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Capital ship releasing fighters

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When I play Freespace, and I am attacking a capital ship, there is always an abundance of fighter craft to antagonize me. When I used to play TIE Fighter, I realized that new waves would only appear after the entire current wave was destroyed (TIE Bombers Beta 1, 2, and 3, etc.). I would take advantage of that, destroying two of them but leaving one damaged and limping back to its mother ship. This would delay the release of the next wave. I didn't really notice in Freespace what the logic was to the craft being released - I guess because it never gave me a warning that more craft were emerging, so I couldn't key it to anything. Still, I'm wondering what logic they used. Perhaps they released the next wave when the current wave was down to one, or maybe it was a timed release. Heck, if the capital ship really wanted to defend itself, it would launch many waves to overwhelm the opposition, but that would make the game impossible. For those of you who have designed such scenarios, how would you design the logic of releasing more waves? Would you release the next wave when the first one is destroyed or returns? Would it be a timed release so that the opposition has to keep up with their release? Would you give the capital ship a limited supply, so that the player could actually run the ship out of defenses? Or what other kind of method would you use? [edited by - Waverider on March 3, 2003 7:02:06 PM]

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You could assume that a number of fighters will always be on standby and ready to scramble - and these will launch very quickly as once the battle starts. After that, they capital ship would probably launch as many fighters as it needs to to feel protected from whatever is threatening it.

However, although the standby fighters are prepped and ready for immediate launch, the rest are not. They''ll need to be armed, fueled, the pilots will need to get into their flight suits etc. This will take a little while. They may have enough engineers to prepare all fighters at once, but then again, they may not, in which case they have to wait for some of them to launch before they can prepare the next lot.

Once prepared, they have to launch - the rate at which they launch depends on the number of launch bays the carrier has and how long it takes the fighters to get from the preparation area to the launch bay.

You can parameterize each of these, and tweak them to get something that feels realistic - but most importantly, is fun. (its no good having all the fighters launching at once and killing the player in the first five seconds of the game, is it?)

e.g for each capital ship you might start with the following parameters:

No. of Standby fighters
Scramble time

No. of Engineers
Prep time

No. of launch bays
Launch time

Total no. of fighters.

The prep time is probably going to be the slowest step, so if you can wipe out the scrambled fighters fast enough then the capital ship will be defenseless for a while. Elite crews might be capable of shorter prep times however...

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There is also the variable of mission design. Naturally I would want to save a more aggressive scramble for later missions, especially for when the player is escorting bombers that are meant to take out the capital ship.

I don''t know if setting the variables you mentioned as a guide for designing the flavor of a capital ship mission would leave all the kinds of possibilities open, but you did give me some good logic to incorporate. Thanks!

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the enemy commander would also probably try to hold some of the fighters in reserve in case some of your pals jumped in on the other side of the target. I''d say all the fighters should launch as soon as possible (I like Sandman''s model for timing that), but hold some near the capital ship unless one group really looks like a huge threat (lots of bombers, or another capital ship). Of course, bombers wouldn''t need to scramble unless there was a target for them, but shuttles with VIPs might bail if the odds look really bad.

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That would open up the ability for a commander to decide exactly how ships should attack a capital ship. To pre-schedule the arrivals of the attack units. The fighters distract the defenses, and while the enemy crew is prepping more craft, the bombers jump in and start bombing the thing.

Then again, the capital ship could just be a trap.

TIE Fighter was a great game for these kinds of things.

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Another element is making sure that the player's involvement actually makes a difference.

If the capital ship is successfully destroyed with little or no contribution from the player, the experience could be lessened. Then again, I'm sure it would be fun every now and then to take part in a battle where the enemy is sure to be defeated and you just want to help mow the grass down.

At the same time, if your own capital ship is attacked, it's important to reward proper decisions about who to attack with actually determining if your capital ship survives. At the same time, if you make no real attempt to strategize and your capital ship survives anyway, the only thing left to enjoy is the story element (the fact that they attacked, and how your side will respond afterwards), or just enjoying blowing up the baddies.

So many elements to consider - part of what made Freespace 2 such a richly immersive game. I just wish the micromanagement wasn't so overwhelming. So many effects are going off, and there are so many craft, it's hard to know what decisions need to get made, and you just hope that the mission is a success. I have the hardest time with making sure my fellow bombers aren't destroyed as they are attacking the enemy capital ship, which is where this thread originated. Almost always, I'm the only one left and I don't know how to help guarantee their safety, except for actively covering them (a bomber covering a bomber? What about our escort!? Shouldn't we just make sure we stay in the vicinity of our escort to ensure our safety?) Now we're getting into craft AI. Different thread!

[edited by - Waverider on March 4, 2003 1:12:58 PM]

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Yes, I do have that, including Balance of Power. I considered loading them up again - I think I will do that. I never finished the Balance of Power expansion.

But one kind of mission I totally HATED from those games involved having to protect shuttles and cargo ships on their way through a system. If you let yourself get misplaced during a battle, you can't get to the next wave before it destroys the cargo ship that is farthest ahead. That's why I stopped playing X-Wing Alliance before I could get to the Death Star II battle.

Mission editor eh? That should give me some good ideas too. Thanks!

[edited by - Waverider on March 4, 2003 1:25:51 PM]

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Of course, some of the parameters can be variable. For example, early in a campaign, the enemy forces might underestimate their opponents, and place too few fighters on standby. As they lose more and more capital ships, they might keep more fighters at combat readiness, or even keep several fighters on escort duty at all times. As with the 'crew experience' I hinted at, this could be something which changes throughout the campaign, or on a mission by mission basis.

If the capital ship needs to scramble bombers then it has even more problems - the bombers will need just as much, if not more prep time than the fighters, and the bombers will also require fighter escorts. The way in which the ship balances the launch of fighters and bombers could vary according to the experience and nature of the commander.

For example, a defensive commander might only decide to launch bombers if he has a certain amount of fighters already out there - enough to handle the threat being posed to his starship plus a enough to escort his bombers as they come out. A more daring commander might take the risk of launching them with minimal escorts in order to try and take the heat off his own ship a little. A cowardly commander might insist that his shuttle is prepped and ready to launch at a moments notice, which will use up a launch bay and reduce the rate at which he can launch more fighters and bombers.


[edited by - Sandman on March 4, 2003 1:33:47 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Maybe OT or already done in some space fight game, but if capital ships have fighter bays, it would add a bit of strategy to be able to damage them. Get a bomber to plant a torpedo in the starboard bay and the capital ship can only release from the port bay, or only 7 fighters instead of 10 on the next wave, or other changes.

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