Ship Design

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

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utilae
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#31 Post by utilae » Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:49 am

I've always found C&C series units more unique and therefore giving plenty of strategic options, eg
-Chrono Tank - Can teleport
-Subterrainian APC - Transport soldiers underground
-Tick Tank - Can deploy itself to become a stationary turret/defense
M.A.D. Tank - Can emit an expanding ring of destruction. 3 Can destroy an entire base and all its vehicles. Little man jumps out. Goes beep, beep, beep then explodes and brings death.
Deviator (from Dune) - Takes over enemy units temporarily
Psychic - Takes over enemy units permantly as long as Psychic lives
Artillary Hellicopter Thing from Red Alert 2 - Hellicopter that can deploy into a stationary artillary unit.
Mine Layer - Lays mines.
Spy - Take form of enemy units and take down powerplants, etc
Dog - Eat spies
Stealth Tank - it's invisible


Although StarCraft do also have some really cool and unique units.

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skdiw
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#32 Post by skdiw » Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:54 am

We can save the really cool ships as wonder-ships and leave lesser specials as specials for regular ship.

I am all for simple mathematical formula that can achieve what we need, instead of cumbersome table of bonuses and penalties.

The way Blizzard design their games is the start with cool concepts, then they play test it then balance the stats and adjust cool abilites. The extensive play testing require is one big reason why the games take forever to reach the market. Even with all that testing, there are still bugs and imbalances.
:mrgreen:

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#33 Post by Sapphire Wyvern » Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:26 am

Dreamer wrote:I think that when we speak epic, we mean unlike Moo2, when a battle with 20 ships per side was already eternal and boring to play. Even in Moo1 you can easily have thousands of ships, only represented in 6 or so sprites. IMHO the point is that 20 or so ships is pretty lame for an empire that span for half the galaxy isn't it?
Depends on the size of the ships, really. If a star-fighter carrier is as significant an investment for a star-nation as a real carrier is for a real nation, then 20 or so per empire would be a very impressive figure. The US has, what, 10 active aircraft carriers? Each is the centerpoint of a massive amount of power in the form of a Carrier Battlegroup. Considering that most worlds are relatively newly settled and don't have the advantage of 10,000 years of population growth and economic development, a realism argument can easily be made in favour of limited capital ship numbers if the investment required to build such a major ship remains proportional to the large economies involved in the game. Of course, this is totally irrelevant either way; the decision should be made on the basis of the "consensus of cool". I prefer fewer, more impressive and much important major vessels; others clearly prefer vessels to not be particularly unique or important individually, with fleets of thousands being the game focus.

Note that my recommended upper limit for battle size represents a very major engagement, but not the entirety of an empire's fleet, except under dire circumstances such as a Last Stand. So even if 20 major vessels in a fight is a very large fight, I would still expect a major empire to have at least 50-100 major vessels in its overall fleet.

I don't mind the lesser ships being regarded as somewhat disposable, but I would prefer if a Doom Star, major carrier or battleship was always the rare pinnacle of power, rather than the standard playing piece. A queen, not a pawn.

In this regard, I prefer MoO II's system to Stars!, where battleships quickly became the only relevant size class and were usually numbered in the dozens to hundreds.
Sapphire Wyvern wrote: Plus it gives an excuse for a cool, detailed ship design system, which would be wasted for a game with thousands of ships in each battle.
I would rather go for a cooler, simple and fast ship design in witch it's not all about what you put in a ship but how do you use it. Most of the "units" in several RTS games are not that complicated at all but they can be playad very diferently. In starcraft dor example, you have HP, movement speed, range and damage and a couple of specials, that's enought.
RTSs do not permit custom unit design, other than the purchasing of upgrades. Such simple stats would be much harder to balance if custom unit design is also allowed. Most games with simple units shift the "design" aspect into force selection. Compare the MechWarrior Clix game to Classic BattleTech and you'll see a perfect example. Similar examples include WH40K 2nd Ed versus 3rd and 4th Ed.

This doesn't prove anything either way. I would be perfectly happy with a streamlined ship design system with the emphasis on task force building and mass combat. However, from a stylistic point of view, I would prefer a setting where capital-class ships are significant and powerful individuals, and that would naturally be better reflected by a more detailed ship design model. It would be analogous to the difference between an D&D character and a Warhammer figurine. Regardless, a less numerous battle can be just as epic as a battle involving thousands of large vessels (I'm not including parasites). YMMV.

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#34 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:33 am

One way to (hopefully) provide interesting tactical gameplay is to encourage diverse ship designs, by use of ship roles or specialisations.

The logic is that designing a ship for a specific role confers bonuses to its performance in that role, because its design has been optimised (and the crew are trained) for that role instead of being more general purpose, jack-of-all-trades. Bonuses would include improved space/power efficiency for certain weapon types, increased accuracy against certain targets etc.

As an example, my current list of bonuses looks like this:

Fighters

Scout
+25% Speed
+25% Sensor range
+100% Manoeuvrability.

Interceptor
+25% Weapon Accuracy
+25% Weapon Firing Rate
+100% Manoeuvrability.

Bomber
+50% Direct Fire Weapon Power
+50% Bomb/Missile Capacity
+50% Manoeuvrability.


Escorts

Reconnaissance
+25% Sensor range
+25% Speed
+25% Range

Point Defence
+50% Accuracy against fighters, mines, missiles.

Destroyer
+25% Beam weapon capacity
+25% Beam weapon fire rate.


Capital Ships

Carrier
+25% Fighter capacity
+25% Launch/refuel/land rate

Long Range Attack
+25% Direct Fire weapon capacity
+25% Direct Fire weapon accuracy against capital ships
+25% Decrease in range dissipation effects

Short Range Attack
+25% Direct Fire weapon capacity
+25% Combat speed
+15% Direct Fire weapon power
+15% Increase in range dissipation (to counter increased power)

Indirect Fire
+15% Missile capacity
+15% Missile accuracy
+15% Missile evasion
+15% Missile range

Planetary Strike
+25% Bomb capacity
+25% Bombing accuracy against planetary targets

System Patrol
-25% Maintenance Costs

Command
All other ships in task force gain a +10% increase in their bonuses.


Non-Combat Ships

Troop Transport
+25% Troop capacity
+25% Troop deployment speed (reduces deployment losses)

Colony Ship
+50% Colony Capacity

Supply Ship
+50% Supply Capacity


Obviously a lot of this stuff is tied into my own game design rather than how FO would work, but i'm sure different bonuses could be thought up where required.

While these may seem like overly large bonuses, remember that the point of this is to encourage diversification of ship roles… so the bonus levels effectively become the default levels of performance for ships of a certain role.
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#35 Post by Dreamer » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:58 pm

Sapphire Wyvern wrote:The US has, what, 10 active aircraft carriers? Each is the centerpoint of a massive amount of power in the form of a Carrier Battlegroup.
Wich is more or less my point. I would be completely satisfied with a battle like the one you described before. I was only pointing out that there were hundreds os ships in a battle like that. Moo2 does this right for capital ships, but not for lesser ships. You cuold have at most, say 60 ships on the combat screen no matter the size. Also, I like this concept of "Carrier BattleGroup" and if we mix well the advantages/disadvantages of sizes we can design it so you NEED this kind of variety.



Considering that most worlds are relatively newly settled and don't have the advantage of 10,000 years of population growth and economic development, a realism argument can easily be made in favour of limited capital ship numbers if the investment required to build such a major ship remains proportional to the large economies involved in the game. Of course, this is totally irrelevant either way; the decision should be made on the basis of the "consensus of cool". I prefer fewer, more impressive and much important major vessels; others clearly prefer vessels to not be particularly unique or important individually, with fleets of thousands being the game focus.

Note that my recommended upper limit for battle size represents a very major engagement, but not the entirety of an empire's fleet, except under dire circumstances such as a Last Stand. So even if 20 major vessels in a fight is a very large fight, I would still expect a major empire to have at least 50-100 major vessels in its overall fleet.
Sapphire Wyvern wrote:I don't mind the lesser ships being regarded as somewhat disposable, but I would prefer if a Doom Star, major carrier or battleship was always the rare pinnacle of power, rather than the standard playing piece. A queen, not a pawn.
Mee too. In fact, I would use a more exponential meassure regarding ship's sizes. Te death star had the radius of about 30 star destroyers while Moo doomstars where about 2-3 battleships in space. Also doomstars should be so expensive that less that 10 should be going around in the galaxy, they should never become the main production line.
Sapphire Wyvern wrote: RTSs do not permit custom unit design, other than the purchasing of upgrades.
Take a look at EARTH2150. RTS with unit designs. It's also very simple, but provide for a lor of tactics. My point is, we should design ships to this amount of detail:

weapon
space used - range - type -
---------------------------------------
10% - point defense - beam (best available)
15% - large - missile (best available)

and not this:

95 gauss cannons overloaded, extended range, forward arc, shield piercing
37 nuclear missiles, multiple warheads, short range, 10 shots, ECM
...
fill with OTHER beam/missile types and mods
...

Again. A simple system like this can be very rewarding with a nice system of counters and acouple of specials. And what about capital ships? Well, their can have more slots to allow more things. But basically, 10% means in this case a LOT of beams.

But the more complexity you put in each weapon and system, the less you can predict how it will perform in battle and the less you can tell what is happening in combat. It has happened to me that I design a ship I think will be cool and then realice that for several (sometimes unknown) factors it doesn't work. And less complexity also means easier balance, easier AI, faster play, etc.

Daveybaby wrote:One way to (hopefully) provide interesting tactical gameplay is to encourage diverse ship designs, by use of ship roles or specialisations.
I woulf preffer that this roles emerge naturally from the components of the ship (that's the purpose of design). Ok, so you design a small ship with emphasis on engines and manouver and nothing else. You get your scout. You put a lot of troop pods and you get your troop carrier, there is no real reason to have also a +25% troops wich is a little odd anyway (ok, so I select these components but if I select that role I can put more?)

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#36 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:35 pm

Dreamer wrote:I woulf preffer that this roles emerge naturally from the components of the ship (that's the purpose of design).
The point is to encourage diversification and specialisation of ship roles, to try to create more interesting tactical gameplay. So, instead of, say, designing one ship which has some missiles and some PD, it would be more efficient to design 2 ships, one for each role.

So, you get more bang for your buck , but, conversely, you may become vulnerable if your PD ships are taken out, which wouldnt happen if you had a mixed design. So (if the balance of the bonuses is right) both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.

Basically, as ever, i'm trying to get something like the RPS system of the total war games going - where different types of units have different strengths and weaknesses, and thus different uses in combat. Its very difficult to achieve this in a game where players design their own units, without severely constraining what they can do within a design. So instead i've tried to give the player positive bonuses for diversifying. they still dont *have* to diversify, of course.

Yes, this stuff can come about through the design process anyway, but with this system there is an actual incentive for players to design ships for specific roles, and then to use them in those roles, which might make things more interesting than the usual '2 big blobs of ships shoot at each other until only one is left' approach to space warfare.
Ok, so you design a small ship with emphasis on engines and manouver and nothing else. You get your scout. You put a lot of troop pods and you get your troop carrier, there is no real reason to have also a +25% troops wich is a little odd anyway (ok, so I select these components but if I select that role I can put more?)
The idea is that you first choose what you want to design, e.g: 'I want to design a troop carrier'. Troop pods then take up less space than normal because the whole ship design is optimised around carrying and deploying troops.
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#37 Post by skdiw » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:41 pm

I think a better design rather that hard tables of bonus and penalties for each ship type is to incorporate reduced costs for multilples of the same item. For example, the first laser PD might take 20 spaces, but the subsequent laser will take 18, then 16... down to minimum of 14. That would promote mixed ship roles, while not heavily penaltize large ship hull for having different items. This method makes the game less clunky and less table memorization if you just say something like "same subsequent items will take 10% less space than the previous." so there is only one rule the player has to remember. For realism, we can say that the first item includes the basic systems, chasis, wire connection... so additional items will take less space because they share the same overhead.

In addition, we have weapons and armor/shield rps so I think we have enough on top of ship roles, wonder ships, and experience points to make battles very interesting without overcomplicated things.
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#38 Post by Dreamer » Thu Dec 01, 2005 2:10 am

Daveybaby wrote:The idea is that you first choose what you want to design, e.g: 'I want to design a troop carrier'. Troop pods then take up less space than normal because the whole ship design is optimised around carrying and deploying troops.
I think the idea is too obscure. You look at 2 ships, they have the same specs but ther are "optimized" differently.

Still, the best balance is available space. Space is limited, so you have to carefully CHOOSE what you put in a ship.

If you create a Jack-of-all-trades it can have bombs, beams and missiles for both offense and defense, at long and short ranges. That design would not work that good because you actually have very few of each. In fact, try to play Moo2 making designs like that and you don't get far. As I said before, that behaviour emerges by itself, and I think you are trying to over-compensate. What we DO need to have to achieve roles is a system of counters:

Long range missiles/beams cannot target ships very near ships (or do so with a penalty)
Point defense beams cannot pierce thick armor or shields.
Heavy cannons can not target small ships.
Black hole generators use more space than a small ship can have.
Etc.

I tried to stick with concepts instead of using number, but I mean tha a good weapon-size v/s defense-power, weapon-size v/s ship-size and ship-size v/s defense-power adjustments. No ship-role adjustments.

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#39 Post by utilae » Thu Dec 01, 2005 5:14 am

Dreamer wrote:
Daveybaby wrote:The idea is that you first choose what you want to design, e.g: 'I want to design a troop carrier'. Troop pods then take up less space than normal because the whole ship design is optimised around carrying and deploying troops.
I think the idea is too obscure. You look at 2 ships, they have the same specs but ther are "optimized" differently.
Well, they're just templates aren't they. So you choose carrier, it creates something that you can tweak to save you time. Also, I think that his examples are balanced so that all ship roles have the same total %, but in the game this may not balance it, unless you could weight each item, eg 1 % of weapon is 5 points, while 1% of bomb is 1 point. That way you can adjust the points to make sure that every thing is balanced.
Dreamer wrote: If you create a Jack-of-all-trades it can have bombs, beams and missiles for both offense and defense, at long and short ranges. That design would not work that good because you actually have very few of each. In fact, try to play Moo2 making designs like that and you don't get far.
It's because some of the 'trades' are useless compared to some of the others. For examples bombs are useless, since beams can do the same thing from further away. If beams couldn't hit planets, then bombs would be more viable. Missiles were good and annoying in the early game, but need to be improved, ie faster. Point Defense isn't even very good sometimes. It's is almost always useless against hightech missiles with lots of armour. Or at least I can't keep track of how long it will take to kill the missle, so I don't know if I am doing any damage at all.
Dreamer wrote: As I said before, that behaviour emerges by itself, and I think you are trying to over-compensate. What we DO need to have to achieve roles is a system of counters:
Yes, rather than aritificially making counters, eg
"ship gets -25% penalty when using long range weapons, because it's a short range ship"
have natural counters eg for a ship that is bad against fast targets:
"weapons rate of fire is very slow and turn rate is very slow, so fast and manueverable ships will have little chance of being hit. Instead of giving the slow turning slow firing ship a penalty to hit fast ships or less damage vs fast ship, make it so damage is normal. The slow turn rate and slow rate of fire will serve to make it hard for the ship to hit fast ships."
Dreamer wrote: Long range missiles/beams cannot target ships very near ships (or do so with a penalty)
Make long range weapons have a min and max range. Targets closer than min range either cannot be targeted or the damage to the targets is greatly reduced.
Dreamer wrote: Point defense beams cannot pierce thick armor or shields.
Point Defense should have the same properties as normal mount version. Just faster rate of fire, shorter range.
Dreamer wrote: Heavy cannons can not target small ships.
Make heavy cannons decrease the turn rate/decrease manuerverability. Or make the chance of hitting less.

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#40 Post by Daveybaby » Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:21 am

Dreamer wrote:You look at 2 ships, they have the same specs but ther are "optimized" differently.
Then they dont have the same specs, do they?

Look, if you design a carrier and a battleship, you dont just build 2 big square boxes and fill one with guns and the other with planes. They have fundamentally different shapes, infrastructures and crew training regimes. They look completely different. They are optimised for their roles. If you started mounting 20 inch naval guns on a carrier hull you wouldnt fit nearly as many per square foot, and you wouldnt be able to use them as efficiently.

But anyway, these are realism arguments - the gameplay effect is the key issue.
Still, the best balance is available space. Space is limited, so you have to carefully CHOOSE what you put in a ship.
You still have to do the same thing here. But you might get a bit more for your money if you choose the right hull design for the job. And theres still nothing to stop you from building a generic hull, but why would you want to?
Utilae wrote:Well, they're just templates aren't they. So you choose carrier, it creates something that you can tweak to save you time.
I'm not really thinking of templates here, this is just saying "i want to design a carrier" and then when you start adding stuff to the empty design certain stuff will be cheaper/more space efficient for that hull.

There's nothing to stop this being implemented though, i.e. generate an autodesign for you to tweak and play with, since this code already has to exist in the first place in order for the AI to play the game.
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#41 Post by skdiw » Thu Dec 01, 2005 3:40 pm

Dreamer wrote:
Daveybaby wrote: If you create a Jack-of-all-trades it can have bombs, beams and missiles for both offense and defense, at long and short ranges. That design would not work that good because you actually have very few of each. In fact, try to play Moo2 making designs like that and you don't get far. As I said before, that behaviour emerges by itself, and I think you are trying to over-compensate. What we DO need to have to achieve roles is a system of counters:
Then they dont have the same specs, do they?

Look, if you design a carrier and a battleship, you dont just build 2 big square boxes and fill one with guns and the other with planes. They have fundamentally different shapes, infrastructures and crew training regimes. They look completely different. They are optimised for their roles. If you started mounting 20 inch naval guns on a carrier hull you wouldnt fit nearly as many per square foot, and you wouldnt be able to use them as efficiently.

But anyway, these are realism arguments - the gameplay effect is the key issue.
There is very little difference between two battleships with a beam weapon and a plane versus a battleship with two beams plus a carrier with two planes. If you look at the scale of the fleet, they are the same--with exception that the former is easier to control, and therefore more efficient to have jack-of-all-trade ships, even though they will have only a few weapons of each type, in terms of total arnaments, they are no different from specialized ships. Granted, there might be other small designs of the ships that promote roles for mainly tactical reasons. For example, you may lightly armor your carriers since they will be safe in the back protected from fire so you get to put another plane onto the carrier. However, the difference is so small that we should something else to increase specialization. We know from many other games that some table of bonuses and penalty is needed. Rather than cumbersome tables, we should rely on simple rules or maybe the character of the weapons if possible.
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#42 Post by Daveybaby » Thu Dec 01, 2005 4:14 pm

Erm... your example seems to be neglecting to add the bonuses...
Its should be more like:

Specialised ships
1 Battleship with 3 beam weapons
1 Carrier with 3 fighters

vs

Generalised ships
2 Ships, each having 1 beam weapon and 1 fighter.

So you get a advantage in firepower vs advantage in flexibility and ease of use. Obviously the above would be quite an extreme example (+50% bonus for specialisation) but thats all tweakable, and depends on where you want the balance to lie.

And re: cumbersome tables... i wasnt proposing to have this stuff on display in-game, its enough to for the player to know that they can fit more beams per on a battleship hull of a given size than on a carrier hull of the same size. (Unless you mean cumbersome for the programmers, which is weird because there are going to be cumbersome tables everywhere else in the game, they pretty much form the basis for any 4x game).
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#43 Post by utilae » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:19 pm

Daveybaby wrote: Look, if you design a carrier and a battleship, you dont just build 2 big square boxes and fill one with guns and the other with planes. They have fundamentally different shapes, infrastructures and crew training regimes. They look completely different. They are optimised for their roles. If you started mounting 20 inch naval guns on a carrier hull you wouldnt fit nearly as many per square foot, and you wouldnt be able to use them as efficiently.
When you design something in real life, you design the hull to accomidate the items. If you design a carrier with 5 ships and 5 guns, then you are designing the hull to fit 5 ships and to fit 5 guns.
Daveybaby wrote: Specialised ships
1 Battleship with 3 beam weapons
1 Carrier with 3 fighters

vs

Generalised ships
2 Ships, each having 1 beam weapon and 1 fighter.

So you get a advantage in firepower vs advantage in flexibility and ease of use. Obviously the above would be quite an extreme example (+50% bonus for specialisation) but thats all tweakable, and depends on where you want the balance to lie.
Why give an artificial bonus for specialisation when the advantages and disadavantages of speicialisation will come naturally anyway.

For example you have specialised carrier and specialised gun ship and a general carrier/gun ship. The specialised carrier has more fighters and extended fighter range systems. The specialiased gun ship has more guns and more targeting systems. The general carrier/gun ship has less fighters and guns.

It can for example participate in the carrier role, but would not kill enemies as fast as a specialised carrier. Since fighters are short range and the general ships guns are long range and can't hit minimum range, the guns are not being used. So effectively the general ship is going to be 50% less effective than a specialsed ship in a role. It would only be 100% efficient if it was dealing with close targets with fighters and far targets with guns, at the same time.

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#44 Post by skdiw » Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:26 am

utilae wrote:
Daveybaby wrote: Look, if you design a carrier and a battleship, you dont just build 2 big square boxes and fill one with guns and the other with planes. They have fundamentally different shapes, infrastructures and crew training regimes. They look completely different. They are optimised for their roles. If you started mounting 20 inch naval guns on a carrier hull you wouldnt fit nearly as many per square foot, and you wouldnt be able to use them as efficiently.
When you design something in real life, you design the hull to accomidate the items. If you design a carrier with 5 ships and 5 guns, then you are designing the hull to fit 5 ships and to fit 5 guns.
Daveybaby wrote: Specialised ships
1 Battleship with 3 beam weapons
1 Carrier with 3 fighters

vs

Generalised ships
2 Ships, each having 1 beam weapon and 1 fighter.

So you get a advantage in firepower vs advantage in flexibility and ease of use. Obviously the above would be quite an extreme example (+50% bonus for specialisation) but thats all tweakable, and depends on where you want the balance to lie.
Why give an artificial bonus for specialisation when the advantages and disadavantages of speicialisation will come naturally anyway.

For example you have specialised carrier and specialised gun ship and a general carrier/gun ship. The specialised carrier has more fighters and extended fighter range systems. The specialiased gun ship has more guns and more targeting systems. The general carrier/gun ship has less fighters and guns.

It can for example participate in the carrier role, but would not kill enemies as fast as a specialised carrier. Since fighters are short range and the general ships guns are long range and can't hit minimum range, the guns are not being used. So effectively the general ship is going to be 50% less effective than a specialsed ship in a role. It would only be 100% efficient if it was dealing with close targets with fighters and far targets with guns, at the same time.
lol. so what's the difference between one carrier plus one gun ship versus 2 general carrier/gun ship? how does specialization "naturally" come out?
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#45 Post by Dreamer » Fri Dec 02, 2005 4:06 am

skdiw wrote:so what's the difference between one carrier plus one gun ship versus 2 general carrier/gun ship? how does specialization "naturally" come out?
Easy. Your carrier can be slow and light on shield, armor, manouver and so have more planes. While your gun ship should be tought as nails to get it in the middle of battle. Also, both ships can be moved in combat so they can fully use their weapons. If you have a mixed design you wont have as many planes as with a single carrier and your ships will be weaker in all senses that the gun ship for close-combat. Also, you would loose on strategy since both your ships need to be used either at long range or short range to fully use their weapons.

Each weapon should (and balaced so):
1.- be relevant for the big picture
2.- be limited in their action (on range, targtet speed, etc)
3.- be complementary with other kind of weapons

Anyway, the idea of this "templates" don't add anything new or different to the designs. It only add MORE of the same in bonuses and stuff. It only make the design process and the combat GUI more complicated.

Futhermore, I don't buy all the stuff about hulls as generic "boxes". I would expect that once you click "design ok" stating your needs a whole horde of engineers would make it happen in a very optimiced way, not even in a role basis but in a ship-by-ship basis. But this optimization is not relevant in gameplay. We could even use tech like "advanced ship design" to allow for more available space in a hull size.

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