Ship Design --or-- Stock Ships

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
drek
Designer Emeritus
Posts: 935
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2003 8:07 am

Ship Design --or-- Stock Ships

#1 Post by drek » Tue May 03, 2005 6:53 pm

We've been operating under the assumption there'll be a ship design system. I've been kinda looking forward to it.

But:

*using stock ships would mean we don't have design/implement a ship design gui

*stock ships are far far easier to balance than a myriad of ship parts

*graphics for stock ships would be easier to conjure than interlocking ship part graphics

*designable ships creates UI problems when dealing with stacking ships. With stock ships, we can easily display "Scout Mark I x 100" on UI. With designable ships, it'll look more like "Scout Laser x5" "Scout Whatever x3" "Scout Speedy x3" "Scout Shielded x10" etc. etc. etc.

*designable ships creates UI problems when refitting ships (say you have a Scout Mark I you design, then redesign the scout along two pathes: Scout Mark II Laser and Scout Mark II Speedy. Which design do preexisting Scout Mark I's upgrade to? )

*in the end, ship design will in all probablity just lead to One True Ship Design anyway, that's surpassingly better than any other. (or maybe Four True Ship Designs, one for each size, or Sixteen True Ship Designs, one for each size/weapon layout.)

* The AI is going to have to be programmed to design ships to counter player created designs. Ouch, etc.

There's no doubt that ship design is fun. Question: Is ship design fun enough to compensate for the problems detailed above?

Possible alternative I: when designing a custom race, the player also design's a race's ships (...given a limited number of slots to do so...). Elminates some of the problems mentioned above.

Possible alternative II: As in smac, the number and types of parts are limited to just a few categories. You'd choose a chassis, a weapon system, and a couple of misc. systems (as in Smac). This approach simplifies (but doesn't eliminate) the problems I've detailed.

User avatar
pd
Graphics Lead Emeritus
Posts: 1924
Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:17 pm
Location: 52°16'N 10°31'E

#2 Post by pd » Tue May 03, 2005 7:28 pm

graphics for stock ships would be easier to conjure than interlocking ship part graphics
ship design doesn't mean that the components need to be visible in the design to the player. we could simply use a hull based system similar to moo2.

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12571
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#3 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue May 03, 2005 9:18 pm

IMO SMAC-style designing is a good system in general, not just as a compromise between wanting some design but avoiding complexity therein. I'd quite dislike having only stock ship designs.

There are lengthy arguments about it with a number of people insisting any limitations beyond "fill the bag" are horrible, but I don't see a need to have a single ship with more than one main type of offensive and defensive part. These could easily be slotted, as could other parts/mods/features, similar to SMAC.

This would be reasonably interesting to work with, and would significantly and usefully limit and guide ship design permutations for AI, hopefully without removing the interesting strategic decisions. It would probably speed up ship design for players significantly. It would severely limit the "tinkering and tweaking" feeling for players, however.

I'd also suggest that slot limitations would increase the number of viable and useful (significantly different) ship designs, and make balancing things to promote this situation easier. As above, some people disagree with this view.

The point of this thread is not to hash out the details of ship design, so I've avoided going into the number and types of slots.

There are ways to make upgrading unambiguous with stock ships, slots or a fill the bag system. Upgrade would occur without changing the class of a ship, by replacing older parts only with newer parts of the same type, and never adding to or changing the parts layout of a class when upgarding it.

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

Stock ship design

#4 Post by guiguibaah » Tue May 03, 2005 9:46 pm

You could do something ALA Moo1 - Have 5 different stock ship designs and that's it. Makes it easy to add to a UI since you only have 5 different types. If you want to design a new type of ship for a slot, you gotta upgrade or junk the ships in that slot.

Right now there are 5 slots, Scout Mark 1 - Mark 4.

Perhaps in the future the limit could be extended to 8 slots.

Nothing like in Moo2 please, where you had an unlimited number of different ship designs.

And as for AI - the CPU looks at what kind of ships you have in slot 1. Medium sized beamships? So it designs a pre-made counter which would be a missile ship or something. Then it looks at slot 2 - assault troopships? Then it designs an anti-troopship ship.
There are three kinds of people in this world - those who can count, and those who can't.

User avatar
utilae
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:37 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Ship Design --or-- Stock Ships

#5 Post by utilae » Tue May 03, 2005 10:54 pm

drek wrote: We've been operating under the assumption there'll be a ship design system. I've been kinda looking forward to it.
But:
*using stock ships would mean we don't have design/implement a ship design gui
Stock normally means unmodified, but I guess you mean stock as in predesigned, I'll continue with that assumption.

I think having stock ships may not be as bad as everyone would think. I have an idea of how this could be done:


In the game there are X number of predesigned ships (X would hopefully be over 100). Each ship can have a name, each ship can have a history and each ship is buildable if you have the tech to unlock it.

eg An example of a stock ship:
Name: Wasp
Type: Light Fighter
Weapons: 2x Beam
Speed: Extremely Fast
Armour: Low
Shields: Low

Now to unlock and build the wasp you need the following techs as a minimum:
Lasers (lowest tech of all beam weapons)
Nuclear engines (minimum engine tech required)
Light Fighter Frame (required for ship type)

So to get the Wasp you would need lasers, nuke engines and light fighter frame. Of course you could get fusion cannons, which are stronger than lasers, but are above the minimum requirement for beam weapons that the ship needs. So as long as you have a beam weapon tech that is above the minimum beam weapon tech required, then you can unlock the Wasp without having lasers. This also applies to engines in this example. However Light Fighter Frame is a one off tech that you have to have to unlock the Wasp.

When you unlock a ship such as the Wasp, you can build it, simply by choosing it. If you have a range of beam weapon techs, making it possible to have a Wasp that has lasers (low tech) and a Wasp that has plasma cannons (high tech), then you could specify the tech level of the Wasp. So you click to build the wasp, then choose a tech level from 1 to 5 (maybe a slider). If you choose 1, then the ship will be built with the lowest tech weapons and armor, that the ship allows (this would be the cheapest option). 5 would obviously mean better tech Wasp, but more expensive.


In this way we could have heaps of ships each with its own backstory, each ship available to certain races, unlocked with certain tech. You may not design ships anymore, but it's just as interesting as if you did.

User avatar
Dreamer
Dyson Forest
Posts: 228
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2005 6:44 am
Location: Santiago, Chile

#6 Post by Dreamer » Wed May 04, 2005 12:25 am

Well. It`s all about 2 things really: how much of a ship´s complexity will be useful, interesting in ship combat. If you have a simple combat system i`t doesn`t really need a complex ship design. And of course how much time and effort are we willing to spend in this.

As I see it there are some really great 4x games out there that use a very simplistic combat module. So it`s a reality that a great game can be attained without much about ships. I would start with a very simple feature set to get to 1.0 and release a complete version of the game. After that we can release a number of expansion packs for better ship combat, offroad travel adn other features higtly asked for but in the end not really a must for the game to be fun.

As I allways say, a good design, made with independen modules, can support a lot of future add-ons for the game. A lot of the great games out there right now are giving more and more emphasys on Mods.

Ran Taro
Space Squid
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:51 am

#7 Post by Ran Taro » Wed May 04, 2005 3:23 am

I think a SMAC style system is fine, and balances the fun of design with game and balance complexity well. Absolutley stock ships (no player input into design except researching the right techs) is pretty boring though.

One problem with a pre-game player designed stock ship idea, is that a player has to design ships potentially before he knows what techs he will aquire, or what value those techs will have in the game. Unless I am misunderstanding the idea, which is possible because I'm not very bright.

drek
Designer Emeritus
Posts: 935
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2003 8:07 am

#8 Post by drek » Wed May 04, 2005 4:34 am

Ran Taro wrote: One problem with a pre-game player designed stock ship idea, is that a player has to design ships potentially before he knows what techs he will aquire, or what value those techs will have in the game. Unless I am misunderstanding the idea, which is possible because I'm not very bright.
It's a problem that would have to be solved, if we were to use that particular idea.

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

Re: Ship Design --or-- Stock Ships

#9 Post by noelte » Wed May 04, 2005 6:22 am

drek wrote: *using stock ships would mean we don't have design/implement a ship design gui
?why does stock shipd make ship design gui obsolete? Ship design is one of the major fun part of space strategy games.
*stock ships are far far easier to balance than a myriad of ship parts
I agree. Mostly because we won't go into to much details when designing ships. Ship design if more a general template.
*designable ships creates UI problems when refitting ships (say you have a Scout Mark I you design, then redesign the scout along two pathes: Scout Mark II Laser and Scout Mark II Speedy. Which design do preexisting Scout Mark I's upgrade to? )
Your question is, which ship is automaticly upgraded. But the player can easyly decide which ships he wants to upgrade.
*in the end, ship design will in all probablity just lead to One True Ship Design anyway, that's surpassingly better than any other. (or maybe Four True Ship Designs, one for each size, or Sixteen True Ship Designs, one for each size/weapon layout.)

IMO, this argument comes from thin air. ;-)
There's no doubt that ship design is fun. Question: Is ship design fun enough to compensate for the problems detailed above?
Yes, it's fun and worth some effort.
Possible alternative I: when designing a custom race, the player also design's a race's ships (...given a limited number of slots to do so...). Elminates some of the problems mentioned above.
Hmm, i don't understand that alternative , but i like the second one. Or make it like moo, moo2 or moo3 (here of cause with more impact)
Possible alternative II: As in smac, the number and types of parts are limited to just a few categories. You'd choose a chassis, a weapon system, and a couple of misc. systems (as in Smac). This approach simplifies (but doesn't eliminate) the problems I've detailed.
Press any key to continue or any other key to cancel.
Can COWs fly?

Ran Taro
Space Squid
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:51 am

#10 Post by Ran Taro » Wed May 04, 2005 6:45 am

drek wrote:
Ran Taro wrote: One problem with a pre-game player designed stock ship idea, is that a player has to design ships potentially before he knows what techs he will aquire, or what value those techs will have in the game. Unless I am misunderstanding the idea, which is possible because I'm not very bright.
It's a problem that would have to be solved, if we were to use that particular idea.
I think the answer is that if you're gonna design ships at all, you're gonna need a ship design GUI anyway, so it might as well be 'in game', as 'pre game'. The capacity to save ship designs and access them as a 'stock ship template' in your next game might be nice though.

So I think if you want a simple, elegant system, SMAC is a good starting point.

User avatar
Kharagh
Pupating Mass
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:51 pm
Location: Germany

#11 Post by Kharagh » Wed May 04, 2005 7:41 am

IMO, ship design should be implementd as it is one of the most fun parts of the game. Creating your own ship gets you attached to them and thus increases immersion significantly.
However a SMAC-like design system seems ok for me, if it doesn't hinder the player too much.

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

#12 Post by Daveybaby » Wed May 04, 2005 8:21 am

I think ship design is a pretty important aspect to the game. While its probably not essential from a strategy point of view, it *is* a lot of fun (for a lot of people) and gives you a sense of ownership. Its a lot more satisfying to whup some ass using a ship you designed yourself from scratch, than to do it using 100 off-the-shelf battlecruisers.
The COW Project : You have a spy in your midst.

herbert_vaucanson
Space Floater
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 10:47 am
Location: European peninsula

#13 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Wed May 04, 2005 9:50 am

Ship designing, for me, is not an option but a core part of the fun of a 4x space game, along with systems development and politics. Strangely enough, I can survive without real-time battles :D (just give me some strategic options, if not the full turn-based control)

I always felt games without this full designing feature to be somewhat amputated.
- Well, what about this: a lot of empty space, colored balls spinning around, the occasional nifty exlosion, and some infestation here and there to give it the "lived in" feel?
- It shouldn't take more than a week... ok, I am in.

User avatar
Rapunzel
Pupating Mass
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2004 3:11 pm
Location: Germany

#14 Post by Rapunzel » Wed May 04, 2005 10:39 am

Dreamer wrote:Well. It`s all about 2 things really: how much of a ship´s complexity will be useful, interesting in ship combat. If you have a simple combat system i`t doesn`t really need a complex ship design. And of course how much time and effort are we willing to spend in this.
I agree with that.
If we have a "Spaceward Ho" style of comabt, a ship could be desighned by choosing three attributes (engine, shield, firepower), all three coudl be a simple Integer.
But since I would like to have some 2D taktical manouvering, Rockets exploding and taking out several ships that are close together etc. There sould be a more complex shipdesighn.
I'd rather be limited by the avaiable Space in a hull than by the desighn pattern, that only allowes 1 Rocket on a Huge_Fighter_Hull, but I will have to choose 4 Beamweapons.

I dislike stockships. That is because tech becomes only a midelware to unlock the wanted shipdesighn, Tech itselfe does not do anything anymore.

AND: shipdesighn add to emersion :D
Dieser Text basiert ausschließlich auf frei erfundener Interpunktion und Orthographie. Jegliche Uebereinstimmungen mit geltenden Regelungen sind rein zufaellig und wurden nicht beabsichtigt.

Sejant Chimera
Krill Swarm
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:21 pm

#15 Post by Sejant Chimera » Wed May 04, 2005 9:23 pm

Rapunzel wrote:AND: shipdesighn add to emersion :D
Most definitely. This is one of the reasons why I haven't played Galactic Civilisations for anywhere near the length of time I played MOO2. I got more satisfaction in designing my unique ships (in appearance and when they fire their guns) and using them to defeat the opponents, then just clicking on, 'Create generic scout ship that everyone else has' in a build queue.

Out of interest, is there any intention to have the same number of ship appearance choices as MOO2? The biggest letdown of MOO3 IMHO was that the lancer and corvette only had the same single option. It makes tracking different tech level spaceships a lot easier as well.

Post Reply