Fleet resupply

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Daveybaby
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Fleet resupply

#1 Post by Daveybaby » Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:45 am

In this thread it was suggested that, to neuter shoot & scoot tactics, missile reloads be tracked for a ship (or fleet). So, if your ship runs out of missiles, it doesnt get any more until it returns to a supply base or something. While this probably wouldnt solve shoot & scoot (players would just design more reloads into their missile boats) and would add to micromanagement, it does have some potential for the strategic game.


Proposal:

Ships are NOT fully reloaded with missiles 'as if by magic' after every combat. They have to be resupplied. So, the player must design enough reloads into their missile ships to last them until reloads arrive.


Notes :

* Resupply should be automatic : The player must have no extra work to do.

* The delay (in game turns) between firing some missiles and getting new ones to replace them is equal to the travel time between your fleet and the nearest friendly 'supply depot' to it.

* Thus, the further you are away from home, the more reloads you will need in order to be able to defend yourself.

* Thus, defenders will usually have an advantage (shorter supply lines) than attackers. Attackers will have a practical limit to how far they can penetrate into enemy territory before their supply lines become overstretched, and they start running out of missiles.

* 'supply depot' is not currently defined. Depending on what is required for gameplay balance, it could require a special building, or it could just be any friendly planet.

* All of the above can also be applied to resupply of fighters.


Example:

Fleet X is 3 turns travel away from a 'supply depot'. It has 50 missiles. On turn 1 it engages in combat and fires 30 missiles. 30 missiles are automatically dispatched to resupply it, they will arrive 3 turns later.

On turn 2 it engages in combat again, and fires its remaining 20 missiles. It runs out of missiles half way though the combat, but still manages to win. 20 more missiles are dispatched to resupply.

On turn 3 the fleet engages in combat again. It has NO MISSILES LEFT, and cant fire any during combat, putting it at a disadvantage. Fortunately it survives again.

On turn 4 the first 30 missiles arrive. The fleet engages in combat again, and this time has some missiles to play with.


Disclaimer:
Yes, i know that in real life you would probably send out more than just the amount required to refill the ship, and that once its in enemy territory you would probably start sending missiles straight away, instead of waiting for your fleets to start using them - but so what... the point here is to create a gameplay effect, not to simulate realistic supply lines.


Questions, things that i havent figured out yet:

* Reloads could be tracked by fleet or by ship (need to decide which). i.e, can ships share missiles? Thus if you build lots of small single shot missile boats, can you add a huge ship carrying loads of missiles and have it share with the missile boats? This adds the possibility of adding supply ships to your fleet, which would have to be defended as they would be a prime target for an enemy looking to halt your advance.

* Different types/sizes of missiles - how do we deal with this? Do we track them all individually (thus you might run out of planetbusters, but still have plenty of PD missiles left), or do we have some kind of abstract 'missile storage space' which is used to refill missiles based on their size (e.g. you have 6 'units' of missiles left, which is used to refill 1 planetbuster (2 units) 2 'regular' missiles (2 units) and 8 PD missiles (2 units again).

* Do we allow blockades of resupply routes? i.e. if there is an enemy fleet between you and home, do the resupplies get through? On one hand, this allows for lots of tactical possibilities (cutting of supply lines - YAY!), but on the other it could be a programming hell (do we let supply trains try to find a long way around?) and a UI hell (how do we let the players know whether they have valid supply lines or not? How do we show supply lines and what they are carrying? How does the player know when their resupply is due to arrive?)

* How are supply lines tracked? Does the game actually track individual shipments of missiles from system to system, or does it just get abstracted out as a list of stuff which will automatically get to fleet X on turn Y? If a fleet moves further away from/closer to home, does this affect the time of delivery of reloads which are already en-route? Do we really care enough to bother tracking stuff at this level? (although it would be necessary if we wanted blockades to be implemented).





Okay: thoughts, flames, dismissals, alternative suggestions?
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Re: Fleet resupply

#2 Post by vishnou00 » Mon Jun 21, 2004 11:09 am

Daveybaby wrote:* Do we allow blockades of resupply routes? i.e. if there is an enemy fleet between you and home, do the resupplies get through? On one hand, this allows for lots of tactical possibilities (cutting of supply lines - YAY!), but on the other it could be a programming hell (do we let supply trains try to find a long way around?) and a UI hell (how do we let the players know whether they have valid supply lines or not? How do we show supply lines and what they are carrying? How does the player know when their resupply is due to arrive?)
I don't know if it's my young programmer's optimistic nature or my love of blockade speaking, but I think it's very possible to do.

"if there is an enemy fleet between you and home...": home being any "supply place", I think the supply should get through an alternate route, if one exist. Instead of calculating distance, use shortest path lenght. And since supply ships are supposed to be wimpy (they souldn't break any blockade) as soon as there is anything hostile with a gun, it would not go through that system.

You could even try to maintain the supply line by protecting systems with armed forces: if there is any opposition, the supply ships would take part of the battle as an unarmed target trying to survive. If it fails, some missiles won't arrive to destination, ever.

As UI hell, I think it would just be another line of a different color displaying the supply line (the shortest safe route to a supply place). Optionnaly displayed, to avoid a spaghetti of waypoint.

I would tie a supply line with a fleet.

As for the tracking, I would have the fleet tell what it is supposed to get, when and from where in a fleet detail window. On a quicker fleetInfoWindow, it would tell how much time there is before running out of supplies.

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#3 Post by Yeeha » Mon Jun 21, 2004 11:23 am

That would certainly add new depth into game but then missiles would have to have more advantages than in moo2,3 over other weapons because of that so that they wouldnt be too useless but thats balanceing issue.Cool idea.

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#4 Post by Daveybaby » Mon Jun 21, 2004 11:59 am

I just had another thought:

Create a new class of ship, the supply ship. Every supply ship added to a fleet can provide n points of resupply per Light Year per Turn, based on its speed and capacity. Capacity is determined by adding storage space to the supply ship.

Thus if fleet X has 1 supply ship, which can supply 50 points of missiles per LY per turn, then if it is 2 LY away from a supply depot, it will get 25 points of missile resupply per turn. If it is 10LY away it will only get 5 points of missile resupply per turn. Solution : add more supply ships to the fleet if you are going far away from home.

Supply ships should be present on the combat screen, therefore an opponent should try extra hard to take them out, and their owner should make sure to defend them, because it may halt your opponents advance through your territory, or make them vulnerable to a counterattack, since if you lose your supply ships, you lose your capability to resupply.

Players can design these to be as big/small/fast/slow/armoured as they like, but the golden rule is that they cannot mount weapons of any kind (because otherwise players would just add missile launchers to their supply ships and neuter the whole point of resupply).


Basically, the whole point of this is to abstract away the actual missiles being resupplied, and place the responsibility for resupply back onto the fleet itself (having 30 missiles shipped once the fleet fires 30 missiles, then waiting X turns for them to arrive is just ridiculous). You still keep the possibility of being able to blockade supply routes, but its a lot easier for the player to figure out how many missiles will arrive next turn (i.e. there is no delay, just a limit to how many per turn you get)

So:

Resupply points each turn = total resupply points per turn of all local supply ships.

resupply points from each supply ship = capacity of supply ship * speed of supply ship / distance to nearest supply depot.
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Re: Fleet resupply

#5 Post by Daveybaby » Mon Jun 21, 2004 12:15 pm

vishnou00 wrote:I don't know if it's my young programmer's optimistic nature or my love of blockade speaking, but I think it's very possible to do.
I think youre probably right. The game will need a good pathfinding AI anyway, so just reuse that.
vishnou00 wrote:I think the supply should get through an alternate route, if one exist. Instead of calculating distance, use shortest path lenght. And since supply ships are supposed to be wimpy (they souldn't break any blockade) as soon as there is anything hostile with a gun, it would not go through that system.
Agreed.
vishnou00 wrote:"You could even try to maintain the supply line by protecting systems with armed forces: if there is any opposition, the supply ships would take part of the battle as an unarmed target trying to survive. If it fails, some missiles won't arrive to destination, ever.
Double agreed.
Yeeha wrote:That would certainly add new depth into game but then missiles would have to have more advantages than in moo2,3 over other weapons because of that so that they wouldnt be too useless but thats balanceing issue.
Missiles should be balanced as w.r.t. the other weapons without taking resupply into account. Its up to the player to either keep their fleets resupplied, or risk losing missile/fighter support during an extended offensive campaign. Alternatively they could go with an all 'beams' task force and try to mitigate any disadvantage with lots of PD.

One more thing thats just occurred to me : this model could also be used to repair damage to ships. If you have no supply ships then any damaged ships stay that way from combat to combat.
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#6 Post by tzlaine » Mon Jun 21, 2004 12:56 pm

I think a supply system could add a lot of depth to the stategic aspect of ship combat. I used to play this boardgame called Federation & Empire, which is a Star Trek-based game. I don't like Star Trek too much, but the game was great. One great aspect of it was the supply system, which was basically like this:

1) If a ship is in supply, it operates as normal; when out of supply, it operates at 50% effectiveness.

2) A ship is in supply if it can trace a supply line to any supply node within 6 hexes of the ship. 6 hexes is the distance that (almost) all ships move, so it is considered "top combat speed". A ship can be resupplied at any time during the turn, including during the combat phase.

These simple rules (and the ones that indicate how a supply path is defined -- and how it can be interrupted) allow for lots of great gameplay opportunities. It is possible to surround and cut of your enemy, and once you have, to almost certainly completely destroy them.

It would be nice if we had something similar, in that you could cut off supply of your enemies. I like the following system, which is somewhat different from the one at the top of the thread:

1) When a ship is in supply, it operates as normal, and receives full fighter/missile/etc. replacement.

2) When a ship is out of supply, it receives no fighter replacement, but other perishable supplies are replenished by 50%. The definition of what is in supply should depend on the top engine speed tech, the positions of friendly planets and other supply points (if they exist), and the positions of friendlies and enemies.

3) In border areas, a player can designate some ships as privateers (state-sponsored pirates). Privateers decrease the resupply rate of full and partial resupply within a radius of X, where X is engine speed of the privateer ships. Small, fast ships should make the most effective privateers.

4) Convoy escorts can be designated, which provide anti-privateer protection. The combat between privateers and escorts is abstracted.

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#7 Post by vishnou00 » Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:21 pm

Why should it be so much like a board game? Can't we crank up the resolution a bit? Having ships operate at 70% effectiveness or 40% effectiveness wouldn't hamper the machanic, it would just lessen its granularity (with that proposition, you have granularity of 2 states, 100% and 50%).

I don't mind having a lot of parameters under the hood as long as I can get a good feeling of the situation and I can make an accurate educated guess, I'm happy. Is it a computer game, or a board game on a computer?

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#8 Post by drek » Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:30 pm

Resupply might be cool. It works well in Kohan, helping to prevent rushing.

To make it easy for the player, instead of basing it on movement speeds of indivdual ships, maybe it could be based only on # of starlane hops (or a set distance). So if a fleet is within X number of starlanes/wormholes to a resupply center, it's in supply. (superlong starlanes might count as 2 or 3 hops, wormholes as 0)

If resupply is in the game, there should be a way of showing which systems are in supply on the UI. If it's not based on ship speed, it would be easy to calculate for each star, then display some sort of indication on an overlay that be be turned on and off.

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#9 Post by vishnou00 » Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:39 pm

I like overlays to see the big picture.

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#10 Post by Daveybaby » Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:45 pm

drek wrote:To make it easy for the player, instead of basing it on movement speeds of indivdual ships, maybe it could be based only on # of starlane hops (or a set distance).
Well, i was thinking that if your supply ships have a capacity of 100 missiles and can travel at 5LY/turn, and your supply depot is 10 LY away, then it will take them 4 turns to make the round trip. So every 4 turns you get 100 missiles.

To keep things simple you just average things out, so instead of 100 missiles every 4 turns you just give the player 25 missiles per turn. If the player then moves further away so that the round trip is 5 turns, then you give the player a resupply of 20 missile per turn.

The player doesnt have to get involved in the distances, capacities, speeds etc. All they have to know is that they get 25 missiles per turn. If they increase the speed of their supply ships then they get more capacity. If they add more supply ships then they get more capacity. If the move further away they get less capacity. Pretty simple stuff really.

The other thing is that i'd definitely like to see supply ships as proper entities within space combat, i.e. something that can be destroyed to totally mess up someone's plans. e.g. the player might choose to leave their supply ships behind for a hit and run strike on a heavily defended system, so that the supply ships are not at risk. The plan is to return to that system and then resupply. However, there is a risk that the enemy could launch an attack on the system with the supply ships in and wipe them out (or force them to retreat) meaning that when the attacking ships get back they have no resupply and may have to fight without missiles or fighters. Interesting gameplay decisions to be made :-)
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#11 Post by vishnou00 » Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:53 pm

Those supply ships could be made as movable (and depletable/refillable?) supply points. Then they would have good reason to be destroyed, as they would just be ordinary ships with special "supply pods" components.

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#12 Post by discord » Mon Jun 21, 2004 4:14 pm

there are more things in the word 'supply' then missiles, DUC(Depleted Uranium Core) rounds for the PD(Point Defense) MLA's(Magnetic Linear Accelerators), or warp core plasma, dilithium crystals(both are star trek style techno babble fuel.), or just plain food....all of wich can have pretty devestating effects on a fleet if not around in sufficient quantities.

and one thing i have always missed in space strategy games, decent ground combat, wich also needs supply.....

//discord

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#13 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jun 21, 2004 4:53 pm

discord wrote:there are more things in the word 'supply' then missiles ...
Worrying explicitly about anything more than missiles and fighters is too much detail and micro even for me... If it's essential to include any and every consumable, they should just be abstracted into a generic "supply" unit that has various penalties to ship systems and combat effectiveness when depleted.

As for supply mechanism, I'm rather fond of the supply ships with the fleet proposal. Resupply rate dependent on supply ship speed sounds good. This would work well with cutting off supply lines... blocking a particular system prevents enemy supply ships from using that system as a node in their calculation of the shortest path to base distance, thus reducing the supply rate to affected enemy fleets. The complete surround / blockade tactic is also built-in.

I'd like to avoid disallowing supply ships having defences altogether. There just needs to be a soft ceiling limit making putting more than minimal armament impractical. Perhaps the capacity of the supply ship is determined by the free mass (cargo space), and adding weapon significantly reduces this. Adding the supply module could also have significant negative penalties to weapon effectiveness, so it's never practical / possible to have a self-supplying combat vessel, or anything other than basic PD and a light shield on a supply ship.

Question: Do all supply ships assocaited with a fleet appear in the battle view, or just a fraction dependent on how many would be there in a given turn (eg. 1/4 if your supply route is 4 turns log). If a supply ship is damaged, but not destroyed, how does that affect it's supply performance? If a stealth attack on a fleet's supply ships damages but doesn't destroy a supply ship, can that attack be followed up in later turns with a better chance to destroy the damaged ship, or will it have headed off to do some supply ferrying, thus taking it out of harm's way? Is it possible to assign a newly built supply ship to supply a fleet if the fleet is out in the field? Does the ship have to travel somewhere under normal ship movement rules before it can start supplying, or is there some other delay (there should probably be some rule along these lines).
Last edited by Geoff the Medio on Mon Jun 21, 2004 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fleet resupply

#14 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jun 21, 2004 5:29 pm

Daveybaby wrote:Questions, things that i havent figured out yet:

* Reloads could be tracked by fleet or by ship (need to decide which). i.e, can ships share missiles?
As I mentioned in the other thread, I'd suggest tracking missiles for each ship during battle and pool supply for the fleet between battles. This makes sense strategically, and saves a lot of memory and significantly reduces the turn net data or file size (especially if different kinds of missiles/fighters are distinguished).
* Different types/sizes of missiles - how do we deal with this? Do we track them all individually ... or do we have some kind of abstract 'missile storage space' which is used to refill missiles based on their size
I'd suggest a grand total of three components to supply: Big Missiles, Fighters and Generic Supplies. (No fuel, in case that gets brought up). Big Missiles are generalized to refer to ammo for any capital-size missile rack (not point defence). Fighters are self explanitory. Generic supplies are used for point defence refills, as well as keeping the crew fed, oxygen replenished and any other thing that might require a depletable supply. If you run out of generic supplies, your ammo'd point defence stops working and your ships are generally less combat effective.
Do we allow blockades of resupply routes?
Yes, as described in other post.
it could be a programming hell (do we let supply trains try to find a long way around?)
Doesn't strike me as a problem... just find the shortest path to a friendly planet, disallowing pathes through nonfriendly systems.
and a UI hell (how do we let the players know whether they have valid supply lines or not? How do we show supply lines and what they are carrying? How does the player know when their resupply is due to arrive?)
In the fleet window, have a "show supply lines" toggle, or always show a flashing coloured path to indicate the supply line being used currently. Depending on distance and number and capacity of supply ships with a fleet, the refill is provided as a maximum supply units per turn. Each fighter, missile and generic supply unit takes up one or more supply unit, and each the fleet gets as many of each as optimized by its current needs. Maybe the player could also specify to focus on one of the three for next turn using a little toggle similar to the focus system indicator. (this would be optional however, as a good mix of supplies would be sent without intevention)

The other issues raised by Daveybaby's post are explained in the description of the proposal.

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#15 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Jun 21, 2004 8:10 pm

Actually, I wouldn't put in the time delay (because you can probably assume that any competent general would have reloads on supply ships just one turn behind the battle fleet.. on a fairly continuous basis)

I'd do it by means of maintenance cost.. ie the farther you are in, the more those 'generic supply units' cost. Ships which are 'unmaintained' due to deep operations begin to decline in effectiveness (not reloading missiles/fighters, general decline in effectiveness due to wear and tear on ship and crew).

This way a massive push into enemy teritory essentially drains the economy, preventing you from building more ships to keep up the charge. Especially if those newly conquered planets act like 'enemy territory, long after you've conquered them meaning a massive push may be followed eventually by a mass retreat as your 'core areas' can't support the occupation.

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