Ship Design: Stars! vs Moo vs SEIV

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

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Zpock
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#31 Post by Zpock » Wed Oct 20, 2004 3:11 pm

I really like Impalers system so I felt like giving him some support here. I see there's two arguments against it here, too complex and too limiting.
Yes, a limit on ship designs sucks. Also, Impaler, your system does appear very complex. I think anything more than a list based system is bad.
This is just an opinion without any motivation at all. First of all I think you get this feeling becouse Impaler did a very detailed explanation of his thoughts. For example, if he had just said:

"you design your hulls and then you can design ships out of these hulls like in stars! with slots that different stuff go into. Basically, ship design works as in Stars! but you can make your own hulls".

Now that doesn't sound very complex when you just put it in a single sentence. It's rather simple but he added a lot of ideas on how different details would be done. In any system you would need to do this anyway so they will sound just as complex. For example, moo1 system feels very simple but if you explain all the little details of it that explanation is going to be pretty "complex" too. I hope my point get's through here.

Secoundly, I think ship design is the one area in 4x games that a more complex system can be good. It's a truly macro management part of the game so it doesn't add any micro with the complexity unlike for example a more complex planet managing system. On the other hand the system must still be pretty newbie friendly. The best way to handle this problem is to make the system seem simple at first but not for the experienced player. This could be done by limiting the options at low tech levels for example, so the beginner doesn't need to do so much in the first stages of the game. A good tutorial also helps of course.

The thing that can make ship designing a pain is if you need to do it too oftenly. For example, you get a new weapon and hull every other turn that obsoletes your previous stuff forcing you to upgrade all the time. The beauty of impalers system is that it's a two layer system. You design only a few hulls during the entire game. You then make different designs out of these hulls during the game, adding different weapons and modules. I also really like the researching your hulls and maybe even designs until you can use them as it makes not designing a new ships for every new cup holder you research a much better option. There was this comment:
You already researched all of the necessary parts for the design, why do you now have to research the design itself.
Again, this is just an unmotivated gut feeling I think. Realism and such isn't worth considering but if that comment is refering to researching a design being unrealistic I really disagree as there's a LOT of development and engineering involved in making new vehicle models in the real world. Just becouse you know how to make all the engines, tires, steering-wheels etc doesn't mean you can immedietly have a new car model. Isn't that obvious?

Now for the second argument against Impalers idea (or more the general star! system). That it's limiting. First of, the idea was that you would get to do a few hulls but not as many as you want (limited by research, not har limits). So you get to choose for example to have your battleship designs with lots of guns, lots of armor, cheap or whatever. You then make different design's limited by the limits you strategically choosed. Limits, as in you can put more guns then the other player on your ships but he can put more electronics etc, are very good as they add a lot of strategy.

If you just pile in stuff into your ships as you wan't then there's not much strategy involved and more of just doing the good old cookie cutter design putting in whatever makes your ships more effective. Notice that I think here that more strategy is when you need to adapt you strategy around different limits. For example if I have 2 weapon slots and 1 electronics slot I get to make two strategic decisions instead of one, first wich kind of weapon I put in then what kind of electronic stuff I put in. If I just had 3 slots I could put in whatever I wanted (no limits) it is very likely that the best option is just to put in 3 weapons, eliminating the interesting decision on what electronic component I wanted. What I am saying here is that you are forced to choose from a bunch of stuff that you would otherwise not consider. So that stuff is useful and gives you more options. Yes, limits actually adds options in this case.

Then when designing ships there's no reason we can't have a general purpose slot that you could put in anything you want when you choose your slots. It would of course be more expensive then special purpose slots. So you could choose to give yourself flexibility when making the hull, at the cost of making yourself less powerful.

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#32 Post by Impaler » Wed Oct 20, 2004 4:16 pm

Thanks for the Support Zpock :)

Let me add a few additional defences. First this quote by Ranos
There is no ratio. Each size ship has preset numbers to each of the five areas needing to be filled.
It sounds like a Ratio to me, basicaly their are "bags" that can be filled with stuff the internal bag and the external bags, if the player has 10 size external Bag and a 10 Internal Bag then its a 1:1 Ratio. I think its better make this a "Is this Thing Hitable from this direction?, check all that apply" So if the Component is able to be hit from the rear and the Starboard side then its esentialy IN both of thouse catagories. Likwise if I have some Wide Arc turrets they should be able to Hit from any direction it can Fire from. Firing Arch can never exceed Hitable Arc, Internal is just having none of these checked. If combat in a 2D plane you can think of turrets on the top and bottom of the ship as having all 4 directionals For/Port/Starboard/Aft checked (Oh and Utilae these are SPACE SHIPS how can we not refer to them in Nautical terms? It would be going against mountains of Sci-Fi Liturature to not use these terms, next you will be saying their shouldn't be Fleet Admirals. :roll:).


I will probly do an update to show how Facing Directions work, as for now let me just describe the UI. Their would be a Set of 4 Radio Buttons for each of the 4 faceings that can be turned on and off individualy (and possibly a Big "All On" "All off" button in the middle for speedyness). The player selects a Device type off the Scroll List, clicks on/off the facings they desire and then highlight a Size 1 - 8 off a key pad like menu. Now when they move the mouse into the design area they see the outline of the Stack they can place. Depending on what facings they have active the shape of that stack will be different (unless its a very small stack which are ofcorse too simple to have much variety) Left Clicking once places a stack of size 1, additional clicks anyware on the stack raise the hight by 1. If the Shift Key is Held down durring either of these then 10 is added instead of 1, Ctrl + Shift gives 100. Right clicking removes the stacks and lowers their Hight. The player can select a previously placed stack and change its Type (like Engine to Weapon) by reselecting from the menu. Stack height can be adjusted with Mouse Scrolling + Shift and Ctrl for 10/100 stuff as before. Facings can be changed with the buttons as well unless this would result in a overlap with something else due to the shape change. If this is the case then the Stack will "lift off" the map and attach to the mouse so the player can find an empty place to put it. Double clicking on stacks will also lift them. Lifted Stacks can be thrown away by droping them into the Component Type Menu.
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#33 Post by Zpock » Wed Oct 20, 2004 5:18 pm

I think there's a need for some more pictures here (that people can actually see without fiddling).

I think I'd try to make some things about the system a bit more easy to understand with an example: Lets's say, you are making your new cruiser hull that you are going to use for a new warship to be used as the backbone in your fleet. So far you only had smaller ships but your research finally paid off and made this possible (exactly how research and this goes toghether remains to be decided).

1. You will need some engines for the cruiser of course. Let's say a few smaller engines are less effective then one big but more durable, so you decide to have a 5x small slot for engines.

2. Your research strategy is to focus on electronics a lot so you think it would be a good idea to put in 3 slots of 2x medium size. You want 3 slots for flexbility becouse then you can use different electronic systems in each instead of all the same in a 6x medium slot. On the other hand, a single slot would have been cheaper.

3. You want to use your cruiser as the backbone of your fleet, so you decide to have a large weapons slot instead of many smaller.

Now that the hull is complete, after some additional slots maybe, you decide to make 2 different designs. One that is loaded up with a big missile launcher and guidance for the missiles in the electronics slot. Then you also make a defensive short range cruiser design with anti-missile jammers in the electronics slots. So you can try to use the missile cruiser for long range attack power while the short range cruiser tries to hold the enemy ships and tank them.

Then later in the game you might still find the hull useful as an electronic warfare platfrom thanks to the many electronics slots. Say you changed research focus away from the electronics field and your battleships have loads of guns but no electronics. So to support your battleships you make a new cruiser design out of the hull with electronics that jam the enemies ship systems.

Then maybe you want to make a cloaked raiding ship. Your battleship hull doesn't have any electronics slot so you can't easily use it for that. So instead you take your cruiser hull and make the design.

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#34 Post by emrys » Wed Oct 20, 2004 5:34 pm

Just a quick comment, totally out of the thread of the conversation, I'll post real comments when I actually get a chance to read stuff. Overall I'm very, very in favour of a Stars! based system, which I feel gives a great feeling of design and interest in your ship designs, is easy and intuitive to use and avoids the 'spreadsheet' complaints that Moo series always gets without reducing the flexibility or complexity of the design process.

In other words I feel it's a clear case of steal what works.

for pictures that explain better than a thousands words could what ship design in Stars! looks like, see : http://www.freeorion.org/wiki/index.php ... scratchpad

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#35 Post by Zpock » Wed Oct 20, 2004 5:50 pm

Yes, and the main idea is to build on the stars! system by allowing designing the hulls themselves. The benefit of this is that the different hulls will fill different roles and the player would actually decide on what role he wants for the different hulls. Thus you can get away from the bigger is better problem in a VERY nice way, much better then the crude "small ships are hard to hit" that we have seen so far in 4x not working very well.

I would prbably be very restrictive on how many hulls the player can design, maybe so far as only a single hull design for every new hull size, maybe letting the player have a secound at huge costs. To prevent one from using the same size for all roles.

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#36 Post by Ranos » Wed Oct 20, 2004 7:41 pm

After thinking about it, my reason for wanting an internal section was based on a realism thing. I guess that would complicate things but I still think it would add a little more of a challenge to ship design. Since most people seem to disagree with it though, I'll drop it.
utilae wrote:Prototypes sounds like an unnecesary hassle. Why bother.
This was a different approach to Impaler's suggestion of having to research hull designs. I would actually prefer to be able to use the ship immediately, but if we have to have some method of cost associated with new designs, I'd rather have a prototype than extra research.
utilae wrote:
Ranos wrote:Basically, the internal space is for additional expendables. This allows for more missiles, more fighters, etc. You can install more fighter bays allowing for multiple waves of fighters. For energy weapons, instead of saying no internals are needed, maybe you would need power plants. These are completely different from the engines which give a ship its propulsion. This is just something to allow people to customize their ships more and add a challenge into the design part of ship building.
Unnecesary and a hassle.
Hopefully you are talking about the power plants when you say that.
utilae wrote:
Ranos wrote:When you install a missile rack, you select how many tubes there will be. Lets say each tube takes 2 space that has to be mounted on one of the external areas. The missile loading systems take up 2 internal space and each missile takes up 2 internal space. So if you install 1 missile tube with 1 round, it takes up 2 external and 4 internal space. You can install more rounds for that singe tube which only costs and additional 2 internal space each or you can install additional tubes which take 2 external and 4 internals a piece. You have to weigh the benefits and make sure everythin fits together.

I think we shouldn't go into this kind of detail with missiles and missile tubes (choosing what weapons go on a fighter is ok, maybe).
So you think missiles should have a set number of racks and a set number of missiles? Being able to select the size and reloads adds more of a customizable aspect to missiles. MOO3 used it and I think it worked well. Let me explain it without all of the internal/external stuff.

You want to put a missile rack on your ship. First you select the type of missile. Next you choose what rack size you want. Does it fire 1 missile, 2 missiles, 4 missiles or 8 missiles at a time? this is the rack size. Next you select how many salvos there are. If you make a missile rack with 2 tubes, you automatically get 1 missile for each tube. Selecting how many salvos adds missiles. So you fire your missiles, wait for them to reload and then fire again. Why do this? Adding a single missile tube with one missile takes up more space then a single missile reload. There should be a ratio of how much space the basic rack takes compared to how much space reloads take. Something like 2:1 or 3:1. So if the basic missile you start the game off with takes 4 space for the rack, the realoads would take 2 space. Or with the 3:1 ratio, if the rack takes 6 space, the missile takes 2 space.this does two things, allows for space saving and gives missiles a greater role in combat. IIRC, MOO2 just had missiles which were all fired at the start of combat and that was it. There were no reloads.

I would like fighters and projectile weapons to be the same. You can install the basic system and then have additional ammo for the projectiles or additional waves of fighters.
Zpock wrote:First of all I think you get this feeling becouse Impaler did a very detailed explanation of his thoughts. For example, if he had just said:
I guess I was misunderstanding slightly, but your explaination makes me like it even less. From what I'm understanding about the system, you're saying new hull sizes are useless until you design a hull setup. So you get hull size 7 but you have to put these stack slots in and you have to decide what type of equipment goes in what slot. This IS very limiting. It would also make ship design far more complicated than it is now. Instead of just having the hull size and being able to load whatever you wanted into it, allowing you to easily make different types of ships (recon, Direct fire, PD, Missile ships, carriers, etc.). With what I understand from your system, we would have to first design a recon hull and then we would actually have to design the ship. Now that hull is good for the whole game and you can put new systems on it, but it is basically the same exact recon ship, just with newer systems.

You would have to go through that whole process for every hull size and for every style of ship you wanted. That would lead to a couple of hundred hull designs and the player would still have to design the actual ship. This puts far too much focus on ship design and takes away from the rest of the game. Half of the time you spent playing the game would be designing hulls and ships. This makes the system too complex and too limiting.
Zpock wrote:Again, this is just an unmotivated gut feeling I think. Realism and such isn't worth considering but if that comment is refering to researching a design being unrealistic I really disagree as there's a LOT of development and engineering involved in making new vehicle models in the real world. Just becouse you know how to make all the engines, tires, steering-wheels etc doesn't mean you can immedietly have a new car model. Isn't that obvious?
Nowhere in my post did I say anything about realism and I am getting sick and tired of hearing all of this realism BS. (Pardon my language Aquitaine, I'm just getting sick of listening to that broken record) I said this because it seems to me to be an unnecessary complication. Now granted, I suggeted using prototyping but to me, that would be better than researching new designs.

Since you brought up the realism aspect, here is what happens in real life: Somebody developes an applied technology and now it has to be put into use. Lets go with jet fighters since that is as close to a comparison as we will come. When a ship is designed, all of the technology to build it is known, the engineer is just puting it all to use. He sits at his table and draws everything out. That is basically what the player does when designing a ship, they become the engineer. Once the design is complete, the design has to be reviewed by important people and decide whether it should be used or not. You also fill this role in the game and since you are designing it and like the design, it obviously gets implemented.

Now that the design has been approved, it goes to Area 51 or whatever other super secret aircraft development facilities we have in th US and they start working on the prototype. This costs more and takes longer to build than the fighter will when it goes into full production. This is because the molds for the parts have to be made, they have to figure out the processes of shaping the metal to what it needs to be and they have to work out the kinks in the whole design.

The system may be more comples than that, but not much. No where in there is any extra research required to get the fighter into production. With that said, lets get off of this realism aspect and back into the unrealistic world of galactic empires and FTL travel.
Zpock wrote:Now for the second argument against Impalers idea (or more the general star! system). That it's limiting. First of, the idea was that you would get to do a few hulls but not as many as you want (limited by research, not har limits). So you get to choose for example to have your battleship designs with lots of guns, lots of armor, cheap or whatever. You then make different design's limited by the limits you strategically choosed.
Do you realize that within that paragraph you stated that it was limiting? You get a few hulls with a set configuration that you have to work with for the rest of the game. Limiting.
Zpock wrote:If you just pile in stuff into your ships as you wan't then there's not much strategy involved and more of just doing the good old cookie cutter design putting in whatever makes your ships more effective.
There is strategy involved in puting stuff on the ships because you have to put the right things in to make your combat strategy work. In this way, there are no "cookie cutter" designs. Those would develope if your system was implemented. With the "put whatever you want on the ship where you want it" design, you can design a ship and if you fin it isn't working well in combat, you can design a new one in the hopes that it will be better. With the set design template way, you wouldn't have this option. You would still be forced to put the same equipment in the smae places and that accomplishes nothing.
Impaler wrote:It sounds like a Ratio to me, basicaly their are "bags" that can be filled with stuff the internal bag and the external bags, if the player has 10 size external Bag and a 10 Internal Bag then its a 1:1 Ratio. I think its better make this a "Is this Thing Hitable from this direction?, check all that apply" So if the Component is able to be hit from the rear and the Starboard side then its esentialy IN both of thouse catagories. Likwise if I have some Wide Arc turrets they should be able to Hit from any direction it can Fire from. Firing Arch can never exceed Hitable Arc, Internal is just having none of these checked. If combat in a 2D plane you can think of turrets on the top and bottom of the ship as having all 4 directionals For/Port/Starboard/Aft checked
But how do you limit the player on where something is? They could, by checking the boxes, put everything on top of their ship and then be able to fire in every direction all the time.

Maybe having Top and Bottom sections would still be a good idea, they would just be smaller. Shields would only be mounted on the 4 sides but you could mount weapons on top. That would work better IMO.
Impaler wrote:I will probly do an update to show how Facing Directions work, as for now let me just describe the UI. Their would be a Set of 4 Radio Buttons for each of the 4 faceings that can be turned on and off individualy (and possibly a Big "All On" "All off" button in the middle for speedyness). The player selects a Device type off the Scroll List, clicks on/off the facings they desire and then highlight a Size 1 - 8 off a key pad like menu. Now when they move the mouse into the design area they see the outline of the Stack they can place. Depending on what facings they have active the shape of that stack will be different (unless its a very small stack which are ofcorse too simple to have much variety) Left Clicking once places a stack of size 1, additional clicks anyware on the stack raise the hight by 1. If the Shift Key is Held down durring either of these then 10 is added instead of 1, Ctrl + Shift gives 100. Right clicking removes the stacks and lowers their Hight. The player can select a previously placed stack and change its Type (like Engine to Weapon) by reselecting from the menu. Stack height can be adjusted with Mouse Scrolling + Shift and Ctrl for 10/100 stuff as before. Facings can be changed with the buttons as well unless this would result in a overlap with something else due to the shape change. If this is the case then the Stack will "lift off" the map and attach to the mouse so the player can find an empty place to put it. Double clicking on stacks will also lift them. Lifted Stacks can be thrown away by droping them into the Component Type Menu.
I got lost in the complexity of the above description. I would prefer it if wepons would be able to fire in all directions and there not be directional mounting. That only complicates things in the design process and puts limits on the ships. Having single direction firing weapons was fine in MOO2 since everything was turn based and all that was required was rotating the ship. In FO, I would like to see ships have to arc around to face an opposite direction instead of being able to turn on a dime like in MOO2 and 3.
Zpock wrote:1. You will need some engines for the cruiser of course. Let's say a few smaller engines are less effective then one big but more durable, so you decide to have a 5x small slot for engines.

2. Your research strategy is to focus on electronics a lot so you think it would be a good idea to put in 3 slots of 2x medium size. You want 3 slots for flexbility becouse then you can use different electronic systems in each instead of all the same in a 6x medium slot. On the other hand, a single slot would have been cheaper.

3. You want to use your cruiser as the backbone of your fleet, so you decide to have a large weapons slot instead of many smaller.
Can't you see the complexity in that? Instead of just puting the engine on your ship and maybe selecting the allowed speed, you have to decide how big it is and how many you put in. Now you have to decide on a stack size and what will go in it and move stuff around and blah, blah, blah.

Then you still have to do the actual ship design where you install the stuff.

How about this. I have my cruiser. I put the newest engine on and I want it to go as fast as possible because this is a war ship which I want to be able to move when it needs to. This takes up 75% of the Aft section. I put on the best sensors I have which take 10% of the Forward section. I now put 2 Shield Generatos in each section, Forward, Aft, Port and Starboard to help protect my ship. I put 3 PD Phasors in the aft section which takes up the rest of the Aft space. Now I put 2 Plasma Cannons in each of the 5 remaining sections except the bottom. I put 2 PD Phasors in all sections exept the Top where I put 5, filling up the rest of the space there. On the Bottom, I put a Fighter bay holding 10 fighters on the Bottom which fills that up. I now only have Forward, Port and Starboard with any space left. Forward has less because of the sensors. I decide to put 2 more Plasma Cannons on the front and now that space is full. On the last two sides, I put a missile rack which has 4 tubes and 3 relaods. Now my ship is full. and an effective fighting machine. Maybe I discover during the course of battle that I need more PD on the ship. I can go into the design and take of a Plasma Cannon or two and load in PD.

With the Stars! system plus the add-ons for location or directional firing or whatever, I have to design the hull which takes a while. Then I have to actually install the systems which also takes a while. Since I've never used the system, I don't know how long it would take, but it seems to me like it would take at least 50% more time if not twice as much. Then if you find the design isn't working, instead of just being able to slightly alter the plans, you have to deign a whole new hull.
emrys wrote:for pictures that explain better than a thousands words could what ship design in Stars! looks like, see : http://www.freeorion.org/wiki/index.php ... scratchpad
Thats the problem I have with it, its nothing but pictures. You have to know what each picture is instead of just being able to read what the name of the item is. And of course there is still the problem of the limitation of certain things having to go in certain places.
Zpock wrote:Yes, and the main idea is to build on the stars! system by allowing designing the hulls themselves. The benefit of this is that the different hulls will fill different roles and the player would actually decide on what role he wants for the different hulls. Thus you can get away from the bigger is better problem in a VERY nice way, much better then the crude "small ships are hard to hit" that we have seen so far in 4x not working very well.

I would prbably be very restrictive on how many hulls the player can design, maybe so far as only a single hull design for every new hull size, maybe letting the player have a secound at huge costs. To prevent one from using the same size for all roles.
One word: LIMITING.
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#37 Post by Impaler » Wed Oct 20, 2004 8:21 pm

Ramos I can sumarize your whole post as "I hate the Stars! method of Ship Designing and I want a Moo SpreedSheet sytle Ship Design." Thats all you realy needed to say. Have you ever tried Stars! before or SEIV? I find it hard to belive you feel a picture based aproatch to be inferior to a spreedsheet, I dont think your going to bet much agreement their from the rest of the team.

Keep in mind that ships will have limits on the number of stacks they can have, even huge Battleships might have only a dozen stacks in it as they do in Stars!

I have been thinking of the discussion on Components and had an Interesting though. Perhaps rather then generic "Weapon" stacks their would be "Beam Weapon" Stack intowhich you can place "Beam Weapon Modifiers". Thus we turn a 3 tier system (WeaponStack/Laser/Laser Mods) into a 2 tier system (Beam Weapon/Beam Weapon Mods). Refinment would be ablied to Beams Weapon stack making it better independent of the Modifers that attacth to it. If this was the case then it might be possible to combine everything into one design step by simply adding a list that shows the modifers that can attatch to the currently selected Thing. The player would drag thouse Modifiers onto the Stacks to modify them.

After this you can change the ship only by switching out Modifiers and reciving the Refinment Bonuses to the Base Stack type (the Refinment improvment might be automatic though).
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#38 Post by Zpock » Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:51 pm

Nice to see some arguments now instead of the "nah to complicated". First off, prototypes vs researching designs and realism. I agree realism is irrelevant and I'm sorry to bring that up, interpreted your question wrong that you wanted to go there. I'm going to give the gameplay reason as I should have first off: If new designs are free you can make as many as you want and you must do so to stay competetive. If there's a clear cost to designs you will want to strategically choose when to make a new design. I see you think the prototyping work should be done in the factories by the construction people rather then by the research people in the labs. If you consider the engineers putting applied tech togheter more as construction people then fine, I'd say they where in between but we don't want a third resource or anything. The gameplay difference is wheter you have to build a prototype (costing construction points), or "research" a new design (costing research points). There's not much difference here and I'm happy with either system.

Ranos wrote:
I guess I was misunderstanding slightly, but your explaination makes me like it even less. From what I'm understanding about the system, you're saying new hull sizes are useless until you design a hull setup. So you get hull size 7 but you have to put these stack slots in and you have to decide what type of equipment goes in what slot. This IS very limiting. It would also make ship design far more complicated than it is now. Instead of just having the hull size and being able to load whatever you wanted into it, allowing you to easily make different types of ships (recon, Direct fire, PD, Missile ships, carriers, etc.). With what I understand from your system, we would have to first design a recon hull and then we would actually have to design the ship. Now that hull is good for the whole game and you can put new systems on it, but it is basically the same exact recon ship, just with newer systems.

You would have to go through that whole process for every hull size and for every style of ship you wanted. That would lead to a couple of hundred hull designs and the player would still have to design the actual ship. This puts far too much focus on ship design and takes away from the rest of the game. Half of the time you spent playing the game would be designing hulls and ships. This makes the system too complex and too limiting.
You must have either misunderstood or read it like the devil reads the bible. Of course you don't make one new hull for every new ship design you want. I wrote hulls could be limited to one for every hull size researched. Then when you research battleship, you would make your battleship hull. All your battleships will be based on it and it will have the advantages and disadvantages you choosed when designing the hull. Each type of slot (place on ship for placing actual stuff in later) would accept a wide range of modules. For example an electronics slot would accept cloaking devices, jamming devices etc. So a single hull does not have to be so limited that you can only make a recon ship with it. On the other hand you could make a hull that's very good for a recon ship, like lots of electronics slots. Then it could also be used for other roles that need lots of electronics slots.
One word: LIMITING.
Now for the limit bashing. I don't think limits are always a bad thing. The kind of limit we are talking about here is one that separates choices. Instead of filling up x space with whatever we want, we get to fill up x space with a kind of stuff, y space with b kind of stuff etc.

In theory, the "fill the bag system" does indeed give you the most freedom when designing your ship. You can make a ship with only combat computers in it if you want. However, in practice there will only be a few designs that are effective. The typical choice is, do I put this in or would the ship be more effective with more space dedicated to weapons? You will need to think for every design, shield generator or another plasma gun? Targeting computer or another plasma gun? Big engine or another plasma gun?

In the Stars! slot system you get to choose for every slot, should I put in this thing or that thing? Instead of "targeting computer vs another plasma gun" you get "targeting computer vs missile jammer". We all know what choosing between a targeting computer and plasma gun is all about, making spreadsheets to find out how to get the most cost effective ship possible. The freedom limits you becouse you need to be effective. A lot of components will be ruled out becouse they are simply not viable becouse another weapon would be better in any case. This is what limits you. In a stars! system you get to put on stuff on your ships you wouldn't otherwise put on.

Another misinterpretion:
There is strategy involved in puting stuff on the ships because you have to put the right things in to make your combat strategy work. In this way, there are no "cookie cutter" designs. Those would develope if your system was implemented. With the "put whatever you want on the ship where you want it" design, you can design a ship and if you fin it isn't working well in combat, you can design a new one in the hopes that it will be better. With the set design template way, you wouldn't have this option. You would still be forced to put the same equipment in the smae places and that accomplishes nothing.
You don't put exactly the same equipment in the slots. The slots only limit you to different categories of equipment. If you find that your ships are getting killed easily by the enemies missile ships, put in missile jammers instead of targeting computers for example. About this sentece: "There is strategy involved in puting stuff on the ships because you have to put the right things in to make your combat strategy work." Having to put the right things to make your strategy work sounds like making spreadsheets to determine what the right things are to me. I think of strategy as choosing between different advantages and disadvantages, not calculating how to get the most out of something.

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#39 Post by Zpock » Wed Oct 20, 2004 10:10 pm

Impaler wrote:I have been thinking of the discussion on Components and had an Interesting though. Perhaps rather then generic "Weapon" stacks their would be "Beam Weapon" Stack intowhich you can place "Beam Weapon Modifiers". Thus we turn a 3 tier system (WeaponStack/Laser/Laser Mods) into a 2 tier system (Beam Weapon/Beam Weapon Mods). Refinment would be ablied to Beams Weapon stack making it better independent of the Modifers that attacth to it. If this was the case then it might be possible to combine everything into one design step by simply adding a list that shows the modifers that can attatch to the currently selected Thing. The player would drag thouse Modifiers onto the Stacks to modify them.
I don't think this is a good idea. If there's too specific slots what Ranos says is indeed true. That you can only put in the same old equipment. There needs to be a wide range of stuff that goes into each slot. And the 2 step design is good becouse first you make a choice on what strengths/weaknesses your ships get in general. Then when you make the specific designs you try to counter the enemies designs and make the most out of your strengths. It also keep the complicated stuff away from the everyday counter designing and limits it to a few rare occasions (new hull size researched or whatever). It's a bit like ship design meet's race design, that's what I like so much.
  • I would go for these types of slots:
    Weapon slots - this would simply include all weapons.
    Electronics slots - this would take all the usual devices like cloaking, scanners, ecm, computers etc.
    Mechanical slots - this would take things like cargo bays, extra thrusters, reactors.
Shield generators and other shield related stuff could go in electronics or mechanical, not sure wich one. A separate slot for them would just be redundant IMO as it would be the only thing to go into that slot. Engines could have their own slot or be put in mechanical.

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#40 Post by Ranos » Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:41 am

Impaler wrote:Ramos I can sumarize your whole post as "I hate the Stars! method of Ship Designing and I want a Moo SpreedSheet sytle Ship Design." Thats all you realy needed to say. Have you ever tried Stars! before or SEIV? I find it hard to belive you feel a picture based aproatch to be inferior to a spreedsheet, I dont think your going to bet much agreement their from the rest of the team.
First off, the name is Ranos not Ramos. Second, I never said I hated the Stars! system, I said I had never played Stars and I don't like the system you are proposing. Pictures have to be learned while words can be read. That is why I don't like the picture part of it. Plus, how do you do mods? Is everything dragging and dropping? To me, that seems more complicated than clicking on a name and then clicking an accept botton or something like that.
Impaler wrote:Keep in mind that ships will have limits on the number of stacks they can have, even huge Battleships might have only a dozen stacks in it as they do in Stars!
I am keeping that in mind and that is why I say the system is too limiting.
Zpock wrote:Nice to see some arguments now instead of the "nah to complicated".
I have always used arguements. I never say a single phrase and leave it at that. Read entire posts instead of single sentences and you will see that.
Zpock wrote:I'm going to give the gameplay reason as I should have first off: If new designs are free you can make as many as you want and you must do so to stay competetive.
Yes you can make as many as you want. This lets you change strategies over the course of the game instead of being forced to use the same strategy because your ships have only one configuration.

As for having to pay for a design, I really don't think we should have to do that. That is a limiting factor and takes away from the more important things. In researching vs prototyping, with prototyping, you get a fully operational ship that can be used in combat. With researching, you have to put it in the research queue and wait for it to get researched. With either system, you have to wait to be able to mass produce the ship which you may desperately need to turn the tide of battle.

After thinking about it, we are talking about two different things when we say ship design. You are thinking hull design. I am thinking actual individual ship designs. If I'm wrong and you are talking individual ship designs, then I revert to my arguement above.
Zpock wrote:You must have either misunderstood or read it like the devil reads the bible. Of course you don't make one new hull for every new ship design you want. I wrote hulls could be limited to one for every hull size researched. Then when you research battleship, you would make your battleship hull. All your battleships will be based on it and it will have the advantages and disadvantages you choosed when designing the hull. Each type of slot (place on ship for placing actual stuff in later) would accept a wide range of modules. For example an electronics slot would accept cloaking devices, jamming devices etc. So a single hull does not have to be so limited that you can only make a recon ship with it. On the other hand you could make a hull that's very good for a recon ship, like lots of electronics slots. Then it could also be used for other roles that need lots of electronics slots.
I didn't misunderstand, you just skipped some things I said. Designing a single hull for every size or even a couple is limiting on the diversity of your ships. It doesn't matter if you can put any type of electronic thing in a specific slot, your still limited to puting electronics in it.

There are dozens of possible ways you could build a ship. It could be a Carrier with mostly fighters on it and a few PD weapons for defense. It could be a scout/recon ship which you would want to load mostly with sensors and other detecting equipmant. There's Missile ships which have almost nothing but missiles and a few PD. Theres PD ships to defend the rest of your ships. Theres your primary attack ships. The point is, if you have a limited number of slots, you have a limited number of choices for your ship. If you can put what you want, where you want, you get a lot more variety in ship building. You know what they say, "Variety is the spice of life."
Zpock wrote:Now for the limit bashing. I don't think limits are always a bad thing. The kind of limit we are talking about here is one that separates choices. Instead of filling up x space with whatever we want, we get to fill up x space with a kind of stuff, y space with b kind of stuff etc.

In theory, the "fill the bag system" does indeed give you the most freedom when designing your ship. You can make a ship with only combat computers in it if you want. However, in practice there will only be a few designs that are effective. The typical choice is, do I put this in or would the ship be more effective with more space dedicated to weapons? You will need to think for every design, shield generator or another plasma gun? Targeting computer or another plasma gun? Big engine or another plasma gun?
That is my point exactly. If you make the wrong decision when makeing the hull design, you're screwed. You can't go back and redesign it or even if you can, it's going to cost you a lot. If I design a ship thinking the ammount of shields I have on it will be enough only to discover that I needed more or I put too many on, I want to go back and correct my design so I don't lose the game due to a bad design. What you are suggesting would cause people to lose inteire games just because they couldn't redesign their ships.
Zpock wrote:Another misinterpretion:
There is strategy involved in puting stuff on the ships because you have to put the right things in to make your combat strategy work. In this way, there are no "cookie cutter" designs. Those would develope if your system was implemented. With the "put whatever you want on the ship where you want it" design, you can design a ship and if you fin it isn't working well in combat, you can design a new one in the hopes that it will be better. With the set design template way, you wouldn't have this option. You would still be forced to put the same equipment in the smae places and that accomplishes nothing.
You don't put exactly the same equipment in the slots. The slots only limit you to different categories of equipment. If you find that your ships are getting killed easily by the enemies missile ships, put in missile jammers instead of targeting computers for example. About this sentece: "There is strategy involved in puting stuff on the ships because you have to put the right things in to make your combat strategy work." Having to put the right things to make your strategy work sounds like making spreadsheets to determine what the right things are to me. I think of strategy as choosing between different advantages and disadvantages, not calculating how to get the most out of something.
Not a misinterpretation. It doesn't matter if you can put all kinds of different weapons into the slot, the point is that every design will always have weapons in slot A, electronics in slot B, weapons in slot C, shields in slot D and so on. It is a cookie cutter. Didn't you ever make cookies with your mom or dad? It didn't matter what kind of cookie it was or how you decorated it, it was still shaped like a star or a santa. Thats my point. I don't always want a santa shaped battleship. I want to be able to have a santa and an angel and a star and a ginger-bread-man.

Each person is an individual and they can come up with a lot of different designs. With this cookie cutter model, after playing the game for a few weeks, they would come to a point where they would have one specific design they would use for every hull size. Why? Because there would be one that would work better than all of the others and that would be the one they would always use. With the "fill the bag system," they would be able to make different designs all the time.

Here's another question, how would you be able to do colony ships? If the Cruiser hull size was the minimum size a colony pod could fit on, how could you build cruiser sized warships. Maybe the solution is to make it a preset design. Great. Now you can't change it through the course of the game. In MOO3, when I am able to, I make my colony ships from Battlecruisers. You can fit two colony pods on one of those and now my colony is twice the size when it is first built.

My whole point is, there will be no diversity in the game. It would quickly become the same old boring thing over and over again.
200 and still a Wyrm!?! I don't want to be a Wyrm anymore. I've been a Wyrm for 100 posts now.

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#41 Post by Zpock » Thu Oct 21, 2004 1:27 am

Ranos wrote:
I have always used arguements. I never say a single phrase and leave it at that. Read entire posts instead of single sentences and you will see that.
That was directed at earlier posts, I wasn't trying to be hostile here. Just happy that we got an actual discussion instead of just people immedietly turned off before they consider the idea throughly. I read all posts, sometimes many times (impalers posts needed this :)).
That is my point exactly. If you make the wrong decision when makeing the hull design, you're screwed. You can't go back and redesign it or even if you can, it's going to cost you a lot. If I design a ship thinking the ammount of shields I have on it will be enough only to discover that I needed more or I put too many on, I want to go back and correct my design so I don't lose the game due to a bad design. What you are suggesting would cause people to lose inteire games just because they couldn't redesign their ships.
Exactly the same thing can be said about race design. It's even "worse", you have to make all the decisions even before the game starts. You pick your advantages and disadvantages with some kind of strategy in mind. The whole point with my idea is to bring this to ship design as well. Why do we like having different races instead of everyone playing exactly the same race? Yes "Variety is the spice of life." That applies to the ships used by different people under my system. Everyone would have different hulls and try to use their advantages. I really can't see why you think this would bring less variety to ship designs. Yes, maybe the player will have to make ship designs from his hulls that are less effective then if he had made his hull in another way. That's the whole point. You made your strategic decision and now you need to stick with it and try to adapt.

I see that you don't like having to make a strategic decision and then stick with it. You wan't to be able to change your strategy on demand and react to other players strategy flawlessly. I can understand this but can't really argue as it's an opinion. Personally I prefer planning ahead instead of just reacting. This would put more importance in having a good plan instead of relying on reacting yes. Reacting to the other guys plan will also be more interesting as it will involve a lot of "working with what you have".

However, I mentioned that there could be a "general purpose" slot. So if you want to you could make a ship hull with just these. Then you can try and use that to try and overcome other players more specialized ships with your flexible ones. So maybe even you could be happy in this system. Of course, you would get less slots then the other players. But they have to deal with that huge problem of sticking with their strategy and with good game balance your reactive strategy might just work.
Each person is an individual and they can come up with a lot of different designs. With this cookie cutter model, after playing the game for a few weeks, they would come to a point where they would have one specific design they would use for every hull size. Why? Because there would be one that would work better than all of the others and that would be the one they would always use. With the "fill the bag system," they would be able to make different designs all the time.
If they keep using exactly the same hull designs then maybe they will find certain designs for these hulls that work good yes. That is equally true for "fill the bag", they will find designs that work well with that too. There is no way around this all you can do is try an balance it as good as you can. I have no idea why you think everyone would use exactly the same hull designs every time they play tough? Are you assuming the hull design system would be so poorly balanced that only one single hull design would be the only one everyone use? That wouldn't be a problem with the system just poor game balance.
Here's another question, how would you be able to do colony ships? If the Cruiser hull size was the minimum size a colony pod could fit on, how could you build cruiser sized warships. Maybe the solution is to make it a preset design. Great. Now you can't change it through the course of the game. In MOO3, when I am able to, I make my colony ships from Battlecruisers. You can fit two colony pods on one of those and now my colony is twice the size when it is first built.

My whole point is, there will be no diversity in the game. It would quickly become the same old boring thing over and over again.
Simple answer: colony pod in a mech slot. I get the real argument tough: what about utility ships? If you need to use one of your hull sizes for transport, colony ships etc it would be unavailable for warships. Good point but a simple solution could be a special series of hull sizes with some built in cargo space (more efficient then cargo pods) that would typically be used for this. If there's no transporting people around you could just use a warship type hull with one mechanical slot used for a colony pod. Even a small ship in the beginning of the game should be able to have a small mechanical slot. Bigger/more mechanical slots with colony pods in could simply mean bigger starting pop.

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#42 Post by Croesus » Thu Oct 21, 2004 5:40 pm

ok, I just read the entire thread. First my questions:

Is Combat real time, or turn based? If it is real time, we don't need to worry asmuch about internals being hit, or capturing ships. I think that was the main reason why ship design didn't seem to make as much of a difference in MoO3, because although superior design meant that you would win, it was hard to see the differences, because of lack of data (if you did 10 points against the shields, 10 against the armor, and 1 to internal a red one would appear), and the speed at which everthing happened.

If combat is turn based (which I think it is going to be), then more things matter. I agree that the general size of combat will affect certain design aspects, but others it won't.

Also, I think the best in terms of in terms of complexity, strategy, and gameplay would be Impalers. When Ranos is talking about prototyping in area 51, that is research. Research isn't just white haired professors in lab coats writing equations on a chalk board.

Some of the advantages of Impalers design I see is it adds some flavor. Some one at the begining of the thread was talking about a race that had long skinny ships. This can be easily implemented with impalers, by having your weapon stacks/pods/hardpoints all on the sides. With impalers idea, it means that if you did this, it would be more difficult to suddenly change your ships to mostly forward facing weapons, although it would be possible. If I understand it correctly, this is how impalers idea works:

you have your ship hull size.

you add a stack/hardpoint/turret, and determine where it is, and how big it is, and what type it is (energy, projectile, fighterbay/assault shuttle/troop pods, engine, missile, gadget) or a hybrid like energy/projectile and others (like general, or what not), which use up more total space, but don't give you as much usable space in the stack.

** (my idea to balance the numebr of stacks) Each stack has a constant cost in space (so as to prevent the use of lots of tiny stacks) that is added to the amount of space you want in the stack.

Maybe in this phase you specify armor. I didn't understand if their are internals.

Now you have a hull/chassis with specified mounts. Next phase, ship design.

You specify what weapon you want in a mount, and what modifictations (like fire arcs, and Armor Piercing and stuff). All weapons in the stack must be identical. You then specify how many weapons you want in the stack, up to that stacks maximum size. Miniturization means you can add more weapons to the stack.

You add engines and other things into their respective stacks.

This also means that refitting a ship should mean that it can only be refitted to a different design based on the same template, which should balance the game out, because if I have a bunch of beam ships, and I find I need a lot of carriers, unless they used the same template (unlikely, but possible if the template had lots of costly general stacks) then I couldn't refit them. Are we doing refitting?

I think ships should have an accelertation and top speed, that are determined by the engine tech and the mass of the ship. I can't rememeber if this was just discussed or decided. Armor should have a weight associated with it, and diminishing returns as the armor gets thicker.

I also liked the idea of having multiple waves of fighters. Maybe we could even design fighters? For example, in MoO2, it is possible to miniturize PD AF mass drivers to size 5. Why can't my fighters have this? or even env con Fusion?

What about ground combat? Do we get to design our tanks, and fighters? I vote for ground combat that is nearly exaclty like 2D space combat.

Finally, I got some views on missiles. Currently, in our world, what are missiles used for? Do Aegis Cruisers ever run out of missiles? Do they fire missiles at Battleships? Ok, so maybe realism isn't so fun.

:edit:
How about to balance some stuff out, when you research a new hull size, you get 2 or 3 'free' templates for it, which can be used for a new colony pod, new troop transport, or 3 battle designs?

Also Ranos does not recal correctly. MoO2 had 2,5,10,15,20 shot missiles. Most people used 2 shot, because they cost half that of 5 shot. Combine that with Fast Misssile racks, and Ranos becomes correct.
Hi.

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#43 Post by emrys » Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:22 pm

Just a quick note for anyone who blunders into the middle of this raging argument (*cough* sorry, obviously I meant 'productive discussion').

The two stage design process being advocated by Impaler IS NOT the same as the basic stars! system. It is in fact a rather heavily modified variation on it.

The basic stars! system effectively just has one layout for each hull type (i.e. think in terms of one layout for each ship model if combat is done with a 3D engine). Each layout gives a series of 'slots' into which you can place anything which falls within that slots category (e.g. a layout might have four weapon slots, so you can put up to four weapons in, and two shields slots, and two engine slots). Some slots might be general (i.e they can take anything).

The two(or three if you see the second as two) salient (and independant) points of this concept are a graphical 2-D layout of components and restrictions on the number of a particular type of component you can place onto a ship.

One point to note is that the graphical 2D layout would make it fairly trivial to include facing information in a natural way into the ship design process if we so wished (slots could have maximum facing arcs allocated based on where they actually were on the diagram, e.g. slots on the left of a ship would have left facing arcs etc.)

We could tweak this system to suit our need in many ways , e.g. :

a) Take away the restrictions on numbers of components in a particular slot, and use only total mass as a limit , or not even that.

and/or b) take away the restriction of slots to a particular type of component and only use general slots, (so only use the layout information).

and/or c) take away the 2-D layout info and simply have a long list of components.

If we do all three then we come back to the Moo2/SEIV design process, the only salient difference between the two being that SEIV represents components with icons, Moo2 with text (AFAIK, somebody please correct if I'm wrong).

Points of departure from this:

Impaler seems to want to split ship design into two stages, one where you design the actual outline and types of slots that make up a ship class, and one where you fill in that outline with actual components.

(I personally think that's a bit of overkill, at least the designing the outline part, since if we fix the outlines it allows us to match them to the 3D models we use in a meaningful way. The picking which type of slots/number of slots go inside the outline is potentially a different issue which I could be swung either way on, though I'm generally not keen on making ship design a two stage process.)


As far as I can tell, Ranos essentially seems opposed to anything much other than a straight list of components selected by drop down combo boxes with at most a single total (mass, volume etc) limit, i.e. moo2 design, generally on the grounds that any additional limits would be too complicated and unfun.

(n.b. This is of course probably an utterly unjustified simplification of both positions, but seems to summarise the essence of them).

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#44 Post by Zpock » Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:59 pm

The stars! demo can be found here for everyone to see it with their own eyes:
http://starsautohost.org/kn2050.htm

There are 2 versions, the latest with limited turns and an older version with unlimited turns. There's also a very old full version at the bottom of the list you can download. You can try out the ship designing in the game yourself to see how it works. You might not find it that interesting unless you try to get a few tech levels for more components to use however. Learning the game can be pretty hard, the best way is probably the tutorial, it's very detailed. Remember that you cannot really judge how good it is after only having a short look at it. You need to actually play the game a lot in order to do so I think. But at least you can see how it works.

Emrys did a decent job at that description. I would like to point out that I'm not decided on any details, just having something like the stars! design system (slots) with the addition of designing your own hulls as you research them, instead of pre-set hulls like in stars! (slot configurations, templates, whatever).

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#45 Post by Impaler » Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:32 pm

Emrys you have a good sumary of my proposal so far but my ideas are still evolving.

I see the downside of the 2 stage design process and have been thinking of some possible remedies. My current thinking is for the second half of the design process (esentialy ware Stars! begins) would be identical to a ship Overhaul inwhich you can pull parts out and put in new ones. That would kill 2 birds with one stone. Also I have been toying around with eliminating "components" all together and just have relativly narrow stack types combined with up to 3 Modifiers like "Rapid Fire" and "Shield Piercing". Modifiers essenticaly become the Components but they are no longer taking up "space" in the traditional sense, they just modify the stack.

Oh and another point. If you want the Hull to be linked to a 3D model then you could do a count of the ships size and the ratio of its Slot types and with some simple rules "if more then 50% weapons and Size > X show "Dreadnaught" hull.

New Screenshoots coming soon...
Last edited by Impaler on Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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