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sarahcovenant

Browser-based wargames: new combat system badly needed!

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Browser Based Wargames: Utopia, Archmage, Earth2025, Ogame, Dominion, King of Chaos etc. Most of us probably tried out browser based wargames at one time or another. I think this genre is getting stale on the combat side. Combat is all about having bigger numbers: offence > defence. Once a player achieve that he kills a percentage of the defender and gain some "land". Maybe add some buff/debuff magic/thievery and thats it. Ogame is a little different because it allows total destruction of the defending army instead of percentage damage and players do not lose much from his homebase when attacked. (you lose resources only, which u can simply use up when notified of the attack which takes 5hr to arrive) Any ideas for getting out of the "check offence > defence, click attack" cycle? Is it even possible for browser based wargames to get out of this mold?

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Take a look at Planetside for some quick ideas.

It's a browser based strategy game, but their combat is far from conventional. By adding in various types of ships which have varying effects, they allow for a much more tactical conception of your army where it doesn't just rely on numbers. They charge for premium accounts as well and I imagine do fairly well off it.

One unique approach I was thinking about a while back was allowing for the actual contructs of your fleet to make a difference in combat. Eg: Have a soldier on either side of a hummer and you get +2 to your attack damage on your hummer. This could easily be expanded into a full fledged "tactical formation" system where you could set some different rules, then before sending your fleet off, send them off in a certain formation you've created. The varying formations could allow for added defense, speed, attack, or other varying effects.

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I've thought of this before as well, and PyroGuNx has the right direction. Take a look at a game that lets you play as an (American) football coach. You pick the players and you pick from a list of plays, but you don't engage in realtime decisions.

For each plot of land/terrority/province, there would be a basic layout (i.e. a river with two bridges, a valley, etc). The defender would have a static set of points where they could place troops to defend - when troops move into the province, the computer would automatically pick a default spot, ideally one that evenly distributes them. The player can then change the placement at any time.

When someone wants to attack, they pick the troops to move into that province and are then presented with a map and a set of possible football style "plays" (i.e. bombard enemy from point X, then charge at point Y). Once a play was picked, the player would allocate his attacking troops to the groups used in the play (just like the defender, only these points would have arrows showing what they intended to do). At the tick where the attack was resolved, it would process it as a semi-realtime battle: each step in the play would resolve in order, creating a sequence of battles between different types of troops from different types of terrain. For example the bombardment might look at ranged units, and see if the defender had any ranged units that could fire back. This would also introduce various levels of scouting - depending on your scouting you might be able to tell the number of troops in a province, the breakdown of what type of troops where there, and finally their defensive positions.

To do this you'd likely want to create some sort of basic script for each province/play combination, i.e.:

Resolve Attacker Group A using Bombard Attack on Defender Group B with support from Defender Group C
Resolve Attacker Group B using Melee Attack on Defender Group A
...

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Hmmm...maybe i can streamline these ideas into a smaller package for consumption. But one must be careful or it'll be "calculate attack > defence" all over again.

Btw most browser based wargames have "scouting/spying" or "crystal ball" where we get to try and see the stats of a country. Is this even required? What value does it add to gameplay? I was thinking whether it'll be the same if we took those elements out and allow players to view the full data of a country's defences all the time.

Utopia's spying report are adjusted with an error of +-10% which is supposed to induce a element of chance? But players simply send 10-20% more than required to break through...making it pointless.

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Well, the reason I don't play these games is because I like a little tactical combat. I want the feeling that I am battling my opponent and not just watching it unfold. The resource building is great in many browser based games but when I read that the battles are fought out using pre-determined calculations it doesn't excite me. And most of these games just use boring units like "cavalry" and "infantry" as well.

HOw about some online war games with resource management in a browser but battles taking place in a turn based enviroment?

This is possible but for it to work the designer has to be creative. A lot of the draw of a browser based game is that you can come on and just play and don't have to find people to play. So you have to be a little imaginative.

Any ideas. I have some for the game I'm working on. Just curious if anyone else has any ideas or finds this type of idea interesting.

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What I think limits a lot of browser based games is CPU time. If you have hundreds (if not thousands - if you are lucky) of people playing the same game then it will require a fair amount of CPU time to give them decent AI or calculate the battles in a fine resolution (and the server might be used for other jobs as well - complieing the pages, etc).

Another limitation is that not all players will be playing at the same time. This means that interactive battles are not realy feasable.

So most combat systems will need to be simple, without any decission by the players.

I have been working on a simple battle system (so it is not fully complete, but it will do for an example) that uses the Scissors/Paper/Rock mechanic.

Each player can have 3 types of spaceship (Fighter, Bomber and Capital). Fighters beat Bombers which beat Capitals which beat Fighters (this is not a 1 to 1 ratio nad even if a ship beats another it will take damage - so enough fighters could beat a capital ship).

In the system all ships attack at the same time and the damage dealt is diveded amoung each target group. Each ship does 100% damage to the equal (ie fighters do 100% of its stated damage to other fighters), 200% of its stated damge to the type it beats (so the fighter would do 200% damge to bombers) and only 50% damage to the type the would beat it (so fighters do only 50% to capitals).

When the damage done to a particular type (say capitals) exceeds the damage capacity of one of the ships then one ship from that group is destroyed (eg if you have 5 Capitals with 100 damage capacit each, then when 100 damage is done to the capitals groups then 1 of the ships is destroyed, at 200 damage 2 ships are considdered destroyed, and so on).

The combat occures in rounds with each side attack and defending. Any ships that are destroyed can not attack in further rounds.

Example:
Player A has a fleet of 5 Capital ships, 10 Bombers and 20 Fighters. Player B has a fleet of 10 Capitals, 10 Bombers and 10 Fighters.

Fighters have 50 Damage Capacity and do a base damage of 10.

Bombers have a Damage Capacity of 75 and a Base Damage of 20.

Capital Ships have a Damage Capacity of 100 and a base damage of 30.

First Round:
Player A's Capital ships do a combined total of 150 damage. Scince Player B has 3 groups each group is subject to 50 damage.

Player A's Bombers do a combined total of 200 damage. Scince Player B has 3 groups each group is subject to 66 damage.

Player A's Fighters do a combined total of 200 damage. Scince Player B has 3 groups each group is subject to 66 damage.

Player B's Capital ships do a combined total of 300 damage. Scince Player A has 3 groups each group is subject to 100 damage.

Player B's Bombers do a combined total of 200 damage. Scince Player A has 3 groups each group is subject to 66 damage.

Player B's Fighters do a combined total of 100 damage. Scince Player A has 3 groups each group is subject to 33 damage.

Player B's capital ships take 50 damage from player A's Capitals (no modification due to the same type), 132 damage from Player A's Bombers (bombers beat capitals so 200% damage) and 33 damage from the fighters (fighters don't beat capitals so only 50% damage). For a total of 215 damage. This will destroy 2 of player B's capitals at the end of this round.

Player B's Bombers take 25 damage from player A's Capitals, 66 damage from Player A's Bombers and 132 damage from the fighters. For a total of 223 damage. This will destroy 2 of player B's bombers at the end of this round.

Player B's Fighters take 100 damage from player A's Capitals, 33 damage from Player A's Bombers and 66 damage from the fighters. For a total of 199 damage. This will destroy 3 of player B's fighters at the end of this round.

Player A's Capitals take 100 damage from player B's Capitals, 400 damage from Player B's Bombers and 16 damage from the fighters. For a total of 516 damage. This will destroy 5 of player A's Capitals at the end of this round (and will have none at the start of next round).

Player A's Bombers take 100 damage from player B's Capitals, 66 damage from Player B's Bombers and 66 damage from the fighters. For a total of 232 damage. This will destroy 3 of player A's Bombers at the end of this round.

Player A's Fighters take 200 damage from player B's Capitals, 33 damage from Player B's Bombers and 33 damage from the fighters. For a total of 266 damage. This will destroy 5 of player A's Fighters at the end of this round.

This leaves Player A with 0 Capitals, 7 Bombers and 15 Fighters. Player B has 8 Capitals, 8 Bombers and 7 Bombers.


This system could be expanded by allowing players to set the number of groups and certain orders (eg concentrate fire on capitals which would treat each groups of Capitals as 2 groups instead of just 1, etc) or even delays where a group does not engage until a certain number of rounds has been completed (reserves) coupled with a limit to the number of groups that can engage at any one time (and maybe a maximum number of ships in a group).

These all create tactical and strategic decisions that a player has to make for their fleets while still keeping down the number of calculations.

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Quote:
Original post by Pluvious
This is possible but for it to work the designer has to be creative. A lot of the draw of a browser based game is that you can come on and just play and don't have to find people to play. So you have to be a little imaginative.

Any ideas. I have some for the game I'm working on. Just curious if anyone else has any ideas or finds this type of idea interesting.


Another problem is that combat must always be one sided: player makes decisions to attack and gets results. battle is over without chance for the defender to react. This prevents the problem of having to find two online players for combat but makes combat kinda boring.

Btw your screenshots looks pretty amazing!!

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Original post by Edtharan
In the system all ships attack at the same time and the damage dealt is diveded amoung each target group.


Won't it then be advantageous to have say 1000 Fighters, 10 Bombers, 10 Capital. So damage to your real fleet (1000 fighters) gets reduced by 66.6% which goes to the cannon fodder 10 Bombers/Capital ships. Only 33.3% of the damage goes to the 1000 fighters you're relying on.

While a player with a more averaged out mix of ships (340/340/340) gets 100% of the damage divided among the 3 groups.

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Won't it then be advantageous to have say 1000 Fighters, 10 Bombers, 10 Capital. So damage to your real fleet (1000 fighters) gets reduced by 66.6% which goes to the cannon fodder 10 Bombers/Capital ships. Only 33.3% of the damage goes to the 1000 fighters you're relying on.

True, maybe I could split the damage up based on the number of ships. I am still working on the design, so there are bound to be holes like this. Thanks.

Quote:
While a player with a more averaged out mix of ships (340/340/340) gets 100% of the damage divided among the 3 groups.

But even in this each group gets the 33.3% of the damage dealt, not 100% for each group.

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Original post by Edtharan
Quote:
While a player with a more averaged out mix of ships (340/340/340) gets 100% of the damage divided among the 3 groups.

But even in this each group gets the 33.3% of the damage dealt, not 100% for each group.


I said 100% of the damage divided among the 3 groups. (33.3 each)

The "cheater" would have "avoided" 66.6% of the damage by assigning fake groups.

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Original post by Pluvious
Well, the reason I don't play these games is because I like a little tactical combat. I want the feeling that I am battling my opponent and not just watching it unfold. The resource building is great in many browser based games but when I read that the battles are fought out using pre-determined calculations it doesn't excite me. And most of these games just use boring units like "cavalry" and "infantry" as well.

HOw about some online war games with resource management in a browser but battles taking place in a turn based enviroment?


Here's a good strategy browser game Tiny Warz

Whenever you go on-line you can choose to do 'deploy' to a world. There are ussually a few people on-line on each of the worlds and also some AI controlled players. There are two ways to increase your wealth (to build bigger armies), one is to find a place to mine and defend that (each turn gives resources), the other is to attack others and scavenge their wrecks. Each of the weapons have a different '100%' effective range and since moves are assigned simultanously turn based you have to guess to an extent where the opponent will be moving. Different units also have different speeds.
And while ammo and rockets are limited, energy weapons can fire as often as you want. These few attributes lends itself to a variety of strategies.

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Original post by sarahcovenant
Utopia's spying report are adjusted with an error of +-10% which is supposed to induce a element of chance? But players simply send 10-20% more than required to break through...making it pointless.

Perhaps the larger an attacking force, the more chance a defending force would notice thier approach early (therefore getting a bonus to defence)? In this way players would be encouraged to either try to use the minimal amount of force required to get the job done, or to attempt to send overwhelming force. Perhaps mobilising troops also has some cost, whereby mobilising a smaller force is acceptable but the overwhelming force option is made almost unaffordable?

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yeah but the game is set up in a way that as long as there are 4 other people on-line, you're pretty sure to meet them. Then your next goal would be to get people playing from all over the world and it would work to get around the clock battles going on.

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What about some additional features to make it harder for an opponent to know your true strength.

- Ability to build fake Units (maybe 30% price of new units of that type)
- Secret Spaceyards. Maybe an attacker scanning your planet just gets the following information:
100 Fighters, 200 Bombers and a Spaceyard with 500 additional, unknown units are on this Planet.
- Or AntiSpy units. Units that don't block the scanner, they should automaticly manipulate it. So that scanners may give false information back.

just some ideas... :)

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Original post by Kazgoroth
Quote:
Original post by sarahcovenant
Utopia's spying report are adjusted with an error of +-10% which is supposed to induce a element of chance? But players simply send 10-20% more than required to break through...making it pointless.

Perhaps the larger an attacking force, the more chance a defending force would notice thier approach early (therefore getting a bonus to defence)? In this way players would be encouraged to either try to use the minimal amount of force required to get the job done, or to attempt to send overwhelming force. Perhaps mobilising troops also has some cost, whereby mobilising a smaller force is acceptable but the overwhelming force option is made almost unaffordable?


Good idea. You could also take into account that keeping a huge force organized is a lot harder than a small group? I was thinking of making a browser game, amongst all the other games I want to make, by using some of Sun Tzu's teachings to managed your armies and/or add/remove bonuses.

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Quote:
Original post by Trinavarta
What about some additional features to make it harder for an opponent to know your true strength.

- Ability to build fake Units (maybe 30% price of new units of that type)
- Secret Spaceyards. Maybe an attacker scanning your planet just gets the following information:
100 Fighters, 200 Bombers and a Spaceyard with 500 additional, unknown units are on this Planet.
- Or AntiSpy units. Units that don't block the scanner, they should automaticly manipulate it. So that scanners may give false information back.

just some ideas... :)


These are good shit man! Thank you so much for the ideas!

But I was wondering, what can the attacker do to counter the false/skewed intel? I mean, all these boils down to adding a "random" element to combat. Is this good or bad? Should we allow players to counter this and thus remove the random element or is it good to let there be an element of surprise in any combat that cannot be countered?

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Original post by sarahcovenant
These are good shit man! Thank you so much for the ideas!

But I was wondering, what can the attacker do to counter the false/skewed intel? I mean, all these boils down to adding a "random" element to combat. Is this good or bad? Should we allow players to counter this and thus remove the random element or is it good to let there be an element of surprise in any combat that cannot be countered?


I dont think you should give an option to disable this completly. If you create a "super scanner" that detects fake units, then you will have the same old story, just some tech levels later.


The random element could be calculated maybe in a formula like this.

x=( AntiSpy_Level(defender) - Scanner_Level(attacker) );
if(x > 0){randomfactor=x*10;}

Then insert some random elements that are always applied like the +-10% factor, mentioned above.


An attacker will then never know the real strengh of an enemy army, if his enemy got an AntiSpy_Level of 20 and his Spy_Level is just at 5, then he will be surprised :)

The otherwayround, if he has a Spy_Level of 20 and that is a very high level in the game, he will know that the report should be something near the reality.

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