Ships suggestions

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emrys
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Ships suggestions

#1 Post by emrys » Thu Aug 05, 2004 3:36 pm

If anyone would like to take a quick look at this rather overcomplicated page on the Wiki http://www.freeorion.org/wiki/index.php ... scratchpad, and rip my suggestions for the overview of our ship combat model to pieces, It would be much appreciated.

I've tried to include lots of ideas that have come up on the forum, and accomodate both those who hate the idea of a rock paper scissor model, and those who like the idea.

There's additional stuff I want to add (e.g. sensors etc.), but that'll have to wait.

The main interesting thing I've not included is the stuff Geoff's come up with today in the Subs thread, because I've not had chance to read it yet :)
Last edited by emrys on Mon Aug 09, 2004 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#2 Post by Daveybaby » Thu Aug 05, 2004 4:05 pm

Good stuff.

re: rock ships - i think 'crystalline' is more interesting - sounds less 'stone age' and more like something halfway between metal box and organic - i.e a crystal is inorganic but is still something that is grown.

re: ship class descriptions - i feel that you are missing out in not having carriers/missile ships included somehere, i.e. the platforms for your standoff weapons. The behaviour of a carrier is fundamentally different to that of a battleship. Or are we just talking hull sizes here?

re: Ship design - there is a definite clash between the fact that you have defined ship types, yet no restriction on how these are designed by the player. What about hull sizes? Are battleships limited to certain hull sizes? Is it possible for the player to build tiny battleships and huge corvettes? If not, do we have access to all hull sizes at the beginning of the game, or can players not build battleships until later in the game?

w.r.t. ship mission, one way of encouraging players to design ship classes to fit their role (rather than forcing them via hard limits on what can be put where), is to provide bonuses/penalties to each class. e.g. a battleship design might gain a +25% armour bonus at the expense of -25% engine speed. For a cruiser the opposite might apply. This is what i'm doing for COW (link to design document here), and while this may not tie in 100% with whats going on here, it might give you a few ideas.
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#3 Post by drek » Thu Aug 05, 2004 4:23 pm

how do you hope to enforce the paper-rock-scissors arrangement between hull types? I'd rather not see a stock bonus that says ships of hull X always does more damage to ships of hull type Y.

I always assumed that ships would be designable, as in the moo games. Each hull type could have a slot or three for equipment: including enhanced sensors, cloaks, extended shields (that protect friendly ships), extra energy batteries, ground bombs, fighter bays, troop bays, and some sort of "sub" thingy that lets the ship dive under normal space. The role of the vessel would be determined not by it's hull type, rather what sort of equipment/weapons/etc it carries.

At v.4, I'm imaging the following hull types:

Doomstar (perhaps renamed)
Super-Capital
Capital (built in groups of 3)
Frigate (built in groups of 10)
Corvette (built in groups of 20)

Smaller ships are better at manuveuring and using cloaks/sub thingies/shields/etc. Larger ships have more equipment slots, allowing them to fulfill more roles, and be naturally tougher.

Shields might recharge faster on smaller ships, meaning you'd want your small ships in front taking the heat off your capital ships. Technically, you could put a sub thingy on to a super-capital ship, but the energy requirements would require a very advanced reactor.

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#4 Post by LithiumMongoose » Thu Aug 05, 2004 5:18 pm

Sounds good drek. MOO3 had too many hull sizes imo, it gets confusing with much more than you have there, for example remembering whether a Behemoth is bigger than a Leviathan or vice versa; they're both perfectly ordinary fearsome mythological creatures as far as I'm concerned so it's not immediately obvious from the name. :)

Hmm, looks to me like a Star-Wars-derived list there actually, and not just b/c of the Doomstar at the top hehe. Kudos for that. I would say you might want to add one class below Corvette, not much more than an overgrown heavy fighter in size, for early scout ships or whatever.

I'd also do a little renaming, Capital to Cruiser and Super-Capital to Dreadnaught; those names always seemed to me like they translated over from sea to space better than their counterparts (Destroyer and Battleship).

(On a pet peeve note, I'd also like to add that having 'Battle Cruiser' and 'Battleship' in the same list in MOO3 was profoundly annoying... Though the Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser, Battle Cruiser progression was nice.)
Last edited by LithiumMongoose on Thu Aug 05, 2004 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#5 Post by emrys » Thu Aug 05, 2004 5:42 pm

Good, this is the kind of thing I needed to show me what things I'd forgotten / needed to explain more clearly / had just had stupid day on :) .
drek wrote:how do you hope to enforce the paper-rock-scissors arrangement between hull types? I'd rather not see a stock bonus that says ships of hull X always does more damage to ships of hull type Y.
here's your answer
daveybaby wrote:w.r.t. ship mission, one way of encouraging players to design ship classes to fit their role (rather than forcing them via hard limits on what can be put where), is to provide bonuses/penalties to each class. e.g. a battleship design might gain a +25% armour bonus at the expense of -25% engine speed
That's the idea I was going for. Capital/Escort ship 'class names' are the hull sizes, the role is NOT fixed, the descriptions are just suggestions/typical ideas, it's just that each hull size has different base bonuses to speed, structure and of course different amount of space available for components.

There's no simple 'battleships do +25% damage to destroyers' rule, but there is a 'battleships can take 25% more damage than cruisers (course the cost balances this) and they can fit heavier weapons, so a typical battleship will carry weapons that do 25% more damage' result, which produces similar effects without the nasty boringness.

What that means is that players are guided into the roles envisaged, but not straight jacketed by them. Although the role of a ship is determined by the components not by the hull size, but the hull size will place real considerations on what kind of roles work well and what don't. I'd call it "constrained design freedom".

e.g. The largest hull size 'battleship' would a pretty hefty penalty to speed, so nobody is going to try and use it for a fast interceptor ship, 'cos it won't be, no matter how advanced the engines you stick in it. However it does have large internal space, so you can fit it with the larger weapon mounts, meaning you can do some real damage, and it has a good multiplier to structure, meaning it can take a lot of punishment, so Fitting it with big weapons, heavy armour and using it in a classic battleship role would a typical idea. Equally you might want to use all that hull space to fit it full of missiles or fighters, and build a super missile ship/carrier since as you'd have great range, the lack of speed wouldn't matter.

Equally the really small ships (frigate/corvette) have low structure and armour multipliers, but good speed multipliers, so using them as sit still bruisers is a waste of their advantages, and anyway they haven't the space to fit decent heavy weaponry. What you could do it go the standard route, and fit them with light weaponry, good engines and use them to chase down undefended stand-off groups, or you could cut the engines down and go for even more light weaponry and use them for point defense boosters for capital ship groups, freeing up space in them for the big weapons.

The mid sized ships (destroyer/cruiser) are the most flexible, and the areas where the player has the most opportunity to develop their own strategies, go the usual route and use them as progressively slower but better armed ships, or fit them with a bit of ranged weaponry and use them as long range hitters that can stay out of range, or any of a million other choices, the point is that by setting weapon sizes right, and by scaling survivability and speed with hull size, we set up an arrangement where we can feel happy that most ways a player tries to go with a design will give them more options and fun, but will also leave them open to some kind of counter, or will give up enough of the ships natural advantage that they will have a hard time against someone who simply 'plays it straight' unless they're tactically brilliant.

So, you can't build tiny battleships and big corvettes, because battleship/corvette are names for the hull sizes, not necessarily the roles. However you could build a battleship sized ship you try and use like the suggested use of a corvette ,and vice versa, of course it'd probably be crap, 'cos it'd be slow AND weak, but if you can find a tactic that exploits it (maybe it's simply unhittable by ranged stuff because of all that pd?) then why not.

And you CAN build ranged ships of (essentially) ANY size, which is why they aren't listed by size (though I suggest the smallest sizes simply not be viable (i.e. you can' fit the launchers/fighter bays int, so it has to be frigate or maybe destroyer at least.), and it's up to the player to decide which sizes he feels best fit his strategy. This is since so long as there is a reasonable speed penalty for carrying stand-off weapons, i.e. they aren't actually fast enough to escape the equivalent non-stand-off ship, I can't see whether you choose launch your missiles from one big ship or several smaller ones making a lot of difference. That'd all be down to the player's personal choices about eggs-in-one-basket arguments, survivability, ammo levels vs. fire rates etc..

Medium - long term I'd quite like us to use different model for stand-off ships than escorts/capitals of the same size, so for that reason alone it might be worth aiming to only use a subset of the hull sizes for stand-off ships, i.e. to limit the work required of the modellers/artists. I think there should still be a good range though, so that players can use stand-off weapons at a good range of tech levels, buidling smaller missile ships early on then progressing to larger ones later.

As for v.4, I agree we'll need a simplified, cut-down version of it to get something up and running quickly, I was aiming for the existing mark ships to be reused cover most of it, so that the tech tree, models, graphics don't form a bottleneck, and other ships classes can be slottd in when we want.

I wanted to use the mark I as Corvette, the II as a destroyer, the III as a destroyer/cruiser sized missile ship, and the IV as a dreadnaught/battleship. I think that allows the player to explore the core of the interconnections, whilst minimising our immediate work, and allowing it to be built up slowly.

As for the tech line development, I was thinking that it works well if the 'conventional arms' hull sizes are unlocked progressively, as the player would then have to adapt their fleet configurations to the newly available ships and opponents. The stand-off ships hull line should probably be semi-parallel, e.g. you can just about know how to build the size or two higher as a conventionally armed ship or as a missile ship or vice versa, but only if you pick your techs really carefully, in general you're going to be about limit to the same size categories in both.

@daveybaby yep 'rock' sucks as a name, I was really trying to point people in the direction of that thread, because there is a lot of good stuff there, and much better names / fluff than I'll think up, and of course I din't want to try and take credit for other peoples work, just show that I liked it and I'd thought about how to fit it in symbiotically.


Cheers both of you, I'm fairly happy that we're thinking along similar lines. I'll update the Wiki page tomorrow to include these points, and clarify the intentions.

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#6 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Aug 05, 2004 5:53 pm

Why do you need a separate line of hulls for standoff ships (which should be called indirect fire ships, or missile cruisers/frigates btw) ?

IMO, the speed distinctions between destroyers, cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships should be mostly relavant on the galaxy map. Destroyers and cruisers can roam around doing damage, while you have to think carefully about battleship mainfleet movements and always engage with massed fleets. In an actual battle, the battleships and carriers (big ships) generally always overpower anything smaller, but getting them to the battle and keeping them supplied (or cutting supply lines) is the role of the smaller ships.

The primary RPS-ish balance should be based on weapon and armour types: fighter, missile, beam, armour, shield, PD for example (but with others...). If we use ship size for this, then we can't really use ship size for other roles, as described above, whereas it's perfectly natural to use weapon/defence vulnerabilities, and maintain the opportunity to use ship size and range as described as well.

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#7 Post by LithiumMongoose » Thu Aug 05, 2004 6:06 pm

Doh, went and edited my post with more thoughts and by the time it was submitted there were already several more long posts. Oy. :)

Yeah I'm strongly inclined to agree, small ships should get certain bonuses; maneuverability/evasion is the classic thing that is done. This should come more into play with missiles, torpedoes, and projectile weapons (mass driver etc) that take time to travel to their target, and less so with beam weapons.

The shield recharge rate idea is interesting though. With shields there are basically 3 parameters: strength/capacity, recharge rate, and absorption/deflection percentage. Pax Imperia had this neat idea of having two different shield tracks, one (shields) did the classic "absorb at 100% til failure with recharge over time", and the other (deflectors) did a passive, permanent deflection percentage of incoming damage. Then at the top of the tech tree it also had hybrids that did both, though neither as well as the pure systems. In any case, for us, I'd be inclined to say capacity should probably be tied to the shield tech, and recharge rate to the power system of the ship, and both should be independent of hull size. Better power systems would happen with better tech, but size of the power systems would just be a function of hull size, smaller generators for smaller ships with smaller shield envelopes all cancels out. The cool thing about this is a tiny ship with 50 hull/armor points could still get a 3000 HP shield like the big boys use. You thus get more bang for your buck in terms of total HP of the fleet by using small ships.

RPS is sorta already done in these games. Normally weapons are differentiated on a few basic parameters: damage per shot, rate of fire, chance to hit, range, dissipation over range, enemy options for neutralizing before they hit, and any "cool mods" that are available (autofire, etc). I also thought the MOO3 idea of mount types (PD standard heavy spinal) was terrific, but they didn't implement it quite right, each should always have an advantage over the others... Anyway. There are also basically only two or three types of armor: shields, armor proper ie hull plating, and structure, the latter two of which can be rolled into one for simplicity pretty easily. And it sorta makes sense that beam/energy weapons would be strong or weak against shields and weak or strong against armor/structure, and explosive/projectile weapons would be the reverse... Which way it goes I'm having trouble deciding atm so pick one. :) That's a pretty simple Rock Paper Scissors right there, and by tweaking the weapon parameters I listed you can get lots of variety. Totally agee hull size should have nothing to do with it, beyond the evasion advantage a ship gets the smaller it is.

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#8 Post by LithiumMongoose » Thu Aug 05, 2004 6:55 pm

For example, fighters could be said to have the highest accuracy level of all the weapon types, and thus be the best at hitting small enemy ships. One might also give them competitive or superior damage output vs ship-based weapons of equivalent size, in exchange for the fact that they can be shot down with a long respawn time or no respawn at all in a given fight.

PD I would not classify as a weapon type, but rather a mount type, if you do mounts. The basic idea there is, going up the list, you gain range and damage per shot, and you lose rate of fire. Where MOO3 blew it was in not making it so the overall DPS (damage per second) decreases steadily as you go up, which needs to happen in exchange for the range. PD should probably have 2 to 5 times the DPS of spinal, with a high rate of fire being ideally suited to its traditional role of shooting down missiles and fighters. But it doesn't *have* to be used that way; there's no law that says you can't take advantage of the higher DPS and "charge" the enemy ships with nothing but PD weapons. :)

Another example, missiles vs torpedoes. Both have to fly to the target, both are subject to ECMs and evasion, both can be shot down before they get there. (In exchange for all that they do a whopping lot of damage if they manage to get through.) But make missiles relatively weak armor/shield wise, and used in relatively large quantities for a given amount of space, whereas torpedoes would be very heavily armored/shielded, and used in fairly small quantities. Missiles are thus easily destroyed by lots of PD weapons since they can be killed quickly, in one or two shots, and are more effective against ships with weak PD. Torpedoes can't be shot down quickly enough by PD so most will get through, whereas a handful of big powerful guns could one-shot the torpedoes since there aren't nearly as many of them in a volley.

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#9 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Aug 05, 2004 7:53 pm

LithiumMongoose wrote:That's a pretty simple Rock Paper Scissors right there
Simple RPS is exactly what we should NOT have. Pure RPS is terribly boring and actually completely devoid of any real strategy decisions. By that, I mean that in simple RPS, there's no real decision to be made. At the start, you arbitrarily pick Rock, Paper or Scissors. Later when you meet an enemy, you pick the one that beats the one s/he is using. Eventually, you build some of each and have an uberfleet. Boring.

Much better are more complicated webs of strengths and weaknesses, with each particular type of weapon / defence having several of each. Thus if you encouter "rock", you don't automatically build paper. You have a choice between choose "tin foil" and "wad of dough", both of which are good against rock, but one of which is weak against "rusty nail" while the other is weak against "block of wood" (and "block of wood" is weak against "rusty nail", but strong against "scissors", and etc etc). This means you've got an important choice to make, which is the whole point of a strategy game... right?

The 5-star at the bottom of emrys' diagram on the wiki stuff is a start, but is itself flawed by the implied staticness of its interconnections.

For a really interesting game, the inital "level 1" set of equipment would have their set of interlocking weaknesses and strenths. This would be complicated and added to by higher tech level equipment, which would add new types of equipment to the mix, and would alter the relationship between the existing technolgies through upgrades and modifications.
There are also basically only [two] types of [ship defence]: shields, armor
This not need to be the case, and imo should not be the case. For one, point "defence" doesn't necessarily have to be an "offensive" weapon.. it can be a type of defence for any ship. Within point defence, there are varieties of methods, such as homing missiles (which can be shot down by the fighters they are meant to interecept) and beam-based (which cannot). There can/should also be various types of armour.

For standard "metal box" ships, "ablative armour" would be effective against beam/laser weaponry, whereas "composite armour" would be more effective against mass drivers and perhaps explosive impact weaponry. Shielding can also have varieites, such as simple "repulsor fields" which push away incoming projectiles (rail gun shot, bioship acid spray) but do nothing against beams or explosives. Later shields could be made to have whatever properties are desired, or come in varieties that do one or the other (good vs. beams, plasma, projectiles) and so forth.

For asteroid based hulls, most would have the "rock" armour type, which is great against projectiles, but easily vapourized by beams. Biohulls would have a "carapace" armour, which can have whatever properties are desired. They could also have "acid spray" point defence or somesuch.

Similarly, rating weapons primarily by "armour" and "shield" effectiveness is a bad idea. Each type of weapon should have a level of effectiveness against each type of defence, independent of others. All these values can be tailored (and given different relative values over time) to make an interesting and really strategic set of ship construction choices and and interesting tactical game as well.

Ship roles like destroyer, cruiser, battleship, sub, carrier, etc. can exist outside of, and parallel to, this system as well, and imo should. Hull types like "biohull", "metal box" and "asteroid" should probably be partly linked into both hull size and weapon class systems... as certain hull types are inheiriently better at certain jobs, and with certain weapons. Eg. metallic armour plating on a biohull probly wouldn't work so well, and point defence on a humongous asteroid ship would be silly, as you'd need so much to protect the whole thing, and have all that cheap rocky armour anyway.

Re: PD damage: I see Point Defence as being small weapons with a large arc of fire and good targetting for fast moving nearby objects like fighters and incoming missiles. Capital Ship main weapons should be difficult to aim quickly, if aimable at all (eg. spinal mounts can't rotate a turret) and have a much greater damage, making them useful against armour and shielded capital ships. PD would be useful only for taking out mostly unshilded and unarmoured missiles and fighters.

Re: Rail Guns: Rail guns have a very very low effective range, but a do lots of damage when they hit. This means that a fast ship with no kinetic weapon defence (composite armour, say), can avoid damage by running away from a large ship with rail guns. If the fast ship only has short range weapons itself, it needs to move into range of the rail guns of the large ship to use them, making it vulnerable. Probably, rail gun accuracy should increase with mass of ship firing them, as recoil is reduced, so large asteroid ships with lots of excess mass to absorb shocks are well suited to rail gun use, however their lack of effective PD makes them vulnerable to fighters with laser weaponry that can cut through their rocky armour. If you're making a short-range weapon ship, you can either give it lots of armour, and make it slow, meaning you ahve to hope the enemy will engage you short range (a battleship), or make it nearly unarmoured and fast (a cruiser) and use your speed to close the distance against ships that only use long-range weapons.

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#10 Post by emrys » Fri Aug 06, 2004 7:49 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:Why do you need a separate line of hulls for standoff ships (which should be called indirect fire ships, or missile cruisers/frigates btw) .
I don't. You're right. That bits' gone. Though on the naming front, 'indirect fire' is synonymous, so call them that if you like.

("Missile cruisers/frigates" isn't appropriate however, since it (a) has the word missile in it, what about torpedo ships or fighter carriers? and (b) has a hull size designator in it, what about missile destroyer, or missile battleships?.)

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#11 Post by Daveybaby » Fri Aug 06, 2004 8:03 am

LithiumMongoose wrote:PD should probably have 2 to 5 times the DPS of spinal, with a high rate of fire being ideally suited to its traditional role of shooting down missiles and fighters. But it doesn't *have* to be used that way; there's no law that says you can't take advantage of the higher DPS and "charge" the enemy ships with nothing but PD weapons.
Agreed - though Moo3's armour deflection system would have completely neutralised any damage your PD weapons may have done, even if you got within firing range of a capital ship - like firing a pea-shooter at steel plate, it doesnt matter how many you fire per second, youre still not going to even scratch it.

This was one of the things that they got right IMO - you need your high RoF low damage weapons for PD and your low RoF high damage weapons to punch through that armour. Something that is well worth considering for FO.
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#12 Post by emrys » Fri Aug 06, 2004 8:20 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Much better are more complicated webs of strengths and weaknesses, with each particular type of weapon / defence having several of each.

... lots of stuff ...
Whilst I agree in principle, I think we should be slightly wary of attempting to add too many interconnections on the same level (i.e. many types of defences vs. many types of weapons...) Beyond a certain point, I can see it becoming too confusing and not worth the player's effort of trying to get to grips with and adapt to thier enemies properly. I'd agree that maybe webs with three or five elements layered on top of each other as new tech is developed would work (so that the player can effectively forget about the old layer once the new layer is fully researched).

Also, as a side and not particularly potent point, I always worry about designs that don't explicitly try to create a combat role for smaller ships, since without doing so it's quite hard to avoid combat becoming a simple big furball of huge ships, which just seems a bit of a waste in my mind. Not that the failings of Moo3 are necessarily a killer to any idea that sounds at all like that, just something to bear in mind.

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#13 Post by Daveybaby » Fri Aug 06, 2004 8:20 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:Why do you need a separate line of hulls for standoff ships (which should be called indirect fire ships, or missile cruisers/frigates btw) ?

...

The primary RPS-ish balance should be based on weapon and armour types: fighter, missile, beam, armour, shield, PD for example (but with others...). If we use ship size for this, then we can't really use ship size for other roles, as described above, whereas it's perfectly natural to use weapon/defence vulnerabilities, and maintain the opportunity to use ship size and range as described as well.
This is the main problem that i have with emrys' system - it seems to be halfway between defining class based on roles (i.e. carrier, fighter, cruiser, battleship) and hull size. IMO one of the following is needed:

(1) Add more ship classes, such as carrier, interceptor (PD fighter) bomber (strike fighter) PD escort, destroyer etc. Define (a range of?) hull sizes and bonuses for each of these classes and attempt to form an RPS system based on them.

OR

(2) Rename some of the classes to be more representative of hull size and not role (if you load a battleship with fighters instead of heavy cannons, its *not* a battleship any more, so the name is misleading). Get rid of most of the RPS at this level (other than some fairly simple small = agile, large = lumbering but well armoured stuff) and try to tie it more to weapon loadouts.
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#14 Post by noelte » Fri Aug 06, 2004 8:29 am

I like the idea of ship hull design having advantages and disadvantages. Armor +25% and Speed -25%.

On the other hand i still think we can achieve smilar things by taking ship mass into acount when calculating system speed. In this case a hull have a max space which can be used to mount weapons/engines/.. and a max weight of thse components.
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#15 Post by emrys » Fri Aug 06, 2004 9:22 am

I've updated the wiki page, so hopefully it addresses a few more of these points, and includes people's suggestions.

@Daveybaby: From the start I've been trying to go with option (2), i.e. get the RPS stuff based on the weapon loadouts, with the hull sizes influencing the weapon loadouts, rather than the RPS system directly. Looks like I've missed! Help in getting there is much appreciated.

@noelte - Personally I prefer tieing the armour /speed factors directly into the hull sizes, because otherwise I can see people trying to compensate for big hulls being slow by putting more engines in, rather than rolling with the punches and developing strategies and roles that cope with their slowness... Though perhaps the mass based thing and a simple limit on space devoted to engines would do it, i.e. so that max-engined ships follow the speed progressions, but you could choose to make ships slower to release space... hmmm.. Though does that actually differ much from basing speed off a simple hull bonus (e.g. what's the difference between hull=> speed -15% and hull => mass =115 => speed -15%?)

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