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Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 8:27 am
by siron
I think that if you don't accept that you need to inherently weight some types of units against others, then there is really only one unit type and it's just a question of who can cram more guns onto that one unit type. This is what MOO2 does,...
Your observation must be based on the AI. Right, the AI is poor and a monodesign is surely enough to beat it in tactical combats. But the weaknesses of the AI shouldn’t denounce the whole combat system itself. The monodesign approach is a pretty poor choice in Multiplayer Games. There are more than enough RPS elements in Moo2.

Posted: Mon May 15, 2006 2:24 pm
by PornReindeer
I love MoO2 combat system. It's just excellent, but with minor improvements it could be almost perfect.

-There should be more distinct weapon efficiency between small and big ships. In MoO2 faster ships received defence bonus, but that wasn't a big factor. IMHO when huge star devastator shoots with a "super-heavy-plasma-ball-rail-death-ray" enemy capital ships should feel the punch, but a small reconnaissance craft should usually be able evade it.
This would require big ships to be more versatile and would make smaller ships better.

There was talk about different (and bigger) "terrains" and including whole solar systems in the combat. I think whole solar systems would just be too big.

What if the attacker could make attack vectors before combat? Like this group comes from the east and this from the north. Then the defendant could arrange his/her ships for the defence. And now the point of this: Imagine nebula, asteroids, scanners and cloaking abilities. The defender just wouldn't see all enemy ships. The unit placement would be a big deal in combat.
Just one cruiser placed in the edge of nebula. The defender believes that attacker made an error putting it too close so she/he places a fleet of heavy missile frigates to counter the enemy's supposed cruiser fleet hiding in the nebula. And attacker comes through from the center before those missile frigates in the flank have even started turning ;)

Of course combat maps would have to be much bigger compared to MoO2. 2D works, but you could get more strategic elements with 3D.

Just my ten cents. I had more on my mind, but better not to tell everything at once ;)

ps. Just learned about this project. Too bad FreeOrion won't work on this computer (visiting my parents :)). User name contains 'ä' so it may cause the problem.

pss. I hate programs that use "Documents and Settings"

Posted: Mon May 15, 2006 7:45 pm
by utilae
PornReindeer wrote: I love MoO2 combat system. It's just excellent, but with minor improvements it could be almost perfect.
I consider phased time as a perfect evolution of the Moo2 combat system. Basically all players play at the same time as opposed to attacker goes first.
PornReindeer wrote: There was talk about different (and bigger) "terrains" and including whole solar systems in the combat. I think whole solar systems would just be too big.
Having whole solar systems in space combat is necesary. From a Moo2 point of view you always had to have 3 seperate battles over three turns if there were three planets in a solar system. If space combat had the whole solar system it would be possible to attack three planets in one turn.
PornReindeer wrote: ps. Just learned about this project. Too bad FreeOrion won't work on this computer (visiting my parents :)). User name contains 'ä' so it may cause the problem.

pss. I hate programs that use "Documents and Settings"
I also hate programs that use "Documents and Settings" and deal with users.

Posted: Mon May 15, 2006 11:32 pm
by siron
utilae wrote: Basically all players play at the same time as opposed to attacker goes first.
The last official patch 1.31 of moo2 invented Ship Initiative. Attacker don't necessarily move first then any longer.

Posted: Tue May 16, 2006 1:59 am
by Geoff the Medio
utilae wrote:
PornReindeer wrote:pss. I hate programs that use "Documents and Settings"
I also hate programs that use "Documents and Settings" and deal with users.
I'm not a fan of the system either, but there is a reason for doing so, which I think has something to do with being able to run the program while not logged in as an administrator or somesuch... or even off of a CD. If a program doesn't need to alter its own program directory, then that's generally considered a good thing.

Also, AFAIK you can change where saves are stored in the in-game options.

Re: Space strategy: Where and how?

Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 8:48 am
by utilae
Behold the Phased Time thread:

Time to go back to what this thread is about:
Aquitaine wrote: So answer this question: What is the most fun about a tactical combat game engine in any genre? What about space genres specifically? Should we even be trying for real strategy? Has anybody before us accomplished this, and if so, what were the key ingredients of that accomplishment?
I think strategy in space combat must be simple, easy and complex at the same time. A counter system (Rock Paper Scissors) is not fun for me. I would rather a system that was more visible, eg hitting a group vs hitting one ship. You don't want to waste your costly missile that takes out 10 ships on 1 ship. You want to use it on 10. You want the beam that hits many targets in a line to hit a line of ships, not one. Do you fire on the ship that stretches its shield over other ships or just on the shielded ships?

I don't think anyone has achieved this, because tactical combat is not easy or simple. But I believe that it is possible to create an inteface to avoid the micromanagement. The main idea is for everythin to be done on the group level. All fighers travel here. Ships, fire on this group of ships (take a target each). All damaged ships go here. Any ship with Missiles, fire them at the closest of the five targets I select.

I beleive that orginality is key as well as options. In Moo2 there were few different weapons types. You had Beams, Missiles, Torpedos, Pulsar and that was it (only differences are stats or RPS). In Worms you have so many weapon types that were so different. Grenade (bounced), Bazooka (quick and impact), Push (close), Mine (step on and boom), Dynamite (timed), and many other weapons that I can't think of. To have many original weapons, would be great.

Posted: Fri May 19, 2006 1:05 pm
by MikkoM
I also basicly support the idea of ships being grouped because it is quite impossible to give orders to hundreds or thousands of ships individually. However I would like to have the option to reorganize groups during the battle and even take single ships out of the groups and give them specific orders.

I think that the option to reorganize your groups during the battle would give the player more tactical options than if you could only use your existing groups. Now for example if all of your groups were in combat with your enemy and you noticed that one of them is loosing badly. Naturally you would want to send reinforcments for that group, but since all of your groups are already in action you couldn`t just order one of them to go and help the group in trouble, because when you would try to get to there the enemy group that you were fighting against would cause considerable losess to your retrieting group. But if you could take some ships out of the well managing groups you wouldn`t have to endure such losess, because your well managing groups would stay evenly matched with the enemy and the new formed group of your reinforcement ships could move without being destroyed by the enemy, because there wouldn`t be no holes in your battle line for the enemy to take advantage of.

Also taking single ships out of the groups could be important if we are going to have admirals or some other fleet commanders that give bonuses to their fleets. Now with these kinds of ships it could sometimes be really important to get that legendary leader out of the battlefield, but you might want to keep that group where the leader was still in battle. Also the idea which PornReindeer introduced on how you could for example use the terrain would require that you could either take individual ships out of the groups or form very small groups.

I would also support the idea of headings, because I think that having ships vounrable to behind and side attacks would introduce one more tactical element and also I would consider it to be quite realistic as well, because eventhough ships could have weapons that turn 360 degrees I don`t think that all of the big weapons would be like that and so this would generate ships that have their main firepower faced straight ahead and create the option to exploid their weaker rear end.

And to the point that you are playing as an emperor I would like to say that we are probably going to anyway have a lot of stuff that is fun to do, but which a real galactical emperor wouldn`t really do. So I don`t think this fact should limit the space combat much as I atleast personally feel that the space combat is one of the most important areas of these kinds of games.

I hope you realised the point that I was trying to make here as I now have to leave and so don`t have time to correct all of my misspellings and other stuff from this message.

Re: Space strategy: Where and how?

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 9:05 am
by siron
utilae wrote:I beleive that orginality is key as well as options. In Moo2 there were few different weapons types. You had Beams, Missiles, Torpedos, Pulsar and that was it (only differences are stats or RPS). In Worms you have so many weapon types that were so different. Grenade (bounced), Bazooka (quick and impact), Push (close), Mine (step on and boom), Dynamite (timed), and many other weapons that I can't think of. To have many original weapons, would be great.
OK. You forgot underpowered bombs and fighters in moo2 but also the mighty boarding techs which I would consider a weapon.

But I really don't understand what you actually want? Many different weapons without causing any RPS elements? So the weapon combo of your opponent almost doesn't matter with respect to your own choice??? This looks pretty boring for me and IMO it doesn't add anything to the gameplay then.

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 9:24 am
by utilae
Yeah, I guess I forgot bombs and fighters and boarding.

I don't mind RPS or weapons varying in stats, I just don't want that to be the only difference between weapons. I want practical, functional differences to be common in weapons.

- a laser hits all targets in its line of sight
- a projectile creates a child projectile, each child creates another child, all before impact
- a mine activation alters the terrain, making everything in its area slow on entry
- a gas cloud weapon that floats randomly about based on solar winds (this could be the pollution created by another weapon)
- a beam creates a blast radius when it hits the target
- beams that bouncing from target to target
- weapon impacts knock ships back

I would also like different weapon types to be usable throughout the game and improved. Eg Race A uses beam weapons, while Race B uses area effect weapons, and Race C uses gas weapons

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:38 am
by Geoff the Medio
You list a variety of (odd) delivery systems for weapons, and says that stat-based RPS is ok, but is there also any RPS signifiance to the delivery mechanisms? What is the practical and functional difference between a bouncing weapon and a line of sight weapon strategically? ie. If someone's using a line weapon, what does that work well against or what is it weak against, and why? (if not just due to stat varying...)

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 9:08 pm
by utilae
The thing I like about weapons such as the line of sight laser (hits all targets in line of sight) is that it has a natural RPS, one based on geometry and positions of ships. It would be strong against a bunch of ships grouped together in a line. Weak against one or two ships on their own, because you are not damaging as many ships as you could if there were about five in the line of sight.

The bouncing weapon would be similar to chain lightning, hitting many targets in close proximity to each other. Which targets hit would be random, but would still hit many targets.

The breeder weapon I mentioned, it would initially be one projectile, then it would have a child. Then it an the child would have a child. Ect, quickly there would be more than the first projectile. A swarm they would be, out of nowhere.

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:41 pm
by flameoriginal
Apologies for the size of this posting. Hope readers find it interesting. F.O.

Tactical-engines and in-game tech research

In any game like Master of Orion, it is obvious that in-game technological research and tactics go hand-in-hand. With advancements in tech, units are able to specialise; and with specialised units, new tactical opportunities flourish. This, of course, has been the case through history, itself: with every innovation, new tactical advantages have presented themselves, advancing possible strategy. Many Historical TBS/RTS games offer players new options in tactics as the game's own timeline of invention unfolds: a tactical evolution through technological innovation.

The sci-fi TBS/RTS game offers the same, only that its research tree brings into being future technologies that have never existed. Entering into the realm of new & possible technologies is very exiting and gets the imagination running; but often a comprehensive tactical-engine just isn't there to please.

Some examples of issues that arise here are:

- A new tech, in its own class, does nothing different to techs in other type-classes of equal power and requires no particular counter-tech to repel. Its difference is cosmetic

- A new tech is too powerful and/or cannot be countered. Units using this tech unfairly unbalance the game

- A new tech can be countered too easily by more primitive, pre-existing tech

- A new tech is well-balanced and has qualities that open-up new tactical possibilities; but the game has a confusing pseudo-scientific research tree or the tech is inappropriately named/poorly explained, bewildering or misleading players as to the tech's actual in-game function and/or what other techs counter it

- Races are generally able to develop all techs, in all science-branches, during play and, as a consequence, surviving players reach a stalemate in late-stage gameplay. Victory through comabt is then only achievable by outnumbering the enemy through tiresomely producing absurd quantities of units

- Too many tech options on each branch of the research tree (where only a limited few can be researched), leads to races developing novel combinations of tech, but which end-up becoming mismatched on the battlefield (leading to strange wins and odd losses)

The worst problem, however, occurs when so many dazzling, never-seen-before techs are included in the research tree, that the team developing the tactical engine have no hope of exploring all the tactical possibilities these new techs create. This leaves the engine unable to provide the means by which players are able to exploit these innovations and the new tech is nothing more than eye-candy.

Although some Historical games also have incompetent engines, perhaps those that do function well have had an easier time with history on their side: being able to draw-upon centuries of mutual innovation of tech & tactics; providing tactical engines that fit its in-game tech like a glove. Because of this, I feel that sci-fi games should ground themselves in basics: modelling its future techs on the function of historical tech, in order to utilise the wealth of those tech's known tactical capabilities. A tactical engine like this can stand on the shoulders of history and offer the imagination rich strategic possibilities.

I'm not saying that never-seen-before tech offering genuinely new tactical capabilities shouldn't be included, only that these capabilities need be known before such a tech is introduced - and to fully research/play-test these is often no mean task ... especially as these capabilities cannot become part of a player's strategy if they do not complement the function of other tech, or positively affect other tactical aspects.

Some of the tactical aspects new tech can potentially influence are:

i) Unit formation: the function of new tech can rewrite a player's overall battle-strategy - as a taskforce or an entire fleet (eg A player's main attack fleet draws enemy fire, as small, fast vessels outflank the enemy and attach newly-researched "limpet-mines" to the hull of the enemy command ship)

ii) Terrain: open space may provide its own random terrain (eg asteroids, space debris). New tech could also create terrain, such as:

- Minefields: automatically create impassable terrain

- Gas-cloud dispersing weapons: much like gigantic grenade launchers, firing gas into strategic locations on the battlefield Example grenade types could be:

- Electromagnetic gas-cloud: creates an ECM field, disrupting ship sensors & computers, other systems (maybe even life-systems). A critical hit could temporarily disable an entire ship. There may be a % chance that disabled ships in formation crash into each other. The effect is similar to weather in other ground-combat games, in some respects.

- Light-dampening gas-cloud: disperses or disrupts laser-fire and affects laser-targetting systems.

- Metal-chaff cloud: creates a field of metal foil fragments. Any missile passing through has % chance of exploding.

Each grenade creates one cloud/field of gas, which exists for x number of rounds or until countered/cleared (eg by explosion). A missile, for example, must roll for % chance of exploding on every field passed through.

All these gas-cloud types can be fired either between yourself and the enemy, onto the enemy, or onto yourself (should you wish). This tech can also be used to facilitate surprise attacks and ambushes.

- Disabled/destroyed ships become impassable terrain in battle and can be used tactically. With the option to self-destruct, ships can be purposefully detonated to create impassable tactical terrain: ancient war battle-stylee! (Self-destruction also causes a damaging explosion. Kamikaze ships with explosive cargo could be used as a weapon.)

iii) Line of Sight: assuming it is ship sensors that read the position & capability/ordnance of enemy ships in battle, then these sensors must have Line of Sight to make that reading. Ships moving behind terrain become invisible & non-targettable (although area effect/static weapons still affect them). This way, surprise attacks become possible. Equally, direct-fire weapons obviously need LOS to function. Research can improve sensors so that they can sense further and through terrain (eg through an ECM field), but the latter is perhaps researchable only at the higher-end of the research-tree. Advanced sensors could also show ships more fully on the main map.

Some Essential Points for a tactical-engine:

1) A quick, intuitive method of deploying units in formation. Formations can be provided as 'templates' into which units can be dropped, at the start of & during battle. Different templates should accomodate different scenarios: eg epic battles, skirmishes, dogfights.

NOTE: people on the forum have often discussed the need for gigantic fleets in FreeOrion. Although epic battles could be fun, if ease of control isn't there, the game will become frustrating. I would like to have as many ships in battle as can be had before it starts to become unmanageable. I still also want the option to be able to micro-manage special taskforces or manoeuvres (and therefore select particular combinations of units for special taskforces). Skirmishes amongst small fleets or dogfights amongst small-ship taskforces can also turn-the-tide of war with the advantage of surprise, or when ally & enemy fleets are spread across the galaxy.

2) Reward/success given to tactics which:

- divide the enemy's collective strength (eg breaking an enemy's defensive line or outflanking an enemy by: exploiting known offensive/defensive enemy weaknesses; exploiting tactical weaknesses of the enemy's current formation; isolating/neutralising support/defensive/offensive/command units key to the enemy formation being used). Ships attacked from the side would take 150% damage; from the rear 200% damage.

- reinforce your own collective strength (ie by using formations that complement your strongest offensive/defensive capabilities and/or support weaknesses amongst your units and/or has weaknesses that you know the enemy is unable to exploit).

3) Coding built-around all possible tactical capabilities offered by tech in the research tree, plus all Race Abilities that affect battle.

NOTE: What a tech can & can't do and what counters it (and how), should also be a clearly explained in the game's information. Some people feel that a stone-scissors-paper approach to offence/defence vs counter offence/defence leads to dull, simplistic gameplay. But I don't believe this to be true. As said above, games can end in stalemate when tech becomes too easily researched. Offence/defence can have a simple measure vs counter-measure approach if tech research, at the higher-ends of the tree, becomes more difficult. If late-stage research is more demanding and players have to choose to specialise in just a few fields of scientific-advancement (and generally accept that not every tech will become available to them in one game), tech will generally become more valuable (as a practical and tradable/diplomatic resource) and also more varied on the battlefield. Players can also never predict what an enemy is going to throw at them on the battlefield anyway, so space combat will always be more demanding (and fun) than stone-scissors-paper.

Some Non-essential points:

1) Some games do not encourage mostly defensive play (eg some of the most sophisticated planetary-defence tech is often not enough to give even a small fleet of warships a run for their money). I would like non-offensive methods of gameplay to be more viable, especially if playing as a pacifistic race.

2) Victory conditions in combat: obliterating your enemy need not be the only method of winning combat. New combat strategies can be engineered by players to achieve any of the following:

- destroy your enemy's command ship
- board an enemy command ship and capture/kill the Commander
- disable x% of enemy ships (from space, eg ECM field; or by boarding)
- outflank or block x% of enemy ships

... and demand retreat or surrender. Enemies can then choose to fight to-the-death, retreat or negotiate the return of captured troops/ships through diplomacy. (A player could use the latter to ask a defeated enemy to remove a blockade on a planet, withdraw from battle elsewhere, cease war etc etc. Perhaps by blockading and threatening an enemy planet elsewhere, you can force them to remove themselves from a current battle?)

3) The ability to make ambush/surprise attacks.

4) To encourage constant ship re-design, old ships can be recycled more cheaply than other units. Captured enemy ships can also be used and/or recycled.

5) Spies can be sent to enemy homeworlds to steal statistical data on level of completed enemy research and logistical data on types/numbers of ship in fleet, general armament, special units etc. This can be used to prepare for battles with a particular race.

6) If Galactic Law is established by a Senate, all Senate members are forbidden to declare war on another player without the Senate's vote/consent. Any player going to war without consent will find the defending player supported by the Senate fleet.

7) Reinforcements can join long battles.

8) Being able to switch-off combat (as in Moo2) for quicker games is useful.


Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:31 pm
by ewh02b
Hey, nice post. Only had a few problems:
6) If Galactic Law is established by a Senate, all Senate members are forbidden to declare war on another player without the Senate's vote/consent. Any player going to war without consent will find the defending player supported by the Senate fleet.
Would joining the Senate be optional, or required? Could you be a rogue state?

Would the game be boring once you couldn't wage war? Would there be a Senate election victory? How would you coerce other players to vote for you without threatening them with war?

Would the Senate levy a tax on Senate members in order to create an AI Navy to defend Senate nations, or would Senate members be expected to send ships of their own free will to defend the Senate member who was declared upon?

7) Reinforcements can join long battles. the battle would last longer than a turn? That would be like having a year-long battle, I think.

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:01 pm
by flameoriginal
The idea re: the Senate is just a small thought that could be developed as much or as little as desired, or not at all (like anything). The Moo series is essentially about feudal conflict; but I would like to see FreeOrion embracing the diplomatic, cultural & political Victory Conditions possible in games such as the Civilisation series ... still with plenty of room for your rogue states to have their fun smashing-up the galaxy.

Games always won by the person with the most powerful ships are dull & passe.

What could be done with the above Senate idea also depends on whether FreeOrion will be a game containing both human & AI opponents: as decisions from the Senate would require the AI to be part of that decision-making process.

Whether AI is to be generally included or not will obviously influence many other aspects of the game and I would be interested to know if any decisions have been made on whether the game will include only human players.

However, the main thrust of my post is really about the tactical engine.

I was thinking that tactical engines found in naval warfare games could provide some interesting insights. Space combat is probably more similar to this than any other form of historical warfare.

I take your point regarding reinforcements joining long battles!!!


Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:34 am
by Yota_Sensai
I think no one would argue that there is a fundamental difference between single-player combat and multi-player. There is a different set of requirements and expectations for both on the one side and limits/special problems concerning the implementation on the other.

When i play SP, i do not expect that my opponents(the AI) have the same chances and possibilities as i have, because they just can't. AIs are dump, or rather very restricted. Even if they are well made they always have certain flaws which ,once discovered, can and will be taken advantage of.

What i expect from a SP game is a certain game experience. For FO it's being the ruler of a mighty empire which sends its impressive fleets to doom its enemies. Or to raid an enemy empire with a relativly small fleet and taking out vital structures(special Operations!). Its not that much about my tactical/strategy abillities but more about the "feeling and atmosphere" it gives to me, like reading a good sci-fi novel but interact with it. In moo2 i used to build ships with Phasers and Disruptors, not because i calculated that their space/cost/dmg output is best at current techlevel, but because it reminds me of STAR TREK :) (i gived names to them like "Bird of Prey" or Galaxy-Class) .

It shouldn't be too easy of course, so i wont loose my enthusiasm. I personaly think it wouldn't be that bad if the AI "cheats"(on a small scale) to prevent booring/too easy victories.

MP is different. It's about efficiency calculations, tactics and counter-tactics. The epic character is far less important. You have far less freedom to do whatever you want, because on a professional level there are a handful of working strategies that all players know. Victory is decided by the choice of your strategy, how well you can apply it and those small things(decisions, luck, mistakes) that makes MP so fun.

So, why not make two different concepts for MP and SP from the beginning?

I know this sounds like a lot of work ;) but it could solve a lot of problems ...