Space Combat (madness)

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PowerCrazy
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Space Combat (madness)

#1 Post by PowerCrazy » Wed Sep 22, 2004 7:26 am

V.4 is coming up, one of the best things about v.4 is Space Combat.

So this thread is designed to lay some ground work. I can see several basic things that need to be decided.

1. The scope of space combat. Do we want the whole system to be included or just the individual planet (i.e moo2).

2. What is involved in Space Combat. Do we want it to span multiple turns, be real time, or turn based?

3. How much do we want to do during space combat. Should we incorporate ground combat into the same engine to be resolved simultaneously? Do we want to worry about supply lines? How much detail is too much.

My .02.

1. The scope of Space Combat would be amazing if the entire system was included, this would allow multiple planets to support each other, and would allow quicker resolutoin of battles. You only have to attack once then if you win the system is yours. However we should strive for a fairly realistic scale in this case, to create immersion etc.

On the other hand it is A LOT easier to create a "good feeling" scale with only one planet per battle.

Personally I don't mind either way as long as the direction we take is done well.

2. Real Time vs turnbased combat is of course a touchy issue. I would be happy with a Moo2 type of combat with a few things improved. Namely fewer ships per battle (on average) and taskforces, like moo1.

The big problem with Moo2 combat was when you got into the 60+ ships per side range. The mechanics that made the game very smooth in the early game break down and become irritating. However in the beginning when you had about 10 ships per side it was a very immersive combat engine. So the challenge is to make that immersion last throughout the span of the game. Is it possible? You decide.

3. Incorporating ground combat into space combat makes sense if done correctly. In order to allow ground combat to procede smoothly we will have to abstract it away. It will mostly be a numbers game. But I am willing to sacrifice ground combat in favor of superior space combat, rather than just mediocre Ground and Space combat.

Otherwise I don't see a reason to complicate Space Combat any further. KISS
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Re: Space Combat (madness)

#2 Post by utilae » Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:04 am

PowerCrazy wrote: 1. The scope of space combat. Do we want the whole system to be included or just the individual planet (i.e moo2).
The entire system being included in space combat would be the best. One of the problems with Moo2 was that you had to go and attack each planet in a system. This required more attention and more effort to destroy the enemy. If the entire system was included in a battle you could just enter the system, fight your way through the system destroying all enemy worlds on the way. It would save you time and it would be seemless.
PowerCrazy wrote: 2. What is involved in Space Combat. Do we want it to span multiple turns, be real time, or turn based?
I want it to be part real time part turn based. The idea is that all players choose their orders at the same time. This would possibly be a 2d/iso view/3d view at iso angle. When all players have finished giving orders, the battle plays out in real time for X seconds. This bit could be in 3D, since players will only really watch this part, it might as well be really flash. Then it goes back to giving orders.

I also would like it if space combat went for a fixed time each turn. If space combat is not finished, it simply is halted and continued next turn. This would effectively spread out the waiting time that is space combat, over multiple turns. Also the spreading out of space combat over many turns give space combat more depth.
PowerCrazy wrote: 3. How much do we want to do during space combat. Should we incorporate ground combat into the same engine to be resolved simultaneously? Do we want to worry about supply lines? How much detail is too much.
I would like it if ground combat was incorperated, even in the most simple way. The best case is that you send assault pods at a planet. If the marines manage to land, then you have the option of choosing their mission. "Destroy Missile Base". It would take two turns or something, and you just keep your ships away until the missiles are down.

I think supply lines would have to be very simple. Like they are marked as lines on the map. You just have to fly your ship close enough, and do a "Raid" action on the supply line. As a result you steal some money, or something. Keeping the enemy away from your supply lines would be a good idea. Since an entire system would be in a space combat battle, supply lines would be lines that connect the planets.
PowerCrazy wrote: 2. Real Time vs turnbased combat is of course a touchy issue. I would be happy with a Moo2 type of combat with a few things improved. Namely fewer ships per battle (on average) and taskforces, like moo1.

The big problem with Moo2 combat was when you got into the 60+ ships per side range. The mechanics that made the game very smooth in the early game break down and become irritating. However in the beginning when you had about 10 ships per side it was a very immersive combat engine. So the challenge is to make that immersion last throughout the span of the game. Is it possible? You decide.
I think the part real time part turn based method of space combat like I propose is like an improved Moo2 combat system.

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#3 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:33 am

Was there a problem with the previous thread that needed a new one to fix? viewtopic.php?t=841

Or did you want to focus on just the issues you asked about here?

Regarding turn based vs. real time, the linked thread seemed to settle on phased real time, which involved pre-determined or user-controlled pausing to give orders, with various real time but not interactive execution of those orders. (as utilae described)

Regarding length of combat, there seemed to be some agreement that it can't be allowed to go on forever in multiplayer. Various schemes were proposed to deal with this here: viewtopic.php?t=852

And as I said in that thread, the other linked thread mostly seems to want a non-abstracted space combat model. This probably means being able to give specific move orders and targets, at a ship or task force level. The proposed phased time system is well suited to this, as it avoid clickfest problems commonly associated with complicated combat systems in real time.

Regarding supply lines, I don't think they're relevant during a battle... only between battles or between turns. They should, imho, have an influence on the strategy of battles indirectly, through the need to keep your supply lines clear on the galaxy map, but once a battle starts, the only reasonble way supply could be included is the presence of some supply ships you could destroy. Destroying them would only affect the game after the battle though... the supply ships wouldn't provide anything useful during the battle.

Regarding ground combat, I can see two reasonable possibilities:

1) Ground combat resolved simultaneously with space combat. Ships can shoot at planets or drop additional troops if they can get close enough to affect the ground battle. The progress of the ground battle could affect the ownership and functioning of ground-to-space weaponry, or anything controlled by facilities on the planet. Ground combat would be very abstracted in this case, only being a function of numbers, perhaps like this: viewtopic.php?t=839

2) Ground combat resolved after space combat. This could involve a simple numbers game as in the simultaneous case, or could involve a whole separate sub-game, equivalent to the space combat.

In either cases (1) or (2), there's no real need to decide the ground combat issue now, though, so I'd suggest not discussing it at great length until the scheduled time.

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#4 Post by PowerCrazy » Wed Sep 22, 2004 2:15 pm

This thread is more of a refinement of the other thread. We establish a goal for Space Combat, then when the Design Thread is finally posted we have somewhere to start from.

The issues in the first post are just a few that I thought were relevent they were made broad on purpose so that we have a common ground to start developing specifics from.

The most important issue is Real-time/turn-based/Phased-time.
The second is the Scope of space combat, Full System/single planet.
The third which is probably too vague but worht a shot, what is the approximate level of detail we want space combat to consist of.

There are other issues to worry about (feel free to bring them up, just not too much nitty gritty) but I think deciding these will help get everyone on the same page.
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#5 Post by Aquitaine » Wed Sep 22, 2004 3:39 pm

No promises that we will 'start from' either here or the other thread, FYI.
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#6 Post by Impaler » Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:10 pm

I am in full support of the Full System Combat proposal as well as the Phased time/playback model proposed by Utilae. The time alocation schems that Geoff mentioned would be the method used to limit the paused order giving phase and I also think thats is a workable solution.

Carrying combat over from one turn to another is also a viable and in my opinion desirable option. In essense every Combat turn is a small fraction of a "Galactic" year/turn (and I dont see any reason why this fraction couldnt be changed by the user) and this will alow for logical and fair insertion of reinforcments mid battle.

Ground Combat is best delt with alongside space combat in the manner described so far. If it is esentialy a numbers game with no movment of troops then we should make shure that their is atleast some complexity and strategy involved beyond "crush them with greater numbers and better guns ala moo1/2". Something along the lines of a much improved Strategy Matrix from Moo3 would be my desire along with rudimentary Troop design.

Supply lines dont nessarily need to be attackable durring combat. Rather I think we can create some options for blockading/pirating Planets that are selected outside of combat and if someone else wants to interfer then a normal combat can be initiated. If some method can be found to do it in combat I am not oposed to it fundamentaly.

One small wish on my part would be that space stations and mine fields will be user placable anyware in the system and be carried over from combat to combat in thouse positions (I am asuming all planets stay in one spot and dont try to "orbit" around from turn to turn, that would be very realistic and massivly UNFUN)
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#7 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Sep 22, 2004 7:36 pm

Impaler wrote:(I am asuming all planets stay in one spot and dont try to "orbit" around from turn to turn, that would be very realistic and massivly UNFUN)
Random angles or "realistically" calculated orbit based planet positions doesn't strike me as particularly unfun, or especially problematic for any other reason...

If it's essential to have space stations and minefield at the same locations relative to starlane entry points or somesuch (if such things even exist), then the starlane entry points can orbit as well, so the mines / bases would stay next to them. OR... the starlane entry points could have sufficient gravity to hold the station / mines in place, even though neither is orbitting the nearby star.

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Re: Space Combat (madness)

#8 Post by Ellestar » Wed Sep 22, 2004 8:36 pm

1) I think that system is too big for a space combat.

2) Of course, no spanning of combat between turns.

Real time like in Elite or UFO. Auto delay when something important happens. Speed of a battle is equal to a lowest speed setting between players (speed settings more or less like in UFO), there is an ability to set pause for a limited amounts of time and give orders. So, if both players want to play some moment faster, then it's possible with that system and there is no forced delays when noone needs them like in half-turn-based/half-real time mode.
Half-turn-based/half-real time is ok for big battles, but it will be much slower than full real time on average, and in small battles it will be even slower than full turn-based mode.

3) No ground combat during space battles. Space battles generally take less time than planetary conquest :)
Supply lines are a good idea, but then a game should be suited to non-direct kind of warfare with small forces, blockades etc. IMHO it's a good direction because uberfleet vs. uberfleet battles aren't that interesting after a while.

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#9 Post by Ablaze » Thu Sep 23, 2004 3:33 am

What about a combat system that had two scales: One in which all the forces in a system could pick between the various strategic targets (like planets or space stations) in the system, and a second one for each of the targets in which the forces actually go to battle. If one side's fleet sets their ships to intercept another side's fleet then the battle would take place in empty space.

You could even consider ground combat or space station boarding as a third layer of combat.

So it goes Galaxy Map -> System Map -> Planet Map -> Ground Map

I don't see why you think objects moving on the system map each turn would be unfun Impaler. As far as I can see it would just add to immersion.
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#10 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:00 am

Ablaze wrote:What about a combat system that had two scales...
Adding additional "levels" of abstraction / detail to the combat map is impractical, IMO. There are already significant multiplayer battle timing problems forseen for a system with just Galaxy Map -> Battle Map. Making in-system fleet movements a separate level from actual ship-to-ship combat would be even worse.

IMHO the best way to go is to have ships, planets and the distances between them not realistically scaled, so everything is done on the same map. There can be an adjustable zoom setting to make giving orders to move across the system just as easy as assigning individual attack targets. The speed of the simulation between the order giving phases (assuming phased real time) can be varied either according to player preferences or some measure of whether or not anything interesting is happening during the simulation phase, to keep the battle moving along as fast as possible.

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#11 Post by drek » Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:08 am

Adding additional "levels" of abstraction / detail to the combat map is impractical, IMO. There are already significant multiplayer battle timing problems forseen for a system with just Galaxy Map -> Battle Map. Making in-system fleet movements a separate level from actual ship-to-ship combat would be even worse.

IMHO the best way to go is to have ships, planets and the distances between them not realistically scaled, so everything is done on the same map.
Agree with all of the above.

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#12 Post by Impaler » Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:42 am

Also agree multily levels are best avoided. The whole system aproatch gives the lowest number of levels possible (just 1). Also conserning Ellestar's coment that "the system is too Big" is a bit ambigus. We havent deternined any kind of scale or how fast ships will be moving so we dont have any idea what would be "too big". If you want to say that it would take too many turns to move across the map thats something specific that can be adressed and worked around. Please be more specific. Also why "ofcorse, no spanning of combat between turns" theirs nothing to support the statment beyond.


My fellings as to why planet movment would be unfun would be the potential for the space station that you build to protect planet X and Y being useless when Planet X and Y rotates away and end up on opposite sides of the system. Also I dont see how large mine fields will be able to remain tacticaly usefull when everything is moving around constantly. It all boils down to the Defender potentialy lossing the advantages of well placed defences when the whole system is changing every turn, and their are likly many terrain features like Nebulas and Gravitation Manifolds (aka my idea for roads in space) that would be runied.
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#13 Post by Ellestar » Thu Sep 23, 2004 7:22 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:IMHO the best way to go is to have ships, planets and the distances between them not realistically scaled, so everything is done on the same map.
That makes stealth ships less efficient. Say, if detection range of a stealth ship is small, it can try to destroy freighters even if there are defending ships in a planet. Or, say, if defending ships defend freigthers, then it can try to destroy something on a planet.
Edit: But with a whole system on the same map, stealth ships will be detected on a big ranges.

I think, that an ability to play this kind of warfare will be interesting. To make things faster, it's better to give to a player an ability to give operational level orders - compared to strategic orders like moving ships and tactical orders during a battle.
Say, you're giving an order to your stealth ship to attack only undefended targets. If exits from starlanes will be fixed in space, then you can decide, if your fleet defends a starlane exit (say, to catch all stealth ships) or it defends planets so planetary defences can support fleet in battle.
An idea is to give to a player an ability to give orders that are good in some situation and against some other orders, but are bad in other cases.

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#14 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Sep 23, 2004 7:38 am

Ellestar wrote:That makes stealth ships less efficient. Say, if detection range of a stealth ship is small, it can try to destroy freighters even if there are defending ships in a planet. Or, say, if defending ships defend freigthers, then it can try to destroy something on a planet.
Uhm... I have no idea what situation you're trying to describe. Maybe draw a picture?
Impaler wrote: My fellings as to why planet movment would be unfun would be the potential for the space station that you build to protect planet X and Y being useless when Planet X and Y rotates away and end up on opposite sides of the system. Also I dont see how large mine fields will be able to remain tacticaly usefull when everything is moving around constantly.

I repeat:
Geoff the Medio wrote:If it's essential to have space stations and minefield at the same locations relative to starlane entry points or somesuch (if such things even exist), then the starlane entry points can orbit as well, so the mines / bases would stay next to them. OR... the starlane entry points could have sufficient gravity to hold the station / mines in place, even though neither is orbitting the nearby star.
So yes, rotation would mean you can't put bases / mines between two other points of interest, but you can still put things at the points of interest.

Things don't have to work exactly like they would on solid unmoving ground for the game to be playable / fun.

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#15 Post by Impaler » Thu Sep 23, 2004 7:48 am

Why would having the whole system in the map cause stealth ships to be detected at longer ranges then if their was just one planet? I belive your making a lot of unfounded asumptions on scales and ranges of things based on "Realism" which as we have said so many times is of no consiquence. The objects on the Combat map will be what ever scale and distance we feel is fun and provides tacticaly interesting battle, weapon and sensor ranges will be adjusted acordingly.

Having the full system means only THAT. All the planets/starbases/ships/whatever are all on this single map rather then being split up over thouse Moo2 style 1 planet maps. This alows for 2 major benefits. 1 Strategy on what/ware/when to attack in combat. 2 Quick resolution of large late game "system scouring" jobs in which you had to spend 1 turn to trash each planet. Now if your ships are fast enough and powerfull enough they can trash anything they can get their paws on.
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