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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Ranos
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#151 Post by Ranos » Fri Nov 26, 2004 1:31 am

@ atma

Most of what you posted seems to complicate not only the ship designing process but the actual building of it.

When you desing a ship, you move items around, add and remove items and whatever else we have in the ship design process. Once you click on the complete button, that ship design is set. Maybe you can go back in and modify it later, but for the moment it is set. When you put that design into the build queue, all of the weapons, shields, engines, etc that you selected are what is on the ship. Changing any of these in the middle of construction is nothing short of micromanagement which we are trying to avoid in FO.

Impaler's temlpate idea was that you had to design a hull for a specific size and then deal with it for the rest of the game. I can't speak for anybody else, but I prefer to be able to design a brand new ship every time I go into the design screen, not just put different items on the same ship.

@ utilae

A thirs option is a cross between the two. That would of course be my multiple section idea which I won't go into again. What actually gets used is going to be dependant on how complex space combat is. Do ships get hit in specific areas or do they just get hit? Do weapons fire in specific directions or can they fire in any direction? Both of those and many more are variables in what kind of a system we use.
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#152 Post by Blade Runner » Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:54 pm

Daveybaby wrote:If taking 10-15 mins to design a ship results in a ship that will beat one designed in 3 mins, then youre forcing everyone to spend hours designing ships, particularly in MP.

If you want to spend 15 mins rearranging everything so that it looks pretty, then fine. But that sort of anal behaviouir shouldnt be rewarded in terms of combat results.
You are rigth, thats way I propose a 2 level system, so with the free system the "bean counters company" can spend enormous time to fiddling witht every little details, but the another strict design system will be much more rigid with ready made blue-prints, so in the end everybody will play on the same ground either way.
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#153 Post by Drakich » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:43 am

I say take a semi-realistic approach.

A given hull design will have a number of hardpoints and bays.

Hardpoints take surface area, bays take volume and surface area (but less surface area than a hardpoint).

Don't place a mass limit, place an internal volume limit.

If I want to armor my ship to the nth degree, let me. But since engine size IS constrained by armor, this will naturally limit "cheating" or over-optimizing of designs.
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#154 Post by Drakich » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:47 am

Blade Runner wrote:
Daveybaby wrote:If taking 10-15 mins to design a ship results in a ship that will beat one designed in 3 mins, then youre forcing everyone to spend hours designing ships, particularly in MP.

If you want to spend 15 mins rearranging everything so that it looks pretty, then fine. But that sort of anal behaviouir shouldnt be rewarded in terms of combat results.
You are rigth, thats way I propose a 2 level system, so with the free system the "bean counters company" can spend enormous time to fiddling witht every little details, but the another strict design system will be much more rigid with ready made blue-prints, so in the end everybody will play on the same ground either way.
Players should have the ability to tweak designs to their hearts content. In another thread I recommended penalizing new designs tmoshough. Make all new designs go through a teething stage. If all designs are essentially the same, then in the end it basically becomes a spreadsheet simulation of who has the most and the biggest, not who has the most novel tactics or technology.
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#155 Post by JamieK » Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:11 am

I personally think you should just stick to the Moo2 ship designing.

Space Empires IV Gold, didn't allow you to upgrade the designs (modify and replace them), you were stuck with the obsolite design and you have to rename the new one. (eg. Destroyer Class & Destroyer 2)

I don't mean, change the technical Sceimatics and all the already built ships are outfitted, i just mean, you should leave it as the Orion 2 way. (modify/upgrade designs and then save them, overrighting the older designs)

am i making sense?

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#156 Post by Getix » Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:34 pm

Can i post here my ideas?

I've played with MoO2, SEIV & SEIII and Stars!..

My idea is quite easy:

Ships are like SEIV, they have got a XXX KT space onboard, which is now divided into Inner Hull & Outer Hull.
When you design a ship, yuo decide where to put components and IH and OU have got a different max space avaible.

Things that are on Outer Hull will GENERALLY be damaged BEFORE things in the IH. Exceptions are for some kind of weapon which will attack only the internal (or external) part of the ship.

Some componentes needs to be put in one of the 2 sections (like Power Plant, Engines in the IH and Weapons in the OU). Some components will occupy space in both sections (like a VERY big weapon/fighter bays).
A component which is spanning on the 2 hulls will take damage firstly on the outer hull, then on the inner hull. Damaging this components will open a quick way to hit the Inner Hull.

In any case, after a certain % of the outer hull is damaged, damage will also start to reach the inner hull sections.

Example 1:

A Frigate has a max 200 kilotons of space avaible. 60 kT are IH, 140 Kt are OH.

Example 2:

Frigate Mk I

Inner Hull:
2 x Crew quarters 20 KT
1 x Bridge 10 KT
1 x Life Support 20 KT
1 x Trifusion Power Plant 10 KT

Outer Hull:
2 x Photonic Torpedos 40 KT
2 x Heavy Meson/Neutron Blaster 80 KT
1 x Shield Gen 10 KT

--

Ok, now i decide that this Frigate should also work as a little Carrier, so i try to fit in a Fighters Bay

Example 3:

Frigate Mk II

Inner Hull:
1 x Trifusion Power Plant 10 KT
1 x Fighter Bay 50 KT

Outer Hull:
1 x Photonic Torpedos 20 KT
1 x Fighter Bay 50 KT
1 x Shield Gen 10 KT
1 x Bridge 10 KT
1 x Life Support 20 KT
2 x Crew quarters 20 KT

--

This system sound to me quite easy and also has a deep strategy behind (should i put my Bridge on the outer hull to fit in for Shield Gen or Life Support? Should I mount a Fighter Bay on a Frigate, risking that a good enemy shot destroys it and my Power Plant?)


Thank you for reading and sorry for mistakes, but as you can see in my signature i'm not english mothertongue :)
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#157 Post by Black_Dawn » Thu Jan 13, 2005 5:09 am

I really like Getix's ideas, and I have some additions.

Some components should be naturally "inner hull" techs that have some "outer hull" modifications, and vice versa.

For example, power cores should be naturally internal (key system), but certain types of power core should have mods (gained thru "refining" them on the tech screen) such as solar panels (extra energy to all systems, easily destroyed). All such mods should have both benefits and drawbacks.
Here's another example: Ablative armor (stolen from Voyager): internally powered system (harder to destroy, can be turned on/off): increases armor damage absorption by 100%, reduces targetting effectiveness and hit avoidance by 25%, shields do not recharge while ablative armor is on.

One more suggestion: When players upgrade existing ship systems (e.g. adding an AP mod to the lasers, upgrading the shields) but don't make any major changes (adding/changing a weapon system, changing engine or power core), they may do so at any friendly planet. Star bases are only required for the major overhauls.
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Getix
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#158 Post by Getix » Thu Jan 13, 2005 11:14 am

I really like Getix's ideas, and I have some additions.
Well, I hope also other people likes it..

:D
Some components should be naturally "inner hull" techs that have some "outer hull" modifications, and vice versa.

For example, power cores should be naturally internal (key system), but certain types of power core should have mods (gained thru "refining" them on the tech screen) such as solar panels (extra energy to all systems, easily destroyed). All such mods should have both benefits and drawbacks.
Good idea...
One more suggestion: When players upgrade existing ship systems (e.g. adding an AP mod to the lasers, upgrading the shields) but don't make any major changes (adding/changing a weapon system, changing engine or power core), they may do so at any friendly planet. Star bases are only required for the major overhauls.
I agree
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#159 Post by Sejant Chimera » Sat Jan 15, 2005 9:17 pm

If I could make a few suggestions:

Instead of having hundreds of unique ships that are all very complex and that can all move from system to system, would it be more reasonable if the vast majority of an empire's ships were system defense ships (or only capable of one very expensive jump*) and a small elite group were the the ships that attacked another empire, formed the resevers, and so on? It always struck me as odd that in games like MOO2, Imperium Galactica 2 and Birth of the Federation that the enemy would collect all their ships, move off far from their borders to start a fight, and leave extremely poor defences to your mercy. MOO3 tried to do something about it, but the defenders were always too few or underpowered.

(* a number of tugs could transfer a portion of the defensive fleet to a newly conquered planet for a huge sum.)

The system based general purpose ships (direct fire), orbital batteries (which are very big ships with only one weapon, no crew), space stations and possibly system based carriers would have to be simple designs because they would be produced in larger numbers. There could either be a cap or it would be extremely expensive to 'mass produce' ships with more then one special and a large number of main/heavy weapons. Your main manufacturing site would produce your main warships, build new facilities, etc, but your system ships could be automatically built in the background by other facilities elsewhere in the system, or produced as someone else suggested in this thread like the freighters in MOO2.

When an enemy attacks a system, the defensive craft, some of the orbital batteries** and your main warships will get involved in the battle. There would still be the complexity in your main warships, but the bulk of your ships would be a simpler ship, especially if their upgrade was done in the background.

(** since they are in orbit and might not have line of sight, but the ones that can get involved could have the combined power the ground battery and missile battery improvements in MOO2 and 3.)

If the player is not interested in designing the spacestations, orbital missile batteries and system carriers, the whole thing could be automatic, as in MOO2 with the ground batteries and space stations.
Black_Dawn wrote: One more suggestion: When players upgrade existing ship systems (e.g. adding an AP mod to the lasers, upgrading the shields) but don't make any major changes (adding/changing a weapon system, changing engine or power core), they may do so at any friendly planet.
I like the idea that ships can be quickly upgraded with newer and improved versions of the same weapons, shields and drives, but when a radically new design comes about, you need a new ship.
Black_Dawn wrote: Star bases are only required for the major overhauls.
Instead of allowing major upgrades, what about letting the older ships be used for defensive duties and then sold off, to reappear in special events as pirates, traders, or even used by the smaller empires that can't afford to make their own ships?

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Defence / Offence

#160 Post by guiguibaah » Sun Jan 16, 2005 9:57 pm

The problem with the above is that, even if you build a massive amount of defence on a certain system, you've limited your mobile attack capability. Your opponent can and often will just mass their ships into one giant fleet and bypass that system. Or, they will use that giant fleet to secure other areas to increase their number of colonies.


Yes, one saving grace is that unlike Moo2 - FO will have certain chokepoints, so capitalizing on your defence ability will be more worthwile.



My suggestion (and the suggestion of others, sucha s Utilae) is to have

- a variant of a paper-stone-scissors-pliers-matches ship and defence class weapons

- Defences that strong versus one type of ship, weak versus another, forcing the player to diversify their fleet.

- Something else in the game that prevents the classic "build giant fleet until only 2 players left then have big battle and whoever wins wins game"



As for ship design, I like the moo2 system, but I feel something that is a little more graphic / more visual is more engaging to the player. Dragging an icon and dropping it on a chassis, with the effects immediately displayed on the ship.
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#161 Post by Impaler » Tue Jan 18, 2005 12:08 pm

I'm not particularly fond of the Inner-Outer Hull method used in Space Empires (I'm glad they droped in in IV). It cant account for the scale or shape the ship very well (a small fighter should realy be all external and a Death Star 90% internal) and seems rather artificialy contraining to me.

I had in mind a system that focuses on what direction (Forward, Aft, Port/Starboard) each part of the ship is oriented (and hence vulnerable from). Components on the inside are in the "Core" Location and get some protection IF their are things between them and the incoming fire (Components or Armor). Armor is alocated in a similar way.

When a ship is hit random rolles determin what gets hit based on a table of componets sizes and location. The overall layout of the ship is completly flexable and we don't force any particular combinations on the player because theirs no requirment that any individual location have anything in it.
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Re: Defence / Offence

#162 Post by Sejant Chimera » Tue Jan 18, 2005 12:30 pm

guiguibaah wrote:The problem with the above is that, even if you build a massive amount of defence on a certain system, you've limited your mobile attack capability. Your opponent can and often will just mass their ships into one giant fleet and bypass that system.
That's why I'm suggesting that all systems are defended rather then a concentration of forces. I'd suggest that if the enemy can bypass a system and attack the one 'behind' it, then there is no depth in the static defenses and there must be no reserve available to plug the gap.
guiguibaah wrote: Or, they will use that giant fleet to secure other areas to increase their number of colonies.
And while their single fleet is running off to the other side of the galaxy, suffering attrition and getting further from their supply lines (not stictly an issue in most strategy games, I know), you can invade their exposed border systems and push into their production areas. If you want to be really aggresive, you can set up your defenses, push as far forward as you can, then use the scroched earth tactic as you fall back to your prearranged defenses.
guiguibaah wrote: Yes, one saving grace is that unlike Moo2 - FO will have certain chokepoints, so capitalizing on your defence ability will be more worthwile.
guiguibaah wrote: My suggestion (and the suggestion of others, sucha s Utilae) is to have

- a variant of a paper-stone-scissors-pliers-matches ship and defence class weapons
So for example missile verses anti-missile missiles in MOO2?
guiguibaah wrote: - Defences that strong versus one type of ship, weak versus another, forcing the player to diversify their fleet.
This is one of the few things that MOO3 did well. You needed point defence ships to withstand missile batteries, but also short/long range ships to engage in combat.
guiguibaah wrote: - Something else in the game that prevents the classic "build giant fleet until only 2 players left then have big battle and whoever wins wins game"
Completely agree. Would you want to live in a system where there was no defensive ships around in case an alien fleet turns up? :)
guiguibaah wrote: As for ship design, I like the moo2 system, but I feel something that is a little more graphic / more visual is more engaging to the player. Dragging an icon and dropping it on a chassis, with the effects immediately displayed on the ship.
The MOO2 system worked nicely. I must admit I'd rather have the variety in ship designs in MOO2 then having one ship per class that altered as you added bits to it. Both would be nice, but I that would be a huge amount of work.

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Re: Defence / Offence

#163 Post by guiguibaah » Tue Jan 18, 2005 4:50 pm

Sejant wrote:That's why I'm suggesting that all systems are defended rather then a concentration of forces. I'd suggest that if the enemy can bypass a system and attack the one 'behind' it, then there is no depth in the static defenses and there must be no reserve available to plug the gap.
True, like the proverbial Starcraft Terran Bunker defence, where if it held, you could withstand even the biggest Zergling attack... But once it breached, you were doomed.

However, the problem with defences is that to build them you must take money that could go into making ships and divert it into making defences that can easily get overwhelmed.

In some ways, I like the "Command and Conquer, Generals" idea for defence, where one gattling cannon can a) Massacre enemy troops, b) damage medium-armor vehicles, c) Completely innefective and vulnerable to heavy vehicles and artillery.

So if you created this collosal fleet of 'troops' to invade a planet that had 4 'gattling cannons', you'll be retreating with your tail behind your legs.

However if you attacked that system with a small fleet of 'heavy vehicle' ships you'd mop it all up.

Of course, your opponent could go the safe way, and build one 'gattling cannon', one 'bunker', one 'sam site' and one 'artillery' so they are generally 'well rounded' in their defence, but it would only be effective against a well-mixed fleet.




Perhaps an option would be to have 2 classes of defences... The standard ones you can fit on any planet that have minimal cost, and the specialized ones that cost a lot more.
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MOO3

#164 Post by Black_Dawn » Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:29 am

This is one of the few things that MOO3 did well. You needed point defence ships to withstand missile batteries, but also short/long range ships to engage in combat.
MOO3 did nothing well. NOTHING. I still have emotional scars left from purchasing that monstrosity. One of the WORST aspects of that game was the ship design / ship battle portions of the game, for the following reasons:

a) Ship specialization. In MOO3, each ship could only fulfil 1 function, and you had to produce many very different to create one multipurpose task force. It was the task forces that acted as I feel individual ships should act: capable of both offence and defence, long range and short range battles. In MOO2, you are welcome to make ships with nothing but missiles on them, and indeed these could be effective attackers, but you reap the consequences if the enemy has a Lightning Shield. This is where the strategy of the game comes in: designing based on your strengths and the enemy's weaknesses.

b) All weapon classes virtually the same. In MOO3, a beam was a beam, a missile was a missile, and a mass driver was a mass driver. There was no strategy to ship design. Just slot in the latest version missile on your missile carriers and you're off!

c) The "RTS" fighting system. Need to attack a planet? Just build a massive fleet, drag a box around it and send it to attack. If I wanted a game like that, i'd buy Warcraft. I acknowledge the need for "live" battles, rather than turn-based, so that multiplayer games don't last forever, but there still needs to be strategy involved. I'm in the "fewer ships make a better game" camp; space battles should be few but decisive: more like naval battles (few powerful ships) and less like locust swarms.

To reitterate: MOO3 BAD. REALLY REAAAALLLLLYY BAD.
That's why this project fills me with such hope :P
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Re: MOO3

#165 Post by skdiw » Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:09 am

Perhaps an option would be to have 2 classes of defences... The standard ones you can fit on any planet that have minimal cost, and the specialized ones that cost a lot more.
We suggested to have "natural" defenses where you don't have to do anything to get some protection proportional to the planet's development. Then you can opt to boost the system defense with effective immobile defense with exponential costs and maintainence.

So basically no more high tech scout ships going from planet to planet destroying all your backwater planets that you took 50 turns to develop. But FO won't have that big of problem anyway because of starlanes.
a) Ship specialization. In MOO3, each ship could only fulfil 1 function, and you had to produce many very different to create one multipurpose task force. It was the task forces that acted as I feel individual ships should act: capable of both offence and defence, long range and short range battles. In MOO2, you are welcome to make ships with nothing but missiles on them, and indeed these could be effective attackers, but you reap the consequences if the enemy has a Lightning Shield. This is where the strategy of the game comes in: designing based on your strengths and the enemy's weaknesses.
It's not the concept of TF is bad, rather, it is how Moo3 requires scout ships be in every large TF. TF helps the player manage his specialized ships. You can mod Moo3 TF system really easy so you don't have weird requirements to form a TF.
b) All weapon classes virtually the same. In MOO3, a beam was a beam, a missile was a missile, and a mass driver was a mass driver. There was no strategy to ship design. Just slot in the latest version missile on your missile carriers and you're off!
Yeah, that's really annoying how techs gets obsolete. That's why we try to come up with unique ideas that balances out in a simple rps system. However, coming up with ideas is much easier than programming and animating AoE, DoT, penetrating beams, and other special effects.
c) The "RTS" fighting system. Need to attack a planet? Just build a massive fleet, drag a box around it and send it to attack. If I wanted a game like that, i'd buy Warcraft. I acknowledge the need for "live" battles, rather than turn-based, so that multiplayer games don't last forever, but there still needs to be strategy involved. I'm in the "fewer ships make a better game" camp; space battles should be few but decisive: more like naval battles (few powerful ships) and less like locust swarms.
This is a big problem with split camps. Traditionally, you research from small ships to larger ships with larger ships being superior, but few. There are player or ppl who feel that certain races should be more the undead, building swarms of small ships to overwhelm their oponents so it will be a better tech system having small and large ship be separate parallel trees. Parallel trees adds more character and story to each empire. I think our current consensus is to allow both variety and have a few wonder ships kinda like a hero with special abilities. I personally envision that small ships will have their roles and large ships will have theirs so each type will have their roles.

Most AI players already won the overall game so the tactical space battle game are boring. If the AI understand different strategies and counters, the 4X games would be a lot different. But keep in mind the overall game is the focus of the game, not the combat, so an intelligent war empire AI should lauch fleets to your territory when you are busy expanding in the early game to beat you, and if not there is no clear cut winner 100 turns latter.
:mrgreen:

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