What about the classic space opera style of phases to each combat round?
1 - Fighters
2 - Bombers
3 - Capital
In phase 1 if both sides have fighters they meet and battle.
In phase 2 if there are fighters remaining they intercept enemy bombers. If the opponent has no bombers or fighters left remaining fighters are treated as bombers. Bombers that make it through the enemy lines bomb ships taking point defense damage.
In phase 3 capital ships engage each other with their heavy weapons. Capital ships try to attack in groups if they can or one on one if they are evenly matched in numbers.
That's more or less how this will happen.
Fighters are launched early and move faster than the ships, which means they get a chance to strike at the opponent first, or do some dogfighting against the enemy's fighters.
One element missing was the Bombers. I've toyed with the idea of bombers before and dismissed them because of the added complexity, which at the time, didn't bring enough to justify its inclusion. That said, I'm willing to revisit this at this point because I've simplified a lot of concepts up to a point where I feel it may be a viable option.
Regarding capital ships though, missiles and beams have a different AI. Beams will automatically seek to incercept enemy fighters that remain while missiles will be fired at the enemy ship.
I'll check your ref video, thanks for the input, much appreciated!
I was thinking of something like what Tech mentioned but more of a board game style. Consider it like a simple 1D battle field:
|x| | | | | | | | | | | | | |O|
X and O are the fleets and every "five turns" they step towards each other to meet in the middle. While at distance they start firing missiles at each other, missiles move 1 step each turn towards the opposing fleet. The missiles are counters, so there may be 100 missiles in a salvo headed for the opposing fleet. The opposing fleet can start sending out counter missiles which if they hit reduce the missile counter and if it hits 0 remove the item from the battle field. Fighters work much like missiles though if they meet opposing fighters, they melee it out in the middle and only the remainder will continue to the opposing fleet. They can be shot down also if you have any antifighter weapons (or just destroyer or smaller weapons meant for smaller ship battles) etc. Anyway, the missile exchange continues and as the fleets get closer eventually shorter range higher damage items can be used and things start getting really brutal etc. This is just a simple example of the concept in a simple form of course.
That does look like a lot like the system I have in mind, although missiles will be fired in salvo, which means they won't all get fired in the first round. Missile launchers will thus have a cooldown and reload.
And, as your initial complaint about the balance mentions: A single battle wagon without support would be meat for a well balanced fleet of small to mid sized ships. In fact, a balanced fleet of big dreadnaughts would not be an automatic win over a fleet of smaller ships if they showed up in large enough numbers. You could balance things such that basically the same tonnage of ships on either side be a standoff.
Just to clarify, I'm actually looking at ways to make it more viable to field less, more capable ships, not the other way around. There is already an inherent advantage in going for large quantities of ships from an economic standpoint (covering space is a difficult matter afterall) so I need to emphasize the worth of going for small quantities of high quality ships for encounters. Currently, one of my other implementations to insure that is that I'll give point defense capabilities only to the larger ships, which means they'll get a chance to survive missile onslaughts whereas smaller frigates/interceptors won't be able to.
Anyway, the idea is simple enough you can prototype it in a script language and play with the idea in a couple hours. I did so a while back and other than details, I was able to get the basics working in a couple hours. The interesting bit was how well the very simple rules worked when throwing mixed fleets at each other, giving one side a notable benefit in any tech was a drastic change in the turn out of the battles though easy to counter with re-balanced fleets or an opposing tech advance. I had a lot of fun playing with it in fact.
Yes, I usually do that, but I believe there is some "theoretical groundwork" to have made before trying things just for the sake of it. One idea can be rather well fleshed out before requiring code and tests, which is why I've documented some different systems and collected theoretical feedbacks. The "surviving" systems which will stand the test of criticism will be implemented and honed up to a point where I'm satisfied with their prototyped gameplay.
I was hoping to use Dark Basic for this early prototype, but quite possibly Unity.
1v1? Then make it tactical. The whole point of auto ressolve is that it makes battles faster, with 1v1 it's not an issue in the first place. Even I would prefer tactical combat in this case.
I most certainly wouldn't. Don't get me wrong, I like tactical battles, but this isn't the focus of this game. Besides, as any good DM will tell you with reason regarding tactical battles: they are boring with a single enemy. The fact that the target is a no-brainer makes it uninteresting. I'd rather automate as much of it as possible.
It is also not part of the scope of this project to reward the player for excellent micro-tactics. In fact, I believe that the best way to measure quality of fleet is to remove the player input in this equation. I'd rather have the player know that his ship X can defeat the opponent's ship Y in all circumpstances if they are outfitted the same, than realize its because his gameplay is uneven that he sometimes win/lose. I'm not saying it wouldn't be fun, but its simply not the gameplay/feel I'm after here.
As for combat system, with 1v1 it's irrelevant, just make these ship fire at each other till one die. With just one ship all lines and formations can not exist anyway. Track relative distance between both fleets (assuming all ships fly together if there is more than 1) for the purpose of weapon range.
There is no tactical placement, just a distance. The idea of lanes is to insure that not all ships duke it all at once as this wouldn't make much sense and would be confusing.
If you are talking about complexity and confusion, there is no problem. As I have seen majority of 4X players already played MOO1/2 so they won't find it confusing. This level of complexity is perfectly acceptable among these gamers.
There is a distinction between VGA Planets and other 4x games where a lot of VGA Planets die hards have absolutely no interest for MOO2. Knowing my target audience has been something I've worked towards, and I've come to understand that, though from the same genre, these games bear very little resemblance, and cater to different subcrowds. So much in fact that these two crowds don't naturally crossover to the other game! While I appreciate your input, I do believe you belong to the category of MOO2 lovers, and thus, I need to pay careful attention to insure this makes sense with what I'm trying to achieve for this other crowd of people. I'm not against hybridization, but not on elements that would potentially cripple gameplay for the crowd I'm initially building this game for.