Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

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

Moderator: Oberlus

Message
Author
User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#1 Post by eleazar »

We've been pushing the numbers around for hulls, but i'm not so sure we aren't going in circles. Whats the big picture?

We have several different types of hulls: organic, asteroid, robotic, etc. but it isn't clear what the different types are for, or why a player should research one and not another -- except for which gives him the highest damage for the fewest PPs.

I'd like to see an overarching theme or purpose for each type of hull. In other words, a player who values a certain statistic or even better who favors a certain kind of strategy would have a hull type fitted for his needs. For example, a turtle player would could choose a hull type that maybe had high structure, but wasn't very fast. Maybe a balanced player would research more than one hull line. But the point is that each hull type could have its own distinct reason for existence.

I can see the hints of this kind of distinction in some of the hull types, but it isn't very clear, and i suspect some of the people contributing to hull balancing have different ideas.

So i propose the following steps:
  • 1) Figure out what distinct and useful hull "themes" FOCS (FreeOrion Content Script) allows. Then,

    2) Figure out how to best to change existing content to embody those themes. If we have fewer themes than hull types, then we get rid of some.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1531
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#2 Post by Krikkitone »

Well the obvious "Toggles"
are

HP/Cost
Slots/Cost
Speed

So:
High hp, low speed: Turtle (small empire)

High Slots, low HP: slap it together hull (biggest cost is the offensive equipment)...blitzkreig

High speed, low slots: Power Projector... can get there and hold the line

High Speed, low hp: Sneak Attacker

for some initial ideas

User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#3 Post by eleazar »

For the sake of avoiding having a billion annoying-to-manage ships, and turn slowdowns, i think all hull lines should progress towards more slots. Some lines more than others, perhaps, but all greatly improved in slot count as they progress.

User avatar
Dilvish
AI Lead and Programmer Emeritus
Posts: 4768
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:25 pm

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#4 Post by Dilvish »

sounds like a good approach to me. I'll propose some thoughts, though looking it over now perhaps I skipped too much over your first step, but anyway, here it is. When I refer to plain cost below, it's construction cost, assessed on some kind tightly defined combat-construction metric [ like cost/slots; my preference is cost/(structure*(slots^2)) ] but ignoring other ship aspects, so that "medium cost" has a fairly clear meaning within a hull line and between hull lines, no matter what other differences. I think the use of a good metric for this can do a great deal to guide the balancing job, to the extent a line varies in this metric (and none should vary too much) it should get compensatory balancing of other features, and the rest is mostly adding distinctive flavor in ways that doesn't throw off the basic combat-construction balance. I agree about them all progressing towards more slots; at least some of the secondary characteristics should also get more pronounced I'd think.

high level summary:
Constructed/Initial medium-low benefits (structure, travel speed, construction speed), medium cost
Asteroid: high intra-system stealth with a substantial penalty for a turn after combat, medium-low cost, medium-high structure, low travel speed, medium construction speed
Organic low cost, unlimited fuel, mild structure regen, low structure, low travel speed, slow construction speed
Robotic fast travel speed fast combat speed if/when that matters, medium-fast construction speed, medium cost, medium structure
Energy very fast travel & combat speed, high slots, medium-high cost low structure, slow construction, good stealth

here's some more detail on the Asteroid line thoughts.
I think the main theme of the asteroid ships should be high intra-system-stealth, with secondary characteristics low cost, medium-low structure and low speed. I know there's a bit of that mixed in there already, but I think it should be the main aspect, applying in all systems other than true deep space (i.e., presence of a planet would let it get the bonus; we should probably get it fixed so such systems do show their name like Geoff said they should) and not between systems, and perhaps more of them getting the stealth bonus in systems with asteroids. So every once in a while you could see a litltle flicker of a ship between systems, but if they didn't attack they'd have pretty high stealth. Due to their camouflage type of stealth, being in combat should substantially reduce their stealth fora turn (that might not be exposed to Conditions yet, but last_turn_in_combat is an existing Ship attribute).
If I provided any code, scripts or other content here, it's released under GPL 2.0 and CC-BY-SA 3.0

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12761
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#5 Post by Geoff the Medio »

I might have missed it, but slot type is another feature to consider when balancing hulls. There are external and internal slots, and another "large" or "core" or "feature" slot has been proposed. All could have different types of parts mountable, affecting what can be done with the hulls.

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

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#6 Post by Bigjoe5 »

I've always thought of Organic Hulls as being more suited for long-range strategic missions than Constructed Hulls. Their ability to regenerate fuel and structure makes them well-suited to long-term missions outside of supply range, their high stealth helps them stay unseen in enemy territory, and their high detection makes them suitable for reconnaissance missions. It would also be good if they typically had more Internal slots than Constructed Hulls, and had access to Large Internal slots on lower-tech ships.

In contrast, Constructed Hulls should be faster, larger, and stronger than Organic Hulls, but not so much more expensive, as is the case now, unless there's some other cost or restriction associated with producing Organic Hulls. An abundance of External slots and the advantage of having Large External slots on less advanced hulls would also help make them more "tactical".

Asteroid Hulls are for defense. They should be cheap, slow, and have low fuel and structure.

I envision Energy Hulls as not being associated with a particular large-scale strategy, but featuring tactical advantages such as:
- being able to enter the orbit of a star, providing a bonus to stealth.
- being able to absorb a certain amount of all damage taken and fire it back at enemy ships.
- being able to enter a star, providing a large bonus to stealth.
- producing a larger-than-normal explosion when self-destructing, damaging all ships in the area.

For example, there could be an energy hull that has no slots, but absorbs 75% of all damage and creates a huge explosion on self-destruct. Or something.

On a semi-related note, I don't really like how a ship that's only stealthy when it's in a system can move freely between systems without being detected as long as it can move between them in less than one turn. For the long term, I think simply having been out-of-system that turn should prevent in-system stealth bonuses from taking effect.

On a more related note, each hull class currently has a "Flagship" hull type, which has special effects on the entire fleet (Logistics Facilitator, Sentient Hull, Scattered Asteroid Hull and Solar Hull). The intention was that having one or a few of these hulls provides a significant bonus worthy of a significant cost, but building many would not be cost-effective. So if exclusively (or even regularly) using these ships is considered viable, they need to be rebalanced.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

AndrewW
Juggernaut
Posts: 791
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#7 Post by AndrewW »

Bigjoe5 wrote:- being able to absorb a certain amount of all damage taken and fire it back at enemy ships.
Energy absorber...
Bigjoe5 wrote:For example, there could be an energy hull that has no slots, but absorbs 75% of all damage and creates a huge explosion on self-destruct. Or something.
Interesting, though could be dangerous to your own fleet.

User avatar
Adrian
Space Floater
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:40 pm
Location: Eridanus Supervoid

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#8 Post by Adrian »

So the idea is that there are a hand full distinct flavors of ship that get better in successive models, plus one flagship/leader type, right?
  • A: A1, A2, A3; AF
  • B: B1, B2, B3; BF
    ...
Higher levels cost significantly more, but offer a slight advantage over lower levels on a stats/PP basis. This makes the eventual move to fewer, higher-level ships a no-brainer and reduces micro-management. Gameplay where lower levels within a category (e.g. Zerglings in Starcraft) remain advantageous (even if just in fringe scenarios) is too complicated I think.

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

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#9 Post by Bigjoe5 »

Adrian wrote:So the idea is that there are a hand full distinct flavors of ship that get better in successive models, plus one flagship/leader type, right?
Not just "better" but also better in different situations, so if, for example, Constructed Hull II is small and fast, and Constructed Hull III is gigantic and heavy, it might still be useful to use Constructed Hull II for PD ships, even if you've researched Constructed Hull III and are using it for LR ships. But if you research Constructed Hull V, which is also big and heavy, there's probably not much use for Constructed Hull III anymore.
Warning: Antarans in dimensional portal are closer than they appear.

unjashfan
Creative Contributor
Posts: 175
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:08 am

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#10 Post by unjashfan »

Here's what I see in the different hull types:
  • Constructed hulls: Large, manufactured starships that requires well developed industries to produce. Has good slot distribution, average speed and fuel, highest production cost, medium-low build time, and medium-high structure. Good for general combat but lacks special abilities.
  • Asteroid hulls: Ships made from asteroids that are cheap and durable. They don't need a lot of fuel since they must travel very slowly and also has size limits to successfully mimic real asteroids, but has good stealth to compensate. Good for defense and ambushes.
  • Organic hulls: Offers a variety of hulls that can do almost anything, but are more fragile compared to other hull types.
    • Symbiotic line: Ships infused with living components via hybridization techniques, and small in size, which grants good stealth. Can replenish health and fuel using living components. Usage of living parts equates to long build times, but low production cost. Has fast speed and good fuel capacity, high internal modularity, and above average structure. Good for reconnaissance, espionage, and ambushes.
    • Static Multicellular line: Ships made from wide varieties of dead organic matter. Similar to constructed hulls, but are lighter and faster, less massive, and easier to produce. Larger in size compared to their living counterparts, but lack any special abilities. Has high external modularity, fast speed, low fuel capacity, medium build time, medium production cost, and low structure. Good for hit-and-run tactics, suicide missions, and blitzkriegs.
  • Energy hulls: Hulls made from highly energetic and unstable materials, which allows them to generate their own power, but will go out in a blaze of glory when destroyed, just like their shipyards (mentioned in the Energy Compressor's description, which I think makes a lot of sense). Extremely fast and has great fuel capacity, possibly unlimited fuel since they can generate power. Has the best overall performance of hull types. Has medium structure, high production cost, and medium-high build time. Good for attacking but poor at defending since their blaze of glory will hurt friendlies within the vicinity. Their permanent energetic state also makes espionage impossible since they are readily picked up on detection equipment.
On a more related note, each hull class currently has a "Flagship" hull type
Each hull type also has a "spam hull", a small hull that has practically low everything: Low slot count (1 or 2), low HP, low build time, and low build cost, just to name a few. The organic hulls don't have this "spam hull", likely because their build times are too high to have one. I have no problem with these guys, it's just that we might want to move them around the tech tree if we want this:
all hull lines should progress towards more slots.

gvdm
Space Floater
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:04 am

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#11 Post by gvdm »

I would be /hugely/ in favour of reducing the number of hull technology types to ~5 and then allowing you to tech up in a given hull flavour for more slots/shield/stealth or whatever is appropriate for that hull type. At the moment the number of hull types along with their special factories makes the outlay cost (research + special shipyard) not worth the number of turns. I usually just tech robotic and put death rays in.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1531
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#12 Post by Krikkitone »

eleazar wrote:For the sake of avoiding having a billion annoying-to-manage ships, and turn slowdowns, i think all hull lines should progress towards more slots. Some lines more than others, perhaps, but all greatly improved in slot count as they progress.
I agree... I was talking comparatively.. ie at a given "tech level" one would have more, another less.

User avatar
eleazar
Design & Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 3858
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: USA — midwest

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#13 Post by eleazar »

:arrow: I question weather "cheap" can be a valid distinction between hull lines. If it is cheap to any noticeable degree...

1) If it means that that 2 of the cheap ones are roughly equivalent (in cost / power) to 1 ship of a similar tech level of another hull line, then were merely multiplying the number of hulls that must be managed, which is bad. There can be some variation along this line

2) if it means that you actually get more ship for your PP, then it will probably be the only "right" hull choice, which is bad.

:arrow: Also i question weather fuel is an important distinction. It rarely matters in my experience.


Listing the fluff for current hull lines and/or describing speculative special abilities is not IMHO helpful. I do think we need to complete step 1 from the OP first, if were going to solve the problem by more than chance. A long list of minor differences does not make a compelling, distinct theme.

User avatar
Adrian
Space Floater
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:40 pm
Location: Eridanus Supervoid

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#14 Post by Adrian »

Bigjoe5 wrote:
Adrian wrote:So the idea is that there are a hand full distinct flavors of ship that get better in successive models, plus one flagship/leader type, right?
Not just "better" but also better in different situations, so if, for example, Constructed Hull II is small and fast, and Constructed Hull III is gigantic and heavy, it might still be useful to use Constructed Hull II for PD ships, even if you've researched Constructed Hull III and are using it for LR ships. But if you research Constructed Hull V, which is also big and heavy, there's probably not much use for Constructed Hull III anymore.
What would be the defining characteristics along which to compare hulls by type and level? If you would place all hulls in a graph, what would the x and y axes read? I think there should be a clear distinction along those lines, lest things get too complex.

yandonman
Creative Contributor
Posts: 699
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:32 am

Re: Top-Down Revision of Ship Hulls

#15 Post by yandonman »

Just posing the question: why do we need differentiated hulls? Why not get rid of the "organic" and "energy" ideas and just have a single line of ship hull progression? Shouldn't dealing with ship parts/design be all that a player needs?


Ignoring the above question:

I'd like to see organic ships be breed and grown (not built) as their defining characteristic.

Constructed would behave as normal. Nothing special, and they would progress with larger hulls with more slots.

Energy ships I struggle with... what if they shared damage evenly across energy ships within a fleet? (aka: transfer of energy is easy with energy ships, even in combat)


There seems to be a lot of single slot ships - what are those useful for??
Why not have engines/speed as a global researched item?
Code released under GPL 2.0. Content released under GPL 2.0 and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

Post Reply