Regarding "unit type":
If groups are all homogenous and treated the same way as roughly-equivalent self-contained combat units like total [war] units, then really there is no strategic difference between the 4 doomstars and the 200 lancers...
That's like saying 'there's no distinction between an aircraft carrier and air group and a half-dozen submarines.' Or in TW, there's no distinction between archers and infantry because they are both 80-man units full of guys.
Of course there's a distinction. The distinction is in the unit type.
Yes, but "unit type" in this case is a function of weapons, defenses, and other equipment, not the size or number of the men or ships. In Total War the difference between Archers and Infantry is the weapon they're using, not how tall the individual soliders are. Similarly, in FO, presumably both tiny and ginormous ships could both use the same weapons. So what would the strategic difference be between a unit of 200 tiny ships and a unit of 4 ginormous ships be if they both had the same weapons?
MOO3 tried to glom everything into task forces and create heterogenuous units. While this is a nice idea, it ends up removing any unit-specific controls (e.g. what if I have one unit with a black hole generator and no other unit has one?
Again, you're talking about weapons here, not size. Your example is a great reason why we'd want to group ships not by size, but by what weapon they have (black hole or otherwise).Regarding "units" and "groups":
(again in reference to preceeding quote)
The issue of heterogeneous vs. homogenous units is a good point, though somewhat clouded by ill-defined terms... So to clarify, the distinction between a "unit" and a "group" of units is:
A unit is a set of ships that are functionally the same. Players can select individual units and give them orders, and they will act on those orders independently. Ships in a unit stay physically close to eachother.
A group is several units that are working together. The different units in a group can be functionally different, and will act according to their specific function / design / role while executing orders, within the larger context of the group. Players can select several units simultaneously and give them an order, and the units will work together, as a group, in a coordinated fashion to enact that order. Units in a group may be (significantly) physically separated from eachother while executing their orders, if the specific order requries this. Grouped units may also stay together and move as though they were a single larger unit, if appropriate for the order.
What is mean by "functionally the same" as a criteria for ships being in the same unit is as-yet undetermined. It might mean that all the ships have (almost) the exact same design (weapons, defenses, equipment, size), or that they have the same UI options (the same on-screen widgets to control behaviour when selected) or just that their ship designs have been given the same "strategic flags" by the player or somesuch. Details of this will depend on further design decisions.Regarding unit reconfiguration:
Why would you split up and reconfigure a unit mid-battle?
Because the situation has changed...
Example 1: There is a unit of laser ships ordered to protect a unit of missile ships. Later there is a stray enemy ship trying to escape from the battle. It's not worth sending the whole unit of laser ships after the escaping ship, but sending just a few of them would be good. So the player grabs a few of the laser ships and tells them to go get the escapee, while the others stay behind to continue protecting the missile ships. The few split off laser ships are now a separate unit from those remaining to proect the missile ships.
Example 2: There are three units of 6 ships each. During the battle, the units lose some ships, so now all three units have just 4 ships. So the player breaks up and reconfigures these ships into 2 units of 6 ships.
Basically, Total War-like units are fine, and we can design the interface around them, but I don't see why we can't make the composition of the units easy to change on the fly. We don't really lose anything doing this, but we gain lots of funky buzzword-type things like flexibility. Total War lets you split off units from a group, but that still fixes the size of the units in a way that I don't like.Just cause I'm confused and want to know, but probably irrelivant now:
At some point later, (some of) the lancers could be disengaged from the doomstars and make into a smaller task force and sent off to do intercept some fleeing damaged enemy ships or somesuch.
You can already do exactly this, but only if you have homogenuous grouping
. In order to select your 4 doomstars and 200 lancers and put them in a single group, you have to have them both as distinct units.
Why is homogenous grouping necessary to put all ships into a single group? If I have 2 groups ("units" now) of 2 doomstars and 100 lancers each, couldn't I put them into a single group just the same as if I had 1 group ("unit") of 4 doomstars and 1 group of 100 lancers?