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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MisterMerf
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#46 Post by MisterMerf » Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:33 pm

Zpock wrote: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'm in Ranos's boat on this. I'd try an make one of the popular Blizzard games analogies, but StarCraft just isn't similar enough.

Let's consider, for a moment, how forces are fielded.

In the Stars! variant , you design your hull with certain slots hardwired and maybe some of them general (assuming the "general" slots come with a penalty, otherwise why not use all general?). Then you design your ships. Then you build your ships. Then you deploy your ships.

In the MOO variant, you design your ship, manufacture your ships, deploy your ship.

Consider the Stars! method for a moment. An opponent can change their strategy a bit by emphasizing different types of weapons or shields. To counter this, you may in turn design a ship with a slightly different emphasis.
What if they field a different hull type with a radically new strategy? If they build a few of them up and starting laying waste to your precious systems? Either the system has enough flexibility for you to design new ships that can combat this OR you need to be holding an undesigned hull in reserve for just such an occassion. If there is any amount of delay in producing a design after designing a hull, then it's probably already too late.

We can all guess how the MOO version would go, I think. I won't belabor it.

Now consider tech, for a second. MOO doesn't guarantee a player the "perfect counter" to every situation either. Players need to have the right tech researched for what they're countering. There is some delay in this that may or may not be more significant than the delay in fielding a new ship. The MOO system in no wise guarantees a boring stalemate.

Another problems with the Stars! variant under discussion is the problem of specialization. You can't. Entire hulls can become obsolete if they are loaded with equipment slots that specialize too much.

Without a lot of careful thought, the Stars! variant will result in a lot of ships that do the same sort of things. Player A's ships of this hull have some beam weapons, missiles, and about half of them cloak. Player B's ships of this hull have some wave weapons, some point defense, and a lot of sensors.

As a testament to my open-mindedness, that paragraph just convinced me that the Stars! system has a benefit here. While the weak spots in a players forces may stay obvious and easy to exploit, the distinctive player "profile" might be interesting.

The MOO system wouldn't give player fleets an identity, per se. Maybe Player A favors missiles and that would show up, but the ship designs can change back and forth to whatever tech seems nicest at the moment. The Stars! -style ships will stay quite similar for the rest of the game. When mixed together, they may seem less distinctive. In any case, I could happily see either system implemented from the specialization perspective.

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#47 Post by Zpock » Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:00 pm

Almost anything you do in strategy games put you in a position that could screw you over if it turns out that you should have done something else later in the game. For example, if you colonize a planet you made your move and now you are stuck with the planet and no colonizer. If your scouts find a much juicier planet the next turn you can't turn the colony into a ship again and send it to that planet instead. Or maybe worse, the scout finds an enemy fleet on it's way to easily capture the planet from you. The techs in moo2 you brought up are another even better example. You have to make your pick and can't have every perfect counter against the enemy. Is this a bad thing? In moo1 the techs you get are random so you can't even pick. I like that kind of variety and having to make new strategies. If everyone gets the same stuff, everyone can counter everyones same old strategy with the same old counter.

Another thing I might point out that Stars! has far more developed components then the moo series and SEIV that are not standard guns/engines/shields but stuff like cloaks, jammers, computers, etc. In moo/seIV there are usually a single component with a non-cumulative effect. In stars! you put on several of the same component for added effect. This could be one thing that makes stars! ship design a bit more interesting then that in SEIV/moo, at least that is my opinion. Note that I have played all these games, moo1&2&3 stars! and SEII/III/IV extensively.

Another game I think has a good ship design system is eve online. It's a bit similar to Stars! you get hi-slots (guns), med-slots (electronics,shieldmods) and low slots (armor/reactor/engine mods). They also have a bonus for each ship hull and a powergrid/CPU limit (works similar to space limit in moo) and a limit on how many missiles/guns you can put in the high slots, like 4missiles 2guns in 6 high slots. There are 4 races each with their own hulls boosting different slots, bonuses and powergrid/CPU. The 4 races ships each have their distinctive strong/weak areas.

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#48 Post by discord » Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:27 am

first off, i have played all of them, the moo's, SEIV and stars!, all of them have interesting ways of handling a difficult problem.

when most of us talk about moo, it is moo2 it is about, and you cant get any more 'cookie cutter' then that way of designing things, since you basicly have two choices, missiles or beams, and you have to tailor your research for one or the other.(btw. you CAN have every possible counter, creative is the one racial mod i almost always use.) and end game, the one to attack first wins, end of story(okey, not quite true, but close enough.)

stars! limits the ship designs(different templates for each race if i recall correctly), and it is a pretty interesting system, but if you play it a while, you feel the good points of the system(after you get used to it, ship design is actualy very quick, much faster then moo2)...BUT you want to design your own templates....since they limit you a little bit to much, wich is where this whole idea is coming from.

SEIV is basicly the same thing as moo2(in ship design that is, rather big differences outside of it.), but with a graphical interface, although i love the tech tree there, it is just....big.
btw. i love the 'pirates&nomads' mod, if they just had gotten the AI to build functioning ships in it, and some way for nomads to actualy research/store resources....ahwell.

//discord

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#49 Post by Mystiqq » Mon Oct 25, 2004 7:00 am

Someone actually has made comparison table for MOO2 vs Stars, including some info on ship design and such, thou the page seems very old. The images dont work but i managed to "salvage" MOO2 ship design image from internet archive site.

MOO2 vs Stars:
http://users.erols.com/ziring/moo2_stars.html#war

MOO2 ship design:
Image

Also the Java MOO one:
Image

IMO the MOO2 ship design is the best. Even the UI graphics look very nice even thou the game is very old. :P

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#50 Post by Ranos » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:37 pm

Zpock wrote:Almost anything you do in strategy games put you in a position that could screw you over if it turns out that you should have done something else later in the game. For example, if you colonize a planet you made your move and now you are stuck with the planet and no colonizer. If your scouts find a much juicier planet the next turn you can't turn the colony into a ship again and send it to that planet instead. Or maybe worse, the scout finds an enemy fleet on it's way to easily capture the planet from you. The techs in moo2 you brought up are another even better example. You have to make your pick and can't have every perfect counter against the enemy. Is this a bad thing? In moo1 the techs you get are random so you can't even pick. I like that kind of variety and having to make new strategies. If everyone gets the same stuff, everyone can counter everyones same old strategy with the same old counter.
You are right, but you are wrong at the same time. While many things you do could turn out to be mistakes, you have the opportunity to go back later and fix them. With your colony example, you will undoubtedly build more colony ships and will therefore be able to colonize that juicier world when you have a new ship. All strategy games are filled with enemy units coming to capture or destroy what you have. You build your own fleets to do the same. So if the enemy captures your planet, you send a fleet to take it back. If they destroy the planet, well darn, you're out a colony ship, just send a new one.

I disliked the MOO2 tech system so I always played with the creative characteristic on my races. I hated missing techs. MOO1 the techs were always the same. You always got all techs and always in the same order and at the same time in the game, aproximately. MOO3 gave you random techs and randomized when you would get them. Each tech had a set tech level and when the game was created, everything would be randomized +/- 5 levels. Maybe it wasn't that many, but anyway.
Zpock wrote:Another thing I might point out that Stars! has far more developed components then the moo series and SEIV that are not standard guns/engines/shields but stuff like cloaks, jammers, computers, etc. In moo/seIV there are usually a single component with a non-cumulative effect. In stars! you put on several of the same component for added effect. This could be one thing that makes stars! ship design a bit more interesting then that in SEIV/moo, at least that is my opinion. Note that I have played all these games, moo1&2&3 stars! and SEII/III/IV extensively.
The design aspect is not the tech tree or what is available or anything, it is how ships are designed. MOO3 allowed you to put multiple systems on your ship. If we use a MOO style design system, we can still incorporate things from the Stars system. This is a game with nothing set (well some things but nothing involved with this thread) so we can make as many suggestions on how to do things that we can come up with. Through discussion and debate, those things will be narrowed down to a select few which the programmers will select from or ask for a vote on or whatever.
Zpock wrote:Another game I think has a good ship design system is eve online. It's a bit similar to Stars! you get hi-slots (guns), med-slots (electronics,shieldmods) and low slots (armor/reactor/engine mods). They also have a bonus for each ship hull and a powergrid/CPU limit (works similar to space limit in moo) and a limit on how many missiles/guns you can put in the high slots, like 4missiles 2guns in 6 high slots. There are 4 races each with their own hulls boosting different slots, bonuses and powergrid/CPU. The 4 races ships each have their distinctive strong/weak areas.
I dislike the Stars system because of the limitations imposed. Limitations mean lack of variation which makes for the same thing all the time. If you knew what the basic setup of a certain empire's ships was through the whole game, you would easily be able to design your ships to counter them, with litle spying involved. The Eve system would magnify this since you would know what the layout of the ships were before the game even started.

Using the MOO system of puting what you want where you want, for the most part, would allow for limitless variations and mean that to know the design of all of your opponent's ships you would have to spend a lot of resources. Not being sure what you are going up against at the start of a battle adds to the tactics and strategies of combat.
discord wrote:when most of us talk about moo, it is moo2 it is about, and you cant get any more 'cookie cutter' then that way of designing things, since you basicly have two choices, missiles or beams, and you have to tailor your research for one or the other.(btw. you CAN have every possible counter, creative is the one racial mod i almost always use.) and end game, the one to attack first wins, end of story(okey, not quite true, but close enough.)
Actually with the ship design system, I'm talking about MOO3. Although much of that game is pathetic, the ship design system is excellent. The tech tree isn't bad either, it just lacks some creativity.
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#51 Post by Zpock » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:14 pm

The colony ship analogy isn't very useful, the moo2 techs one is much better. I agree that missing techs were painful but creative provided a way out. If you made flexible hulls with slots that could take all modules instead of making specialized hulls, it would be pretty much like having creative. Just as you would loose points for taking creative, you would loose hulldesign-points for taking many general purpose slots. This should be balanced to make both strategies viable of course. Of course a highly specialized hull should be encouraged and feel good having or the system would be in vain. Like instead of not picking creative just gave you some race points, it made the techs you did get better.

Just a minor note: Moo1 took out some techs from your tech tree at random. Like moo3.

The component stuff is a bit off topic, see my post in the counter thread I wrote some more about it. This is compatible with moo like designing yes.

I didn't want the 4 races from eve in FO, more like many races with their own ship styles designed by the player that feels a bit like the eve races ship styles. The spying on your enemies hull designs will be much more important then if he can just spew out any number of ship designs as he like. Finding out about that revolutionary hull giving him the ability to roll over your planets as described would feel more important and good then finding out about just another design he might be going to mass produce, no? Reminds me of the story in Starwars, episode IV was all about the plans of the death star.

Variation is not a problem for the design your hulls then ships system. There will be unlimited hull designs and then unlimited designs for the hulls themselves. Since you are a little limited by your hulls when doing the designs, otherwise useless combinations of components will be viable, since it's all you can do with your hull.

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#52 Post by Ranos » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:40 pm

Zpock wrote:The colony ship analogy isn't very useful, the moo2 techs one is much better. I agree that missing techs were painful but creative provided a way out. If you made flexible hulls with slots that could take all modules instead of making specialized hulls, it would be pretty much like having creative. Just as you would loose points for taking creative, you would loose hulldesign-points for taking many general purpose slots. This should be balanced to make both strategies viable of course. Of course a highly specialized hull should be encouraged and feel good having or the system would be in vain. Like instead of not picking creative just gave you some race points, it made the techs you did get better.
I really can't argue with that, but it doesn't solve my main problem with the system. More later.
Zpock wrote:I didn't want the 4 races from eve in FO, more like many races with their own ship styles designed by the player that feels a bit like the eve races ship styles. The spying on your enemies hull designs will be much more important then if he can just spew out any number of ship designs as he like. Finding out about that revolutionary hull giving him the ability to roll over your planets as described would feel more important and good then finding out about just another design he might be going to mass produce, no? Reminds me of the story in Starwars, episode IV was all about the plans of the death star.
Then there is more emphasis placed on spying than on the actual game. Use the spies to find out detailed information about your opponents. My point with making all kinds of designs was that spying would be pointless since here would be so many.

When I was playing MOO3, I wouldn't design lots of ships, nor would I design them every time a new tech was researched. I would design new ships to fill the rolls I needed when I felt enough advancements had been made to justify making a whole new design. In this way, I didn't have hundreds of ships but I had the ability to make my ships when and how I wanted.
Zpock wrote:Variation is not a problem for the design your hulls then ships system. There will be unlimited hull designs and then unlimited designs for the hulls themselves. Since you are a little limited by your hulls when doing the designs, otherwise useless combinations of components will be viable, since it's all you can do with your hull.
It's not a problem when you look at the possibilities over an infinate number of games, but it is a problem within a single game. You can only make one hull design per ship size and are therefore limited to your ships having single roles in combat.

In MOO3, you could have Long Range, Short Range, Indirect Fire, Carrier, Reconasance, Point Defense and a few other non-combat types of ships. With the proposed Stars variation system, this would be limited. My Recon ships would have to have weapons on them. So would my colony and transport ships. Now I could leave the weapons off and save money, but then there is wasted space. With a MOO-like system, you could put the troop pod on a smaller ship with no defenses, you could make a larger ship with multiple pods on it, or you could put weapons on the larger ship. The possibilites of how many pods you had on the troop transports and how well armed they were was limited only by the size of the hull.

The more you limit, the less diversity there is.
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#53 Post by Zpock » Tue Oct 26, 2004 12:23 am

I guess it all comes down to if you want to give a choice to the player how much he wants to specialize or give all players everything (same as making creative in moo2 the only choice since you hated playing without it). If you hate the system and don't think enough people would like it even if it's done as good as possible, then I guess that's a valid position. Seems like we are the only two who really care about it tough, no one else seems to have any opinions on it... even mommy Impaler stopped talking here.

I think only 3 or maybe 4 slot types (+general purpose and an engine slot) should be enough so that we don't get overly specialized hulls that are indeed as limiting as you say. Carriers would use the weapon slots for the fighter bays, so you could use the same hull to make a missile ship and a carrier ship for example. There would have to be a balance so that different players hulls would be different enough from each other but not limiting the player from making more or less effective ships to fill all roles with his hulls. So you could make a good carrier with your hull, an average missile ship and a pretty bad beam/tanking ship. Say you have lots of slots for weapons, but not so many for defenses and electronic systems. That would let you make better standoff designs with weapons that don't need a lot of help from other components to work. Since you will have a bunch of hull sizes to make your hulls out of, you will get to make good use out of all sizes. You could have a good standoff destroyer and a good tanking cruiser for example.

A nice little feature could be somehow letting the player upgrade his hull to an advanced version, letting him redesign the hull. Maybe as a dead end tech a little bit farther up the tech tree, so if you make your destroyer and realise you need to make another hull for it, you go for the advanced destroyer tech. Or if you just want to make your destryers a little better. This wouldn't clutter up the hull size list so much as having a huge amount of hull sizes so that the player can make new all the time to fit his needs. This would also be good for keeping the hulls dynamic after you reach max tech, as "future techs". Call it hull miniaturization or improvment. This would also break up the bigger and bigger evolution of hulls. I think small but advanced high tech ships are cool.

And if spies are too powerful its a simple matter of lessening their sucess rate. I think it would be nice giving the spies something worthwile to do besides stealing tech.

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#54 Post by Impaler » Tue Oct 26, 2004 3:28 am

Just when you though it was safe to go back into the water!!!!

I have that new Mock up I had been promising yall

Image

I've added a bit of color (was kind of grey before) to indicate the type of Stack Slot, Red for Engines, Green for Electical ect ect. I have also added little Orientation Circles to show in what direction a particular Stack is facing or hitable from (I am still not shure how to resolve situations in which a weapon has a narrower firing Arc then it has vulnorability Arc, like a Spinal mount being hit from the side, we might need more then one type of shading)

Also the number that corseponds to the Stack Hight limit is now big and prominent ontop of the Circle rather then small and off in the corner. Dose this look better? The smaller fighter retains a combination of the older Stars! style Icons for showing Stack type and color. The large Battleship replaces these with prominent facing circles and color alone indicates the Stack type.

Lastly I would like to point out that my latest Ides is to move away from the ridgid Slot types of Stars! inwhich ONLY things of type X can go in a slot and move to a more flexible system inwhich a slot has a PREFERED type of component. Anything that is Not prefered will suffer a penalty when put in that slot. The penalty is a bit of everything, less efficinet use of space, higher cost, incressed liklyhood of damage in combat ect ect. The "Generic" slot type has no Prefered components but all penalties are cut in half making it roughly equivilent to Stars! General Purpose slots.

So for example instead of "Engine" slots their are "Nacelle" slots which can hold engines without Penalty. But if I deside to put some weapon in their instead I get a penalty on the weapons and cant put in as many as I could in a weapon stack of equal size/height, they cost more then normal and are more likly to suffer damage in combat (aka Critical Hit).

I think this would present even more otions to the player when their upgrading older ships and eveliate Ranos's consernes about be locked into a ridgid unchangable design.[/img]
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#55 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Wed Oct 27, 2004 8:32 pm

I have played Stars!, SE 3/4, MOO 1-3 and some other stuff. I love designing ships. All of those games are playable, but if you ask which one is the best...I would point to MOO. But it is not the best. Why?

What is the best then? 2 words. Full Thrust. For those of you that haven't heard of it - it is a board (mintaures) space combat game, the most popular one not involving a computer.

Let's cut the crap and go to the meat (rules). FT is most similar to MOO (I belive MOO was based on it). It is very very very simple, and this is the beauty of it. There are basically 2 very simple parts of it: designing a ship and moving/shoting (which I obviously will skip here).

Part 1 - design. You have x points (in FT game, x is what players agree. In comp game it can be what tech level/shipyard type allows). Select a hull size (in FT, as far as I know u have no limit except what u can squeeze in x points, but due to the arc of fire/maneuvrability rules, building one giant ship is not a very good idea...lucky hit on the reactor or bridge and you are a gonner). Fill it with stuff. Add the hull(s) and stuff costs, if it is below x, you pass go and collect your ship(s). :)

Basically, hull have size and point cost equal to size. Size is called mass in FT (i.e. a destroyer size/mass is around 40-60). Stuff takes up space (mass) and has a separate point costs, usially much bigger then its mass.

To illustrate, here is a design of a small frigate class ship I designed to sweep behind enemy main fleet units and take out slower ships from their dead fire arc:

Hull size - i.e. mass (to fill with stuff):
24 (point cost 24)
Hull integrity (i.e. how many Hit Points the ship has):
low - 10% (mass taken = 10% always rounded down = 2, point cost 2x mass = 4)
FTL drive - 10% (always in FT), mass taken 2, point cost 4
Normal space drive - 10 (very fast, each 1 speed takes 5% of mass, so my drive takes 12 mass and costs 24 points)
1 Fire Control System, 1 mass, 4 points
1 Screen (defence stuff), 1 mass, 3 points
1 180 degree forward arc second level energy battery - 6 mass, 18 points
Done. Ship build. For FO I'd assume we would want to add some components like sensors and stuff, therby reducing the pure military component size or cost - but perhaps not. You see, in FT, lots of stuff is 'included in the hull integrity' - like bridge, life support, reactors. Player does not have to care about them when desiging the ship, but they can get damaged during battle - a nice time saving idea we may want to play with, adding basic sensors and stuff to every ship (players can spend extra mass/points on extra sensor suites etc.).

What I am trying to say here is that designing ships like in FT (or MO, but it had some strange things like power requirements for components, which is simply another layer of complicating life, and the creativity limiting rule of 3 specials per ship) is fast, yet lives a lot for tactics and strategy. The Stars! 'component slot list for given hull' is quite limiting, making (as any good Stars! players now) only a few designs worth of building. I love the game, but the limit on designs is very painful (why destroyers have only 1 mech. slot but 2 weapons? why frigate cannot have both electric and mechanical? etc.).

Bascially: try to make the design process as simple as possible. And if sth isn't broken (like FT) let's not try to fix it with some bizarre ideas.

Another matter worth investigating: both FT and MOO created a game where smaller ships DID NOT became obsolete when bigger hulls were invented - IMHO in both cases it was beacuse of the importance of speed and manevrouablity (chance to hit) AND the fact that smaller hulls were not much less effective then the bigger one. In MOO2, Stars! SE3/4 seem to say 'bigger is better and no exeptions', smaller ships are almost as easy to hit as giants and their available hull size must be filled with components like bridge, life support, stuff that make some small ship sizes (think below destroyer stuff in SE4) completly usless for anything except early exploration. I'd very much like for FO to be a game where my fleet of dreadnughts would NEED a tin can screen, and where those tin cans would be needed for roles of their own (scouting, patrol, etc.) like in Honorverse books or FT campaigns.

I wont go into 'how the ship move' in FT, but I definetly recommend adoption of this very simple system (vectors=reality rule!) into FO as well.

Some links of interest:
* Full Thrust Java Based Multiplayer
* Full Thrust link colection
Image

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#56 Post by Zpock » Wed Oct 27, 2004 9:12 pm

Uhm, unless I'm missing something that was just an overly complicated description of "fill the bag" as seen in the MOO and space empires series. You have x space and fill that up with whatever you want.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote:I love the game, but the limit on designs is very painful (why destroyers have only 1 mech. slot but 2 weapons? why frigate cannot have both electric and mechanical? etc.).
To me that was what made a destroyer a destroyer and a frigate a frigate, both being very different, becouse you could put in different stuff in them. If you have a bunch of hulls with the only difference is how much stuff you can put in, designing a destroyer, frigate, cruiser or battleship is all the same to me. Only difference is bigger takes more guns. That's why I don't like the bag system. Both a slot system and a bag system will have near unlimited combinations of components. Only a few will be useful tough, and how many depends on game balance and not the design system.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote:Another matter worth investigating: both FT and MOO created a game which smaller ships did not became obsolete when bigger hulls were invented. MOO2, Stars! SE3/4 seem to say 'bigger is better and no exeptions'. I'd very much like for FO to be a game where my fleet of dreadnughts would NEED a tin can screen, and where those tin cans would be needed for roles of their own (scouting, patrol, etc.) like in Honorverse books or FT campaigns.
MOO1 had useful small ships becouse of 3 things. Small ships had to be shot one at a time so large guns were useless against them. Not only this in theory like all games but you could have thousands of small ships and they all had 4hp, so a death ray doing 200dmg actually was useless. Then they had good bonuses to defense making weapons hit them more easily. Small ships were also more cost efficient sometimes since you payed for special systems and computer/shield/etc relative to ships size. Stars! has the overkill thing working for small ships. But this only made them useful for cannon fodder since special systems were not scaled to ship size. Space empires has the evasion bonus to small ships but neithert the overkill or scaling systems for small ships. Small ships were not small enough so that you could take advantage of overkill. If FO does not follow moo1 in this area and have all 3 things making small ships useful, too bad. On secound thought, we don't want 2000 small ships unless they are all represented by one ship in combat. This would be silly in realtime/phased realtime so scrap that. I think the most important one is scaling special bonus systems to ship size. So an extra thruster would do way more difference on a little ship then a huge one for example. This is the biggest mistake of the 4x games like SEIV and stars not having it this way. This includes all or most components with bonuses of some kind, a targeting computer, cloak etc etc on a small ship should also be scaled, wheter it makes sense to you or not.

In my system there is one additional thing to make them work, previously not done to my knowledge. You have to limit (oh no) your large hulls to be good in one way and you can limit your smaller hull to cover his weaknesses. I prefer to call it specialize, not limit, tough.
Bascially: try to make the design process as simple as possible. And if sth isn't broken (like FT) let's not try to fix it with some bizarre ideas.
Following the first rule, lets just keep the current mark I-IV ships and do away with ship designing. Following the secound, lets just copy moo1, moo2 or maybe even FT completly. Yeah, i know KISS and "Copy what works" are holy words here. But they are not valid if taken too far. Then we would have a game with one button saying "click to win", copied from some similar game with print-screen. My personal are: "stuff that are central and I want the game to be about is complex and everything else is simple" + "if you don't have a better idea copy someone elses".

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#57 Post by Ranos » Thu Oct 28, 2004 6:26 am

Zpock wrote:To me that was what made a destroyer a destroyer and a frigate a frigate, both being very different, becouse you could put in different stuff in them. If you have a bunch of hulls with the only difference is how much stuff you can put in, designing a destroyer, frigate, cruiser or battleship is all the same to me. Only difference is bigger takes more guns. That's why I don't like the bag system. Both a slot system and a bag system will have near unlimited combinations of components. Only a few will be useful tough, and how many depends on game balance and not the design system.

AND

MOO1 had useful small ships becouse of 3 things. Small ships had to be shot one at a time so large guns were useless against them. Not only this in theory like all games but you could have thousands of small ships and they all had 4hp, so a death ray doing 200dmg actually was useless. Then they had good bonuses to defense making weapons hit them more easily. Small ships were also more cost efficient sometimes since you payed for special systems and computer/shield/etc relative to ships size. Stars! has the overkill thing working for small ships. But this only made them useful for cannon fodder since special systems were not scaled to ship size. Space empires has the evasion bonus to small ships but neithert the overkill or scaling systems for small ships. Small ships were not small enough so that you could take advantage of overkill. If FO does not follow moo1 in this area and have all 3 things making small ships useful, too bad. On secound thought, we don't want 2000 small ships unless they are all represented by one ship in combat. This would be silly in realtime/phased realtime so scrap that. I think the most important one is scaling special bonus systems to ship size. So an extra thruster would do way more difference on a little ship then a huge one for example. This is the biggest mistake of the 4x games like SEIV and stars not having it this way. This includes all or most components with bonuses of some kind, a targeting computer, cloak etc etc on a small ship should also be scaled, wheter it makes sense to you or not.
First you say you don't like having all ships be the same then you say you want all ships to be able to have the same things. I agree that some things should be scalable, cloaks being one of them. But if all things can be put on all ship sizes, then all ships sizes are the same.

The good thing about having some things require big ships is that you have to have the big ships to win battles. If the system is properly balanced, every ship size, or at least every other ship size, will be usefull throughout the game. The way to do this is to make smaller ships go fater than larger ships. Small ships will be good for hit and run tactics. Huge ships will be loaded with the strongest weapons. Intermediate sizes will allow for for a combination of the two. Smaller ships will be more maneuverable allowing them to evade the weapons while the larger ships will have massive ammounts armor allowing them to take more hits. And again, the intermediate ships will be a combination of the two.

Lets copy some parts of existing games and make up new parts of our own.
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Zpock
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#58 Post by Zpock » Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:20 am

First you say you don't like having all ships be the same then you say you want all ships to be able to have the same things.
Uhm sorry maybe that was a bit muddy to understand. It's an explanation why I like the limitations of a slot based system were a ship has different places/slots to put different stuff in. In that example with the frigate and the destroyer, the two hulls are very similar in size, the destroyer has a total of 8 slots:
  • 1xEngine
    2x armor
    1xweapon
    1x weapon
    1x mechanical
    1x electrical
    1x general purpos
A frigate has exactly the same number of slots, but very different ones:
  • 1x engine
    2x armor/shield
    3x general purpose
    2x scanner
If the destroyer and frigate hull both had 8 slots you could fill with whatever, they would be the same. If there was a small difference, like one had 7 slots and the other 9, it would still be the same only a little more stuff going into the one with 9. That's what I meant. You could say that the stars! system offers less difference between one destroyer and another, but much more difference between a destroyer and a frigate. There can still be plenty of difference however. There are beam destroyers and torpedo destroyers. The electrical slot on a beam destroyer could be used for a small advantage to shoot first if you put in a targeting computet, left empty to save resources or used for a jammer or someting if you have it researched. How you use the general purpose slot is crucial. You can either have 50% more firepower, a shield or another thruster jet for example. The frigate offers a tough choice of wheter to use armor or shields in the shield/armor slot. Etc.
The good thing about having some things require big ships is that you have to have the big ships to win battles. If the system is properly balanced, every ship size, or at least every other ship size, will be usefull throughout the game. The way to do this is to make smaller ships go fater than larger ships. Small ships will be good for hit and run tactics. Huge ships will be loaded with the strongest weapons. Intermediate sizes will allow for for a combination of the two. Smaller ships will be more maneuverable allowing them to evade the weapons while the larger ships will have massive ammounts armor allowing them to take more hits. And again, the intermediate ships will be a combination of the two.
This is completely independent of wheter to use the slot or bag approach to ship designing. A good example found in every space strategy game so far I know of, is the targeting computer that makes the weapons on the ship hit better, so they are more effective. In stars it increases missile weapons chance to hit, beams always hits. In space empires it's called combat sensors and increases direct fire weapons chance to hit, missile weapons always hit. In moo I'm not sure but I think it increases both beams and missiles chance to hit. Anyway, the module increases how much damage a weapon does on a ship. In moo, the targeting computer grows bigger and more expensive when you put it on a larger ship. But since the large ship can have more guns, the bigger more expensive computer also helps more weapons, so it's more valuable then a computer on a small ship. In stars, a targeting computer always cost the same and have the same effect on the ship. Since large ships typically have more slots for electrical modules like the computer, you can put on more of them as well. So mounting weapons on small ships is useless in stars!, they will do much less damage but still cost the same when put on a small ship without as many computers as the large one. The computers on the large ships also help more guns so they are more cost effective themselves. So one large ship will always be better then many small ships for the same price.

So, I think that a targeting computer on a small ship should have much more effect then on a large ship. The large ship should have to use multiple targeting computers to get the same effect. A small destroyer only 1/5 as big as a battleship should only need one computer to get the same effect as 5 on the battleship. You could play aronud with the ratios for different components, so small ships can use maneuvvering jets and ecm a little more effectively but the big ones beam capacitors and computers etc. I would try to have a good balance on the total combat effectiveness however. This would be ability to take damage and deal it relative to cost.

Another way to do it would be increasing the size and cost of the modules on large ships, like moo, for a bag system. The biggest difference is wheter you can have multiple cumulativeo modules or not. This could provide some interesting twists to strategy on the other hand if you could only mount a single device of some type and the effect of it is relative to size. So if it's more effective on small ships you can get a bigger bonus on them, but still at the same cost effectiveness. Say only a single missile jammer is allowed and it's 5 times as effective on the small ship. Then small ships can get a huge jamming but it will still cost them 5 times as many % of their total space available. A large ship would then have to do with only some jamming but could use the space for more shields or something instead. I'm in favor of allowing multiple components for cumulative effect tough. But maybe with diminishing returns, so the big ship can use 5 of these jammers to get at least maybe half the jamming on the little ship but at the same cost (less efficient, but you can get it if you want to). More variety this way.

MOO (1) had its own way of making the big ships useful even if they were only as efficient as small ships in combat power. Some specials like the black hole generator etc always took certain space, big weapons (could be more efficient then small ones) sometime only fit on larger ships, and shields (nullifying dmg) and of course automatic reapair were more useful on large ships to make them tough nuts to crack. Small ships relied more on big guns not being able to waste them more then one at a time then repairing themselves. Repairing them and making them tougher with shields was pointless since they died so fast anyway. Instead of having the big ships as the best way to maximize combat power like all the other games they had more the role of carrying the big special doomsday stuff in MOO1, really like that.
Last edited by Zpock on Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Prokonsul Piotrus
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#59 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:52 am

Zpock, when u show the examples of the Stars! slot system, I have a question: who decides what slots should a destroyer have? or a frigate? why 1 mechanical, or 3 general purpose and not vice versae? etc.

About the choice - Stars! is the only slot based system I know, and being an experienced player, I also know that the number of working designs is very limited. Setting aside technology levels (ie. better tech - better components - new design possible), nobody (but complete n00bies) puts armor or torpedoes on frigates, nobody builds torpedo destroyers...yeah, it is a game balance thing but I think that slot system gives much less designs to try then no-slot. Using stars as an example, I'd love to build 1 armor/1 shield frigate (but I have to build 2 or 2), or 2 electric or 2 shield destroyer variant (without mechanical component). But I can't - I could do it in the size/bag/mass/whatever you call it varaiant.

An idea: a slot/size system. Give hull has x space for slots, but a player choses what slots (each slot has its own cost). Hmmm, that would be just like bag system with another layer though...
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#60 Post by Zpock » Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:58 am

Piotrus, if you read the thread you will see that the whole idea is a Stars! slot system were you design the hull yourself (but then have to stick with it ).

The choices may be limited for a destroyer or frigate in stars!, but there are still at least a handful of distinct designs that could be useful. A small ship in space empires or moo1/2/3 is just as limited in variation, since you can only put on a few things and there are few components available in the beginning of a game (both stars, moo and SE). A useful battleship in stars! however, could be designed in many ways and you should know that.

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