Story based combat engine

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

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krum
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#31 Post by krum » Wed May 12, 2004 8:53 am

Putting aside whether it should be implemented, I love the idea. A lot. I wish I had thought of it.

Lyx
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#32 Post by Lyx » Wed May 12, 2004 2:15 pm

- I do not think showing a detailed animation would be viable in the 'narrative' combat system. Unless we create a really brilliant AI the player will get very frustrated by the stupid things his ships do and his inability to micro-manage them. And I suspect we won't be able to make the AI brilliant enough.
Please do not dismiss the story-based approach based on the thought "the AI will fail anyways". This isn't fair and doesn't get us anywhere.

The question isn't "will the AI fail?", but instead "does a story-based combat-engine make sence ASUMING the AI will do a good job?"

I know very well that a story-based approach will utterly fail, if the AI messes up and that it would be frustrating. I've thought about that and i believe that there are ways to make the AI act as the player wants it to act.

The magic words imho with this issue is ship-design and fleet-design.

--------------

Here's a revised model of how to make the AI act as the player wants it to act - in an environment where the player does NOT control his forces during combat.

Ship-Design
When designing a new ship, the player usually has certain purposes for the seperate ship-parts in mind. Usually that certain weapons are meant for different purposes. Especially with very weird weapon-mixes the AI is akin to mess up and not do stuff as the player intended it to do.
To solve this, we just help the AI a little with almost no effort:

During shipdesign, there would be a dropdown menu after each weapon. With these dropdown menues the player could specify a "prefered target" for each weapon.
The choices could i.e. be: smaller ships, larger-ships, missiles, planet

That way, you can for example say that fighter-bay should prefer large ships instead of smaller ones. Or that a PD-laser should prefer missiles.



Fleet-Design
The player doesn't create seperate fleets. Instead all ships at a system automatically form one single large fleet. However, the player does create "ship-groups" to make managing/moving fleets easier and help the AI about the mission of individual ships and ship-groups.

How is a ship-group created?
A ship-group consists of three "slots". The player can add as many ships to each slot as he wishes.

Vanguard: These ships will fly ahead of the "core".
Primary Goal=protect the "core"
Secondary Goal=protect the "support"
Tertiary Goal=accomplish mission

Core: These ships will fly in the center of the group.
Primary Goal=accomplish mission
Secondary Goal=protect the "support"
Tertiary Goal=protect "vanguard"

Support: These ship will fly at the tail of the group.
Primary Goal=protect the "core"
Secondary Goal=protect the "vanguard"
Tertiary Goal=accomplish mission

So, a ship-group is basically created by just dragging ships into one of those three slots and clicking "create". Done.


What happens when multiple groups are involved in a battle?
All groups - for this battle - will merge into one big group: all "vanguard" ships will form an big vanguard, all "core" ships will form one big core, all "support" ships will form one big support.
However, after the battle, the ships return to their individual small groups, so the "merge" only happens internally during a battle.

------------------

This system would help to make the AI understand what the player expects it to do, and allow easy detaching and merging of ship-groups without much player-intervention. Also, its a quite simple and robust system which should be easy to understand - not just for the player, but also for the AI, which doesn't need to "guess" much what the player wants it to do. So, i guess "weird ai decisions" should be rare and easy to tweak.

opinions?
- Lyx
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drek
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#33 Post by drek » Wed May 12, 2004 4:44 pm

Ur,

We can assume the AI will be stoopid. It's a given.

That said, there's no need for AI in a narrative approach, unless you consider a text adventure to be an example of AI.

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Impaler
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#34 Post by Impaler » Wed May 12, 2004 5:15 pm

Under the stuff I proposed on the previous page (which so far no ones comented on) would be combining traditional Hex tiled Tactical Map with a 1 turn general orders space battle. Any option you want for a story based system could be used in this kind of system as well provided that their are various restrictions on when the option is avalible (so the player isn't presented with EVERY possible option for EVERY task force), things like good old frontal attack would be avalible all the time but special terrain would provide new oportunites, for Example "Hide in Asteroid Belt" if the task force is near as asteroid belt.

Their wouldn't nessarily BE any AI their, the players input Orders durring normal Galactic turns. Thus we dont need to have an "Auto Resolve Combat" option like Moo2 had because theirs no back and forth combat turn.
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

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#35 Post by Lyx » Wed May 12, 2004 6:03 pm

imho, we don't need ANY tactic-maps in a story-based approach.

i mean - wtf? - one of the advantages of a story-based approach was that we dont need any tiled system-maps and stuff like that. That we can remove this complexity - and now we throw in just that again?

With a story-based approach we dont need any tactical map - we're telling a story, not playing a board-game. Everything would be just script-based, NOT map based.

So, inside of a system, everything is "flat". You enter the system and can go straight to any object in the system, be it an asteroid belt, a planet, or whatever. Basically, everything can be reached in just one turn.

Like: Player1 is at location A, but wants to go to location B
Then player2 makes his move, where he wants to go or if he wants to attack the enemies fleet. Etc. etc..... we can bring in some exception-rules. But, the point is that maps are just unnecessary in a story-based approach. Either we tell a story, or we play a tabletob game.... but combining both ends up in something which is even more complex than the tabletop-appoach alone.

tabletop-complexity + storydriven-complexity = complexity of both
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#36 Post by Lyx » Wed May 12, 2004 7:14 pm

anyways. what this thread originally was about was:

- a text-adventure approach to fleet-ORDERS on a system-wide level
- that the player would just watch battles-themselves


what it was not about:

- how a single-battle itself gets resolved or displayed. This wasn't the scope of this thread and considered to be replaced by the "battle-module" (which could be text-only, an animation or 2d-realtime-combat in spectator-mode).
- giving individual orders on a tiled system map
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utilae
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#37 Post by utilae » Wed May 12, 2004 8:58 pm

Lyx wrote: anyways. what this thread originally was about was:

- a text-adventure approach to fleet-ORDERS on a system-wide level
- that the player would just watch battles-themselves
Sounds like we won't be able to 'play' this form of space combat. It would really suck then. :) We might as well just have an FMV sequence.
Lyx wrote: With a story-based approach we dont need any tactical map - we're telling a story, not playing a board-game. Everything would be just script-based, NOT map based.
Actaully we are making a strategy game not a story game. And space combat would be closer to a board game then you think.
Lyx wrote: Like: Player1 is at location A, but wants to go to location B
Then player2 makes his move, where he wants to go or if he wants to attack the enemies fleet. Etc. etc..... we can bring in some exception-rules. But, the point is that maps are just unnecessary in a story-based approach. Either we tell a story, or we play a tabletob game.... but combining both ends up in something which is even more complex than the tabletop-appoach alone.
The way you say moving from point A to point B sounds like it would be done on a map, so why are you saying maps are unnecesary? And combing the story parts with normal space combat would not be hard, just add a few narrative bits here and there. Plus I imagine that space combat would be scriptable anyway so that when making scenarios it would be like a story. After all you can do that with StarCraft and that is real time and still did the story elements pretty good.
Lyx wrote: So, inside of a system, everything is "flat". You enter the system and can go straight to any object in the system, be it an asteroid belt, a planet, or whatever. Basically, everything can be reached in just one turn.
I had that idea anyway with my more tactical space combat idea. You could go to any planet within the same battle, cause your battle would take place inside the entire system.

Now the story based approach could be intertwined with tactical or strategic space combat easy enough without making it a text game or boring. For example when you ships enter the system it says:
"Fleet Aplha B enter the system to be contronted by the Psilion home fleets. The Psilions will now fight with everything to save their homeworld, their last planet."

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#38 Post by utilae » Wed May 12, 2004 9:11 pm

Lyx wrote: tabletop-approach - combat turn
- the player sees a tiled system-map with ships, planets and objects on them, and moves his fleets on it.
- Then there are questions like "can fleet A (small ships) move more fields, then fleet B(large ships)"? Aka, there may be special rules just for the system-map.
- Anyways, after that, combat takes place, including a complex GUI to give ships orders, set waypoints, etc. on a hexagonal-map
- ground-combat again may happen on a small tiled map, moving units around - on a hexagonal-map.
- tactical GUI for commanding ground units?
- in the meantime, the other players which weren't involved in the battles went off for dinner
- or, combat takes place that fast, that the players dont have time to make use of all these strategic toys fully
The GUI would only be complex if it didn't work. If it was a good interface would you consider it complex. If it was easy to use, there would be no problems. Also you could probably give orders quicker than in the story based approach. My system of space combat is phased real time, so everyone makes there moves at the same time then click done. When everyone is done battle plays out for a while then everyone takes turns again. No one would go off to dinnner and no one would be left behind.
Lyx wrote: story based approach - combat turn
- the player gets presented with a short summary of stats(his ships, enemy fleets, current location in the system)
- the player chooses what to do from a multiple-choice menu
- eventually the choice leads to a second sub-menu. player makes his choice
- if the player has another fleet, he does the same with them
- graphical feedback is shown (be it text-based or realtime-combat). player just watches
- summary of the battle is shown
- turn ends
- Lyx
This could be really hard to use if there are multiple fleets. Well, at least as difficult as a normal tactical approach. And watching battles tends to get annoying. Plus you don't mention how players will not be waiting for other players. I guess they just watch too right.

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#39 Post by Lyx » Wed May 12, 2004 9:19 pm

this thread is about a story-based combat-approach.

edit: it is NOT (how obvious) about a tabletop-approach.

If you want a different approach, then post into the coresponding thread or create a new one.
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#40 Post by utilae » Wed May 12, 2004 9:24 pm

Just pointing out the disadvantages. :) Its only healthy. If we question the idea, then you say why the disadvantages are incorrect or how you can get around them, etc etc.

:)

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#41 Post by Lyx » Wed May 12, 2004 9:46 pm

disadvantage: you will not be able to control ships on the battlefield
solution: None. Thats what it is about - you as the emperor only give the order which goals your ships shall archieve. But you're not the fleet admiral or pilot of single ships in this approach. However, this approach instead allows you to do many other things which wouldn't be possible otherwise. Take a look at the first page of the thread to get an idea of what unusual things would be possible.

(not a) disadvantage: more focussed on immersion than strategy
okay because: as i understood it, freeorion is not just about strategy alone but also cares alot about immersion, story, etc. Additionally, the story-based approach allows some tactical possibilities which wouldn't be possible otherwise(see above).
The way you say moving from point A to point B sounds like it would be done on a map, so why are you saying maps are unnecesary?
Because it already archieves that without having a map. And just saying "goto this location" is less complex than moving pieces on a chessboard(including extra rules). It also is more fitting for a story-based approach and its easier to code/expand.
Now the story based approach could be intertwined with tactical or strategic space combat easy enough
Yes, but this is a very different approach and should be discussed in a seperate thread.

Also: tabletop-complexity + storydriven-complexity = complexity of both
This could be really hard to use if there are multiple fleets.
see this post for a solution to that problem:
viewtopic.php?p=10504#10504
Plus you don't mention how players will not be waiting for other players.
Because it isn't the scope of this topic. But i proposed something to make waiting time less in another thread:
viewtopic.php?t=684
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#42 Post by Obiwan » Wed May 12, 2004 9:48 pm

Problem - Feedback

(using Lyx proposal)

I create different groups based on my ship designs and capabilities.

Battle happens

How do I know which designs were successful?

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#43 Post by Lyx » Wed May 12, 2004 10:33 pm

Obiwan wrote:Problem - Feedback

(using Lyx proposal)

I create different groups based on my ship designs and capabilities.

Battle happens

How do I know which designs were successful?
EDIT: viewtopic.php?t=688
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#44 Post by Obiwan » Thu May 13, 2004 2:15 am

Thanks, ive commented over there

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Krikkitone
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#45 Post by Krikkitone » Thu May 13, 2004 8:03 pm

In support of the proposal

feature (advantage/disadvantage):
More focused on strategy than tactics.. forget immersion, this is the same as not building every single building on a planet and making sure you have enough 'power' and 'roads' to support them but abstracting them extensively into 'Infrastructures'.
For each planet you have a general strategy you give it (Focus) and a certain amount of resources to do it with.
In the same way with this proposal, your job is making sure the right ships are in the right system at the right time to do the job you want. You give them a general strategy and they carry it out.

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