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egrathwohl

[TBS Concept] Space Naval Combat Simulator - Feedback/Advice Appreciated

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Hi folks,

Been a guest-lurker in the community for awhile, and finally got the guts to put up a post on my game idea. Below you'll find the basic outline for the game (trying my best to do a good job with Wavinator's template). This being a selfishly two-fold posting, I'd like feedback and ideas about the game concept, and also some advice as to a pre-existing game engine with which to proceed. I am an artist by trade, but I have some programming experience, though admittedly more limited than I'm likely going to need. That said, I welcome the long learning curve I've lain out before myself, and fully admit that I have no hope of creating my own engine. In any case, read, enjoy, and flay me for my grammar ;-)


SNCS: Space Naval Combat Simulator (working title)
Design Treatment, Version 1.2
August 26, 2010
© Erik Grathwohl


Basic Concept
An multiplayer space-TBS game featuring gameplay blending tactical space combat and trading card game aspects, or collectable miniatures like MageKnight or Mechwarrior: Dark Age. Development is planned to proceed in three phases, first starting with creating the environment and models (and, potentially AI) for the tactical combat. Second is the trading-card/miniature aspect, creating a GUI to support player management of their collections, trading with other players, and “purchasing” or acquiring additional units. The final phase is a layer of grand strategy, allowing players to declare allegiance to factions, potentially with supporting story lines and quests, and tracking players’ battles across a galaxy map that would include sovereignty mechanics (factions may be either NPC story-based or player created).


Look and Gameplay
On the tactical scale, gameplay would be very similar to Relic’s Homeworld 1 & 2, minus the resource management. Heavy emphasis would be placed on formations, and their effect on the combatant’s efficiency. Ideally, like true naval combat, battles would be very dynamic affairs, with units constantly moving as they jostle for ideal positions instead of sitting stationary and shelling each other. The best current comparison would be the significant modding done to Sins of a Solar Empire, in which units were given default movement patterns that mimicked the dynamic fighter-unit movement. Combat would ideally be able to occur between teams of up to eight players each, but three versus three would be the absolute minimum feasible.


The second, logistical phase, involving the management of one’s “fleet” would largely be a menu-based system. The first “screen” would be like an inventory and character management page. One’s character would act as the fleet commander, who would level up progressively through successful battles, each level gaining points to assign to different abilities that would effect their fleet’s performance. This would also be the screen in which individual unit experience would be allocated to improve separate ships, “promoting” their crews from green/veteran/elite/heroic/legendary. A second screen would allow for the player to acquire new units, either through an economic system such as command points (a la Empire at War) or some other method (the idea that units and experience may be acquired via a system of a “random” card awarded at the end of a successful battle is still being considered). This screen would also facilitate trading units, or “cards”, or what have you, between players, for greater customizations of their fleets. The final screen would be a diplomacy system, allowing players to declare allegiance to player-run guilds or clans, and/or NPC factions (along the lines of EVE Online). The benefits for declaring with an NPC faction could be, among other things, “discounts” on ships, training/skills, etc. A plausible story-based rationale for allowing cross-faction ships in fleet has yet to be determined, but will likely be fleshed out in the third phase of development.


Finally, there is the grand strategy component, which would act similarly to a Risk-type map, or Dawn of War 1. Here players and factions can plan attacks on enemy territory to capture, or raid for "resources" or currency/items. Potentially there will be bonuses associated with acquiring and holding greater quantities of territory, much like in Risk. Further features for this layer will be designed and developed over time.


Mechanics Overview
Units and experience, as mentioned above, would be acquired using potentially multiple mechanics, but essentially mimicking the collectable tabletop games with random “packs”, and “cards” granting bonuses and experience to units. Currently, design concept includes nine unit types: scout, corvette, frigate, destroyer, lighter cruiser, heavy cruiser, battle cruiser, battleship, and logistics. Units received in the aforementioned random “packs” would be of varying levels experience, of course with a rarity mechanic to control how often more “epic loot” is received. Legendary units would be named units, a la those in MageKnight and similar games. Ideally, however, one would be capable of naming both ships and their captains, for greater customization of fleets. Units would be assigned a “battle-value”, which would tally up as players selected which units to bring into battle, and be checked against their maximum field-able battle-value based on their level, and that of the opposing player(s) (“BV” will be cumulative between players, thereby theoretically allowing multiple lower-level players to attack higher level players of similar total BV). Ideally, this would prevent players with greater “currency” at lower levels from stacking huge fleets against similarly leveled players without such an advantage, creating unbalanced gameplay for at-level opponents. Battle-value of units would increase as the unit is granted abilities and experience, thus also introducing an aspect of unit management in which players need to balance quality (buffing) against quantity and diversification of units for the efficacy of their fleet choices going into battle. An uber-buffed battleship can still be swarmed and destroyed by a flotilla of smaller more nimble ships, for example, which should otherwise be countered by an escort of battle-cruisers.


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This is the concept to date, which will likely change and evolve with time. Input and feedback are welcome, especially if there are aspects you believe I have missed or not fully considered; and, any assistance for this project would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you for your time,
-Egrathwohl

[Edited by - egrathwohl on September 20, 2010 1:32:34 PM]

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One of the things about Homeworld is that the units have a 9 way Scissors/Paper/Rock system in it.

The basic design of this was that there were 3 main types (Fighter, Cruiser and Capital). Within each type there was one ship designed to take out ships of each type.

Eg: In Fighters there was the Anti-Fighter ship, The Anti-Cruiser ship and the Anti-Capital ship. This makes for a game that has quite a lot of dynamic balance (probably why it was such a fun game to play).

The there was the formations. Certain formations were good for cartain ships or combination of ships, so this created even more varitey in how the player could impliment strategy. It did this by slightly changes the balance between the ships depending on the formation used (but it did this by physics and the colision detection routines rather than having it all pre-coded with various modifiers - which again I felt made the game fun).

In CCGs (like Magic: The Gathering), the game has inbuilt balance systems that prevents players becomeing too powerful:

First, there is the rule that a maximum of 4 of any one card (except basic lands and a few other exceptions) can be included in a deck. This prevents players from stacking their deck with a super card as they can only have a maxium of 4 of them, and with a minimum deck size of 60, 4 out of 60 is a 1 in 15 chance of drawing that card.

Teh second balanceing system is that of deck size. It would be possible to stack your deck with many different type of cards, but the more cards you add in, the less of a chance you ahve of drawing any one specific card. So having a deck size of 500 would be meaningless as the chances that you would draw the card you wanted would be extremely small.

What this measn is that using the smallest deck you can (60 cards) is better than using a large deck, and also havcing a tight focus of abilities in the deck is better than having too much variety.

A deck with a tight focus is actually more vulnerable to being countered than a more varied deck, but it cna be more powerful in what it can do. This makes a balance between specialisation and generalisation, and it is this that makes Magic the game it is.

Have a look at a board game called "Dominion" (here is the game at Boardgame Geek: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/36218/dominion). It uses a deck building mechanic to build a deck similar to a colector card game, but without being a CCG itself.

The other concept in it is that each game is different. With each game you select 10 card type to be iuncluded in the game from a pool of 25 card types. the players then compeat to aquite these cards to add to their deck, but it is their deck that allows them to accuire these cards (so you have a feedback loop in there). When you do the calculations it turns out that selecting 10 cards from 25, there is over 3 million combinations.

IF you were to give the players such a system, where they use their sips to aquire more ships, but only have a limited number of ships from a larger set of ships available, then you could dramatically increase the replay value and the different strategies that are needed.

Also, in Dominion they have 3 types of cards: Resources, Victory Points and Actions. Resource cards are only useful for buying other cards (including resource cards). Victory points are useless during the game but will determine the winner at the end. Action cards are usful during the game, but are of no use in determining the victor.

This creates an interesting set of choices the player must make. IF they get too much resource cards, then the other player will be able to have more action cards and gain their special abilities. If a player gain too many action cards or resurce cards then they won't have the resources to get more cards later in the game.

the player needs to have a balance between all three card type in their hands and this balance changes depending on what part of the game (early, mid and late) they are in. It is the skill with which the player can determine when to make the move and change their balance can determine the winner.

If your game had a similar system wher the players had 3 objectives in the battles:

1) Resources: That aids the player in conquering new nodes and holding nodes already captured.

2) Action: Special abilities that allow the player to buff their ships, or perform some other action.

3) Victory: At the end of the battle the player with the most victory nodes will win the battle.

These might taqke the form of Planets that the player can capture during the battle. There might be asteroid with factories or Troop Barraks on them that act as resource nodes, Science labs that act as Action nodes and Planets that act as Victory nodes.

Each node that a player has adds to their collection of Nodes give them an opertunity to activate that node.

However, the player only has a limited number of Nodes that they can activate in agiven time, and once activated the nodes are in a cooldown and can not be used until the cooldown period has ended. But, if a player has multiple nodes of that type, then they might be able to reactivate the other node to do the same thing.

This give the players a choice of which nodes to activate each round, and the cooldown period prevents them from reactivating the node again and again too quickly, but by allowing the player to multiple nodes of the same type, they can give themselves the ability to reuse an ability if they want, but at the cost of having other nodes.

This is the balance between specialisation (having multiple nodes of the same type) versus generalisation (having many different type of nodes).

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Edtharan,

Appreciate the reply! Good things for me to bear in mind, and some things I hadn't considered.

Thinking of ways to include these elements in my plan has been a bit of a mind bender, but I had to do it some time. I like the victory "card" or "point" idea, i think this would probably be "capturing" and holding orbital bases, and such. The resource points would be what bases one has captured, and continues to hold, in other systems. And the action cards, much like you said, are the special abilities for a given ship. For which, i think it is very important that these are not ship specific, i like the idea that the player has a "hand" of these cards, and can use them as they feel fit. its rare for a crew to gain a "special" ability in real life, beyond that which is gained by training. I'd like to see these being a kind of "nick of time" miracle/luck thing, and so marrying them to a given unit, unit type, or character would be counter to this idea.

Otherwise, this balancing system you're talking about is exactly what I'm looking for. Giving the players to specialize with their "deck" or fleet, or have a broader range of ability but be equally vulnerable to a broader range.

In regards for your mention of HW2's strengths, I completely agree. And, i would very much like to recapture what you speak of about the formations, but I'd also like to see them more dynamic, emphasizing differing weapon ranges, firing arcs, and the benefit of movement while firing (or not, depending). There are a lot of real world naval mechanics that I think could be brought into this, giving a more realistic and richer gameplay, without being overcomplicated. I think its important to point out that when I'm talking about these ships and the players necessary management of them, we're not talking massive fleets. You're managing 10-15 ships, or groups of ships (given that I think smaller ships would be grouped into a "single unit" of 5 or so, as a squad). So, while this may all sound overwhelming, when getting into a battle, you're dealing with comparatively very little micromanagement.

As for attempting a ship balancing method like HW2, I'm not sure thats how I'd like to do it, its too simplistic (contrary to my above stated interests). The rock/paper/scissor method is somewhat tired and old, and lacks depth. I'd like to see it really as a numbers game. If i have a single-unit or squad of 5 light cruisers, with a damage of 1 each, and 5 HP each, going against a battle cruiser with a damage of 5, and 25 HP, this should be an even match. I don't believe the battle cruiser should triumph because its bigger. Its a roll of the die.

Anyways, again, I appreciate the feedback, and keep it coming!

In other news, I have been considering the 3 main mission types I believe will be in the game. The first is a defense/attack, a player attacks your system, you defend it, and each fights to the death or retreat. The second is the raid, in which the objective is to capture one or more of the opposing players' bases, and then get out (no kill-goal). The third is blockade, wherein player 1 sends their ships to player 2's system and destroys all defenders. The ships then remain in system and syphon off 50% of all trade in the system, and the benefits a given system provides to its owner, until the owner sends another fleet in to destroy or chase off the invader. Thoughts?

The second idea I'm struggling with is a "death penalty". What happens when one loses a battle? Do they lose their ships? Do they pick of one of their "miniatures" to give to the other player, or is it rolled for? Do they lose nothing but the command points they could have won? Might there be a wager system in which a player can increase their potential payout at the cost of something else, perhaps maximum fieldable BV for that battle (rewarding for smart risk-taking), which has a commensurate cost for failure? I'm not sure, but would appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks all for listening, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from you.
-egrathwohl

[Edited by - egrathwohl on September 20, 2010 12:59:24 PM]

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Quote:
Thinking of ways to include these elements in my plan has been a bit of a mind bender, but I had to do it some time. I like the victory "card" or "point" idea, i think this would probably be "capturing" and holding orbital bases, and such. The resource points would be what bases one has captured, and continues to hold, in other systems. And the action cards, much like you said, are the special abilities for a given ship.

The important thing to remember about the system I described is that the inclusion of the different cards changes the ratio of card the player has. This means in a random draw, if one of the card type is high, the player is more liekly to draw one of these types.

What makes the system interesting is that some cards are of no use in the game, but are necesary to win the game (victory cards) and others are usless for winning the game but are necesary during the game (treasure and action cards).

It is the interaction between the cards and the change of the players needs for them that is important. If you have the card types, but the needs for them don't change during a game, then you wont get the same gamplay effect.

This means that if the player has the resource cards based on what players hold in other systems, then these can't change during the game. The player's needs for these can not influence the choices the player makes (as they can't get more or less of them as the match progresses). I(t effectivly breaks the changing needs of the player and makes the gameplay element non-functional.

For this system to work you will need the player to be able to use their cards to gain more cards (of all types) during each match.

One way you could still have both is have some resources as tactial and others as strategic resources. Holdings in other systems will give the player stratigic resources that are use more as part of their fleet setup, where as the tactical resources are only useful during the match.

If you think about it, the fleet size is one such tactical resource. What if, instead of having a preset fleet size, the player can call up re-enforcements during the battle.

A realistic way of doing this is with Comand/Communication ships (which you sort of have the basics of). These ships allow sub-fleets to co-ordinate in the battle field and allows more ships in the player's fleet within the battle or even hold and control various locations in the battlefield. However, these ships don't have any real firepower themselves so justin having these ships is not a good strategy. There would need to be a balance between the number of Command Ships and Comabt Ships. The player coudl then use their Command Ships to capture a Ship Factory which then allows the to produce more ships (up to the command limit).

Quote:
In regards for your mention of HW2's strengths, I completely agree. And, i would very much like to recapture what you speak of about the formations, but I'd also like to see them more dynamic, emphasizing differing weapon ranges, firing arcs, and the benefit of movement while firing (or not, depending).

You described you game as a Turn Based Strategy game (TBS) so haivn the ships being able to move in real time with dynamic movment dosen't quite fit.

Is this a turn based or real time strategy game?

Quote:
As for attempting a ship balancing method like HW2, I'm not sure thats how I'd like to do it, its too simplistic (contrary to my above stated interests). The rock/paper/scissor method is somewhat tired and old, and lacks depth. I'd like to see it really as a numbers game. If i have a single-unit or squad of 5 light cruisers, with a damage of 1 each, and 5 HP each, going against a battle cruiser with a damage of 5, and 25 HP, this should be an even match. I don't believe the battle cruiser should triumph because its bigger. Its a roll of the die.

Ahh, but this system is not just about a hard matching of force number, it is also about cost too.

If those light cruisers cost 100 points to field, and the battle cruiser cost 400, then the Battle Cruiser actually beats them because in the long run you will be able to field more battle cruisers than light cruiser for the same amount (5 BCs to 20 LCs @ 5 to 1 gives a remainder of 1 BC). As the match up is even at 1 BC to 5 LC, then the player with a better ratio will win. It is not a straight HP to Damage matchup.

But it is still not just that simple. This is a game where you ahve driected fire and is essentially a war of attrition. Under these circumstances Lanchester's Square Law ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester%27s_laws ) applies and under this numbers are more important than pure firepower, so it can change it that even if you wanted the BCs to be a tougher ship, they might not be as powerful as a fleet of LCs as they would have larger numbers.

Another idea for balanceing is weapon attack rates and damage vs Armor.

If you treat Armor so that it subtracts a certain amount directly from the damage, and a value of 0 or less is no damage (or minimum damage), and allow weapons to be either slow fireing with large damage or fast firteing with a small amount of damage, then you get an interesting outcome.

Because Armor subtracts its value from each hit, then fast fireing weapons that only do a small amount of damage will quickly become too weak to damage a heavily armored ship, but a slower fireing weapons that does a large amount of damage will not be as adversly affected by the armour.

For this to work well, you have to make the total damage per round (or second in RTS fames) of fast firing weapons greater than that of the slower firing weapons.

This will create a balance between weapons where fast fireing weapons will be useful against ships up to a given amount of armor, but beyond that level or armor, slow firing weapons will become more useful. The player has to know the armor of the target ship to know which weapons to bring against it.

The other thing this works with is numbers. If a weapon can hit multiple targets, then it is more useful against lots of weak emenies, but less useful against a few (or single) enemies.

This gives some more scope to play around with weapon types. You can have fast firing (but weak) weapons that can only hit a single target or fast fireing (but weak) weapons that can hit multiple targets, but you can also have slow fireing (high damage) weapons that hit a single target and slow fireing (high damage) weapons that hit multiple targets.

Quote:
In other news, I have been considering the 3 main mission types I believe will be in the game. The first is a defense/attack, a player attacks your system, you defend it, and each fights to the death or retreat. The second is the raid, in which the objective is to capture one or more of the opposing players' bases, and then get out (no kill-goal). The third is blockade, wherein player 1 sends their ships to player 2's system and destroys all defenders. The ships then remain in system and syphon off 50% of all trade in the system, and the benefits a given system provides to its owner, until the owner sends another fleet in to destroy or chase off the invader. Thoughts?

To decide the mission types you really need to think of the purposes and reasons of war. With mission type 1, a straight up attack/defense with no real strategic reason for it does not make for an interesting battle.

I know it is a staple of games (put the player together and have them battle until one is victorious), but it gets pretty boring pretty quickly. In non persistant games, this is enough as players just want to play when the interest takes them, but in persistant game, the players need a reason to come back to the game, a reason to fight (and a pre-made story is not enough).

A lot of strategy games use leaderboard and such to give the players this need, and the battle themselves are just one move in this MetaGame (although very simplistic metagame). As you are talking about a persistent aspect to this game, you will need to work on the drive that brings players back. Leaderboards are not really appropreate (although you can have them), but for games like this where you want a feeling of persistance and a world existing for the player to interact in, you need some reason for the players to be fighting.

Again, back story is not enough, but if you let the player create their own story, this can be a very compelling reason to keep playing and participate in the persistante world. I am not talking about role playing games, but it is very similar to it in that the aim is to give the player a feeling of playing the role of a military commander.

What you need is each time the player enters a battle, they are doing it for their own specific reasons, and these are long term strategic reasons.

It might be for as simple a reason to improve their standing in the guild/faction, or it might be out of a sense of loyalty to that guild/faction (but then the guild/faction has to have a reason for engaging in that battle).

The idea here is to have the players want to engage in battle to further their own ends (and just ammassing a big fleet is not a good end - the reason must be why they are ammasing a big fleet).

An important idea is that different players can have different reasons for going into the battle, even player on the same side might have different goals (now that could get interesting and quite messy - especially if these goals are secret or detrimental to the players in their faction).

Here are some ideas:
1) Rescue: The player has to go in and rescue/retrive some NPCs or artifact(s) of import. Maybe they are VIPs important to their Faction, or a religious artifact, etc.

2) Destroy: There is a specific target of opertunity that needs ot be taken out. One side is defending it and the other trying to destroy it. This could be combined with (1) in that one side is trying to rescue it and the other just trying to destroy it.

3) Stratigic Resource: This system hold a resource of strategic value to the faction or player, if they can take and hold this resource against the enemies, then they can claim it. This could involve a colonisation attempt.

4) Insurgency: The system in question is involved in an insurgency and the insurgents are friendly to your faction. If you can help them overthrow the native government, then you can gain an important (if comparably weak) ally. Or the players could be aiding the government against an insurgency. Either way the player is involved because they are trying to change the loyalty of this system.

5) Espionage: The idea is to get in and out of the system wihtout a major confrontation. The player might have to get in close and scann a various structure, or drop off an operative (this could be a lead up to an insurgency battle on the same map at a later time). The flipside is a counter espionage where the player has been given warning of an espionage attempt, but doesn't know what the target is or where the invading player might be.

6) Piracy: the player's aim is to take control of various resource shipments while the other player tries to defend the shipments.

The second idea I'm struggling with is a "death penalty". What happens when one loses a battle? Do they lose their ships? Do they pick of one of their "miniatures" to give to the other player, or is it rolled for? Do they lose nothing but the command points they could have won? Might there be a wager system in which a player can increase their potential payout at the cost of something else, perhaps maximum fieldable BV for that battle (rewarding for smart risk-taking), which has a commensurate cost for failure? I'm not sure, but would appreciate your thoughts./quote]
If the players are fighting fro a card (or other permement resource), you could have the winning player get first pick of the cards, or get an extra card. This would give even poor players a reason to play (as they will win something) but good players will get that extra bit of a reward for their efforts.

As an example:
Player 1 wins the battle and Player 2 looses it. 3 Random cards are drawn and Player 1 gets to pick which one they want. Then Player 2 gets to pick the card they want and the last card is discarded (or could be given to Player 1 if you want).

This gives a reason to try and win, but doesn't punish someone too badly for loosing.

With more players you just have more cards to pick from, alternating between the teams with the best player in each team going first.

However, as an method to help the loosing side bond as a team, you could reverse the direction of choice order, with the worst player on the loosing team selecing first. From a psychological stand point, as the winning team is still more attractive, there is a drive to play as good as you can, but with the loosing team, because the worst player gets first pick from their team (well second pick from all players), then there is a drive to help your team mates, even if the team is loosing because it actually gives the aiding player a better chance at getting a good pick of cards.

On the loosing side, if you abandon team work and only think of yourself, you actually do worse in the long run.

As you have indicated you want a MMO style feel to the game (with guilds and such), then putting in psycological methods to encourage team work and bonding is a good idea (and something not usually thought of). It also takes a bit of the sting out of loosing, and thus softens the negative feeling when you loose which will help to retain players that are not necesarily the best at the game.

Quote:
Finally, there is the grand strategy component, which would act similarly to a Risk-type map, or Dawn of War 1. Here players and factions can plan attacks on enemy territory to capture, or raid for "resources" or currency/items. Potentially there will be bonuses associated with acquiring and holding greater quantities of territory, much like in Risk. Further features for this layer will be designed and developed over time.

What you want to do is develop a MetaGame for this.

You have talked about an allegiance system and perhaps you could tie this into this MetaGame. Have a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_of_Power_%28video_game%29 .

Balance of power was a game about brinkmaship during the cold war. You could take ideas from this and have the MetaGame about brinkmanship (wihtout the game over if it decends into war).

Basically, each Faction is managing several planetary systems around them. If a Faction decides to take action in a system, then any Faction (or NPC) can that has a stake in that system can object to that and force the system towards war.

A Player/NPC Faction has a stake in a system if the system is alied to them or close to their own borders (the distance depends on the size of the faction with larger factions having a greater range of influence). Even small faction (of a single system) will be able to object (or support the acting faction) if they share a border. Only factions that have a stake in a system can send units there to fight.

Driving a system towards war should take resources from that faction's supply, there must be some cost the player must put forth towards it. One idea is a reputation score (taken from Balance of Power). Factions with a higher reputation tend to be able to drag smaller faction along with them (get more support) However the effect of this reputation will diminish in inverse proportion to the distance from the faction's centre with an extra drop off the further from the faction's borders the action is taking place.

This will force players to act locally in their factions, but for the faction leaders to think globally about their actions. It also means that a steady progress in expansion will enable factions to dominate their areas, but the bigger they are, then weaker their influence becomes towards the outside of their territory. This will prevent any one faction from completely dominating the world.

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Hi Edtharon,

Thanks again for your prompt reply, and again apologies for my belated one.

Quote:
One way you could still have both is have some resources as tactial and others as strategic resources. Holdings in other systems will give the player stratigic resources that are use more as part of their fleet setup, where as the tactical resources are only useful during the match. If you think about it, the fleet size is one such tactical resource. What if, instead of having a preset fleet size, the player can call up re-enforcements during the battle.


Aiming for some amount of realism, the randomization of units is somewhat contrary to my goal. One never enters a battle without a thorough understanding of their personnel on hand, and it would be impossible to develop strategies with one's fleet if they never know what they are bringing in. I see this element of the game as more like a miniatures game, than a TCG, where you choose your units during a logistics/planning phase. Similarly, the concept of being able to build units in-match is contrary to my goal of semi-realism, BUT I do like the idea of a command and control ship system in which you can call in reinforcements.

This is where the randomization aspect, I believe, could really be an excellent mechanic. At the top of a match, players select the units they want to start the battle with, within the parameter of a given BV. Beyond that, the game randomly shuffles you a "side deck" of cards/units. The command ship, lets call it the player's ship of "Flagship", can call in the additional units, and it is also the ship that allows for the activation (or gives the commands) for the ability-cards in the random deck. Needless to say, this also puts a greater emphasis on keeping that ship alive, which any good fleet commander should take as first priority. It should be noted, however, that reinforcements can only be called in up to the total maximum BV, so it is really a system of ship replacement, rather than fleet-bolstering.

This does take the resource cards out of the in-match gameplay, except for where one is capturing or losing those resources that exist in the given map one is playing on (which I think is for the best). The resource cards could, however, continue to be an active element in the in-match play simulating supply lines. Before one chooses their units based on BV, the game also randomly shuffles you a resource deck, which would effect which units you can select out of your fleet based on the available cards in that deck. Players are therefore limited not only by the BV allocated to a battle, but also the resource/supplies their fleet can acquire/bring/receive during a battle (as this would also effect what reinforcements can be called). Perhaps this is exactly what you have been saying, and I just needed to work it out in my head :-P

What I think may be key in this, however, is to not make the mechanic too limiting, or these resource decks too large. Resources would be an aggregate total, not subtracted from, but checked against. So, for example, if I have 3 missile cards, I'm not limited to 3 units each using one card. Instead, I can bring in however many units checked against my total BV, using *up-to* 3 missile points each.

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You described you game as a Turn Based Strategy game (TBS) so haivn the ships being able to move in real time with dynamic movment dosen't quite fit. Is this a turn based or real time strategy game?


Sorry, this did get a bit confusing I think. The game would indeed be TBS, when in the combat phase. The dynamic movement is a feel I would like to simulate by providing damage bonuses to firing arcs and hit-zones. Players are constantly, during each unit's movement phase, maneuvering around each other to get the maximum possible firepower against the least shielded quadrants of an enemy ship, which is also maneuvering during its movement phase to get out of its enemies primary firing arc. I hope this clarifies my intent.

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Ahh, but this system is not just about a hard matching of force number, it is also about cost too....

This gives some more scope to play around with weapon types. You can have fast firing (but weak) weapons that can only hit a single target or fast fireing (but weak) weapons that can hit multiple targets, but you can also have slow fireing (high damage) weapons that hit a single target and slow fireing (high damage) weapons that hit multiple targets.


Agreed :-)

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To decide the mission types you really need to think of the purposes and reasons of war. With mission type 1, a straight up attack/defense with no real strategic reason for it does not make for an interesting battle.


Absolutely. I am sick of games that provide only this, and I think I may have muddied my concept in the explanation. I do intend that there is a grand strategic element of the game, a la Risk, in which the attack or defense of a system is very important in the persistent universe, and for story (as I will explain later). Similarly, the raids have a greater impact because of this, given that one not only loses their ships for some amount of time as a death penalty, but also the resources a system they control would normally have provided for a day or an hour, or however long I decide the duration would be.

I really like your mission type suggestions, as well, and I think many of them could be enfolded under the umbrella of raid missions as subtypes. This could also be one of the best ways to get ships through a random mechanic like buying a "booster-pack", which I would very much like to provide as an option in addition to "purchasing" them with command-points gained from victories.

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As you have indicated you want a MMO style feel to the game (with guilds and such), then putting in psycological methods to encourage team work and bonding is a good idea (and something not usually thought of). It also takes a bit of the sting out of loosing, and thus softens the negative feeling when you loose which will help to retain players that are not necesarily the best at the game.


I definitely agree with you here. I don't know how I feel about rewarding the losing players with random draws at the conclusion of the battle, however. I think the way I'd like to manage this is giving the winning player/s a random draw each equal to the quantity of enemies fought. So, if I play with a friend against you and your friend, and win, my friend and I each get to draw a random card. Similarly, if you play against my friend and I and win, you draw 2 cards. The losing team, however, does not get draws, but instead gets a quantity of command-points equal to the BV-total of the ships they destroyed. Therefore, we are still providing compensation for the losing team, and encouraging them to work together for the best possible BV-destroyed at the end of the match, without giving them rewards on par with the winners (which I feel would cheapen a victory, and make winning less important).

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This will force players to act locally in their factions, but for the faction leaders to think globally about their actions. It also means that a steady progress in expansion will enable factions to dominate their areas, but the bigger they are, then weaker their influence becomes towards the outside of their territory. This will prevent any one faction from completely dominating the world.


I generally agree with this mechanic, but I would like to put my own twist on it for this particular game (and this is where we get into the story I have developed for it). The three "main", or NPC, factions are defense contractors (Aegis Defense Corp., Valhalla Securities, and Ronin Field Specialists). Each faction is "contracted", or controls an area of the "inner-core" of the galaxy (the outer core initially empty for the purpose of player-guilds/factions being able to start/expand, a la Eve-online at its launch). As a faction holds a system longer, the system government's confidence in that faction increases, to a maximum of 100%. Therefore, the core territory a faction holds will have a greater confidence than its borders; say, 100% in its home system, and 50% at its farthest borders. When a faction successfully attacks a rival system, it reduces by some percentage that system's government's confidence in the holding faction's ability to protect it, and increases its confidence in the attacking faction. When the attacking faction's confidence percentage is higher than the defending faction's, the system transfers ownership to the attacker (51/49%, or however many permutations of faction percentages based on how many are vying for system ownership). A successful defense of the system, however, adds an equal percentage increase to the defender, and decrease to the attacker (again, based on how many hands are in the pot, as it were).

This cleanly provides the rationale behind the grand strategic component, and also allows for the cross-faction ship ownership I was struggling with explaining previously, because they aren't faction specific, but system/region specific (along with the raiding mechanics, perhaps as a reward for raiding an enemy faction's shipyards) :-)

Anyways, thanks again for the suggestions, and for getting me to think! I will soon be posting concept-renderings of ships I've been working on, so look for them in the art section of the forums!

Best,
-egrathwohl

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Aiming for some amount of realism, the randomization of units is somewhat contrary to my goal. One never enters a battle without a thorough understanding of their personnel on hand, and it would be impossible to develop strategies with one's fleet if they never know what they are bringing in.

The idea I am advocating is that the cards available in the match are drawn randomly from a deck the player selects during the match by capturing certain locations (each location type gives a certain card). So although what specific card is drawn by the player at a sepcific time is random, what cards and the amount available are not random, but chosen by the player directly through their actions.

However, the more of these locations the player has, the less chance they have of drawing a specific card. This way a player not only has control over what cards are available, but also over the chances of drawing those cards.

Therefore it will be possible to know what strategies an oppoent might take as these would depend on what location types are available in the map. But, it doesn't mean that if certain locations exist, then the player will have to follow a given strategy. It only indicates what ones the player might take.

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I see this element of the game as more like a miniatures game, than a TCG, where you choose your units during a logistics/planning phase. Similarly, the concept of being able to build units in-match is contrary to my goal of semi-realism, BUT I do like the idea of a command and control ship system in which you can call in reinforcements.

The ships would not be selected this way, but the resources the player has available in the match, the special actions the player can take during this match and the victory points the player has at the end of the match are selected this way. The ships can still be selected entierly before the battle, including any potential re-enforcements the player might want to use.

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This is where the randomization aspect, I believe, could really be an excellent mechanic. At the top of a match, players select the units they want to start the battle with, within the parameter of a given BV. Beyond that, the game randomly shuffles you a "side deck" of cards/units. The command ship, lets call it the player's ship of "Flagship", can call in the additional units, and it is also the ship that allows for the activation (or gives the commands) for the ability-cards in the random deck. Needless to say, this also puts a greater emphasis on keeping that ship alive, which any good fleet commander should take as first priority. It should be noted, however, that reinforcements can only be called in up to the total maximum BV, so it is really a system of ship replacement, rather than fleet-bolstering.

The mechnics I was suggesting was not about this. What I am suggesting is a way for players to have to make strategic and tactical decisions in a match that is not based on just which ships beat what.

In the system I am talking about, the player has to decide when to make their move to capture the victory points because if they do it too soon, then their opponent will be able to focus on getting more resources or action and prevent them from getting them, or be able to get them quicker. It means that the players have to know not just what units are out there, but also look for opertunities to exploit the strategies of theirmopponents in other ways than direct ship to ship conflict (in fact it could be possible for a player to win without firing a shot at their enemy, if they had the right strategy and was able to exploit their opponent really well).

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This does take the resource cards out of the in-match gameplay, except for where one is capturing or losing those resources that exist in the given map one is playing on (which I think is for the best). The resource cards could, however, continue to be an active element in the in-match play simulating supply lines. Before one chooses their units based on BV, the game also randomly shuffles you a resource deck, which would effect which units you can select out of your fleet based on the available cards in that deck. Players are therefore limited not only by the BV allocated to a battle, but also the resource/supplies their fleet can acquire/bring/receive during a battle (as this would also effect what reinforcements can be called). Perhaps this is exactly what you have been saying, and I just needed to work it out in my head :-P

I recomend haveing a good look at the board game Dominion to see what it is I am talking about and how it works. When you get an understanding of that game you will probably understand what I am suggesitng better.

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