What is the deal with starlanes?

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Ranos
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#16 Post by Ranos »

solartrix wrote:I think this could easily be done with a little more thought to the galaxy generation system. Essentially, build your galaxy, then go remove or reposition a several stars to make natural choke points.
With open space, there is no way to create choke points. A choke point is an area which an invading force must pass through. That means there is no way around it. Using open space allows ships to go from point a to any point in the galaxy as long as they have the range (using the MOO1/2 system). There is no way to create "natural choke points" because you don't have to go to system A to get to system B, you can go straight to system B as long as you have the range. Now granted, at early points in the game, you would have to take system A to get to system B becuase you don't have the range, but as soon as a more advanced fuel source is developed, you can just go to system B.

Starlanes make it so going directly to point B without using the starlanes takes forever and by the ime you got there, the defender would have plenty of defenses built up.

I also don't like starlanes but my arguement is based 100% on realism which is an invaldid arguement when it comes to this game.

Last point, the desicion to include starlanes in the game was made long ago and is no longer debatable. That is what has been said by the higher-ups.
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utilae
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#17 Post by utilae »

Ranos wrote: Last point, the desicion to include starlanes in the game was made long ago and is no longer debatable. That is what has been said by the higher-ups.
The decision to incude other terrain features along with starlanes is still open isn't it.

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#18 Post by Pasi »

Starlanes are good mmmm'kay

I hated in Stars! when you couldn't make a good defence grid around your terratory, as the enemy could just fly past you :oops: :roll:
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Blade Runner
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#19 Post by Blade Runner »

I think we can solve the choke-point problem without star-lanes. What about a unpassable space objects here and there, like black-holes, asteroid fileds or ancient space mine fileds? I know it isn't much more belivible than the star-lane network, but somehow it will feels (and hopefully looks) better (for me anyway). :D
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#20 Post by Bastian-Bux »

Blade Runner, you don't need "an unpassable space objects here and there", you need to clutter the whole space with such objects to make choke points.

A good example for choke points is the marine.

Its very difficult to intercept an incoming flotilla on the atlantic or pacific. As long as they are on the open sea that is.

And nope, the azores, or iceland don't help much, if the ships don't have to refull there. If they have to refull there, then those islands become choke points.

The only real choke points are isthmy, like Gibraltar, Skaggerak/Kattegat, the Brittish channel, the Isthmus of Istanbul, or for example the golden gate at San Fransisco bay.

To achieve such "natural" choke points you would have to clutter the whole space with dangerous nebulae, black holes and such.

Heck, earth has 1/7 of its surface cluttered with "impassable objects" -> land. Still you won't find that many choke points, most is easily passable open sea. Ask an astronomer how much of real space is blocked by "impassable objects".

Someone who is more talented then me should try to make a screen of a space which has 1/7 filled with nebulaes and such. Then those believing in "Natural choke points" will see how unnatural this looks.

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#21 Post by Blade Runner »

Hmmm... You are right. :) But we can do something between the two extreme (starlane vs. infinite space). Let say, we have two different kind of space, one with quicker than lightspeed possibility and an another one with slower than ligthspeed. So that slower than light speed parts can play the role of real obstacles. On the screen one can see the different, the slower than ligthspeed parts can get i.e. lighter blue color.
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#22 Post by Bastian-Bux »

:). Yeah, we had that suggestion already. Its impracticable for the same reason as all off-road travel: AI restrictments.

Just KISS it, starlanes ain't the most flashy way to do it, but it will the way we do it. If some AI genius can later on make an AI capable of dealing with off-starlane travel, that genius can change the source easily as well and adapt FO to be without starlanes.

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#23 Post by Aquitaine »

I'm no AI programmer, but regardless of whether or not anybody understands why it's more difficult not to have starlanes than to have them, it is -- the more simple rules the AI can follow, the better the AI will be (this is one of the reasons for KISS). That is why there are very good Chess AIs out there, but there aren't any for 'Go' -- the rules are much more complicated. Same difference.
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Prokonsul Piotrus
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#24 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus »

Aquitaine wrote:It will be difficult to implement other types later, unless you had no AI in your MP game at all; then we could probably just switch them off.
In all multiplayer games I have played so far (Stars!, SE4) we never use AIs. They are a) always stupider then human player, which makes them an easy pray for any neigbouring human (so it is unfair if sb is lucky and lands near AI) b) take a slot human player can use (in Stars!)

Of course you are completly right with KISS for AIs. But let me ask you this: are we designing FO for humans - or AIs?

As for why I am so hot on those other movement types - it is about the 'space opera feel'. Star Trek, Babylon 5, SG, Warhammer 40k, Honor Harrington, many other famous space operas don't use starlanes. I want to be able to reacreate strategic dillemas from those games in FO - but if I am limited to starlanes, then I can't do it. Off star lane travel offers great strategies for multiplayer (and if sb really hates it, we can always go with 'eat the cake/have the cake' strat and allow player to chose what ways of space travels he will have in his new game).
Aquitaine wrote: I just don't think a strategy map where everything is completely accessible is a good idea) then we can reconsider it.
It does work in Stars!. Even if it completly accessible in theory, in practice player never sends ships too far away, since the fleet will be in increasing danger of being overhelmed by enemy new ships and may not be at hand in case of a counterattack at another place. As an experienced Stars! player (I think :>) I know that when my fleet is more then 1 turn away from my colony with stargate, then I am doing a very rare and risky move.

Note that I don't hate starlanes. They are a good way of traveling - but only *one* of several ways that I think should be eventually implemented in the engine (unless we are designing the FO for single player mostly?) .One of my first big posts in the FO forums, year ago was about them, feel free to (re)read it. BTW, I am almost certain we will have another way even if 1.0 (stargates, don't tell me we wont have those :>).

As for other terrain elements, they are certainly easy to include with the starlanes - just take a look at SE4. Simply, stralanes lead from system to system, but the system may be a nebula, dead star, black hole, whatever.
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#25 Post by guiguibaah »

As for why I am so hot on those other movement types - it is about the 'space opera feel'. Star Trek, Babylon 5, SG, Warhammer 40k, Honor Harrington, many other famous space operas don't use starlanes. I want to be able to reacreate strategic dillemas from those games in FO -
True, but other space operas like Freespace, Wing Commander, Earth and Beyond and Corvette did, but instead of calling them 'Starlanes' they were 'Jump points'. And some battles in Star Trek (such as the dominion wars) just seemed, well, odd! I mean, they would have a 'blockade point' set up to prevent ships from going around... But space is huge, and it would take an unlimited amount for such a feat.
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#26 Post by solartrix »

Ranos wrote:
solartrix wrote:I think this could easily be done with a little more thought to the galaxy generation system. Essentially, build your galaxy, then go remove or reposition a several stars to make natural choke points.
With open space, there is no way to create choke points. A choke point is an area which an invading force must pass through. That means there is no way around it. Using open space allows ships to go from point a to any point in the galaxy as long as they have the range (using the MOO1/2 system). There is no way to create "natural choke points" because you don't have to go to system A to get to system B, you can go straight to system B as long as you have the range.
Ranos, I agree, this was a major problem with the MOO1/2 system. I'd like to see if we can create a system where a starship "jump" from star A to star B is determined by the ship's max range. I may even have a clever way of doing this with the current system....

What if each star had a starlane connecting it to all the other stars within X lightyears (X would be the max ship range we determine for the uber range tech). Lots of starlanes everywhere, the screen is at risk of turning white. Now, add a "range check" function that checks a ship's range when you give it a destination. If it fails the range check, ie, starlane is longer than ship range, then the ship can't make the jump.

Last, make the starlanes invisible. We now have a chokepoint system (based on ship jump ranges) using the current starlane system! 8)

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Geoff the Medio
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#27 Post by Geoff the Medio »

solartrix wrote:What if each star had a starlane connecting it to all the other stars within X lightyears (X would be the max ship range we determine for the uber range tech). Lots of starlanes everywhere, the screen is at risk of turning white.
The current algorithm links each system with nearby systems (using Delauney triangulation). If you pick the "lots of starlanes" option, then very few of these are removed. (An option to not remove any lanes would be easy enough to add, but the current max lanes option is fairly dense.) I looked at using next-nearest neighbour systems as well, but ended up agreeing with other that having crossing lanes looks horrible, but it could be added as an option later as well. Hard limits on starlane length are problematic, as you often end up with loner stars that are too far away from anything... and really, you don't need them. If you've got the 10 nearest stars to go to, that's probly good enough.
Now, add a "range check" function that checks a ship's range when you give it a destination. If it fails the range check, ie, starlane is longer than ship range, then the ship can't make the jump.
There isn't currently, but I suspect there will be a "move to" effect eventually, which you could use to implement something like this behaviour. You'd set a ship's target object to some system, turn on the "free jump" ability, and the ship would move to whatever location you targetted. There would be a limit on what you can target by distance (or anything else allowed by effects). The jump would probably be instant... though perhaps a "put into purgatory for X turns" type effect could be added that removes an object from the game for X turns...

This would most likely just be a special abilitiy of a particular ship or other in-game object though... I suspect that standard movement is going to be on starlanes for the forseeable future...
Last, make the starlanes invisible. We now have a chokepoint system (based on ship jump ranges) using the current starlane system! 8)
I fail to see why making lanes invisible is necessary... other than it looking slightly better... but in a strategy game, knowing your options is probably more important.

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#28 Post by Ranos »

@ everyone trying to say we should get rid of Starlanes

AQ didn't clarify for sure but I am still sure that Starlanes are in the game. They will not be taken out of the game. It doesn't matter how much you argue against them, they will still be in the game.

@ solartrix

What you suggest is very similar to how MOO1/2 did it. In MOO1/2, a ships fuel type determined it's range. The ship could take as many turns as necessary to get frmo point A to point B as long as its fuel type allowed it to. Deutrium Fuel was the second type, IIRC, and allowed the ship to go 5 parsecs from the nearest friendly system. You couldn't select a system farther away.

You seem to be suggesting the same thing but wanting it to take only one turn to get from A to B.

No matter what you are suggesting in that manner, you can't create choke points if all ships can go to all stars. Early game, yes, late game, no. When all ships are able to travel to all stars on the map (assuming late game will give an unlimited fuel type) then you can't set up a blockade anywhere. Starlanes allow for choke points and blockades from turn 1 through turn 1 million, if you play that long.
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#29 Post by skdiw »

The decision on starlane was very binary: either we don't have starlanes or we connect every system with starlanes, rather than a mix of the two ideas like some ppl proposed which would satisfy everyone thru beginning menu options. There were confusion during the voting process because many ppl who wanted a mixture had to vote yes to starlanes so there were an overwhelming majority for yes to starlanes. And by yes to starlanes, it translated into every system is connected because there were some terminology understanding problems. For example, when mix supporters said "frequency," meaning how many systems were connected and the rest open, it translated into number of starlanes in a system, for the all-system-connected supporters. So all the mix supporter translated into yes to starlanes, as in all systems are connected when they actually mean something a bit different from the two available choices.

The programmers thought it was easier to implement starlanes for the sake of AI because they algorithm the programmers thought up didn't use a matrix for a grid to divide the map into small squares for future mods to create strategic terrains in addition to starlanes, but rather a simple list of connected systems. With or without starlanes, both system are just as easy or difficult to implement had they have the right approach I thought, but because the way the programmers decided to program, it was mcuh easier to use starlanes. Although the list of connected systems sounds simpliar in concept, it has its own problems in practice as we see in other games like Moo3 as AI send small fleets to attack a backwater planet but completed neglected the heavily defended chokepoints to reach the backwater planets.

We had lots of ideas for starlanes that could make the system work very well. Strategic terrains could be created by varying the speeds of each lanes, the direction, and temporal starlane which pops up on certain turns. The key is fully utilizing those few ideas in combination such that very sophisticated map can be effectively created. Although such ideas of intercepting space monster in opens space, creating nebulas or black holes as "walls" into your high-tech empire, or Xploaring an event out in the open all sounds really cool, a mixture of open space system along with starlanes may been too complicated, not to mention redundant.
:mrgreen:

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#30 Post by Kharagh »

Why not simply see open space as a starlane with a very low travel speed. You click at the starting position, then at the positon you want to go and the comp will measure the distance you have to fly in open space and apply the open space starlane factor to it.
That way you can travel to any position, be it open space or not. You can just point at a position and the ship will be enroute, using the clearly visible faster starlanes and the hidden slow ones, which represent open space.

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