowing that he was going up against undetected stealth units. He could have had the AI autoresolve it if he wanted to. We're trying to avoid giving players extra time.

-Ty.

User avatar
Bigjoe5
Designer and Programmer
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:33 pm
Location: Orion

Re: Player Fleet / System Battle Authorization

#45 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:16 pm

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 with new 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. If 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 be annoying:

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.

Either:

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.
RonaldX wrote:Or

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.
Last edited by Bigjoe5 on Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

Post Reply