First, an assumption, the fun comes first, realism only if it does not interfere with fun and does not make the game too complex
. I understand not everyone make games with this assumption in mind, but if possible I would prefer such assumption in this topic since that's the kind of game I want this information for (but if you can't, that's OK
In my opinion, the best way to go would be to have well thought out and named slot types(armor, extensions, weapons, electronics and so on) and then give X amount of these slots on different ships. All of the fittables would have requirements for energy, volume and so on while keeping it realistic.
I don't think slots and energy works well together. If you are making a slot based design, the imperative is to use all slots available (otherwise the designed ship is not optimal). For example if you are making a small ship with 6 slots (2x weapon slots, 1x engine slot, 1x reactor slot, 1x armour slot, 1x sensor/electronics slot) and you have 2 types of components per slot (early game) you are highly limited how you assign these if you need to track energy consumption. You might simply end up with only 1 reasonable combination of components since the energy consumption requirements dictated so.
I would say energy is not compatible with slots at all. It makes already heavily restricted slots (which are type restricted already) even more restricted.
On the other hand, if we use space/weight system the energy should fit fine (since we can simply add unlimited number of armour which does not use energy until we fill the whole hull space). In space/weight system additional restrictions (like energy/crew requirements) are much easier to deal with by the player since you can always mindlessly add a bunch of low tonnage components to fill the rest of the hull once all your main componets are there.
I would risk making a theory that slots works only if there are no additional requirements/limitations present...
Another interesting thing, I noticed in some games a fake slot system. Look here: http://www.dotemu.com/sites/default/files/starfury_1_0.jpg
this ship has slots which are basicly empty, it also has tonnage. It seems that the bottleneck here is always the tonnage, not slots. What is the point of slots there then? It feels to me as if the slots there were purely decorative thing without any gameplay purpose...
I think no one mentioned it, one of the best 4x games (at least that i heard of) is Aurora, whatever you do, terraforming, bulding spaceships, building defenses, bulding your race, gets an incredible detail, you can set the frequency of the laser you shoot so it can destroy different things more effectively, if you want to make a space-based 4x, i reccomend you look at it, or at least it's wiki, you could get a lot of ideas from it.
Interesting one, thanks. But it took me 5 minute to find the download for this (not even on the first page of google) also I never heard of it even though I'm a hardcore 4x player. From a marketing point of view this game is a failure. I'm not sure if I should steal any ideas any from such unpopular game
Not a problem if the 20 destroyers are manipulated in one stack, like in the first Master of Orion where it was normal to fight with a thousand small ships in one battle.
This has 2 problems. It relys on micromanegement and detailed ship manipulation during combat which is not usable in larger/mid scale battles (imagine positioning 20 destroyers so they all show their stronger side to the enemy and repeat it each turn).
If you have not played MOO, you really should. For one, it has a nice planet management UI approach - MOO2 was a step backward in that.
Yes... Stacking would solve the problem of it being unmanagable. But it kind of defeats the purpose, the point was to make it so separate components on each ship can be damaged an destroyed so you have to carefully place armours and systems. But with stacking you can't make separate damage to each component, since it works as a stack (X units left, can't display a huge page with detailed list of all ships in a stack and the damage to all their components). Partial damage can't work with stacks and detailed ship manipulation works only if you have few ships/stacks to manage and you can have few ships to manage only if you have stacks
So it's kinds of is a vicious cycle.
Plus, I'm not sure I would want to base my decision if I want stacks in a game just on ship design requirements... I would prefer a shipdesign system which works for both.