Combat Requirements Doc - Preliminary

Past public reviews and discussions.
Locked
Message
Author
User avatar
utilae
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:37 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

#61 Post by utilae »

The ultimate solution is:

when the battle hits X time, then pause and save combat. Continue next turn.

Sapphire Wyvern
Space Kraken
Posts: 149
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:25 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

#62 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

Finding a way to break the initial 3-way deadlock is important as well. 3 player games of Magic: The Gathering are often dissatisfying because the winner is virtually always the person who has a reasonable early defense, to discourage attackers, and chooses to hold back.

It would be a good idea if we could come up with some kind of mechanical bonus to encourage getting stuck in right away. One example of such a mechanic would be for the first two players that engage in a given combat to receive significant morale bonuses for the rest of the fight. This isn't realistic (like that matters); more importantly it discourages attempts to "game" the combat by declining engagement until the other players' forces are spent.

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

#63 Post by utilae »

Sapphire Wyvern wrote: Finding a way to break the initial 3-way deadlock is important as well. 3 player games of Magic: The Gathering are often dissatisfying because the winner is virtually always the person who has a reasonable early defense, to discourage attackers, and chooses to hold back.
It's a valid strategy. But it doesn't really matter. Empires will be so different (eg some low tech, others high tech) that the one who attacks first might not necesarily be at such a disadvantage.

Sapphire Wyvern
Space Kraken
Posts: 149
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:25 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

#64 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

utilae wrote:
Sapphire Wyvern wrote: Finding a way to break the initial 3-way deadlock is important as well. 3 player games of Magic: The Gathering are often dissatisfying because the winner is virtually always the person who has a reasonable early defense, to discourage attackers, and chooses to hold back.
It's a valid strategy. But it doesn't really matter. Empires will be so different (eg some low tech, others high tech) that the one who attacks first might not necesarily be at such a disadvantage.
The problem is that it's an overly valid strategy. I, personally, find that while "last in, best dressed" is very realistic, it usually detracts from the enjoyability of the game. Therefore, it's a good idea for us to provide incentives that make it beneficial to get involved in the action, rather than always sitting back and waiting for other people to get impatient and start the firefight. Around the people I play with, we hate playing many games (M:TG, SMAC, MoO etc) in a 3-player environment because they so predictably devolve into sitting back and waiting to clean up the leftovers. (Aside: Settlers of Catan is a notable exception to that dynamic, which is one reason why it's such a great game).

Unless we give some careful thought to space combat design, the only situation in which attacking first will not be a disadvantage will be if you can destroy the enemy fleet without any expenditure of resources or accrued damage; in which case, the first combat you engage in is totally irrelevant (to you) and you are in the same position as if you had attacked last. While this is possible in very high-tech vs low-tech duels or other cases of total dominance, that's not evidence that the game dynamic is good.

I'm not saying that we should totally disallow the strategy of sitting back and letting the others "go at it" first; it is indeed valid and very effective, and it should be a usable technique. What I am saying is that it shouldn't be a dominant strategy in the game theory sense, meaning guaranteed to be as good or better than any competing strategy. Taking the early damage and loss of resources (eg ammo) implied by actually engaging your enemies ought to bring some kind of reward to compensate for the loss of strategic position that your early commitment costs you. Perhaps we could award combat XP to crews in real time during a fight, so that engaging your enemies first will at least give you a chance to level up your crews before fighting the person who sat back? Another idea is to simply apply penalties to fights that go on too long; call it attrition or combat fatigue, to discourage time wasting.

While I've given some thought to encourage early activity in the macro game, I hadn't considered its applicability to space combat as well. Clearly, there is an opportunity here. Any other ideas?

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12800
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#65 Post by Geoff the Medio »

I suspect that it would be a relatively rare occurance to have three mutually antagonistic players meeting for a battle at the same location with roughly equal strength forces, such that it would become preferable to let the other players weaken themselves first, then attack the leftovers within a single space battle. Rather, I would expect that this would be far more relevant on the galaxy map-level strategy game, from which mainly pairwise battles between players will occur. However, if somehow a balanced 3-way battle does occur, the utilae's point applies, which is that all three players can just do nothing, end the battle for that turn, and wait for reinforcements from the bigger strategic game, which will eventually unbalanced the single battle in question enough to make it worthwhile for one player to attack first. As long as there's an incentive to attack on the big-scale level, this seems like it would eventually resolve itself...

And perhaps it would actually be a good thing to have some three-way (or two way) equal battles be generally stalemate situations; having ongoing stalemates might be interesting if it result in necessary changes to strategy at a high level, with rerouting of reinforcements to ensure the other player(s) don't do the same first and faster and overcome your forces there, etc.

Sapphire Wyvern
Space Kraken
Posts: 149
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:25 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

#66 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

Hmm. I'm afraid I'm not convinced yet, Geoff. It's true that this will only be a problem when there are 3+ mutually antagonistic forces in the battle, which will indeed be rare, so arguably there is no need for special intervention in tactical play. (I'm already arguing strongly in favour of special interaction incentive mechanics on the strategic map.)

However, I think you are basing your statements on one false premise. The situation doesn't need to be symmetrically balanced force-wise for declining battle to be the dominant strategy. Unless one of the parties is forced to be aggressive (for instance, to break a blockade or maintain supply lines), engaging first is guaranteed to be worse or equal to not engaging first unless we introduce a mechanic to reward it. And it will almost never be equal. It doesn't actually matter what the relative force split between you and them is; it's always better for you if they fight each other first, as you then fight a weaker enemy, suffer fewer losses, and expend less resources. That's why it's a dominant strategy.

I think game design that encourages inaction is not really the best thing we could achieve. Secondly, I would prefer to avoid obvious dominant strategies in the game design. I'm not against stalemates in tactical play per se; I think that your idea in that regard is interesting, although I'd like to playtest it before I decided one way or another.

Aside: I can think of one example of where waiting is not the dominant strategy. This is when several competing fleets are aiming to destroy the same space monster and destroying the monster provides a reward (eg, the Guardian of Orion). If you wait till the last, perhaps the other players will defeat it and you lose the reward; however, going in first means that the monster is still at full strength. However, this is an example of a situation that rewards attacking early, because destroying the enemy fleet (that is, the monster) yourself is the critical thing. That leads to another idea for promoting action in tactical play: provide morale bonuses to your empire for significant defeats of other empires by your own forces.

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12800
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#67 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:Unless one of the parties is forced to be aggressive (for instance, to break a blockade or maintain supply lines)...
That's the key thing in my mind: battles don't happen in isolation, like a Magic: The Gathering game. Battles are part of a larger strategic game. As such, I see stalemates as being a good thing, as they result in more significant strategic consequences to the larger game.

For example, similar to your MOO prize monster, three empires all arrive at an important prize planet at the same turn with equal strength fleets. They all know that if they attempt to attack either of their opponents, the third one will end up strongest and win, so nobody attacks, and a stalemate develops. Now this has more consequnces for the larger game: players have to figure out some way to make attacking (and thus weakening themself compared to the third party) worthwhile. This means that the player who is first able to bring in enough additional fleet strength to be sure to be able to overpower both opponents could win. Alternatively, a player who can use espionage to disable one or both of the others would have an advantage. Alternatively, a deal could be brokered between two empires to team up on the third and make some other exchange where the one who takes the planet gives something else to the other dealmaker. Alternatively, one of the empires could try to prevent the others from keeping their fleets at the system in supplies, weakening them until it's worth attacking.

In a more imbalanced scenario, a large fleet arrives at a system with two other empires' smaller fleets that were battling it out to a stalemate. The large fleet empire wants to take the system, so doesn't really care that attacking both other fleets would result in some losses that could theoretically be avoided by letting the two smaller fleets whittle eachother down first. The system control prize is sufficient motivation for the big fleet to just wipe out the two smaller ones, taking a few (theoretically avoidable) losses.

User avatar
skdiw
Creative Contributor
Posts: 643
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 2:17 am

#68 Post by skdiw »

so we need another button that if all players agrees to stale, the battle ends. Though I also agree with Sapphire that too much stale is a boring game.
:mrgreen:

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

Balances

#69 Post by guiguibaah »

In other words, what do we do to prevent people from Turtling? Pick any Free-for all game and unless there is an incentive to go out and attack, the winner is usually the one who stays behind a strong defence, lets the others fight it out, then mops up with tehnologically superior forces. Name the game, Starcraft, Red Alert, Moo2, Emporor-Battle for Dune, etc..


What Warcraft 3 and C&C Generals did was reward the player for battles fought. Generals gave you abilities you could use the more units you destroyed, while Warcraft 3 gave you heroes that could make / break a battle.

In other words, if you turtle in a FFA in one of these games you will suffer late game, when your opponents now have either A) Superior & stronger froces to bear against you, or B) Extra abilities to destroy you that you can't have.

IE: Someone turtles in C&C Generals. He won't have access to Artillery bombardments, Fuel-air bomb drops, etc. These are all perfect weaponry used to bust a good defence and lots of units.


* * *
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

#70 Post by utilae »

Turtling is a valid strategy. I hate warcraft and command and conquer generals for making certain strategies impossible to use. Instead a balance of strategies should be developed that encourage all strategies and provide weaknesses and advantages for each strategy.


Also, you must remember that in this game we have stealth and many other factors. A player who attacks first can easily become the victor if they use the right strategies to take out there enemies one by one.

Also you must remember that it's possible that no player know's exactly how many players are in the battle or where they are.

Also in most cases you want your forces in other places, so your want to get the battle over with. In such a case, a player will not be waiting around.

User avatar
Geoff the Medio
Programming, Design, Admin
Posts: 12800
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 1:33 am
Location: Munich

#71 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Sapphire Wyvern's point was not "Turtling is bad".

Rather, the point was that in a single free-for-all battle of equal strength forces of ships, it's tactically/strategically bad to initiate combat with either of your two opponents, since that leaves the third stronger than you or the player you attacked.

Turtling as a strategy is irrelivant to this discussion, as regardless of whether a player is turtling or aggressively expanding on the galaxy map, s/he might still get into the hypothetical three-way battle of ships.

So, Sapphire Wyvern's point was that a way to break the stalemate that would then develop, within the battle, is desirable.

This is justified by the desire to avoid making one strategy overly dominant, not the desire to make one strategy useless. Specifically in this case, not attacking first is dominant. It's not (AFAIK) suggested to make attacking first absolutely essential, but rather to make it viable.

(This all said, I'm not convinced there's a problem... but I just wanted to clarify what I think was said and how people seem to have missed the point...)

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

#72 Post by utilae »

Geoff the Medio wrote: So, Sapphire Wyvern's point was that a way to break the stalemate that would then develop, within the battle, is desirable.

This is justified by the desire to avoid making one strategy overly dominant, not the desire to make one strategy useless. Specifically in this case, not attacking first is dominant. It's not (AFAIK) suggested to make attacking first absolutely essential, but rather to make it viable.
I think the best way to deal with this problem is via score. When the game is beaten, each player gets a score, ie number of kills, etc. So the player who is turtling will not get much in the way of kills and there score will suffer. So when three even fleets face off, the one that waits til last will probably get less kills.

Another idea is that if a turtling player wastes alot of time that player risks having to face reinforcements and the ships he has chosen to leave alone. This all asumes that the turtling player has no reinforcements and the other players do. Then it is in the interest of the turtling player to deal with as few ships as possible between turns rather than all at once.

A third way is to alter the starting positions of all three fleets so that they are all in very close proximity. That way all fleets must attack each other. No one can wait until the other two are finished because guns will be blazing at all units nearby.

Sapphire Wyvern
Space Kraken
Posts: 149
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:25 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

#73 Post by Sapphire Wyvern »

utilae wrote:I think the best way to deal with this problem is via score. When the game is beaten, each player gets a score, ie number of kills, etc. So the player who is turtling will not get much in the way of kills and there score will suffer. So when three even fleets face off, the one that waits til last will probably get less kills.
I'm not sure how effective that would be. What difference does the score make if playing "low-score" tactics means you win the game?
Another idea is that if a turtling player wastes alot of time that player risks having to face reinforcements and the ships he has chosen to leave alone. This all asumes that the turtling player has no reinforcements and the other players do. Then it is in the interest of the turtling player to deal with as few ships as possible between turns rather than all at once.
This is a good point. Of course, the presence of a turtling player isn't a problem; it only becomes an issue if every (good) player is a turtling player because turtling is a dominant strategy.
A third way is to alter the starting positions of all three fleets so that they are all in very close proximity. That way all fleets must attack each other. No one can wait until the other two are finished because guns will be blazing at all units nearby.
This particular suggestion does not appeal to me at all. It a) denies any possibility of tactical maneuvring, b) punishes players with a long-range fleet strategy, c) reduces combat to "whoever has the biggest (well-suited) fleet, and d) completely removes the potential for "battle-field diplomacy"/alliances of convenience. That's huge damage to the game to solve what is, after all, a fairly minor issue.

3-way mutually-antagonistic battles will be rare, and even though they don't have to be symmetrically balanced for stalemating to be an issue, it will probably all come out in the wash as far as the macro-game goes. The timing of reinforcements will probably finish things soon enough, and as long as there is a macro-game reason for urgency in battle resolution (reinforcements, blockades, supply lines, etc), stalling won't be a dominant strategy. And I agree that allowing stalling would be good for the game, provided that it's not dominant.

I'd still like to see a morale boost for the first two players to engage, though. I think it would be a fun, easy to implement mechanic that would provide an interesting additional dynamic for multiplayer battles.

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

#74 Post by Dreamer »

I think the best way to deal with this problem is via score. When the game is beaten, each player gets a score, ie number of kills, etc.
To avoid this problem wecan use several ideas (not countin the "All appear right beside the other" witch I don't like for reasons already exposed).

As an idea, instead of "kills" we can have a meassure of "glory" to measure how many battles have been fought. If you win a lot of them tales of them begin to be known throught the galaxy, your people become proud of the military and . If you loose all of them people in your empire begin to feel more patriotic and threatened and recruitments are easier. More or less. The more you fight, the more warrior-like your race becomes. And so the easier to become to get recruits, funds and approval to go to war.

The best ide IMO is the idea of experience. A race that has fought many battles has more combat experience that other that has not. I don't like the idea of individual ship experience. Since experienced officers would be probably transfered to command new ships, crews would be rotated and mixed between veterans and others who can learn from them, etc. So let's manage experience in a global way. Each time a ship enters combat, fire weapons or is fire uppon it gains experience (so only engaged ships do), at the end of the combat, the total experience gained from the surviving ships adds to a empire pool of military experience. Every time a combat starts, each fleet is give a bonus relative to the experience of his empire.

Combatjuan
Space Krill
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2005 6:01 pm

Trying to get a handle on the project.

#75 Post by Combatjuan »

First Post!

I'm a _long_ time MoO/4x space game fan. I've also spent about the last year planning and creating technology demos for my own space strategy game. I'd have gotten much further on the project except that I got married 7 months ago. (-8

Anyway, having read through the whole of this combat discussion, I've got to say that you guys sure work well together. I worked with the Battle for Wesnoth folks for quite a while, and while they are a fantastic bunch with amazing talent, there was much less cohesion in the group. I applaud how well you are all considering one another's opinions and offering highly constructive criticism.

That aside, I'm interested in getting involved with FreeOrion at the expense of my own project. One of my favorite aspects of Master of Orion was the ability to customize my ships. I'm the kind of player who likes to invest myself emotionally in every one of my space-faring bearers of destructions. I want each one to be unique, each to have a designation, each to have a purpose, each to be able to make a very noticable impact on the battle -- each one to matter. Wesnoth (I apologize for the abundant references, but if you haven't tried it, please do http://www.wesnoth.org) was very good at fulfilling my need here. Each unit had a name. You smiled when your archer leveled up into a ranger, you cried when he died.

You see where I'm going here. I want each ship in the battle to matter. You can have 'epic' your 2000 ship battles where 500 small ships are lost and no one really cares. They are only epic the respects that there is lots at stake, and lots of explosions. But does your hand tremble on the mouse when one of your best captains perishes in a suicidal ram to save the remains of your fleet? No. Of course not. No one ship matters. There is no personality. That's the trouble.

Of course not everyone will agree with this, but I'd much prefer a fleet of 50 ships to be considered completely enormous. The largest of ships would require the resources of many planets to be built. Slightly smaller ones would require the same - but at a much lower technology level. Smaller ships would still have a general speed/manuevering/lower chance to be hit bonus, but the idea of what a 'small ship' is would change throughout the game. This would keep fleet sizes small and highlight the importance of the ship design aspect as well as having experienced crews if you plan on implementing such a thing.

Depending on how you implement your 3D engine, I think that 50 ships can easily look gorgeous and even quite epic. I'll discuss more, but one thing at a time.

I'll take a look through your source and the requests on sourceforge and see if I can be of any use to you. Thanks and keep up the good work!

-Charles

Locked