Power: It's use in space combat

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utilae
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Power: It's use in space combat

#1 Post by utilae » Sun Nov 21, 2004 8:19 pm

There is some alot of talk of having powerplants put into the ship as part of designing a ship. The main idea was that you would put a power plant into the ship and it would generate X power. When putting a weapon or system in, it takes away from the total power generated. This would work in a similar way that 'space' did in Moo2.

Apart from the design of the ship, power needs a more important use. One idea is that power may improve the recharge rate of shields (some shields as according to the shield types in my sig).

I do have another idea though, one that could have great strategic and fun benefits in space combat.

CRIPPLED SHIP SYNDROME
Someone presented the idea of having the ship become disabled before it is destroyed. I would like to take this idea and combine it with an idea from Eldar Scrolls 3: Morrowind. In Morrowind your character has fatigue and hp. Running around, jumping and attacking with your longsword decreases your fatigue (which regenerates). When your fatigue is gone, you are unconcious and you are easier to hit and you take double damage and you cannot move or attack. While unconcious after waiting a while you gain your fatigue back, enough to get up and fight again.

Now lets apply this to FreeOrion. Your ship has hp (your ships hull). Your ship has power (which acts like fatigue in Morrowind). Now when you use weapons, move etc your power decreases, but it regenerates (also more powerplants help power regenerate and help to store more power). When a weapon hits the ship it can damage the ship. When power is down your ship is crippled and cannot move, cannot fire and is easier to hit. While power is down your engineers are trying everything to restore power, so after being crippled for a while (and not dying) power eventually restores and the ship can move and fight again.

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#2 Post by iamrobk » Sun Nov 21, 2004 10:13 pm

How about whatever power is left over is used in some equation to figure out how fast shields recharge or whatever? Maybe leftover power can be used to overload shields, or weapons.

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#3 Post by Ranos » Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:33 am

A ship should become disabled by it's powerplant getting overloaded from Ion Cannons, EMP weapons or other emergy disrupting weapons. It could also be disabled if the engines are destroyed.

Having power drain in the manner you talk about sounds, no offense, utterly ridiculous and it would force space combat to become micro intensive. While RPG or action games that use fatigue, mana or some other system of having your character become useless, immobile or whatever, have only a few characters which are easy to keep track of and stop, we are talking about battles with dozens or hundreds of ships. If ships drain power in this manner, they will be having to stop firing before losing all power or sit and be vulnerable while they recharge. I know this would infuriate me watching my ships sit and do nothing. On top of that, it would require more programming for an AI to tell it to stop firing to recharge power before it runs out.

It would also take away from immersion in the game. I know that in real life, as long as a power plant has a constant and consistant ammount of fuel, it will put out the same ammount of energy. If the energy required to power everything the power plant feeds exeeds the output, then people will have lights that are dim, there TV won't work etc.

The purpose of having a power requirement is to have the player install a power plant to support that requirment. I see no point in adding one more thing to combat that the player has to keep track of.
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#4 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Mon Nov 22, 2004 7:54 pm

The main problem here is that it complicates the ship design further, by making player worry about power consumption of given parts.

Assuming we will go with 2-tier ship design model, I believe that the less time -consuming one should skip the power somehow. Having said that, I personally would like the more extensive model to use power thingies.

Power consumption brings us to thingies like fuel/supply.

This would allow us to use techs like solar collectors, solar sails (used in SE), ram scoops (Stars!), fuel types (MOO), and many others. And of course catastrophic damage with reactor hits, meltdowns, emergency shutdowns and ejections... :)

Few notes on how this is solved in certain games:
a) Stars! use fule. Each hull type can store x fuel, the faster you fly the more fuel you use, new engines use less fuel. Fuel is replenished at starbases at no cost (although in early verson of Stars! it was finite and mined like minerals)
b) in SE, supply is used similarly to Stars. Diffrences are that firing weapons uses supply as well, and it is stored in some parts (engines and specilized magazines/supply chambers).
c) in Full Thrust, powerplants/reactors are only used for damage purposes - after a ship takes enough damage, there is an increasing chance of catastrophic damage related to the powerplant
d) in MOO, components have a 'power requirement', but I never could figue out how to determine power capacity of a given hull. From my experience in most cases it really didn't matter much and space was much more important (we should avoid this uncertainity if we use power thingy!)
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Power

#5 Post by guiguibaah » Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:50 am

If ship combat is to be with relatively small # of ships (less than 50 max) per battle, then I say you could fit power in there. If we are going with >200 ships, scrap it. Who's going to care if 1 ships out of 100 is low on power?


= My suggestion for power => A regular class 1 powerplant offer a multiplier of 1 to shield strength, ship speed, weapon strength, ship auto-repair speed, detection range, transporter distance and self-destruct damage.

A +1 powerplant offers a multiplier of 1.5 to shield strength, ship speed, weapon strength, ship auto-repair speed, detection range, transporter distance and self-destruct damage.

So they are overall bonuses. A +1 powerplant takes up the same size as a regular powerplant, but costs a lot more to build. For people who prefer quality over quantity.
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#6 Post by Ranos » Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:28 am

I can see ships running out of fuel in the middle of travel between systems, but I strongly dislike it in battles. That would highly complicate the combat system no matter how many ships are allowed per battle.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote:The main problem here is that it complicates the ship design further, by making player worry about power consumption of given parts.
Having it be automatically installed/upgraded as you build your ship takes away from the complication. The only time complication would become a factor is when you are installing the last weapon or two. If the weapon consumes too much power, the power plant size would increase and could take up one more space which puts you at one over your limit. Having the number listed so you could see how much power you have available and how much is currently required would easily allow someone to see whether or not a weapon would cause the power plant to be increased. It really wouldn't complicate the system very much.

In MOO1/2, the fuel cells only determined how far from the nearest friendly system your ships could travel.
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#7 Post by Bastian-Bux » Tue Nov 23, 2004 8:04 am

Actually I can only see one reason why a ship should run short of energy: design. Be it a flawed design, or a liberate choice.

Why would someone choose to underpower a starship?

Lets assume the following design: a ship with an oversized energy weapon and an energy absorbing shield.

As long as the ship is in normal mode, it can't use that energy weapon. But if it is under heavy fire, absorbing lotsa energy from the shield, it can feed this power into the weapon. Nasty surprise for the attacker ;).

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#8 Post by Impaler » Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:50 pm

I like the idea of Power plants and power requirments in components. Its a nice mechanism for balancing and creating interesting components. Every components that can be put on a ship has some kind of power requirments. Every components would have some number for "Net Power" much like everything will have a size/space requirment. If the Net Power number is a positive values its adding to the ships (aka its a Power Plant), most other things are negative (useing power), stuff like Armor is 0.

Lets also make the destinction between Engines and PowerPlants. Engines move a ship around and Power Plants make power. Theirs nothing forcing theses 2 qualites to always or never be in the same ship component. Say a "Fusion Drive" Engine could have a positive net Power so its moving the ship AND providing power. The other senario is the Engine using power supplied by some outside sourse like in StarTrek (the Anti-matter reactor creates the power and the "Warp Nacells" propel the ship).

I tend to agree with Ranos that Utilae's proposal feels to RPGish. It seems more natural for a ship to have constant power production and consumption. Comand and Concour is a good example here, power is never stored/acumulated just supplied continously to your buildings, if you cant meet the demand stuff shuts down. Ofcorse in the first C&C everything would go down which was anoying and rediculus, fortunatly they improved this somewhat in Red Alert with the selective "power down" option which lets you turn off a buildings demand, esentialy you are prioritizing what gets power and what dosent.

This is consitent with a great deal of Sci-Fi liturature and film, people are always "Diverting power to Weapons" or some other such thing. The trick is going to be how to manage this avctivty with out a mess of micro-managment. My solution would be "Power Priority" which act as generalized instructions/strategies. Think of it as the next level beyond the Agressive/Nutral/Defensive stances in Homeworld. All the major ship systems like Engines, Sensors, Weapons, Clocking Device are prioritized in a list, stuff at the top of the list will get first dibs on the ships power.

Idealy this list is just one element is a larger Strategy plan that the player makes and assignes to ships and groups of ships. Stars! uses a good set of options for a ships strategy which describes basic strategies of movment, engagment, aggression and retreat signals. Power Managment should be incorporated into theses orders for two reasons. For one thing its consolidates what would otherwise to 2 seperate comands thus reducing micro managment. The second and far more important reason is that the two are highly interdependent, power managment needs to support the ships current strategy not work against it. The result here is If you give your ships a strategy comand such as "Run Away Run Away!!" order they will divert power to the system you have designated for that strrategy (like Engines for example).


On a side note this is also the direction most real world warship are headed, previosly navy ships employed direct drive which means a Turbine Engine output shaft was physicaly connected to the ships propellers, a seperate Turbine Generator was used to create Electricity for the rest of the ship. The next generation (no pun intended) ships will just have a very large Generator that is not physicaly conected to the propellers, its simply pumps power into the ships "power grid" which can be taken out at any point, one of which is a large Electric Motor that spins the propelers. Submarines have operated on mutch the same principle from the earliest days because Combustion based Diesel Engines cant be operated underwater. Rather a Battery is charged when on the surface and then drained when submerged. Note that this is not a realism argument here, simply an observation that the Sci-Fi body of liturature was very good at predicting what would eventualy happen in the real world.
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#9 Post by skdiw » Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:49 pm

If power plant is going to be implemented, it's got to have other gameplay function other than just powering weapons and whatnots. You can just factoring in the cost and space directly in the the weapons and modules itself rather than have the player worry about another variable that can be easily taken care of. On the other hand, power plants can can work like in Moo1.

Power plants have to have at least other functions like maybe overcharging your shield or weapons during tactical combat. But that's creates a source of RTS during combat, which not everyone would support.
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#10 Post by Ablaze » Tue Nov 23, 2004 6:04 pm

I always liked the idea of linking offense and defense with power comsumption. There is a very addicting game called cosmic rift that does this. I always thought cosmic rift was sold short due to the fact that I've never seen any sort of advertisment for it, but it had quite a few people playing it back when it was free.

The difference here is that cosmic rift only allows one ship per player, so micromanagement is hardly a problem. I can't think of any way to fit a fleet of ships with this principal without just making things confusing for anyone who dosen't study the game in depth.
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#11 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Tue Nov 23, 2004 9:03 pm

Bastian-Bux wrote: Why would someone choose to underpower a starship?

Lets assume the following design: a ship with an oversized energy weapon and an energy absorbing shield.
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I think of Babylon 5 Crusade and the Interstellar Aliance Destroyer class ships (Victory and Excalibur). Since they used reverse engeneered Volron main gun (uber advanced), if fired, it drain almost all power on the ship (so it couldn't move or shoot for 1 minute). In game we can imagine some powerful weapons (perhpas some to be found in ruins etc.) that have similar disadvantages.

Which also lead me to the idea that if ship has the power capacity of 100, you can put equipment needing >100 on it, but you cannot use it all in the same turn(s). Then we can think of some kind of battery/capacitors technologies that would allow a ship to use more power then it generetates per turn from its reserves...
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#12 Post by utilae » Tue Nov 23, 2004 9:07 pm

Impaler wrote: This is consitent with a great deal of Sci-Fi liturature and film, people are always "Diverting power to Weapons" or some other such thing. The trick is going to be how to manage this avctivty with out a mess of micro-managment. My solution would be "Power Priority" which act as generalized instructions/strategies. Think of it as the next level beyond the Agressive/Nutral/Defensive stances in Homeworld. All the major ship systems like Engines, Sensors, Weapons, Clocking Device are prioritized in a list, stuff at the top of the list will get first dibs on the ships power.
What if when you designed your ships you gave each component a priority number. Components with a lower priority will be shutdown in order to allow other higher priority components to keep working when power is very low.

In combat we could have a power bar. Weapons can do damage to ship hp, and also power. Using weapons, moving, etc will not decrease your ships power bar (too much to manage). If the power bar becomes 0, then all components in the ship that need power stop working (kinda like in Moo2 where some weapons only damaged internals and when internals were gone the ship was imobilised). If the power bar is low, then there is not enough power for all components (unless the ship has heaps of excess generated power), so the lowest priority components automatically shutdown in order to keep higher priority components working.
Last edited by utilae on Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#13 Post by Tieom » Tue Nov 23, 2004 9:52 pm

A doctrinal decistion like power prioritization would put a whole boatload of depth/roleplaying into the game. Do you put shields, engines, and life support at #1, or the weapons? Or maybe those vending machines in the mess hall?

Obviously a 'default power prioritization' option would be good for those who don't want to design their ships in such detail.

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#14 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:18 pm

utilae wrote: What if when you designed your ships you gave each component a priority number. Components with a lower priority will be shutdown in order to allow other higher priority components to keep working when power is very low.
This reminds me of component repair priorities as used in SE3 and SE4 (I think). Good idea and fairly simple to do on UI.
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#15 Post by Ranos » Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:31 am

Adding in power consumption would increase the ammoun of micromanagement required in battle and adding any kind of power consumption priority to ship building would increse the time it takes to design a ship. Come on. Who would design and/or build anything that can only run at full strength for a short ammount of time before the power runs out? That's like sending a nuclear carrier out with only a handfull of rods for the reactor.

That sounds like its based on a realism arguement but for me, its immersion. I would lose my immersion in the game if my ships were running out of power every time they fired a weapon.

Now maybe you can make that a choice. If you want to have enough power to run everything on your ship for an entire battle, then you install a big enough power plant. If you want to load more weapons etc on the ship at the cost of power, then you downgrade the power plant and now have to prioritize what gets shut down first when you run out of power.

Don't force everyone to have to deal with the power mess though.
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