Ship Building HOI style

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

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Geoff the Medio
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#46 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Oct 08, 2004 8:03 pm

I'm not sure who wants exactly what, but my preference would be for ship designs to consist of a set of "types" of component. The type would be something like "Directed Energy Beam", "Missile Rack", "Mass Driver", "Energy Shield Generator" and so forth. There could be multiple components of the same type on a single ship, so a ship could have three "Energy Shield Generators" and two "Mass Drivers".

By doing research, you'd unlock specific ship components that consist of a component type (as above) and a type version number. Components would be called something like "Mass Driver Mk. 1" through "Mass Driver Mk. 12" and so forth. Alternatively, components could be given fluffy names like "Fusion Coupling Laser (Energy Beam Mk. 2)" where the stuff in the brackets indicates the version number as above.

When you build a ship, you build it by picking a design. But the design doesn't indicate what version of the component to use, so the game always builds the highest tech version of the component you know how to build. (If we want to get fancy, we could let the player pick to use a lower-tech component if they're cheaper...).

If the player then discovers a newer version of a particular type of component, upgrading would involve replacing the older Mk. X components with newer Mk. X+1 components. The actual ship design does not change due to this upgrading, however... as the design only specifies the type of a component to include, but not the actual version number.

Thus you if you have a ship with Mk. V Shield Generators, but no Beam Weapon components, and you discover Mk. VI Shield Generators, you can upgrade the ship to use the new Mk. VI Shield generator, but the ship cannot be upgraded in any way to include a Beam Weapon component. There are no Beam Weapon components to upgrade.

In order for this to work seamlessly, all ship components will need to have a clear linear ordering of quality. Thus if you have a given version of a component, every other version of that component is either better or worse. There is no abiguity about which component you should upgrade to in any case.

Note that the linear ordering of components can be manipulated to allow things like special components that are unlocked by strategic resources. These special components would fit between the other components in the linear ordering, meaning that they'd replace a given lower tech version of a component, but eventually you'd discover another version that is better an the special unlocked version is replaced. The special unlocked components could either have a lower cost and the same effects, or better effects and a lower cost than the component they replace. The ordering could be done by the designers, or could be automated, so new components can be added to the system without reordering anything (though it would be necessary to avoid cases of equal value components, depending how the value is calculated if done algorithmically).

IMO, upgrades should cost production or other resources. I'd also prefer that it be required for the player to return ships to a shipyard you own in order to do the upgrades. If upgrades happen automatically out in the field, there's no way for the player to decide to not upgrade to save the cost for something else they'd rather build. Better would be to have upgrades done manually out in the field, allowing the player to pick which ships to upgrade (would include an all option, or all in this fleet option). I'd rather go the whole way and require the upgrading to be done at a shipyard as well, for the strategic planning and other choices that this would require. This would be some annoying micro, but could be automated to some degree. I do acknowledge the tediousness of having to shuffle ships back and forth though... but IMO upgrading in the field or only at shipyards would be a fairly simple player-settable option to impliment.

Upgrades need to have a cost associated with them, or else exploits (IMO) are created in which the player can make a bunch of low tech ships, do some fast research or trade for better advances, and then upgrade all his/her ships at no additional cost. IMO the upgrade cost should be larger than the difference between the two components being upgraded between. So if Mk. I costs 20 and Mk. II costs 80, the difference between their costs is 60, but upgrading from Mk. I directly to Mk. II would cost more, say 80 or 120. (Note that if upgrade cost is something like 2 * (newComponentCost - oldComponentCost), the upgrade cost needs to have some minimum value in case the two components cost the same, or the new one is cheaper, as otherwise the upgrade cost could be negative in such cases).
drek wrote:Ships ought to auto-heal, but it should take a turn or three, and the ship should either have an engineering bay or be in friendly space for it to occur.
Rather than "in friendly space", I'd require them to be in a friendly system (not moving for a full turn, ala civ unit healing). Flying along a starlane wouldn't be a good time to do repairs. To further borrow from civ, having a shipyard in a system should improve the repair rate significantly (civ does barracks/harbour giving full healing in one turn, for example). The repairs should cost production as well.

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#47 Post by drek » Sat Oct 09, 2004 3:00 am

This would be some annoying micro, but could be automated to some degree.
As you probably know, whenever automatation is mentioned as a solution, red sirens go off in my head.

SMaC's solution might be considered as a middle ground. Upgrading units is instant, but costs credits (aka money) to perform. We could make it a single click: when a button listing the cost is pushed, the ship upgrades--available whenever the ship is in friendly space. The button serves dual purpose: it's also letting the player know that a ship is obsolete.

A fleetwide button could allow the player to upgrade every ship in a fleet; a designwide button could allow the player to upgrade every ship of a particular design.
To further borrow from civ, having a shipyard in a system should improve the repair rate significantly (civ does barracks/harbour giving full healing in one turn, for example). The repairs should cost production as well.
btw, when I say "friendly space" I mean in a friendly system that is not under contention. Starlanes aren't included.

Repairs should *not* cost production...that's hardly auto-healing, since the player will need a method of positioning the repair project in the global queue. (and indicating when he doesn't wish for a repair to occur, so that repairs don't eat resources meant for a more critical project.)

The costs of keeping the ship repaired should be included in upkeep (which should remain a constant value.) Perhaps there could be a government pick (Strong Military, or something) that increases all upkeeps with the benefit of granting faster repair times--and the opposite as well.

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#48 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Oct 09, 2004 4:03 am

drek wrote:Repairs should *not* cost production...that's hardly auto-healing, since the player will need a method of positioning the repair project in the global queue. (and indicating when he doesn't wish for a repair to occur, so that repairs don't eat resources meant for a more critical project.)
This might not be an issue if repairing all ships you can on a given turn is considered "normal". There would be always be a "Ship Repairs" project and a "Ship Upgrades" project in the global queue. The player could rank these anywhere s/he wants, above or below other projects. Normally all ships are repaired in some order, such as most damaged first, least damaged first, or something else, possibly player-specified. In order to selectively not repair a few ships, the individual ships or fleet would have a player-controlled toggle indicating that they should not be repaired. This toggle would be persistant, but not often changed, as repairing all your ships is "normal". Optionally, the toggle setting would be ignored if all ships without the no-repairs toggle set have already been repaired, and there are still PP leftover in a given turn. Alternatively, there could be two "ship repair" projects in the global queue (completely separate), and a given ship class or fleet could be marked by the player as high or low repair priority, and allotted PP in accordance to the ranking of the appropraite "ship repair" project.

Note that the ship repair projects are catch-alls for any possible ship repairs that can be done on a given turn, and a separate project for each ship repair job wouldn't be needed. There'd always be one (or two) "ship repair" projects on the queue, and they'd never go away, even if all ships are repaired on a given turn.
drek wrote:Perhaps there could be a government pick (Strong Military, or something) that increases all upkeeps with the benefit of granting faster repair times--and the opposite as well.
IMO such a government pick wouldn't make sense in context of ship build projects taking a fixed amount of time... unless there's also a government / race pick that reduces the build times for various things (which is entirely possible).

Having a pick that combines increased cost with faster repairs might not be such a good idea though... It raises the question of why you can't have a partly stronger or doubly stronger military, or even a weaker military that saves on upkeep costs and doesn't bother repairing. Just having the one pick seems to granular, and the desire to have a "military support" slider is born...

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HEy an Idea11!!

#49 Post by Manilla Moxy » Sat Oct 09, 2004 4:16 am

Yuo could also have it so Organic races and shps auto-upgrade and auto heal instantly, it adds more immersion to the game
It's cool man!

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#50 Post by Ranos » Sat Oct 09, 2004 5:18 am

My understanding of how everyone exept Geoff has said tech will work is the following.

Tech ----- Refinement
Laser--->Laser Mk2--->Laser Mk3--->Laser Mk4--->Laser Mk5
Phasor--->Phasor Mk2--->Phasor Mk3--->Phasor Mk4--->Phasor Mk5
Graviton Beam--->Graviton Beam Mk2--->Graviton Beam Mk3--->Graviton Beam Mk4--->Graviton Beam Mk5

This just lists a few. With this system, I start the game with Laser. I build a ship with 4 Lasers on it. I then research the refinement to Laser and when that is doen, my ships get upgraded to 4 Laser Mk2s on them.

When I discover Phasor, I have to creat a new design using the same exact hull size but replace 4 Lasers with 3 Phasors. I have to bring my ships in and pay a price to refit my ships to the new design.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

From what I understand from Geoffs post is that he is suggesting it work like this:

Tech Category ----------- Base tech ----- Refinements
Direct Energy Beams ---- Laser ---------- Phasor -------- Graviton Beam

I would start the game with Laser, same as before, but this time instead of having to design a complete new ship, I would just need to do a simple upgrade on my DEB weapon to get the new tech.

Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

I am all for the first option and completely against the second. I honestly don't feel like explaining my resons mostly becuase the involve a "realism arguement" which every one just uses as an excuse to not have to explain everything. So, I'll leave it at this.

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#51 Post by noelte » Sat Oct 09, 2004 8:50 am

i favour the first one. no autoupgrade of present designs. if you have new weapons, you must make a new design.


Ship design is one of the major fun parts!!!!!
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#52 Post by miu » Sat Oct 09, 2004 10:54 am

*didnt read the whole tread* but...

I do see autoupgrades working well with refinements going like:
"laserI - laserI with more punch - laserI with shield piercing - laserI with extra range - etc "

but with need of manually upgrading ship designs when totally new techs come available, like laser beam, gravitron beam, phaser beam, etc..
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#53 Post by Impaler » Sat Oct 09, 2004 3:46 pm

Tech ----- Refinement
Laser--->Laser Mk2--->Laser Mk3--->Laser Mk4--->Laser Mk5
Phasor--->Phasor Mk2--->Phasor Mk3--->Phasor Mk4--->Phasor Mk5
Graviton Beam--->Graviton Beam Mk2--->Graviton Beam Mk3--->Graviton Beam Mk4--->Graviton Beam Mk5
I belive this is what Geoff ment, he was simply speakining within the context of a single Tecnology Mk X+1 is always unambiguisly better them MK X and so on and so on. This is definatly the system we should be going for here, in most 4X games 90% of the tecnologies are simply linear upgrades that make older tecs obsolute but dont in any way encourage a new strategy. We want to give every weapon some kind of Unique quality that destinquishes it for example in Moo1 their were several weapons the first of which was the "Nutron Pellet Gun" that ignore half of your oponents shield strength and were able to do damage against advanced shields when other weapons would be completly blunted. The question of which was superior lasers or Nutron Pellet Guns depended on your oponents shield tecnology.

If the player then discovers a newer version of a particular type of component, upgrading would involve replacing the older Mk. X components with newer Mk. X+1 components. The actual ship design does not change due to this upgrading, however... as the design only specifies the type of a component to include, but not the actual version number.

Thus you if you have a ship with Mk. V Shield Generators, but no Beam Weapon components, and you discover Mk. VI Shield Generators, you can upgrade the ship to use the new Mk. VI Shield generator, but the ship cannot be upgraded in any way to include a Beam Weapon component. There are no Beam Weapon components to upgrade.
I think we shoud use the Nomenclature "Refit" for the simple linear upgrading of components as you described in the first portions. An "Overhaul" would be changing a ship to another design of the same hull size, say to swap Lasers for IonCannons. In a Refit the player dosen't need to specify anything but his desire for a refit, in an Overhaul you need to select one of the possible designs for the ship to be changed too. This can help us avoid confusion over the generic word "Upgrade".

As far as I can see no one is in favor of Automated or free Overhauling of ships, only in favor of automated/free refiting, is that correct?

In response to Miu, I think things like "Shield Piercing" or "Point Defence" should be keept as weapon Mods like was done in Moo2, they act as multipliers on the weapons base stats to make it more usefull for a particular purpose. The most obvious of these are ofcorse the size based Mods "Super Heavy Spinal Mount" all the way down to "Infantry Weapons" these would effect damage, rate of fire and ofcorse size. Each weapon would have some key stats that improve with level and some that would remain constant. For example Lasers could be

Mk1 - 3 damage, 2 shots per second, range 10
Mk2 - 4 damage, 3 shots per second, range 10
Mk3 - 5 damage, 4 shots per second, range 10

So lasers could be described as a "light damage, rapid fire, short rage weapon that improves in damage and rate of fire but not range"

If I was to apply the "Long range" mod which doubles range but reduces rate of time by half and my level of laser was Mk3 I would have.

5 damage, 2 shots per second, range 20.

Weapon Mods would be perminently part of a ships design and dont fall off or get changed when doing a refit, only an overhaul can change a weapon mod. Also I think the weapon Mods should be un-upgradable by which I mean theirs not "Long range fire 2" "Long range fire 3" and so on, that will start getting a bit too confusing in my opinion.

Lastly, as its done in Space Empires IV the levels of components should be shown with Roman numerals (it just looks cooler that way). Their are not likly to be more then a dozen levels in and roman numerals under 12 are all very easily identified.
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#54 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Oct 09, 2004 3:57 pm

Ranos wrote:My understanding of how everyone exept Geoff has said tech will work is the following.

This just lists a few. With this system, I start the game with Laser. I build a ship with 4 Lasers on it. I then research the refinement to Laser and when that is doen, my ships get upgraded to 4 Laser Mk2s on them.

When I discover Phasor, I have to creat a new design using the same exact hull size but replace 4 Lasers with 3 Phasors. I have to bring my ships in and pay a price to refit my ships to the new design.

...

From what I understand from Geoffs post is that he is suggesting it work like this:

...

I would start the game with Laser, same as before, but this time instead of having to design a complete new ship, I would just need to do a simple upgrade on my DEB weapon to get the new tech.
I don't know what a "DEB weapon" is, or what the second option is at all really, but the first option pretty much described what I'm suggesting. I never suggested ships with Lasers get upgraded to Phasors or Graviton Beams (assuming Phasors and Graviton beams are not considered to be a kind of laser). I did suggest that Laser Mk. I's get upgraded to Laser Mk. II's, and that the ship design itself would only specify that your ship has "Lasers", which would be distinct from "Phasors" but makes no distinction between "Laser Mk. I" and "Laser Mk. II".

The only relevant issue in my suggestion isn't really discussed in either option. That issue is how and when your ships get their upgrades, eg. getting Laser Mk. II's in place of your original Laser Mk. I's after you research a Lasers refinement. I want all upgrades to have to happen in friendly space and for them to cost something. I don't want all ships with Laser Mk. I's to instantly get Laser Mk. II's when you discover or trade for the appropriate tech. If instant free upgrades can happen, then various (IMO) explots are possible with ship fleets suddenly getting a lot more powerful. It should not be possible to build a huge fleet of cheap low-tech ships, fly them to where you want to fight, then instantly and freely upgrade them by trading techs. Higher tech refinements of lasers will presumably need to cost more than the cheaper versions if lasers will be useful for the whole game, so the upgrades to the higher tech refinements also need to cost an appropriate amount. Further, since upgrades will cost something, the player need to be able to control when the upgrades happen. (And non-free upgrades are clearly more realistic as well, if you want to talk about realism...).

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Idea!

#55 Post by Manilla Moxy » Mon Oct 11, 2004 12:47 am

It is much easier to program if you only have 8 fixed shp design slots

But if programmers are willing, you can do this:

1. Make it so you have to buy to get upgrade for MK1 to MK2 laser, and all ships get the upgrade instantly.

Any ship not in the system of a friendly starbase are free to upgrade.
Ships not in starbases cost $ to upgrade.
Ships in neutral systems cost $$ to upgrade.
Ships in enemy systems cost $$$ to upgrade.

2. There is difference between upgrade and calibrate. Upgrade is when you go from MK1 (plain laser) to MK2 (+2 options laser). Calibrate is when change all your MK2 'shield piercing' lasers to 'rapid fire'.

3. You can calibrate all your lasers instantly goign to the ship design.
It's cool man!

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#56 Post by utilae » Mon Oct 11, 2004 3:40 am

Impaler wrote: In response to Miu, I think things like "Shield Piercing" or "Point Defence" should be keept as weapon Mods like was done in Moo2, they act as multipliers on the weapons base stats to make it more usefull for a particular purpose.
I agree that they should be weapon mods like Moo2, however I have a different idea of how they could be used. We should make it so that certain weapons 'learn' certain weapon mods when that weapon gets to a certain level. So if you had a level 1 laser, it is the base stats and no weapon mods. Then when you refine lasers to level 2 lasers, lasers stats improve, but they also gain a weapon mod (not at every level, but at certain levels), eg shield piercing at level 4. Also if you put a level 4 laser on a ship, having shield piercing and other weapon mods should be optional (like in Moo2).

Regarding upgrading ships:
We probably just need to improve on what Moo2 already has. In Moo2 you could put heaps of ships into queue to upgrade. But you had to do it one at a time. And you could never upgrade more than one ship per turn. I think we need to be able to add as many ships as we want to the queue to be upgrade. So a better interface that allows you to select a group of ships and add them all to the queue to upgrade would help heaps. Also all ships added to the queue to be upgraded should automatically fly to the nearest place that can do the upgrade and be unavailable until upgraded. Also it should be possible to upgrade more than one ship per turn (if your have the resources). And the cost of upgrading should not be much (well you should only pay for the extra cost to upgrade, not for anything that you already own).

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#57 Post by Impaler » Tue Oct 12, 2004 7:36 am

Weapon Mods should be destinct and seperate for Weapon level. So the player can combine "Rapid Fire" with any weapon of the correct class (say beam weapon or Balistic in this case). Mods are likly going to have trade offs such as reduced rate of fire for higher damage or more Energy consumption for Shield Piercing. It would not be desirable to have every weapon mod get automaticaly aplied to your weapon when you get a new level of refinment. You would either have a system ware your weapons are reciving modifiers you see as harmfull or we must remove all the drawbacks of the Mod to make them unambigusly desirable. The former would enrage most people and the later might as well be folded into the devicices normal improvment as their no point to making it optional (other then higher cost which I find rairly works as the only trade-off). I am not fundamentaly oposed to weapons gaining new effects as they are refined but the whole point of weapon mods is tactical trade off in the design process.

Did you perhaps mean that Weapon Mods can only be attached to a weapon if its high enough in level? So if the player has the Shield Pircing Mod and las Lasers III they cant attach it to the laser because Lasers dont gain access to Shield Piercing untill level IV. If so I would still be oposed to that as its just making things un-nessarily complex. All weapon mods should be universaly aplicable to all weapons of a particular type/catagory.
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#58 Post by utilae » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:30 am

Impaler wrote: Did you perhaps mean that Weapon Mods can only be attached to a weapon if its high enough in level? So if the player has the Shield Pircing Mod and las Lasers III they cant attach it to the laser because Lasers dont gain access to Shield Piercing untill level IV. If so I would still be oposed to that as its just making things un-nessarily complex. All weapon mods should be universaly aplicable to all weapons of a particular type/catagory.
No, I mean't that for each weapon, a weapon mod comes available on that weapon at a particular level. So if lasers get to level 4, then you have the option of having shield piercing with your level 4 lasers. Though you can't add shield piercing to graviton cannons, because you can only do that when graviton cannons get to level 5. Of course these are all examples but you get the idea. Basically weapons are not only different from each other in their damage, range, etc, but also when you can use a particular mod with a weapon (dependant on the weapons level, which can be increased through refinement).

There could be some design pluses here, because lasers may 'learn' a whole range of weapon mods, but plasma cannons may only learn one or two weapon mods. In this way we could make weapons more unique by what mods can be used with them.

Also, a mod learn't at one level by lasers, and learn't at another level by plasma cannons would be the same. So there would not be shield piercing1, 2, 3, etc cause that would be bad.

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#59 Post by noelte » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:38 am

There could be some design pluses here, because lasers may 'learn' a whole range of weapon mods, but plasma cannons may only learn one or two weapon mods. In this way we could make weapons more unique by what mods can be used with them.
I like this.

About weapon mods, in your ex. lvl 4 laser could be enhanced by shield piercing. Hmm, the moo2 way was also ok, get a new missle type and also get some mods for an older design (f.i. mirv). This way you have lvl4 laser but also lvl 3 with shield piercing. make sence to me when i think of lvl 2 rapid recharge point defence laser. lvl 4 as a new tech are more powerful but slower more inaccurate and won't suit as pd weapon.
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#60 Post by Impaler » Tue Oct 12, 2004 11:23 am

Thats slightly better but I still dont see it as very usefull. First as I said their are going to need to be a lot of purely size based Modifiers, I dont see any point in making these things dependent on the refinment level of the wapon. I think the player will be anoyed at having to remember what level each of these mods become avalible. If its desirable for their to be some restrictions on Mod atacthmet to components then I think it would be better to make a new aplied Reserch project for "Shield Piercing Lasers" which alows the atachment of the Shield Piercing Modifier to all Lasers regardless of level. Their would no longer be a generic "Shield Pirceing" Tecnology that makes that Mod avalible for all weapons. This new tec can be higher up in the Tec Tree then the regular laser but is not in the laser Refinment string (aka level I, II, III)
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