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Journal #10: Combat

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Over the last few weeks I've made some good incremental progress on the combat in my little strategy game.

1) I added shields to both my starship class definition as well as to the starship data component. (We're in space so what fun is space combat without shields of some kind).

2) I added a new component to act as a damage interface. In other engines you might have an IDamageable that the component would be able to derive from in addition to the regular damage tree. At the moment I don't support multiple inheritance with my component definitions (I'm developing in C++ so there no real distinguishing between what you're deriving from). I'm okay with this for now. For now in my engine it's just a separate component on the entity with a delegate that can be called. I considered the more traditional derivation with a virtual function, but opted for something that involves a little less boilerplate code to do something slightly different. If I hadn't already had this delegate structure sitting around (I mentioned it in my first post as being based on the impossibly fast C++ delegates found here) I probably would have done it that way.

3) Fixed some bugs in a couple of previously unused functions and added a few new small helpers to some of my other systems that were needed in order to make all the new combat bits work the way that I wanted them to.

4) Added to my Todo list because every time a programmer writes code, they find related things they want to fix or add to. Some are technical debt, some aren't.


Now, I'm a huge fan of Star Trek (if you don't recognize my avatar image, that's were it's from) and I wanted my damage to have a bit of the feel I got from watching the combat of that show (mainly TNG/DS9/Voyager). To that end I want basically 3 things when it comes time to apply damage to a ship in my game. 1) Below a certain point, a weapon should do nothing. 2) Within a certain range, the shield takes the majority of the damage. 3) Above that range the shields take extra damage. Currently I'm basing that all these on the ratio of the weapons power to the shields power. So the more powerful the shield vs the weapon, the more effective the shield. For now I have it all coded, but it's hard to tell at this point the "fun" since it's all pretty garbage numbers.

A few other things:

1) Each ship has 6 shield entries, one for each side of the hexagon that it's occupying. Right now they all start at the same value, but eventually I plan on that changing.

2) Some combat could apply damage to multiple shields at once. In this case (for now) it divides the damage equally among all the shields but still uses the full damage to determine the power ratio for how to apply the damage to the shield.

3) Right now once you get through the shields, the ship just has a bucket of hit points that is decremented by damage. Eventually I'd like that to be applied to ship systems and affected by armor for that hex side as well. Somewhat in the vein of Star Fleet Battles & similar games.

What's Next

I feel like I'm really only missing three things from my tactical combat:

1) Real/diverse weapons. Right now all my ships have the same weapon with the same stats. Plus the weapon is using the general purpose stats component (Journal #6). Neither of which is ideal.

2) Energy use model. The idea is that each ship generates points from it's various power supplies and then moving and using weapons reduces that amount. Kind of like the action points used in the original X-COM games (not the new ones by Firaxis). Right now all the ships start the turn with 2 points. The place holder weapon costs 1 and movement (to any space on the board) costs 1. Technically I do have a placeholder value in the weapon for a cost but it's set to 1. The movement should use up power proportional to distance traveled with, I think, some max travel limit that is smaller than the total power available. Obviously the number of points a ship will start out with will have to be much higher than 2, but it was a good placeholder.

3) Pathing turning limits. I have basic A* pathfinding though the hex grid already. The part that is missing is that currently a ship can basically path to where ever it wants. The models have a facing, but if they're told to move to the tile right behind them they will rotate in place and then move forward into the tile. That may be fine for some games (and possibly even fine for mine for some ship types like fighters if they get added) but I want my combat to be maneuver driven. It's meant to mesh with the shield arcs and (eventual) weapon firing arcs.

I think that once I get those pieces in place I'll feel good about where the tactical game sits and I'd like to move onto an overarching strategy element that would bind all the tactical combat into a cohesive whole. Then I can go about refining the interplay between those two elements into an actual game!

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