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Wavinator

How many of you would bother with ship building?

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quote:
Okay, how crazy would you want to get with this?

I could give you the detail of SimCity: You could draw powernodes and pipes, and make strategic choices. Maybe you run big conduits near the outer hull, which means they can be more easily destroyed. Or maybe you put them along the spine, but risk destroying central equipment near it.

This would be great. :D

However, you wouldnt have hundreds of ship per fleet, with multipule fleets clashing with that system.

Way too much detail per ship to handle. Idealy you should have a small number(under a dozen) of powerful ships under your control instead of hundreds. You can bias the system to prefer small numbers of powerful ships by;
1)Manipulating the maintenance system to have a high per-ship cost, but low per component cost.
2)Ships should be more 2-4 times more durable than common weapons.
3)Transportation method(FTL or STL) can only keep a few ships in "formation" while in use. Thus preventing large numbers of ships to be effectively used at any one time.
4)Crew and parts requirments not scaling with number of ships. Aka minium effective ship/crew size and minium number of parts required to make a working ship.

And if you do go the route of large fleet actions, then you have an entirely different approach required to ship management. The detail should be there, but be able to ignore it and allow autopilot handle the misc detail.

quote:
Secret passages and doors should also be an option. It would be interesting to make the level complex enough that you could lift out floorplates and manuever through crawlspaces, but I''m not sure how evil this will be from an AI standpoint. You could easily run into stupid AI if I don''t do this fully.

For the love of all that is holy! No crawlspaces.

Just say No to crawlspaces.

Seriously, crawlspaces & "Jeffires-tubes" are a really nasty brain bug. And this only makes it much harder todo a non-stupid AI.

And you can easily make the levels more complex and interesting without adding crawlspaces. I''ll settle for more interactive rooms, than different variations of a small room with nothing in it.

An internal sensor console should allow you access to internal sensors. And if your not suposed to have access thats what a little computer hacking is for

Blasting a computer should have detrimental effects to something, turning the lights off should do something. That type of thing.

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I really appreciate the unprecedented level of detail it sounds like we''ll see in this game. Though I can''t imagine what it might take to code almost entirely dynamic ship-building, it would get inSANELY hard to manage if you had more than a dozen ships, all huge, with complex unique designs, and Jeffries Tubes that you might have to monitor should one be boarded.

At first I''d imagined some level of abstraction involved in this: not as abstract as Masters of Orion 2 when you''d attempt to board and capture an enemy ship, but not nearly as complex as it seems you''re planning. My guess is then it will be a small fleet...like a dozen, as people have said. If you have to make a choice, I would ask that you sacrifice things like Jefferies Tubes and whatever it would take to make them possible for simply more modules. The more gizmos, doodads, weapons, what-have-you that are available, the more I think I''d like it.

Things like sensor arrays, repair-robot bays, shuttle bays, weapons, shields, armor, thrusters (for maneuverability...just that alone could become extremely complicated)...

I could go on, but much of this has been said more or less, and I''m sure you have your own ideas. If there are little crawl spaces that have to be placed for repair reasons and I have the option of dealing with them in a threat-situation (when I''m being boarded), then okay, there are tubes. They didn''t specifically exist on the Enterprise as secret passages though =) they served a more mundane purpose. Getting to parts of the engines where turbo-lifts or walkways couldn''t fit.

Besides, if the ship that gets boarded isn''t one of my favorites, I might just evac the crew and blow the ship up with self-destruct, or the rest of my fleet could bring it''s fire power to bear on it.

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Having customisable ships sounds like a great idea... especially being able to orient the weapons in whatever direction you want (i.e. having powerful weapons mounted on the rear to blast enemies you are fleeing from or having them mounted on the sides so don''t have to "charge" at everything).

As far as saucer sections go, you could make it where you can only attach stuff to the center of the top and bottom and the four sides (like they do with lego pieces). That way some people can build their Enterprises (or Defiants) and you wouldn''t have to deal with too many varaiables.

Also, having some pre-made designs for ships and rooms would help, so players could just upgrade their level 2 sickbay into a level three without having to take out al the chairs and equipment manually.

Anyway, this is looking like a pretty neat game!

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
However, you wouldnt have hundreds of ship per fleet, with multipule fleets clashing with that system.



You''re right, I could never expect you to manage that much detail. But consider this: What if you could have both without the headache?

First, consider what it is that you really care about with designing ships: You want them to be able to defend against borders, resist certain types of damage and be able to tackle specific tasks.

You do this manually on your own ship and get all the joy of customization. But you can''t jump from ship to ship, so they''re really black boxes to you. You don''t know if a particular hull configuration contained a fire, or helped repair boarders or what.

What you know on your own ship is that you strategically used the level YOU built to win in combat, make your crew more efficient or solve some technical crisis. Your own management skill, creativity and initiative were more important than the actual level layout itself, even though parts of the level made things harder or easier.

So what if the rules for the stuff you care about were heavily weighted on how good the captain was, rather than the specific minutiae of the level? You could put Kirk or Picard in a tug, and their legendary status would allow them to pull off something useful even with next to nothing.

That''s the extreme, but the general approach is that you can have N size fleets and properties, but for every asset you add, you''ve got to have a trusted crewmember with leadership skills to oversee it. But for the sake of AI, processing and memory management, you really live in a bubble where up to only X number of ships exist. Think of it as a blend of an RPG and empire game-- sure, you can move around abstract units as in an empire game, but you don''t have a hand in detailed interaction unless you''re there personally, risking your neck. (There''s an exception to this where your essence can ride along in an implant, but you have to work to get crew devoted enough to carry that implant for you.)

quote:

3)Transportation method(FTL or STL) can only keep a few ships in "formation" while in use. Thus preventing large numbers of ships to be effectively used at any one time.



Ha, funny you mention this. I see the military and ferry services using "jumpships" which carry fleets around. As the player, you start out in a lowly shuttle restricted to the main "roads," (jumpgates). But if you want to go to different parts of the galaxy, you need your own "offroad vehicle" in the form of an expensive jump drive or a carrier ship.

quote:

Just say No to crawlspaces.

Seriously, crawlspaces & "Jeffires-tubes" are a really nasty brain bug. And this only makes it much harder todo a non-stupid AI.



Okay, I''m starting to see some real hatred here for maintenence tunnels. Keep in mind this is a Sims like interface, so you don''t have to go crawling around FPS style.

My instinct for AI is to make it''s presence in any one area a matter of probability based on infrastructure when you can''t see it, and pathfinding when you can. So you could have AI surprise you if all the doors weren''t secure, and they''d use local grid pathfinding to navigate the level when you''re actually in combat.

quote:

An internal sensor console should allow you access to internal sensors. And if your not suposed to have access thats what a little computer hacking is for



Yup, or sensor invisible bodysuits!

quote:

Blasting a computer should have detrimental effects to something, turning the lights off should do something. That type of thing.



You may be interested in this thread I posted about a month ago on destructable environments. I''m aiming for internal battle damage, fires and sabotage to play a role in creating environmental puzzles that you''re challenged to overcome periodically.




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Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by serratemplar
I really appreciate the unprecedented level of detail it sounds like we''ll see in this game. Though I can''t imagine what it might take to code almost entirely dynamic ship-building, it would get inSANELY hard to manage if you had more than a dozen ships, all huge, with complex unique designs, and Jeffries Tubes that you might have to monitor should one be boarded.



I think the same mechanism that gives you a good minimap in an RTS is going to be what you need here for the larger craft. Sections need to be turned into icons in room-shaped boxes with connecting lines that summarize passageways. Smaller icons represent problems, and rooms-boxes turn from green to yellow to red to represent health or critical situations.

The smaller icons tell you what you need to do. A lightning bolt in a yellow triangle, for instance, could be a blockage created by arcing electricity. A trefoil could indicate radiation leakage... and so on. Icons could flash with urgency or have a clock icon overlaid on them to tell you whether or not you have to do something now or can wait.

Better yet, the bigger your ship, the more you''re in need of a crack security officer, chief engineer and executive officer. These guys, using the personality system I''ve got planned for NPCs, will offload problems for you automatically once you give them a curt nod. For instance, let''s say that you''re simultaneously boarded in the middle of space combat. If you have a competent security chief, he''ll tell you where they are, what they''re attempting, how likely it is to succeed, and what he plans to do about it ("We''ve got PA Suits attempting to sieze control of engineering, but I already have defenses in place. The situation should be contained in 10 minutes."). Then you''ll get to either nudge a few factors or veto his action and take on the situation yourself. If you do that, your Executive Officer handles the space combat while you deal with the boarders.


quote:

At first I''d imagined some level of abstraction involved in this: not as abstract as Masters of Orion 2 when you''d attempt to board and capture an enemy ship, but not nearly as complex as it seems you''re planning.



I''m going for a blend of RTS and RPG for boarding. You can sit back and move units along the map via comms, or you can get in there with a gun yourself (particularly useful if you''re shorthanded, and it gives you an opportunity to make crew devoted by saving their hides; there''s also a warrior culture where you win status by doing this, too).

quote:

If you have to make a choice, I would ask that you sacrifice things like Jefferies Tubes and whatever it would take to make them possible for simply more modules. The more gizmos, doodads, weapons, what-have-you that are available, the more I think I''d like it.


Like I said in a post above, I don''t think you as the player will have to make this sacrifice. Ships will come in a templates, and while it will be immensely important for YOU to configure YOUR craft (flagship) the way you want it, when you add ships it will be more important than anything to get a good leader on the ship. Next will be making sure general stats like internal defense and hull integrity are high. Since you are locked to one character at a time, you can''t switch between ships and micromanage-- that''s the job of the captain you hire, and he''ll call you when he needs stuff.

quote:

Things like sensor arrays, repair-robot bays, shuttle bays, weapons, shields, armor, thrusters (for maneuverability...just that alone could become extremely complicated)...



I am thinking about factoring engine placement into turn radius, and maybe throwing in a few things like I mentioned before: You can''t put a FTL drive next to a crew compartment because of lethal radiation, for instance; and a sensor module has to be exposed on 5 sides to work. These create problems chiefly for combat, stealth and environmental hazards.

quote:

If there are little crawl spaces that have to be placed for repair reasons and I have the option of dealing with them in a threat-situation (when I''m being boarded), then okay, there are tubes. They didn''t specifically exist on the Enterprise as secret passages though =) they served a more mundane purpose. Getting to parts of the engines where turbo-lifts or walkways couldn''t fit.



The way I see this, when you add highly specific modules like engines or a warp drive, they''ll automatically come with a layout based on the module. This is outside of you configuring a generic hull to your liking. It will be much more expensive to get rid of access tubes and whatnot for a warpdrive because they were put there for a reason by the manufacturer.

But on the secret passageway idea: Mutinies are a possibility, and these resolve themselves in an RPG / RTS mode where the map is the ship YOU designed. So if your crew throws you in the brig, but you just happen to have an embedded escape hatch that links directly to the armory, goodie for you. Otherwise...

quote:

Besides, if the ship that gets boarded isn''t one of my favorites, I might just evac the crew and blow the ship up with self-destruct, or the rest of my fleet could bring it''s fire power to bear on it.


Yes, and with the personality system, the captain may call you up and recommend this anyway, telling you that it''s a lost cause. Or he may ask for reinforcements, in which case your chief of security "makes it so."



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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I would bother customizing a ship, as long as the process doesn''t become annoying.

Looking forward for your game...

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quote:
Original post by The Shadow Nose
As far as saucer sections go, you could make it where you can only attach stuff to the center of the top and bottom and the four sides (like they do with lego pieces). That way some people can build their Enterprises (or Defiants) and you wouldn''t have to deal with too many varaiables.



This is a good idea. I''ll need to come up with an addition to my model format that specifies acceptable faces to attach to, a bounding box to prevent things like lasers sticking into the hull, and a tool to make this stuff easy.

If the engine supports it, though, I''m going for being able to simply stick mesh objects right into other mesh objects. For instance, rather than dealing with lining up two wings, you select a wing and put it on the hull where you want it. For suspension of disbelief, I might have to make up some sort of abstract rules about aerodynamics for atmospheric reentry, but my early tests show that you can get some darn creative looking ships with this approach (especially by adding multiple X or + shaped wing configurations). Struts should work the same way for the more massive ships.

quote:

Also, having some pre-made designs for ships and rooms would help, so players could just upgrade their level 2 sickbay into a level three without having to take out al the chairs and equipment manually.



Oh, yeah, great point. It''ll be more work, but it looks like what I''ll need here is a scheme for concatenating upgrades without loses. Let''s say that for some reason you''ve got a science lab mixed in with your medical facilities. When you upgrade, you shouldn''t lose the layout of the science facilities.

quote:

Anyway, this is looking like a pretty neat game!


Thanks, the feedback is inspiring!



quote:
Original post by The Shadow Nose
Oh yeah, NO jefferies tubes


Haha! Okay, how about a compromise: No jeffries tubes unless YOU put them in (along with secret passages or whatever). Prefab modules you buy, like engines or sensor pods, might have them, but the bulk of your ship wouldn''t.

Now, if you''re raiding another ship, this wouldn''t stop a crafty captain from having them and circling around behind you. Does this work?

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by owl
I would bother customizing a ship, as long as the process doesn't become annoying.

Looking forward for your game...


Thanks owl. I think that a drag and drop approach for interiors and snap-on approach for exterior modules will make this fairly straightforward... as long as you have the in-game cash, that is. But, then, that just inspires you to get out there and make money!

It should be especially fun to figure out certain strategies based on snap on components. Is it better to have a forward launch bay for fighters that could be hit by enemy fire but can eject ships out at a high speed, or a rear launch bay which allows you to pick up ships while on the run. Hopefully, these are FUN questions rather than annoying ones.

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Just waiting for the mothership...

[edited by - Wavinator on June 3, 2004 9:54:43 PM]

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Will we have full reign over the interior design? such as can I put in small confinded hullways, with thick decending emergancy doors, as well as motion tracking turrets every five feet.

Also I have to ask, what about seperating components? Can I make the ship able to split into two seperate parts?

-----------------------------------------------------
"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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