User:Geoff the Medio/Ships

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Ship Designs

When building ships, players pick from ship designs. The design of a ship determines many of its properties, such as costs, speed, special effects, combat characteristics and appearance. The design of a ship cannot normally be altered after it is built (though exceptions may occur, through effects).

A ship design consists of a set of components put into several "slots", a hull size, and potentially a hull type.

Slot Type

The components that may be put into a design are determined by the "slots" of the hull.

The type of a slot largely determines the components may be put into that slot when making a ship design. Components are classified by the type of slot into which they may be put. Every ship design and hull has the same slots:

  • Offensive - Battle weapons used to attack other ships, space monsters or to disable planetary defenses
  • Defensive - Battle potection against battle weapons used by other ships, space monsters or planets
  • Engine - Interstellar and in-battle propulsion
  • Payload - Other ship components, such as command and control centres, cloaking devices, supply modules, ground troop transport modules, colonist modules, special-effect components, planetary bombardment weapons (distinct from offensive slot battle weapons), long-range or in-battle sensor packages

Slot Size

Slots and components also have sizes. The size of a slot determines the maximum size of component, or the number of smaller components that may be fit into the slot.

Slot and component size is a number, in arbitrary units. The sum of the sizes of the components in a slot must be less than or equal to the size of that slot.

If a component is half the size of, or smaller, than a slot, two (or more) of that component may be put into the slot, giving an appropriate benefit to the characteristics of a ship built to that design.

Offensive & Defensive Slot Limits

The Offensive and Defensive slots have an additional limitation on the components that may be put in them: only a single type of component for each slot. For example, as long as the combined sizes of the components are less than the sizes of their respective slots, a ship may have 6 Weapon X components, and 2 Defense Y components; however regardless of the total size of the components, a ship may not have 3 Weapon X components and 7 Weapon Z components. Only one type of component may be placed in a each of the Offensive and Defensive slots of a ship design.

The Engine and Payload slots are not limited in this way, however. A ship may have two different types of Engines (ie. one good for battle and one better for interstellar travel), and any number of different Payload components, as long as the total sizes of these components are less than or equal to the sizes of their respective slots.

Ship Size

Ship hulls are available in several different sizes.

Size of ship slots is determined (partly) by hull size.

Size also influences various characteristics of the ship in battle, when being produced, and when moving around the galaxy map, such as stealth or detection meters, chance of being hit by weapons, damage done by weapons, "hit points" or equivalent of thes hip, ship cost, speed in battle or on the map.

Hull sizes have names, from smallest to largest:

  • Tiny
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Huge
  • Colossal

Hull Type

Hull type could be something the player choses during a game by researching the appropriate branches of the tech tree, or could be a racial trait, allowing unique-looking ships for each race / empire.

Ship components might only be usable with certain hull types, and hull types might increase or decrease the size of the slots in a given hull size, and hull types might affect various properties of a ship, like stealth or detection meters, speed, cost, etc. These bonuses or restrictions would need to be different and unique and interesting, however, to be worth doing. If the choice of hull type would end up being just an arbitrary or redundant choice when there are already choices of hull size and what components to use, then hull type should be just limited to changing ship appearance.

Possible hull type names:

  • Metal
  • Asteroid
  • Biological
  • Crystal
  • Energy
  • Psionic

There could also be hybrid types, with combined benefits and component options of base types.

Designs, Component Versions & Upgrades

Components in a ship design are specified only by their general class, not by a specific version of that component. For example, if the component "Weapon X" has several refinements available, such as Weapon X Mk. 1, Weapon X Mk. 2, ... , Weapon X Mk. 12, ship designs which use Weapon X only specify that the ship design has a certain number of Weapon X components, not the refinement version number of those components.

Individual ships do have a particular version number of their components. The version number that a particular ship has is independent of the ship's design. Two ships with the same design could have different refinement versions of their components.

When an individual ship is built, the most advanced refinement version for all of the components in the ship's design that can be made for that ship are used. (This could potentially not be the most advanced version known to the empire, if there are restrictions on what can be built where).

A ship upgrade consists of replacing its lower refinement version components with higher refinement version components. Upgrades can neither add additional components, nor change the class of components in a ship or design, nor change the design of a particular ship.

Building Ships

Build Orders

Players order ships to be built by specifying a ship design, a total number of ships to build, and a number of ships to build simultaneously, and a build location via the Production UI. A build project is then added to the build queue. After the build time for the particular ship design in question, or one "round" of building, a number of ships (the number being built simultaneously) appear at the build location. After each round of building, the total ships to build in the build order is reduced by the number of ships being built simultaneously. For example, an order of 12 ships with 4 being built simultaneously would build 4 ships after one round, leaving 8 ships total in the build order. After another two rounds, the order would be empty, and would be removed from the queue.


Ships are built at shipyards. Shipyards are themselves complicated multipart objects, with various components that determine what sorts of ships designs (limited by the restrictions on their individual components) can be built, and how many ships can be worked on at the shipyard simultaneously (max PP spent per turn).

Combat Mechanics and Balancing

Offensive ship components have one or more damage types, and a delivery mechanism. Both of these give bonuses or penalties to to the weapon's damage and chance to hit against specific defense types. Each defensive ship component has one or more defense types. Bonuses and penalties may be explicitly given in a table for pairs of damage type and defense type or delivery mechanism, or may be dependent on how delivery mechanisms are simulated / executed in the combat engine.

The combat value of a ship is not determined solely by its offensive and defensive components. Payload components can also make a ship essential in a combat support role, or a valuable target to protect or destroy, due to its strategic value outside of combat (such as due to its effects, or the ground troops or colonists it carries). Engine components also affect the manouverability of ships; combat engines have various "thrust" levels, and both combat and interstellar engines have mass which affects how effective a given thrust level is at moving a ship around in combat.

Damage Types

A component's damage type indicates the means by which it does damage to a target. Damage type is distinct from the means by which a weapon's damaging effect is transferred from the attacking object to the target, which is determined by the delivery mechanism.

A component may have one or more damage types. If a component has more than one damage type, the bonuses and penalties for all its types are combined to determine the total bonus or penalty.


A solid object physically impacts or contacts the attacked object, causing localized damage by crushing, piercing, shattering, etc. May consist of projectiles, such as mass drivers, shrapnel or bullets, or involve direct contact such as jaw-like crushing or ramming.


Some form of energy is delivered to the attacked object, causing damage by heating, burning, melting, vapourization, etc. May involve a electromagnetic radiation (eg. a laser), highly energetic matter (plasma, particle beams) or other more exotic forms of energy.


A shockwave of some sort meets the attacked object, causing damage by compression, shear, tearing, etc. Is distinguished from kinetic by continuously distributed damage over an area or volume. Could also involve manipulation of the shape of space in which the attacked object exists.


A chemical or particle reacts with the chemicals or particles that compose the attacked object, degrading or destroying them. May involve corrosive chemicals or antimatter, which react with the matter of the attacked object once in contact with it.

Delivery Mechanisms

A component's delivery mechanism indicates the means by which its damaging effect is trasferred to the target, which is distinct from what is delivered.

A component has only one delivery mechanism.

Each delivery mechanism will likely need significant specialized rendering and simulation code, and should be notably different from the others in its behaviour to the player.


A direct line from the attacking to the attacked objects. May involve a beam of energy or matter between the objects, or a line of sight transfer of some sort.

  • Damage done is independent of distance to target.
  • Damage occurs instantly and/or continually while firing
  • Range is short, chance to hit falls with distance to target (as 1/r^2)
  • Chance to hit depends on target size.


The attacking object releases self-propelled autonomous self-guided missiles which move towards the attacked object, and detonate in some way when within range. Missiles may be interceptable after they are launched, but before they detonate. Missiles are "dumb", and cannot be retargetted or controlled after they launch, or manoeuvre to avoid defenses.

  • Damage done is independent of distance to target from firing ship
  • Damage is delayed after firing until detonation, at which time damage is instant
  • Range of missile before detonation is long or infinite
  • Chance for missiles to hit is dependent on distance from ship to target (as 1/r; missiles are guided by firing ship)
  • Chance for missiles to hit may or may not be dependent on target size (depending if missile has to impact directly, or just explode nearby).


The attacking object launches self-propelled pilotted vehicles which move towards the attacked object, and then launch or fire some weapon at it from short-range. Fighters may be destroyed after being launched, before they fire their own weapons, but they may also repeatedly fire or be ordered to attack alternate targets or to avoid defenses after being launched.

  • Damage done is independent of distance to target from launching ship or distance to target from fighter when firing
  • Damage is delayed after launching until individual fighters fire, at which time damage is instant or continual
  • Movement range of fighters is long or infinite
  • Chance for fighters to hit is independent of distance to target from launching ship or distance to target from fighters
  • Fighters have to be within a certain range to fire on a target
  • Chance for fighters to hit is independent of target size.


The attacking object releases something which sits in space immobile. In the event another object moves into or into range of the something, it either begins to do damage continuously until expended, or is detonated. Examples include clouds of gas, or proximity mines.

  • Damage done is independent of distance to target from deploying ship
  • Damage is delayed after deployment until a target comes within range, at which time damage is instant or continual, depending on type of stationary object (corrosive cloud does continual damage, mines do instant)
  • Deployed weapons do not move, but remain in place for the duration of the battle unless destroyed by detonation, self-destruct or minesweeping of some kind
  • Chance for deployed weapons to hit is independent of distance to target from deploying ship or deployed objects
  • Targets must be within some range of the deployed weapon to be a target, and that range may depend on target size (so smaller ships can slip through a minefield or asteroid field that bigger ships cannot pass)
  • Chance for deployed weapons to hit is independent of target size (better to have size determine with certainty whether a ship can pass a field that leave it up to chance... though this is debatable)


The attacking object emits a damaging wavefront with travels out in all directions from the object, like an expanding ring.

  • Damage done falls with distance to target (1/r)
  • Damage is delayed while wave propegates from attacker to target, but damage is instant when wave meets target
  • Chance to hit is independent of distance to target
  • Chance to hit is independent of size of target


The attacking object emits a damaging field that hits all targetted objects within some range, continually doing damage.

  • Damage is independent of distance to target
  • Damage is done continually while target is in range
  • Targets must be within range to be targetted
  • Damage is guaranteed to occur on all susceptible targets in range
  • Chance to hit is 100% for susceptible targets in range, so chance to hit is independent of size of target or distance to target within range


The attacking object comes into physical contact with a single target, doing damage directly to the target.

  • Damage is done continually while in contact, or instantly when making contact
  • Attacking object must be within some very small range of target to attempt to make contact
  • Making contact is a "hit", and has some chance of occurring when in range
  • Chance to make contact (hit) depends on manoeuverability and size of target and attacking object
  • Contact duration may vary, which may determine the total damage for continuous-while-in-contact damage or affect the delay between chances to make contact for instant damage weapons

Defensive Types

A component's defensive type indicates the means by which it blocks or reduces the damaging effects of an attacker's weapon.

A component may have one or more defensive types. If a component has more than one defensive type, the bonuses and penalties for all its types and all the attacker's types are combined to determine the total bonus or penalty to the attacker's damage or chance to hit.


Some form of energy is delivered to, meets or diverts the attack. Examples might include energy shield bubbles, shaped plasma or energy armour, or directed energy defensive weapons.


Some immobile passive defensive mechanism that is consumed or destroyed when used, and which flakes away or breaks off from the remainder, limiting total damage due to ongoing processes in the attack. Examples might include fibrous material that burns away when struck by a directed energy beam, or some sort of liquid plasma shell that absorbs impacts by spashing off some of itself.


Some immobile passive defensive mechanism that absorbs damage that is designed to be as strong and resiliant as possible, in order to prevent or minimize any damage to itself or what it protects. Examples might include hardened metal armour that absorbs impacts and deflects explosive shockwaves, or the liquid plasma shell from ablative.


An active defensive system that tracks and attempts to intercept incoming projectiles by launching countermeasures. May involve firing a stream of defensive fire (bullets or lasers) at missiles or fighters, or perhaps telekinetic crewmembers who deflect incoming ordinance.


Each offensive component has one or more damage type, and one delivery mechanism. Each defensive component has one or more defensive types. Each defensive type has bonuses or penalties against each odamage type and delivery mechanism. By adjusting these bonuses and penalties, an interesting, nontrival but not too complex strategic game will hopefully be created.

Some example components:


  • Laser Cannon - Directed Energy
  • Mass Driver - Directed Kinetic
  • Nuclear Missile - Missile Explosive
  • MineField - Stationary Explosive
  • Acid Cloud - Stationary Reactive
  • Acid Bloom - Wave Reactive
  • Nova Flash - Wave Explosive
  • Plasma Cannon - Directed Energy Kinetic
  • Plasma Pincers - Contact Energy Kinetic
  • Antimatter Spray - Reactive Directed
  • Telekinetic Crush - Field Kinetic
  • Spacetime Distortion - Field Explosive
  • Laser Fighters - Fighter Energy
  • Bioswarm Fighters - Fighter Reactive
  • Gatling Fighters - Fighter Kinetic
  • Kamikaze Fighters - Fighter Explosive


  • Energy Shield - Energy Absorptive
  • Laser Point-Defence - Energy Point-Defence
  • Plasma Shell - Energy Ablative
  • Ablative Armour - Ablative
  • Armour Plating - Absorptive
  • Gatling Point-Defence - Point-Defence
  • Amporphous Armour - Absorptive Point-Defence
  • Composite Armour - Absorptive Ablative


These payloads are designed to help in ship-to-ship combat. Other payloads will be for non-combat purposes, and act as dead weight in combat.

  • Cloak - increases ship's stealth meter, making it harder for enemies to detect
  • Area Cloak - increases multiple allied ships' stealth meters
  • Holographic Generator - creates ghost images of ships as decoys
  • CnC Module - coorindates multiple ships or task forces, improving hit chances by sharing targetting data (perhaps between task forces?), improving morale...
  • Psychic Pod - does the same things as Holographic Generators or CnC Modules, but with psychics instead of technology
  • Sensor Array - increases ship's detection meter, extending of vision in battle and helping find cloaked enemy ships or detect enemy decoys
    • Active Sensor Array - greatly decreases own ship's stealth meter, but increases friendly ships' detection meters and/or decreases enemy ships stealth meters
    • Passive Sensor Array - moderately increases own ship's detection meter and slightly or not at all reduces own ship's stealth meter
  • Interdiction Device - prevents enemy ships from escaping battle
  • Marine Detachment - allows ship to launch boarding parties to disable enemy ships
  • Tractor Beam - holds in place or draws enemy ships towards ship
  • ECM Module - disables benefits of enemy ships' Sensor Arrays, but greatly decreases own ship's stealth meter and detection meter
  • Hacking Suite - enables a ship to disable enemy ships that are using a particular type of module. (Likely requires espionage to be built or to operate)


Various engines will be available, which are either useful only in combat, useful only for travelling on the map, or useful for both.

Engines will have various ratings for interstellar travel and in-combat movement. Ship mass affects these as well.

Ship Size

Ship size can play an important role in determining the combat capabilities of a ship. Smaller ships may have limitations on the types and numebers of offensive, defensive or combat support componets they may be equipped with, reducing their effectiveness in direct combat. However, smaller ships a faster and more manoeuvrable, more difficult to detect with sensors / easier to cloak or hide, and may be generally less individually valuable or seen as expendable in some situations where a larger ship would need to be protected.

Stategic Map Balancing

Many Uses for Ships

In addition to doing damage to other ships while in combat and providing combat support functions, ships have a variety of uses outside of battle. These include scouting and exploration, colonization, blocking supply lines, carrying ground troops, possibly ferrying around valuable unique items or leaders / spies, and acting as source objects for effects of various kinds.

In order to increase the value of having a range of ship sizes in a fleet, larger ships should be prohibitive to move around the map and use in anything but a carefully planned and prepared manner, while smaller ships should be used more freely. These limitations are imposed by a variety of factors:

  • The necessity of maintaining supply lines to ships with an unbroken link, requiring multiple ships to defend the line, which is prohibitive expensive to do with large ships, especially for longer supply lines into enemy territory.
  • Upkeep costs for larger ships are disproportionately high, discouraging players from keeping a large fleet of large ships that aren't being used at a given time.
  • Slow speed and high cost of actually moving large ships, compared to small ships. Smaller ships zip around faster with cheaper, lower-tech engines.
  • Larger ships are much more useful for transferring colonists and ground troops
  • Many useful payload components only fit into larger ships
  • Large combat ships are generally better than medium or small ships, up to a point. Very large ships are less effective than all others, and may be better used for support or non-combat roles.

Ship Speed

  • Large powerful ships have much slower movement speeds and cost much more to move around than small ships
    • Creates important roles for small, medium and large ships
      • Smaller-sized ships can scout cheaply
      • Middle-sized ships can project force rapidly and economically
      • Larger-sized ships should be moved deliberately and carefully due to high costs and slow speed and resulting strategic vulnerability
      • Keeping large ships around home for defence is the cheapest, until enemy fleets' locations are pinned down, and it is known that resources won't be wasted moving the large ships to destory them, and that they won't slip behind the large ships and do damage before the large ships can turn around and catch them
    • Large ship fleets that move slow are easier to catch on a starlane that is being destroyed, destroyingn the ships in the process, which might be a powerful end-game tactic
      • To be fully safe when moving large ships, both ends of the lane on which they are travelling should be secured before and while they are traversing it. Securing can be done with faster and cheaper ships.

Ship Cloaking

See User:Geoff_the_Medio/Musings#Object_Stealth.2C_Visibility_and_Detection

  • Ships built with cloaks are assumed to always have their cloak active while moving about the galaxy map, for simplicity and particularly to reduce the player micromanagement required to turn cloaks on and off.
    • An exception could be if the ship is out of fuel or supplies, in which case it would lose its bonus to stealth (though the player cannot directly control this, so no additional micromanagement is caused).
  • Cloaked ships have a significantly incrased Stealth meter, making them much harder to detect by other empires
  • Ships with cloaks have a speed penalty, in addition to any slowdown due to the mass of the cloak component.
    • Higher tech cloaks might have a reduced impact on ship speed
  • Cloak components increase the per-turn supply usage of their ship (as would many other components)
    • This makes using cloaked ships require more carfully maintained supply lines than similar non-cloaked ships
    • Also makes operating a cloaked ship behind enemy lines for extended periods of time more difficult
      • Higher tech cloaks might have reduced supply consumption
    • Increased supply consumption for cloaked ships might be greater for moving cloaked ships than stationary cloaked ships, allowing a stationary cloaked surveilance ship to remain in place for a reasonably long time
  • Travelling on a starlane unknown to another player, while cloaked, ensures complete secrecy of fleet movements, though is quite expensive to be able to do, as the necessary cloaking and lane technology must be researched and the appropriate ship components built into the ships



biological ships can't be made big, but have to grow bigger

they molt periodically, leaving their shell and regrowing a bigger one

old shells can be moved into by newer ships (different species that doesn't produce its own shell but grows faster) more cheaply and quickly

very big ships capable of producing very big hulls are rare and important and difficult to replace if lost

don't need shipyards, grow

Persistant Status Effects

there should be some status effects of ships that persist after battles. this could be like a "poison" effect that requires ships on the front lines to head back to a base to be cured, making suicide runs with poisoning ships useful. there could also be "slow" effects, or "fuel drain", etc. that are relevant to the map, more so than actually having significance in a battle.


Advance Wars has a small number of bases from which units can be produced, at one per turn. AW has a fairly wide range of costs and combat effectivenesses for various units, from 1000 for an infantry, to 28000 for a battleship. The number of ounits per turn is rather low, limited by the number of available shipyards and by available money. In general, you need a few low cost units to do special things (capturing bases, resupply, crossing mountains, going off-road usably quickly) that more expensive units can't do, but more expensive units are more effective in combat. You end up with a mixture of units of varying costs, without hugely greater numbers of any one unit type during the game, though with variable proportions between the types as the game progresses and more money becomes available.

For FO, this could mean that we could limit shipyards to producing a certain number of ships per turn, regardless of how "large" or combat-effective those ships are. Combined with different sizes of ships being more or less suited ot various jobs, both combat and non-combat, this could in FO reduce the range of numbers of ships of different types/sizes that it is practical to produce.

"shipyards" could also be somethat that can't be built in larger numbers, or perhaps not in any system, but only in certain specially qualified systems. These could be qualified by some player-created metric, or some natural property of systems that makes some good and some useless for building shipyards.

Repair Costs

With repair costs distinct from upkeep, and assuming building ships takes a relatively long time, repairing ships could come in several flavours:

  • Fast (one turn?) but Expensive (more than building a new ship) and only at repair bases
  • Slow (same rate as building new ship) but Cheap (less than building a new ship) and only at repair bases
  • Slow (much slower than building new ships) but Free and which happens automatically away from repair facilities (organic ships that regenerate freely but slowly)

This could lead to differing uses for weapons and different strategies. If someone is using ships that are cheap to repair, then you want to kill off ships rather than damage ships. If someone is using expensive ships, you want to do as much total damage to ships, as this is more expensive to repair than just replacing the ships, which takes longer. This would be helped by having ships lose combat effectiveness with damage, and also having upkeep costs independent of or increasing with ship damage.


Could have some refinements reduce cost of building a new instance of something, while others actually improve the something.

  • Researching a cost reduction wouldn't give any reason to upgrade existing ships, since it would give no performance benefit, but would make building new ships cheaper.
  • Researching a better version would make newer ships more expensive, and would allow upgrades which would cost to do

Could apply for either separate parts for each upgrade in branching tree, or all upgrades being applied to same part...