...don’t load specific modules or weapons onto a ship, but rather, you research predetermined ships and you put together them at a fleet level.
We can assume that ships will be designed by the player, MOO or SMAC-like, rather than there being preset designs unlocked, Civ-unit-like.
eliminate the problem of traditional design where the player just stacks the latest tech onto their biggest hull.
From the first post,
Each [ship] size will likely have different advantages and disadvantages in and out of combat, none being the best at everything or particularly better than the others.
Consequently, there will be more to ship design than putting the best parts in the biggest hull. Other ship sizes will be better than the biggest at some (most) ship roles.
Command points limits the amount of ships you can build for a fleet depending on the hull size and ships in a fleet gain special bonuses.
For this discussion, if releavnt, assume there are no command or logistics points limits, and that a player can use as many of whatever types of ships he or she has available, in or out of a battle. If we need limits later, we can use them with just about any ship design scheme.
In general, I don’t like ship direction with functional game purposes. If there is ship direction complexity added, then I think a simple 360 arc and forward 60 degree direction is sufficient.
There will be relevance to ship direction / facing in some capacity.
If the player controls a fleet of heterogeneous ships as a single entity...
The basic unit a player can control is a single ship. We will likely add the ability to group ships together in some fashion, but single ships will still be separately controllable if desired.
Why form a fleet out of 6 kinds of generalist ships?
Maybe you have 6 different versions of the generalist ship design, but use them in about the same way since the differences are minimal? Or perhaps generalist and specialist ships are both practial valid strategies, and the UI and grouping mechanisms that work for one can just be used with the other, even if not specifically necessary for it?
PD weapons presumably will try to shoot down everything in range without ever being aimed or activated.
What if they can only engage a limited number of targets? Should ship AI decide which 2 of 5 incoming missiles to shoot down, or should the player be able to specify?
SR weapons, if they have a fixed position, should probably fire whenever there's something in range.
* For this and PD, what if they have ammo?
* What if there are more than one type of SR or PD weaponj on a ship, which have different effectiveness against different targets?
* What if ships have an "energy" limit, and firing beams depeletes this energy, which reducing the amount of damage a shield can absorb?
* What if you want your ships not to fire, because doing so would reduce their stealthiness, revealing them to be counterattacked?
However allowing multiple LR weapons or multiple fighters types in a single ship would indeed complicate the UI. Depending on what other choices are made, a limit on the number per ship is reasonable.
Any ideas how to impose such a limit?
I believe predetermined hull kits with set slots is the scenario best suited to having a ship's function and abilities discernible on sight.
Lack of visual distinctiveness is a big downside with fully freeform design, though I'm not sure how effective kits would be at making the visual distinctiveness correspond well to ship abilities. Assuming a kit still lets the player customize the ship to a significant degree, the particular weapons, defenses and other parts that are on the ship could still be quite different, making similar-looking kits not in practice similar-behaving. How would you set up a kit, with what sorts of restrictions or options on ship designs, in order to make them convey strategically or tactically useful information in practice?
* At the beginning of the ship placement, default set of rules automatically place the ships within their respective "allowed zones".
This issue is not setting up ship formations at the start of a battle... The issue is more so quickly being able to see tactically-relevant info by looking at a ship model during a battle, when things are all out of order and mixed up with lots of other, possibly-similar-looking, ships.
* Once the placement is done, you can either go straight to the battle or assign behavioral patterns.
I think you're overthinking this. There will be no significant automated AI system to move your ships around in battles for you... the player will order ships to move, close in for attack, retreat, etc. The only thing that might be automatable is targetting in some cases, due to issue mentioned above... but in this case, we should probably avoid any player-configurable behaviour, to keep things simple to play.
the question should more [be] how much customization and gizmos do players want to fit on their ship?
Agreed... So what's the answer?
having multiple weapons and gizmos on a ship is just fine but it depends on how the techtree is laid out.
What aspects of tech tree layout are relevant, other than size issues of big = better (which will not be the case)?
Alternatively, assume that we can make a suitable tech tree. What design system for ships should there be in this case?