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Being a General Hero

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This problem has been kicking my butt for a long time. I''ve touched on this before, but still haven''t figured it out... How can a player control both a character and an army? The main problem is depth vs. size. The more detailed things are, the fewer of them there must be. But is there a way to have both??? Is it even a good idea? Think about a king who gets involved in battles personally. Or a platoon leader. I''ll use my own example because it''s what I''m working on: You are both captain of a single starship, and leader of a fleet. For me, individual control would mean flying the ship, controlling it''s systems (shields, weapons), dealing with inventory / special items, and handling damage. Fleet controls would involve: Formations, attacking targets, guarding /escorting, and AI settings for rules of engagement. Why this is bad It may not be. But playing Battlezone and Uprising shows me that it''s hard to control a single individual and a group. Solutions 1) TA commander: Dumb down everything. Your character gets 1 or 2 special abilities, like the fast building bomb unit in TA. Everybody else is single purpose (archers, tanks, tow ships, etc). I HATE this solution. Gameplay with nothing but the Commander unit is boring, and it''s hard to see him as you 2) Uprising / Battlezone: You''re detailed, everyone else is cheap and expendable. Don''t like this either. Your units become cannon fodder. 3) Starfleet Academy (?): You get few units, but everyone''s detailed. Again, I think this sucks because it''s so artificial. 4) Marie Antoinette: You have your cake and eat it too. All units are as detailed as you are. No real growth limit for the fleet (beyond what memory can handle) Players can pause or slow time down to manage. But otherwise, management is their problem and thus their choice (called Marie because after playing it angry gamers come to cut off your head) *sigh* Any thoughts? (sorry this is so long, it''s tough to hash out) -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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How about, each unit that joins you, must pass a short test supervised by you and your underlings. If they fail, then they are used as cannon fodder. If they pass, then they become elite or similar, and are a worthy addition to your team. You get to name and customize them. This way you get the best by your side, like a royal guard, with the rest as infantry, sorta like the real armies...

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Apologies if I''ve missed the point, but:

Have your player have his/her dominant role as captain, and a lesser role as fleet commander. Instead of contantly issuing deployment orders, have pre-programmed Strike Patterns (Omega, Alpha, Delta - you remember ST:TNG?) Then, you leave issuing the details to your Second in Commander (Riker? )

If you could allow a player to add their own to the basic sets as well this would be even better. I''m thinking like the formations in Homeworld, but more advanced.



"NPCs will be inherited from the basic Entity class. They will be fully independent, and carry out their own lives oblivious to the world around them ... that is, until you set them on fire ..."

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I vote for the Marie Antionette approach:
Split control between the AI and the player. The player can choose to spend their time ordering their fleet around, or can rely on the fleet (hopefully) taking care of itself, while they are battling alongside their comrades. The more specific the commands, the longer they should take to give. For example, general orders like "charge" or "retreat" broadcast to the entire fleet should be readily accessible, while more specific commands like "fighter group 32 attack target x" or "destroyer 5 guard the cargo freighters" would be a little further down in the interface.

Trying to micromanage your fleet while participating in the combat yourself should be difficult. There should be no breaks, the player is choosing to split their attention between themselves and their subordinates when they choose to have a fleet.



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I think there is another solution to the problem, which hasnt been mentioned yet.

As the fleet commander, you arent particularly interested in telling each and every ship what to do, there are wing commanders and captains etc. for that sort of thing. You break the fleet down into a command hierarchy, eg fighters take orders from capital ships, capital ships take orders from command frigates, the command frigates take orders from you. Your own ship might have its own flight group which you can control in more detail (ie you tell the capital ships what to do rather than going through a command frigate) and you may want to allow more detailed control of other flight groups, but this shouldnt really be necessary.

All you would need to do to control the majority of the fleet, would be to give the command frigates an order and one or more optional instructions telling him how to carry out his objective, eg: "Attack that space station, use stealth and speed"

It might also be a good idea to set general fleet objectives, as well as general flight group objectives, right at the start of the mission (a kind of mission briefing stage). Hence, if a flight group has completed all of the specific objectives you have set, it will automatically do something vaguely useful without requiring additional instructions. This could be very useful - if for example you set a fleet goal of protecting you own personal ship, then whenever you are too bogged down to issue orders to idle craft they will automatically come and help you out......

Edited by - Sandman on January 10, 2001 7:14:37 PM

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quote:
Original post by Tyrian

How about, each unit that joins you, must pass a short test supervised by you and your underlings.


Hmmm... They''d have to test everyone who''d join, right?

Rather than a test, this gives me a seperate idea: training your AI. Ambitious, yes, but training exercises could be a way of instilling your combat preferences. If you always attack certain targets first, or configure ships a certain way... this would be cool to try, but it sounds like some nasty pattern recognition...



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

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quote:
Original post by morfe

Have your player have his/her dominant role as captain, and a lesser role as fleet commander. Instead of contantly issuing deployment orders, have pre-programmed Strike Patterns (Omega, Alpha, Delta - you remember ST:TNG?)



This makes me think of macros. I can vaguely see how this might work. The real trick would be giving the player enough control that he could set a Strike Pattern in motion and feel that the combat would take care of itself. Then he could feel free to engage in the battle.

quote:

If you could allow a player to add their own to the basic sets as well this would be even better. I''m thinking like the formations in Homeworld, but more advanced.



This seems to call not just for formations, but waypoints / movement guidelines as well. This has a lot of potential... it would be very much like scripting.

For instance, you might script something as

A) form line abreast
B) close to 50km of enemy fleet center
C) fire 10 missiles at fleet
D) retreat to safety

This becomes the "Hit and Fade" attack pattern. The real problem is squeezing something like this into an interface...

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

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quote:
Original post by pwd

I vote for the Marie Antionette approach:



Alright, I''ll tell ''em that when we''re both at the guillotine.

quote:


Split control between the AI and the player. The player can choose to spend their time ordering their fleet around, or can rely on the fleet (hopefully) taking care of itself, while they are battling alongside their comrades. The more specific the commands, the longer they should take to give.



IOW, this is the price of micromanaging. Hmmm... The only problem is that the AI enemy would suffer no such penalty. And I don''t want to penalize the player for what is a normal way of playing.

However, combined with the other approaches mentioned here, I think this would be fine. Then the game would reward the captain who planned ahead.




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

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator

IOW, this is the price of micromanaging. Hmmm... The only problem is that the AI enemy would suffer no such penalty. And I don''t want to penalize the player for what is a normal way of playing.


What if the enemy has the same disadvantage as you? Its flag ship is the first to do everything, and the smartest, but the rest of its fleet, like yours, has to wait for the flag ship to make a move first.

Sort of like the King leading the charge. He makes the battle cry, spurs the horse forth and his men follow.



"NPCs will be inherited from the basic Entity class. They will be fully independent, and carry out their own lives oblivious to the world around them ... that is, until you set them on fire ..."

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quote:
Original post by Sandman

As the fleet commander, you arent particularly interested in telling each and every ship what to do, there are wing commanders and captains etc. for that sort of thing. You break the fleet down into a command hierarchy



This, combined with morfe''s approach, would seem to be an outstanding solution. It eliminates the idea of mothering dozens or even hundreds of troops, but at the same time (with the Strike Pattern / combat macro idea) would give the player fine control. You''d be issuing orders to group leaders, and they''d really only be the ones you''d worry about.

quote:

All you would need to do to control the majority of the fleet, would be to give the command frigates an order and one or more optional instructions telling him how to carry out his objective, eg: "Attack that space station, use stealth and speed"



Hmmmm.... Imagine if you gave a group leader an order and he reported back to you the units he needed to carry it out, or the strategy he was thinking about using? You could correct this, or just approve it.

quote:

It might also be a good idea to set general fleet objectives, as well as general flight group objectives, right at the start of the mission (a kind of mission briefing stage).



Must. Implement!!!!!!!!!

This would essentially involve

1) Labeling targets or regions as Guard, Destroy, Capture, etc. All groups would try to fulfill these conditions.

2) Specifically assigning targets or regions to a group

3) Assigning a priority to all of the above

quote:

Hence, if a flight group has completed all of the specific objectives you have set, it will automatically do something vaguely useful without requiring additional instructions. This could be very useful - if for example you set a fleet goal of protecting you own personal ship, then whenever you are too bogged down to issue orders to idle craft they will automatically come and help you out......



This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

Now I must go and brainstorm on interface!!!!



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

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