First of all, these are some interesting ideas you guys are coming up with here. However
, IMO all of you are working with a faulty premise, which is that our current combat system/implementation primarily simulates/abstracts target selection and firing, and basically assumes that (when resolving space combat) more or less everyone is in range of everyone else. This statement by Oberlus illustrates it perfectly:
Oberlus wrote: ↑Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:29 pm
I mean, it's still so awkward that the spinal is targetting boats while there is a straight line between the spinal cannon and the best possible objective, which has been visible from before the combat started (i.e. nothing prevents the spinal cannon to fire directly at it from the beginning).
That's simply not the case.
Lets step back for a momentand try to take a more comprehensive look on how battles "work", particularly how they are usually modelled in war games. Basically there are two major "components" or "aspects" that make up battle/combat simulation: movement
(as we're talking space battles here, we don't need to generalize to include melee vs. ranged attacks). As I've already explained on different occasions in earlier discussions, our current combat model tries to abstract/simulate both
equally (although in a very crudely simplified way, it's only a stop-gap solution after all).
Simply put, movement
is where each opponent tries to maneuver their forces into positions where they can maximize how efficiently they can use their weapons against the enemy and minimize how efficiently the enemy can use their weapons against them. Firing
is where, once opposing forces get into firing distance, targets are selected and weapons are fired. However, what targets are available to you very much depends on how cleverly (or not) you managed to outmaneuver your opponent.
This reminds me of something I dimly recall to have read many years ago about naval combat, IIRC it's called "to cross someone's T", which comes from the times when the cannons of warships were mounted on their broadsides. Now, with this setting, it was important to maneuver your ship so that you can fire as much of your cannons at the enemy, while preventing your enemy from doing the same. "Crossing your enemies T" meant accomplishing the ideal maneuver: you pass in front of the opposing ship's bow (or behind it's stern) with your broadside facing them (hence "T"). That meant, while passing the enemy ship, you could fire all the cannons of your broadside at them, while they couldn't return the fire (or just with the very few cannons mounted at the bow or stern, if they had that).
Which meant, you were able to make maximum use of your firepower, while your enemy could only use a fraction of theirs (if any at all). Basically jackpot, so to speak. This way a naval vessel with much less firepower could still sink a much stronger enemy ship, if it succeeded in cleverly outmaneuvering them.
Now apply that to FO space combat. Keep in mind, the current combat resolution does not
just resolve a simple skirmish, but a battle that spans the entire star systems it takes place in. Meaning, we're talking about a prolonged battle spanning a vast area, which (particularly in cases where more than just a few spaceships are involved) most likely is broken up into a lot of smaller and larger skirmishes, and probably last weeks or months (not just a few hours).
This means, the current system abstracts/simulates all fleet operations, movement, maneuvering etc. all participants perform to bring their forces into optimal positions and strike against their enemies, as well as the actual exchange of fire whenever parts of their forces come into firing distance. So, to come back to the often cited example where the Spinal Antimatter Cannon shoots down a fighter and ignores that big enemy juggernaut right beside it: that's not what happens. If the Antimatter Cannon fires at a fighter while there are far more powerful targets still around, that simply means the ship with that cannon hasn't been able to get into a position where it can fire on a more eligible target. The fighter, as measly a target as it is, was the only/best target available.
Or maybe the fighter just sacrified itself by hurling itself between the cannon and it's intended target. Or maybe the fighter got into the firing line of the Antimatter Cannon just coincidentally, while involved in a dogfight. The more smaller crafts run around, the higher the chance one of those get in the way, so to speak.
Basically, in cases where the target selection of one of the combatants looks completely off, it's not because the idiot gunner thought that a fighter is a more valuable target for an Antimatter Cannon than a planet, but because the enemy managed to "cross their T": they outmaneuvered their opponent, so that said opponent could only use their weapons very inefficiently.
I guess you get the picture.
Now back to the suggestions presented here. The problem with those is, they only try to address/improve the targetting/firing aspect/part, while bascially ignoring the movement/maneuvering aspect/part. Which, IMO, means that with those changes you certainly get a combat simulation that works differently
, but it won't be an improvement. It won't be any more "realistic". Best case, it's just different. Less than best case it might actually turn out worse than the current system (because more complex, but without really improving
Personally I think the current system works sufficiently well, once you adopt the right "fluff explanation" for it, so the Antimatter Cannon shooting down fighters doesn't bother you that much anymore. Sure, even with the above explanation, the current system is extremely crude, and certainly has some glaring flaws that should be fixed. The fighters taking a round to launch thing is one of them, as that doesn't fit at all with the abstraction level I explained above, makes things more complicated, harder to balance and compare, while adding exactly nothing interesting (IMO).
But all in all the current system it's still good enough as a stop-gap solution, so I don't really see the need to tinker with it (other than fixing said glaring glitches).
However, if you guys absolutely want to invest the time and energy to improve a system that's going to get discarded at some point, that's fine with me. But if you do that, do it right, which means any attempt at improvement has to take into account the whole picture, all the aspects of space combat abstracted by the current system, not just one part of it - that would only throw things out of balance IMO. So, if you want to have a more detailed/sophisticated simulation for target selection and firing, please also come up with something that provides an equally detailed/sophisticated simulation of the movement/maneuvering part.
Because I want to retain e.g. things like the current ability of carriers to hide behind the fighters they can field (or, in that particular case, improve it by removing that fighters take one round to launch thing). If a carrier goes up against a direct fire ship, the latter should have a hard time to get past the fighter screen to actually target the carrier. So it makes sense that most/all of the shots of the direct fire ship will hit fighters, not the carrier, at the start of the combat. Only by taking down enough fighters will increase the chance to get through to the carrier.
If only implementing the improvements to firing/targetting (as if all participating vessels where in range of each other anyway all the time), than that would change dynamics greatly to the disadvantage of the carrier, and defeat a good part of what makes fighters a distinct kind of weapon. A carrier should be able to keep enemies at distance with their fighter squadrons, after all.
And it should
be difficult to get a ship equipped with a Spinal Antimatter Cannon into a position where it can use the cannon with maximum efficiency. Especially
when facing an opponent who can cover their bigger assets behind lots of small crafts. The current system actually takes care of that quite well IMO. An improved system needs to take of all these things at least as well, otherwise it's really not worth the effort.