General Issues / "Feel" of Space Battles

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

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Impaler
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#76 Post by Impaler » Wed Aug 18, 2004 9:06 am

I strongly favor the whole system aproatch, single planet battle maps (like Moo2 and Moo1 which only had 1 planet per system) are borring because theirs no desision making involved as to what to attack or what to defend.

I dont see any reason why the attacker would be advantaged in a full system battle either, I would expect most planetary defences to have limited range making them capable of only defending THAT planet and its surrounding moons. Each planet is basicaly on its own with only the defenders fleet being a movable asset (defender should get to place their fleet in the system at the start of combat to either intercept the attacker enroute or defend a particular planet).

If the attack can crush every planet in the system one by one let him do so in one space combat rather then 8 seperate ones as would be required in a Single planet style battle. The single planet system forces a lot of dull "mop up" battles as the first battle usaly involves the defenders fleet and is the decicive battle inwhich the attacker or defender losses their fleet.

Also note that we dont force the attacker to concour everything for the battle to end. If the Attacker feels that he has done as much damage as he can do and the remaining planets are too well defended then he can chosse to "Retreat to the Edge of the system" which basicaly means moving far out into the deep space around the system but staying close enough to come back next turn. This basicaly replicates the stack of "in the system but not at a planet" ships that Moo2 used, in our case though the ships are "in the system but not IN the system" as the inner system is the only battle map.

A possible means of expanding on that idea

This "Edge of the System" zone acts as a buffer between the system battle map and the Galaxy map, ships can only enter starlanes when they are in the Edge Zone and they enter the "inner system" from the Edge zone after ariving through a starlane. Think of it like the Airspace above an Airport as planes wait to land at the Airport, you cant land directly at the airport you must first go through the Edge Zone. Fo the UI we take the standard "upper right hand corner" slot that we have already been using to represent fleets on the Edge, a second stack could indicate the ships that are in the Inner System. This alows us to delay combat as ships fight ONLY when both are in the Inner System, the Edge is free of combat and Enemy ships may mix their without hostility. When ever combat starts in a system both sides can chosse to comitte what ever forces are in the Edge zone to the battle BUT these forces must start at the edge of the map (attacker and defender coming from oposite directions ofcorse). Ships that were "IN" the system can start anyware they like. Thus the defender has to make a tactical trade off keeping ships in the inner system for better defence or on the edge for faster mobility on the Galaxtic map (because it always takes a turn to move from the Inner system to the Edge). Conversly the Attacker can bypass a whole system by staying in the Edge zone after they come out of the starlane , in essense all the starlanes of the system are accessable from the edge zone so the ship pops in and then pops out again expending zero time in the system.
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noelte
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#77 Post by noelte » Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:20 am

(1) Terrain - you get ready made terrain (i.e. planets, moons, stars, asteroid belts, dust clouds etc) that you can assign effects to (defensive/accuracy/range/concealment penalties and bonuses). This means combat might involve more manouevring for position, and get away from the usual '2 groups of ships line up and shoot at each other' approach.
I guess you like the combat style of moo3!? I really disliked it (visual ok, but handling awful). It sounds nice how you descibe it, but to me it's not wanted (needed) in a space strategy game. To me it's quite ok how it's done in moo2 (and you have also terrain ;-)).
(2) Strategic Objectives other than just 'destroy the enemy fleet' - i.e. you could choose to land troops or bombard a planet during space combat itself. So you could have a smaller, weaker force, yet outmaneouver the larger defending fleet to strike a crippling blow on a critical planet.
To me this goes clearly toware RTS, what i wouldn't favour. Again, it sounds good, but all my favorite strategy games don't involve a real time click fest (Civ serie, moo1+2, ...). I don't know, but maybe it's just me.
(3) Because there may be multiple strategic objectives (i.e multiple planets to defend), defenders might have to choose either to split their forces to defend each planet, or just defend the most important one, or try to intercept the attacking fleet before they can reach either planet (possibly giving up their defensive advantages, below).
if the defender has slower system drives than the attacker, the attacking fleet could simply head toward a planet on the other side of the system. This way, that planet can be easyly be destroyed. I don't think, such things should happen.
(obviously you'd be zooming in to see the action when it takes place).
Zooming shouldn't be involved (avoided). It remembers me playing c&c and looking for the enemy when hearing combat sounds.

I dont see any reason why the attacker would be advantaged in a full system battle either, I would expect most planetary defences to have limited range making them capable of only defending THAT planet and its surrounding moons.
Looking at the combat sample screen, i wouldn't agree. Limited ranges would only be applicatable on huge combat areas. This would involve lots of zooming and looking for fleets and so on.
If the attack can crush every planet in the system one by one let him do so in one space combat rather then 8 seperate ones as would be required in a Single planet style battle
I really think it's bad, if the attacker can conquer more than planet per fleet and turn. In cases where my huge fleets would arrive just one turn after the attacker did, i would loose my entire system.


BTW: We should keep in mind what we can do with our resources. A combat system as moo2 is clearly easier to implement than the one discussed in this thread. I'm not saying it can't be done, but we need at least small steps.
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Geoff the Medio
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#78 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:36 am

noelte wrote:I guess you like the combat style of moo3!? I really disliked it (visual ok, but handling awful). It sounds nice how you descibe it, but to me it's not wanted (needed) in a space strategy game. To me it's quite ok how it's done in moo2 (and you have also terrain ;-)).
I'm inclined to argue that if we're going to have a "close up" in system battle minigame, that it should be fleshed out enough to be signifiantly strategic / tactical, and not just a line up and shoot contest... as in the latter case, wouldn't it be simpler to just automate / calculate the result and keep the galaxy map game flowing faster / better?
To me this goes clearly toware RTS, what i wouldn't favour. Again, it sounds good, but all my favorite strategy games don't involve a real time click fest (Civ serie, moo1+2, ...). I don't know, but maybe it's just me.
The concensus seems to be some sort of "phased" or "pulsed" time, where the battle goes for ~20 seconds, pauses for orders, then resumes... so there'd be no clickfest issues. ... and why do secondary objectives necesarily mean clickfest anyway? (as opposed to just shooting other ships)
if the defender has slower system drives than the attacker, the attacking fleet could simply head toward a planet on the other side of the system. This way, that planet can be easyly be destroyed. I don't think, such things should happen.
I do... that's a major advantage to having the ability to research better in-system drive... doing so means you can keep your fleet together and attack en masse, whereas the slower ships have to split up to better cover their territory when on defence.
Zooming shouldn't be involved (avoided). It remembers me playing c&c and looking for the enemy when hearing combat sounds.
If the "normal" zoom level is fairly close into the battle (meaning there's many screen's worth of battle space to scroll through), wouldn't zoom make it easier to find the battle...? Without zoom, you're necessarily stuck seeing only a small area, but with zoom, you could zoom out and find the new sub-battle, then zoom in on it. Or do you mean the default zoom level should be fairly wide, so little or no scrolling is possible / required?

I really think it's bad, if the attacker can conquer more than planet per fleet and turn. In cases where my huge fleets would arrive just one turn after the attacker did, i would loose my entire system.
Perhaps we should use ground combat and loyalty issues to deal with this... meaning if you want to capture the system, it'll take several turns of ground combat, and then the majority of the population will hate you anyway, so you won't get much out of it. So when your fleets arrive to take back the system in a few turns, you'd do so before they've finished ground combat to take over the system, or you'd do so as liberators, freeing your loving citizens from the evil invaders, basically restoring the planet to pre-invasion status...

And also, perhaps this could be dealt with by having fairly strong planetary shielding that takes a few turns to wear down (how this works with ground combat needs to be decided...). So even if you have space superiority in a system, you don't own it unless you can knock out the planetary shields and then invade with ground troops...
BTW: We should keep in mind what we can do with our resources. A combat system as moo2 is clearly easier to implement than the one discussed in this thread. I'm not saying it can't be done, but we need at least small steps.
Can you be more specific? What suggestions are problematic compared to moo2 ? I assume it's not the phased time stuff or the drawing of bigger-than-points planets / stars / moons...?

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#79 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:55 am

noelte wrote:I guess you like the combat style of moo3!? I really disliked it (visual ok, but handling awful). It sounds nice how you descibe it, but to me it's not wanted (needed) in a space strategy game. To me it's quite ok how it's done in moo2 (and you have also terrain ;-)).
Not even remotely - i liked how it sounded when they described it - but not what they implemented. At all. Besides - this is tactical combat we're talking about.
To me this goes clearly toware RTS, what i wouldn't favour. Again, it sounds good, but all my favorite strategy games don't involve a real time click fest (Civ serie, moo1+2, ...). I don't know, but maybe it's just me.
???
This doesnt have any bearing on the pace of play. It could be as fast or slow paced as people want. Or even turn based. This is all about providing variation to combat, and forcing players to make choices which affect the outcome of the battle. IMO moo2 combat results were preordained by the quantities and designs of ships - no real scope for tactics at all.

Just so you get the gist of what i want here, i'm thinking : Total War in space.
if the defender has slower system drives than the attacker, the attacking fleet could simply head toward a planet on the other side of the system. This way, that planet can be easyly be destroyed. I don't think, such things should happen.
The defender would naturally be able to choose where to pre-position their forces. They can choose to split their forces to try to defend each planet, or just concentrate on the key one(s), or try to intercept the attackers. Tactical choices, in part determined by your larger scale strategic decisions which have determined what forces you have available to defend and what their capabilities are. Strategy informs tactics. Tactics in turn inform strategy. Thats how it should be.
Zooming shouldn't be involved (avoided). It remembers me playing c&c and looking for the enemy when hearing combat sounds.
Well if the clamouring for Homeworld 2 levels of graphics are successful, then youre going to have to have some kind of zoom capability so that you can get an overview of combat while still being able to gape in awe and wonder and the pretty things close up.

Again, this doesnt have to be C&C - the idea repels me just as much as it does you.
I really think it's bad, if the attacker can conquer more than planet per fleet and turn. In cases where my huge fleets would arrive just one turn after the attacker did, i would loose my entire system.
They would have had to bring enough ground troops with them. But if they did, and you hadnt had the strategic foresight to defend the system in time, then you deserve to lose every planet.

More to the point, being able to invade multiple planets per system per turn can really help late game pacing.
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#80 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:59 am

Daveybaby wrote:More to the point, being able to invade multiple planets per system per turn can really help late game pacing.
Zing!

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#81 Post by Impaler » Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:00 am

I dont see any reason why whole system combat would be more taxing on our development team the Moo2 style planet based combat. The map is siply larger and holds more objects that are destructable.

I would visualized everything as being just like Moo2 in is scale and zoom BUT stich together about 25 Moo2 battle maps into one large area and add several extra levels of zoom out. In Moo2 the whole Battle map was only about 4 screens in area at the default zoom level. We would have perhaps 4 levels of zoom, tightest being Moo2 default (lets call this 1 unit), wider being Moo2 zoomed out (about 4x area of former for 4 units), another level (again 4x area of the latter for 16 units) at this level multiple planets are likly on the screen, and the final level of zoom covering most of the system about the scale of Breadmans mockup and totaling 64 units.
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#82 Post by Tobi-Bo » Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:51 am

I slowly get the slight feeling that the defender is in a much weaker position than the attacker of asystem and this I think should not be. Although I like the whole system battle the defender should get some extra gimmicks beside positioning his fleet. So I strongly recommend some sort of system sensor phalanx that has a much bigger sensor bubble around it than any reconnaissance ships are able to have. This bubble should not include the whole system but a big bite of it. Within this bubble every attacking ship and their movements can be seen by the defender and he will be able to counteract.
Such a system sensor phalanx should only be able to build once and also should be pretty expensive. But if you got one in a system, your position in system defending is much better. It could be possible to upgrade such a phalanx by new techs available, too.

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#83 Post by pd » Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:03 pm

personaly i would prefer battles taking place near planets, since planets are the focus in combat. but this wouldn't mean that you can't move to another planet. maybe we could have some kind of 'sub-warp' or something, which allows changing to another planets orbit while combat.

having battles taking place on planet level, we could display a picture of the planet(and it's moons) in the background. this would give the feeling of actually realy fighting in the planets orbit(like in star wars as somebody already mentioned).

the disadvantage is, that you can't use the planets as terrain. but do we really want this? i think we shouldn't make the combat to complicated. having different ship types, whith different tasks and then beeing able to maneuver them around in different ways is enough strategy for me and should be enough for the type of game freeorion is.

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#84 Post by BreadMan » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:35 pm

Daveybaby wrote:I like the mockup though, breadman - to be honest thats the sort of scale that i'd like to see space combat take place at anyway (obviously you'd be zooming in to see the action when it takes place).
Aye, and I see what Geoff is saying about having everything else stop when fleets encounter eachother. If it could all be done in one engine, with this being the max level of zoom, that would be sweet, much better than what I was talking about before. Full system battles would be really cool, don't get me wrong on that. Really, I was just brainstorming on ways to keep a realistic scale, and that's what came to mind.

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#85 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:53 pm

pd wrote:the disadvantage is, that you can't use the planets as terrain. but do we really want this? i think we shouldn't make the combat to complicated. having different ship types, whith different tasks and then beeing able to maneuver them around in different ways is enough strategy for me and should be enough for the type of game freeorion is.
What sort of strategy invovling maneuvres is there if there's no terrain? There's no hide and seek... and no using obstacles for tactical advantage... it ends up just being a fly up and shoot until one or the other fleet's ships are all gone. Flanking and the like also depend on some sort of terrain, generally. Several people have complained that Moo2 / 3 battles were essentially a contest of who had the most ships, or who managed to shoot first... That seems to be what many people want to avoid.

How do you see battles working?

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#86 Post by drek » Wed Aug 18, 2004 9:13 pm

What sort of strategy invovling maneuvres is there if there's no terrain?
I'm for having some sort of terrain, but you don't *need* terrian for maneuvers/tactics.

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#87 Post by pd » Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:10 pm

What sort of strategy invovling maneuvres is there if there's no terrain?
i thought of something like in BotF, but beeing more subtle maybe.

imho 4x games are a mix of different genres, taking elements of them but not going too much into the depth, so that many things are covered(like exploring, building up, diplomacy, spying, research and of course combat) but none of them are as complicated as in pure building or combat games for example.

i mean, terrain sounds pretty nice at first, but it's maybe 'too deep'.

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#88 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Aug 19, 2004 4:05 am

Here's a more... up close / cartoony mockup example for the relative scales of things.
Image

You'd scroll around like in warcraftIII, and hopefully be able to rorate the view freely (unlike warcraftIII)..

I'd imagine this would be the closest zoom level. Hopefully you'd be able to zoom out somewhat, but imo the individual ships should always be visible as separate entities at all zoom levels (no lumping fleets together under a single icon).

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#89 Post by noelte » Thu Aug 19, 2004 7:56 am

imho 4x games are a mix of different genres, taking elements of them but not going too much into the depth, so that many things are covered(like exploring, building up, diplomacy, spying, research and of course combat) but none of them are as complicated as in pure building or combat games for example.

i mean, terrain sounds pretty nice at first, but it's maybe 'too deep'.
That's my point too.


Geoff the Medio: Your last mockup looks promising. Even usable in planet by planet combat
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#90 Post by miu » Thu Aug 19, 2004 5:48 pm

Thinking out loud of what I read in this thread, probaply missed discussion goin on others, messy but bare with me:)

-Ilike having everything on one map. Main reason being is that manouvering is easy if everything is at the same scale and you can leave your long range units well behind. Using two maps separates game to planetary battles and sytem-wide movement/approach phases, which could work well, would someone want to clear the benefits of this approcah? If we keep the battle at same map, you can still zoom out a lot to allow large-scale movement orders.

To encourage keeping battles near planets we should have quite effective planetary point defence systems + maybe planetary shield that would protect all units inside it with certain amount. That would encourage attacker to get closer. These defences should be quite fast to take down/disable in close combat if not protected - allowing jumping from planet to planet during one battle.

Is there a turn limit for a battle, how long it should be?
Home many orderphases in general you would want to make per battle?For example battle that with two allied planets and one strong attacker should be sorted out <10 ordering phases (example: place fleets, move scouts, move fleets to planet1, select attack/bomb/defend/move targets, repeat, repeat, move fleets to planet2, select attack/defend/targets/move, repeat). During watching-phase units behave by modes and orders you gave them.

mm, I think see the problem with global map - timing. If battle has limeted turns and they are counted evenly, there will be unneccessary order-phases where you'll just tell the ships to continue moving with previous orders, and lesser of them when it would matters most - during the heavy battles. Is this a big annoyance in practice - cant say without trying.

About ship-damage: Instead of blowing up, most of ships(their components - engines, weapon system etc.) get disaebled for long amount of turns and thus rendered useless/non-targets during battle. If these ships are not killed by the end of turns, they get their engines fixed and retreat towards the nearest friendly system - unless they belong to an empire owning a planet in that system at the end of a battle, thus they can choose stay.
Choosing to blow up these unoperative hulls would take a long time and be disencouraged option during battle - with limited turns available/battle you rather move your fleets to attack next planet with planetary defences still firing you.
Having limited amount of turns/battle makes them easier to continue. For example, conquering whole system may take down several battles and with requirement that that when you attack, you have to capture and hold a planet to continue fighting there. Time between battles is spent repairing units.

about terrain:

-fog of field - mostly line of sight-based, expect radial when really close the ships, this allows hiding behind planets if you know the direction attacker is coming from. Defenders have technology to enchange their sensors as suggested earlier (Should it take a building slot? how could this building be upgraded later - other benefits than scanning range?)
-reduced sensor detection at planetary rings, asteroid belts (you have to get nearer to see the ships hiding there - better technologies are not affected by this) Other bonuses/cons?
-Direct fire/beam weapons blocked by planets and moons, maybe reduced damage to ships in planetary rings/asteroid belts.
-If system is located at nebula (how to define and show this are other questions - think homeworld atmosphere), penalties to missiles, shields, sensors?
-Should black hole or neutron star affect somehow?
-Comets? random large asteroids? - any practical use for these?
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