Geoff the Medio wrote:
A binary "disabled"/"not disabled" status for a few systems would be simpler to fully display than an all-out complex-damage system.
That's essentially what I'm thinking of as well. Perhaps one overall ship damage rating, and binary damaged/undamaged for individual parts. We needn't keep track of individual part "health"... it would seem fine to just have a chance to damage each part each turn, based on appropriate factors (likely damage done that turn, direction or part location).
This eliminates the need to keep track of a lot of ship status (gamestate) information that's really unnecessary. If part damage chance depends on damage done, then as ships are damaged, it's more likely that more and more parts will be damaged as the chance accumulates. I'm generally not a fan of unnecessary or excessive randomness in battle calculations, but this seems reasonable...
Would it be very much harder to implement a system, which would have three instead of two possible situations, like in traffic lights? This way there would the situation where the part is undamaged (the green stage), the situation where the part is damaged, but not disabled (the yellow stage) and the situation where the part is disabled (the red stage).
Now with this system if you are for example providing cover for your troop transports, you would be able to detect that the enemy has succeeded to damage the engines of the transports, since they wouldn`t function normally in the yellow stage, before the engines are totally disabled. And so you could react to this problem in time.
The reason why I also mentioned traffic lights is that maybe we could use this familiar colour code to make it easier for the player to recognise the condition of the ships systems. So the colours could be used as I have used them above.
How do you present the status of 8 (or more) subsystems at-a-glance? However it's done it's info that can only be displayed for one ship at a time, presumably in some info panel at the edge of the screen. The player would have to invoke it somehow, most simply by selecting a ship.
So if you want to see how "healthy" your fleet is you need to cycle through every ship. I don't consider that ideal, especially since the player should be spending much of his time directing the fleet and strategizing.
Maybe there could be a key assigned to this task so that when you are controlling one of your ship formations and press that particular key it would show bars or icons on top or next to every ship of that formation and use the colour coding, which I explained earlier, to indicate the status of each ships subsystems. Also maybe these icon/bars could be always in a particular order so the bars/icons representing the status of the components, which can be found on almost every ship, like the engines, would be at the top and the ship specific component bars/icons would be at the bottom of the list or something similar. This way it would be quite easy to see the exact situation of the formation and then move on to the next. And maybe it could be done even so that you wouldn’t have to control the formation to see that information.