General Issues / "Feel" of Space Battles

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

Moderators: Oberlus, Oberlus

Message
Author
User avatar
Impaler
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1060
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 12:40 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona USA

#61 Post by Impaler » Tue Aug 17, 2004 6:51 am

In response to Phoka: First off let me say Welcome to FreeOrion I think you will fit in well given the quality of your first sugjestion. Some method of Response time for Orders to be exicuted would be a very nice idea and go a long way to replicating the work of real comanding. I think we could also include a distance based additon to the time delay as well such as +1 per X number of spaces away from the "Flag Ship". Better comunications devicies "HyperWave Decoder" could incresse X and reduce the total lag time. We can explain all of this as being due to the delay cause by the speed of light (we already desided that space battles span the whole system so this seems reasonable). Also damage could affect the ships response times, the ships Bridge component would give -5 or something like this and when that gets blown up you feel the +5 net effect slow you down quite a lot (better have a back up Bridge). Com Jammer Divices could add time to enemy ships as well.

Ofcorse if we do this for Space Combat it would only make sense to do the same thing on the Galaxy map as well, not shure how this would be implemented though.
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12634
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#62 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:39 am

A sub-issue to consider:

Assuming most people want in-battle terrain, which is the impression I get, what should the scale of terrain features be? Things like planets and moons and stars and such could be represented as a point-object, or could be represented as an area / volume that ships actually need to manourve around.

Further, are ships shown "to scale", or are they "blown up" to hundreds or thousands of times their "real" size so that the player can see them on a wider-scale view of the battle? Assuming a ship is on average 1 km long, and battles happen at ranges of 1 km to 1 AU = 150 000 000 km, it's not feasible to always (if ever) show ships to scale with those distances. They'd just be dots on any zoom scale big enough to show more than one ship.

Similarly, how should planets and stars be shown? To scale? enlarged? Keep in mind that the scale of stars and planets and asteroids is just as varied as the distances between ships. Betelgeuse, a red supergiant, is 2.57 AU across (says wikipedia). That means its diameter is larger than thet average distance between Earth and the sun. Even if Sol was represented by a point, Betelgeuse would still be a big circle on the map.

And what about zoom levels in battle? Do we want something like the big range of zoom scales seen on the galaxy map, or is it better to have a fixed zoom level like most RTSs? We could conceivibly have a range of zoom levels that go from showing the whole system on a single screen, down to planet-moon systems on a signle screen, down to a localized battle on a single screen, down to a single fleet on a single screen, down to a single capital ship, down to a single fighter. That's a huge range, and probably not practical in all cases...

Where do we put the line between the scale we show things, and how big they "really" are in the simulation?

My thoughts: Playability / practicality suggests that anything "realistic" is unfeasible. Ships will probably need to be shown at a larger scale than the distances between them. I'd like planets / moons / asteroids to show up as something with a discernable volume that needs to be manourvred around, rather than just as a point, though I don't see how this can be done practically, without either making ships so horrendously out of scale with the planets that it's silly, or making planets / moons so big that all space battles only happen near a single planet (like in Star Wars). It's probably necessary / best to have battles span an entire system, rather than take place near a particular planet, as otherwise the battle "terrain" would be pretty limited (there's not much in space on the scale of thousands of kilometers).



Unrelated:

Impaler, emrys:

Hull size naming discussion should probably be on a ships related thread. There's some stuff starting here: viewtopic.php?p=13613#13613

That said, the name we give the smallest individually or group buildable ship that can move around without docking to a bigger ship isn't really important. They can be "corvettes" or "frigates" or "cool banana smoothies"... The real issue is whether they have to be built in a group like drek wants, or if they can be built and operate individually as Davebaby and I seem to want.


Regarding orders-delay... I'm not so sure this is worth the trouble. Seems like it'd just be annoying... Maybe it would be better abstracted as a reaction time or accuracy or morale improving aura for command ships?

User avatar
Daveybaby
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 724
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 11:07 am
Location: Hastings, UK

#63 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:14 am

If we do everything to scale, then all we are ever likely to see is dots flying around dots firings dots at other dots while they try to evade a dot.

Would make everything much easier for the programming and graphics teams, though. :wink:

FYI, believe it or not, this is actually what i am considering implementing for cow. More of a 'tactical command display' than a whiz-bang space combat extravaganza. Something kinda like those tactical displays they had in battlestar galactica (the old series, not the new one). Or maybe think Harpoon II. Note that i'm only doing this because its much easier, not because i think its a better approach. :P
The COW Project : You have a spy in your midst.

User avatar
Impaler
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1060
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 12:40 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona USA

#64 Post by Impaler » Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:25 am

My opinion is to have Stars and Planets as objects rather then points as they are in Moo2. I sugjest we take the Planet picture currently on the side Bars and blow them up to twice their current Diameter and paste them on the Battle Map with a small gap space around the planet. Ships cant move onto the Planet or the Gap space. If they are adjasent to it though they are considered "in low orbit" and can bomb the planet/land troops ect ect.

Moons would be about half a screen away and obey similar rules.

The star would be a large Blob with the largest ones filling almost the whole screen when zoomed in, Small stars are only slightly larger then Gass Giants. Around the Star (circle rougly twice the stars radius) is a "Corona" area inwhich ships will take massive Thermal Damage unless properly shielded. Planets can be inside this zone as well. Late game you could possibly fly INTO the star for ambush/sanctuary purposes.

The planets of the system are incrementaly distant from the star with about half a screen for each slot distant. So the 4th Planet of the system would be about 2 screens distant from the star, the First planet about Half a screen away ect ect. This makes the whole system about 8 screens wide and tall at normal zome.

I have an idea for "terrain" in a system. I call it a "Gravitational Manifold" (sound cool dont it). This is an actual phenominon created the interplay of gravity in a 2 body system and is responsible for things like Logarus points and odd asteroid orbits. But forget all this stuff and simple call it a "Road" for this is the tactical purpose it serves, a ship moves faster when on one of these Manifolds and they turn what would be a featureless "blue ocean" style map into a some what more Land like environment. Manifolds would tend to run from planet to planet and would be thin and branchy.

Lastly the issue of the Perminance of system Maps. I favor a static map in which planets do not move around or change relative positions from one galactic turn to another. This will allow for defenders to build defenses in a sensible say (otherwise your mine field might move away from what its protecting) and greatly reduce the time needed to constantly refamilarize your self with a system thats remade every turn.
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

Rob
Space Floater
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 8:44 am
Location: Treptow (Berlin)

#65 Post by Rob » Tue Aug 17, 2004 3:17 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:A sub-issue to consider:

Further, are ships shown "to scale", or are they "blown up" to hundreds or thousands of times their "real" size so that the player can see them on a wider-scale view of the battle? Assuming a ship is on average 1 km long, and battles happen at ranges of 1 km to 1 AU = 150 000 000 km, it's not feasible to always (if ever) show ships to scale with those distances. They'd just be dots on any zoom scale big enough to show more than one ship.
1 AU? :shock:
Dont let the battlefields be such large!
A Laser would need 500 Seconds to pass this incredible huge Area!
That is 8 Minutes, 20 seconds...

I think Battlefields should be 100.000 km in Diameter at maximum!

So there also will be only one Planet in the battle field. Would make things much easier to understand and to program...

All Ships still have to be scaled up opticaly for gameplay reasons.
Wer die Welt gezielt verändern will, muss sie zuerst einmal verstehen!
One of your german brothers: http://www.fatal-universe.de

emrys
Creative Contributor
Posts: 226
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:44 pm

#66 Post by emrys » Tue Aug 17, 2004 3:34 pm

I think for the purposes of gameplay we should just throw out any attempt or inclination to produce 'realistic' sizes or scales, or even to stick to "minor trivialities" like the vacuum speed of light :).

Let's just pick what objects we want on the battlefield, then pick sizes for them that work in gameplay terms (e.g. so they're visible, pretty and the battlefield is about the right size to maneuver and scroll around etc...).

So going with the 'cartoon-comedy' version of a battlefield, let's have typical ship screensizes of between 1 and 4cm, normal planet radii of about a fourth of screen height, moons about a third that radius, (probably both shown as if they are "under" the combat plane, so they 'look' bigger). If we really feel the need to put stars in, they could be half a screen sized or so. Generally just pick sizes for things that work in the combat engine, and stuff realism.

Side point: I'm not really convinced we'll be ably to pick a set of sizes that'll allow us to sensibly put all the planets in a system onto the battlefield, after all that could be up to (10?) planets. On the other hand I like the ide because it allows planets to support each other, and could allow attackers to play cat and mouse with defenders trying to split them between two targets. Perhaps we could split things into inner and outer systems (or inner/middle/outer), so we'd only have to show a few planets at once.

User avatar
miu
Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 286
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 2:33 am
Location: Finland/Helsinki

#67 Post by miu » Tue Aug 17, 2004 4:36 pm

*thinking out loud roughly about the scale* lets skip realism and think how it would be fun.

We have max 10 planet slots, assuming that distance between orbits is constant 10 we will have battlefield grid of 210x210. I see planets(and star) diamater being 3-7 and capital sized ships shown at lenght of 0.5-1.
There's problem with moons, more we want to show them, the smaller the planets would have to be/further away from each another, and I would like to keep them quite big and the feeling of the solarsystem "small". Maybe solution would be to abstract them to only one orbit or limit the maximum numbers of moons to ~3, or have them very small (<1) and at very close orbits of planets.
Difference between a man and a gentleman is that a man does what he wants, a gentleman does what he should. - Albert Camus

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12634
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#68 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Aug 17, 2004 6:03 pm

I'd go with 4 moons max per planet, so we can model all the planet-sized ones in Earth's solar system, should we be so inclined. More specifically, I'd limit to 4 moons max on gas giants, 3 moons max on huge planets, 2 on large, 1 on medium and none on small or tiny planets. I'd further limit to gas giants having tiny-planet-sized or small-planet-sized moons, and huge or smaller planets only having only tiny-planet-sized moons.

To show moons in battles, I'd have their positions angularly spaced out around their planet as much as possible. By doing this, I imagine the differences in moon distances from their planet can be as little as one or two moon-radii, without the moons being physically / visually too close together.

This is all very speculative without a mockup to check, but imo if planet orbit radii are 10 units apart, then planet diameters should be at most 3 or 4 units. Even after spacing them out radially, if you've got moons that take up space, and still want to have some sense that the planets are fairly far apart, they probably can't be much more than that without too much overlap...

The star in a system can and should be quite a bit larger than the planets, imo. I'm envisioning it as a screen-filling or larger circle / sphere that you'd have to fly a good distance to get around (or orbit, see below). There's just the one star in a given system (unless I convince people to include binary starsystems) so this isn't a huge issue for map-space consumption, like making all the planets big would be.

Some variation in star size would also be good. Neutron stars are earth sized, black holes can themselves be tiny, but have big accretion disks perhaps... esp. if there are any nearby gas giants they can cannibalize (which would be cool to show). Main stage stars are quite a bit bigger than gas giants, and supergiants are bigger than the orbital radius of most inner planets. So in the case of supergiants, I'd suggest the planet generation routine not put in any planets in the inner three slots, and that we actually draw the supergiant to the size of the third orbit radius. Being so big would certainly certainly distinguish supergiants from other stars, and would be pretty cool, imo.

Also, a somewhat gravity-like effect that pulls ships into orbits around planets / moons / stars would be nifty (not talking about "manifolds"... just regular circular orbits). If you're far from any planets, gravity wouldn't affect your maneuvres, but if you were right near a planet, you'd naturally orbit at a few pixels a second (assuming a few hundred pixels planet diameter) when not actively avoiding it. It'd hopefully add just enough of a wrinkle to tactics near planets / moons to be interesting.

In all cases, ships should be dipicted as significantly smaller than the smallest planet (tiny), except in the case of death-star sized ships, which should be shown about the size of a tiny planet / small moon.

... mockups definitely need to be made.

http://www.purplelion.com/games/deathstar.shtml is interesting, though only slightly relevant.

User avatar
BreadMan
Space Squid
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2004 1:37 am
Location: Chico, California

#69 Post by BreadMan » Tue Aug 17, 2004 9:35 pm

Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but what's so important about having the whole system for a battle?

Seems to me it makes more sense to have battles at certain points-of-interest. If you were a comander in charge of defending a system, you'd place your fleets at planets, not out in the middle of nowhere. Otherwise, your enemy would just fly past you, bombard your planet, and take control unopposed.

Consider this though: How about 2 battle maps? 1 up-close for actual battles between ships, 1 zoomed way out for navigation within a system with fleets and planets represented as hud icons? When 2 fleets meet on the big map, the up-close map loads and a battle is fought out. When its over, zoom back out to the big map. Then you could have scales that work out realistically and are still playable. Kinda like final fantasy or fallout.

guiguibaah
Creative Contributor
Posts: 441
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 1:00 am

#70 Post by guiguibaah » Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:21 pm

Odi wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote: Guiguibaah also makes a good point:
guiguibaah wrote:1. Open space combat would be a chaotic melee since there is little place to hide. A fleet of large, cumbersome ships would work best in this region. 5-6 turns most.

2. Cluttered space combat in asteroid belts / planetary rings / Solar Coronas or Black holes / Nebulas would allow small ships to attack, then to a secure area, making the game a cat-and mouse chase.
So if you wanted to fight with only small ships, you'd try to lure the enemy's big ships into combat near lots of obstructions that give you an advantage. Maybe in that situation, small ships do have a combat effectiveness per PP spent advantage.
well, remember Freespace 2 - those open space combats aren't a chaotic melee, weapon ranges are quite short, you can still play cat and mouse, keep some small and fast TF's out of sensor range and sorround the enemy while opening weak point in your mainfleet to lure the enemy into it...

Ah yes, Freespace 2, my favourite game - Always played it on impossible as it's a major capital-ship slugfest if you're not careful. Unfortunately no real cat-and-mouse unless you are talking about the nebula missions. Some cat-and-mouse with fighters though. Most of the time it came down to a missilefest, me playing pointman and my computer AI wingmen taking down enemy fighters after me.
There are three kinds of people in this world - those who can count, and those who can't.

User avatar
StratCaster
Space Kraken
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:35 am
Location: Boston, USA

#71 Post by StratCaster » Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:42 pm

I loved FreeSpace 1 & 2
"The mighty warships of the Vl'Hurg Empire dived screaming upon the unknowing Earth, where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog." -Hitchhikers Guide

User avatar
BreadMan
Space Squid
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2004 1:37 am
Location: Chico, California

#72 Post by BreadMan » Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:18 am

Mockup of what I was talking about:

Image

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12634
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#73 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Aug 18, 2004 5:20 am

BreadMan wrote:Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but what's so important about having the whole system for a battle?
AFAIK, there's nothing especially important about battles covering the whole system, but it does make some sense, given that fleet galaxy map movement treats systems at point objects. There's no sensible, easy graphical way to have and display fleets be around one planet or the other on the galaxy map, so it's desirable to have the battle map cover the whole system. (There are probably other threads that discuss this though...)
Seems to me it makes more sense to have battles at certain points-of-interest. If you were a comander in charge of defending a system, you'd place your fleets at planets, not out in the middle of nowhere. Otherwise, your enemy would just fly past you, bombard your planet, and take control unopposed.
Presumably you'd put your fleet(s) around the planets you want to protect. In the event of an attack, you could leave them there, or send them out to counterattack.
Consider this though: How about 2 battle maps? 1 up-close for actual battles between ships, 1 zoomed way out for navigation within a system with fleets and planets represented as hud icons?
We've already broken movement to galaxy and in-system levels. There's no need for another level. Also, this would either take far too long to resolve all the sub-battles, or would require a player to focus on sub-battles and ignore the rest of what's going on, or would automate the sub-battles. None of those options are attractive.
Kinda like final fantasy or fallout.
Which are single player games, which have only a single "fleet" (the party) to worry about. Further, your suggestion would be like playing a 20 second round of street-fighter-like battle every time you told one of your characters to attack in the RPG-style battle system, rather than just using a formula to get a damage number.

User avatar
noelte
Juggernaut
Posts: 872
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 12:42 pm
Location: Germany, Berlin

#74 Post by noelte » Wed Aug 18, 2004 7:41 am

As i remember one thing is't decided yet. Do we want fleets to attack an whole system or do we want a planet by planet conquere.

I would like having a planet by planet conquer. if we are going to do a full scale system atteck we need rather huge fleets to conquere the system through it 10 Planets and an additional defending fleet. If the attacker manage to do so, he is already on the winning side and has only to keep going to enemy system to defeat him.
Press any key to continue or any other key to cancel.
Can COWs fly?

User avatar
Daveybaby
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 724
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 11:07 am
Location: Hastings, UK

#75 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:32 am

Benefits of having space combat at a system level are:

(1) Terrain - you get ready made terrain (i.e. planets, moons, stars, asteroid belts, dust clouds etc) that you can assign effects to (defensive/accuracy/range/concealment penalties and bonuses). This means combat might involve more manouevring for position, and get away from the usual '2 groups of ships line up and shoot at each other' approach.

(2) Strategic Objectives other than just 'destroy the enemy fleet' - i.e. you could choose to land troops or bombard a planet during space combat itself. So you could have a smaller, weaker force, yet outmaneouver the larger defending fleet to strike a crippling blow on a critical planet.

(3) Because there may be multiple strategic objectives (i.e multiple planets to defend), defenders might have to choose either to split their forces to defend each planet, or just defend the most important one, or try to intercept the attacking fleet before they can reach either planet (possibly giving up their defensive advantages, below).

(4) To counter the above disadvantage, defenders would tend to get the most benefits from terrain bonuses, plus they would have multiple planetary and system defences in place.


I like the mockup though, breadman - to be honest thats the sort of scale that i'd like to see space combat take place at anyway (obviously you'd be zooming in to see the action when it takes place).
The COW Project : You have a spy in your midst.

Post Reply