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Waverider

Why not launch all squadrons?

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I remember a discussion some time back where someone mentioned that devoting all of your units at once to defend against an assault, or to conduct an assault, is a bad idea strategically. I know in games like TIE Fighter it was important to only launch in waves so that the player had a chance to make a difference steadily without being overwhelmed. Plus the computers at the time probably couldn't have handled so many craft in the play area at the same time. But now, games could conceivably have hundreds of craft in a skrimish at the same time. It would be an overwhelming mess for a player in a craft trying to organize his squad and effectively know which target to attack next, but the engine could handle it. But I digress... If I had a starship, and a couple smaller starships arrived and launched a bunch of fighters and bombers against me, why wouldn't I as a starship commander just launch EVERYTHING? [edited by - Waverider on May 20, 2004 10:57:08 PM]

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I'm fairly certain this would only apply to novels, games and the like, but in my experience, when you have the massive amounts of fighters to thwart any attacks, you are usually the antagonist of the plot, whether that be the Empire or the alien invaders. What I see in these games and novels/films is a critical element that is necessary for the protagonist of the plot to succeed and that is arrogance on the part of the antagonist. When the Rebellion attacked the Death Star in Episode IV of Star Wars, Grand Moff Tarkin was sure that the Death Star was an unbeatable force and to send out even a full squadron of TIE Fighters would be a showing of weakness on the Death Stars part. This is present in nearly all novels/films/games, the antagonist is overly confident in their ability to suppress any attack against them and therefore eventually is the cause of their own demise, allowing the protagonist to succeed. I believe it is more this way in order for the novel/film/game to move along in the storyline rather than for practical purposes.

During the Gulf War of 91, the allied forces didn't just send a few A1 tanks to take out jeeps with machine guns, they sent an overwhelming, almost silly amount of armor to battle against a VERY small insurgent group from Iraq. Using a sledgehammer to squish a mosquito perhaps, but anything less and the conflict may have been drawn out for a much longer time. Just my take.

[edited by - Acoustica on May 20, 2004 11:05:18 PM]

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Two reasons:

#1, it doesn''t make sense to launch TOO many fighters, since they would msotly get in each others'' way (assuming we''re talking about a LOT)

#2, strategicly, if you lauched all your fighters at the enemy threat, I''d divide my forces into two groups: One to attack you, draw out all your defences, and the second to come around behind and blow away the target.

Bam, you''re dead.

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There could be many tactical reasons for it..

Perhaps your star cruisers guns can do enough damage so that it isn''t required to risk unnecessary fighters.

Perhaps your cruiser''s hanger cannot launch all of the fighters at once. Even if the ship is of considerable size, it may only be feasible to launch 1 or 2 fighters at a time, per hanger. If you have a significant number of fighters, you may have planes being prepped for launch on the flight deck when a damaged / out of ammo / out of fuel / etc. plane (or an entire group) needs to make an emergency landing.

Another problem related to the above is if you need to make a sudden escape. It''s going to take a heck of a lot of time to load all those planes back into the cruiser... if you want to make a jump because the baddies appeared with three cruisers your size.. well..

If your cruiser is somehow able to launch all fighters at the same time.. well, i''ll have to think a bit more about that.

Lets see.. first of all, if you have more fighters out there than you need, there''s going to be unnecessary confusion and therefore a greater chance that there will be friendly fire incidents. It''s also a waste of fuel and ammunition.

Finally, If you have all of your ships engaged in combat, you leave yourself defenseless. If another ship jumps in to the combat zone and launches fighters, but all of your fighters may be engaged and it may be difficult in the confusion to reallocate them.

Keeping fighters in reserve is incase of the unexpected (such as another ship jumping in during the battle). There''s also the possibility of an unexpected attack that destroys all your fighters engaged in a certain battle. I believe that there should always be atleast a fighter group that is never launched (rotate the active groups to this position, of course) just for these purposes.

The final is logistical. If you launch all your fighters at once, this will require them all to come in pretty much all at once when they''re low on ammo / fuel. There are going to be lines to get back in, and even if you can launch and recieve all fighters at once, it will leave you defenseless. Even if you expect it to be a quick battle, there''s always the unexpected

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I don''t know. If you have a massive number, launching them all will probably work. Unless the E has some reinforcements that can hit you from the back, in which case you just keep a *few* behind.

But if BOTH sides have massive forces, then you get into a strategic debate, and have to decide what to attack with and what to respond with. And that requires a feel for the game and strategy in general. (Presumably, tactics aren''t going to be very useful. If you''re commanding five million fighters, you won''t be directing any one squad.)

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Well there are several reasons for launching in air assults in waves, and they have been used since world war 2.

First off is logestics, A ship carries many more fighters then it can launch at one time and so the simple launch mechanics prevent you from launching them all at one time.

Secondly fighters require fuel and ammo, as such in order to maxiumize the fighters abilites you have to time the launch of the attack waves so that, you have enough time between waves so that when one wave returns there is enough time to refuel, rearm, launch and prepare for the next wave before it arrives.

Thirdly by attacking in waves you limit the amount of time the target has to recoperate between attacks. Since if it takes 1 hour to reach the target, and you bomb for 10 minutes before you have to return to the ship for more bombs, which takes another hour to reach the ship and another 10 minutes to launch. That means if you launch all fighters at once the target has 2 hours to recover between attacks. Instead if you attack in 35 minute waves the target has very little time to recover.



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"Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own."
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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I have been thinking about the same thing. The answer is just that it most of the time isn''t logical, but it will always be the case in order to present players with a greater challenge. I remember playing Wing Commander 3 and thinking "Why the hell does the admiral send out such inferior forces on nearly every mission when they would most likely fail?". In real life you only attack when A) you are sure to win (or think you are), B) your situation is desperate and a try is better than not trying. In most games however it seems all attacks are dramatic marginal ones.

It is annoying, but that price has to be paid with an inflexible campaign structure. As long as one mission does not affect the next there is no point in giving the player missions he can easily solve. However, if for example the player can choose where to attack and the success of his attack has an impact elsewhere these kinds of easy battles can definately be arranged because they still make a difference like in real life. Then of course they player should be able to expect to become attacked himself by superior enemy forces in some other missions, where he basically must cause maximum and then retreat.

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From my experience, attacking with all that you got is a really bad idea. Mainly because:

-It''s more effective to use a specific weapon. For example, if I have 1 good fighter for air but lowsy on air, and another the other way around, which of the two I will use depends on from where the attack comes.

-It''s stupid to leave yourself unprotected. Your enemy and you have a base, he launches his forces and you launch yours. He is losing on the battlefield, but some of his forces managed to get to your base, means game over for you, you have absolutely no way of stopping the attack, unless you went back, and that means giving the back to your enemies, which is even more stupid than being unprotected.

-It''s harder to control your forces that way, so unless necesary, don''t get into a situation you can''t control.

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quote:
Original post by Unwise owl
I have been thinking about the same thing. The answer is just that it most of the time isn''t logical, but it will always be the case in order to present players with a greater challenge.
This is wrong because it IS logical.

1. Speed of response - you can launch a first wave quickly. If you want all your forces to attack the first wave have to wait around (burning fuel) while the others launch and assemble.

2. "Target rich environment" - the enemy purpose is to get past the defence to hit their target. That means that to some degree they have to ignore the defencive ships and press on with their attack. This makes them easier targets for your defencive units. More importantly by sending a first wave your units are in a "target rich environment"; there are lots of targets for each of your units to attack. Each subsequent wave has pleanty of targets to hit but they don''t get in each other''s way as would happen with a larger force.

3. Flexibility - an enemy''s initial attack is seldom its only/real attack. You need a reserve in order to react to additional threats or to take advantage of an oppening that becomes apparent during the battle. When you hit an enemy you may find that the battle goes better in one area than another. If they are about to break through in one place you send your reserve. Alternatively if you make a breakthrough somewhere that is the moment you win the battle by pressing the advantage. You send in all your reserves to smash through and inflict serious damage on the main target, or attack other forces from the rear.

4. If they all launch at once they all return at once - you are swamped trying to refuel, rearm and relaunch. This is something that games simulate very poorly. I played Homeworld 2 recently and docking ships just wnt in and came straight out again, regardless of how many squadrons you ordered to dock. In reality the more you sent in the more chaotic it would be and the longer some would take to get back out. There is also the problem (as experienced by some WWII carriers that the fighters all return and then the enemy attacks. You are stuck with all your fighters grounded and the carrier undefended. It takes heavy damage and the fighters are lost along with the carrier.

I am looking forward to the game "Rome: Total War" (as used in the BBC show "Time Commanders". I think that game will make good use of the reserve concept.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions (www.obscure.co.uk)
Game Development & Design consultant

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