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Consistent/Measurable combat results - Good or bad?

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I'm currently throwing together a PVP browser game and I'm wondering how best to handle damage.

Since the game is about ships battling in space, after a few versions I came to the conclusion that the targeting computers would be so advanced that it would no longer be a case of a hit or miss, but rather how well a ship hit it's target. Based on this idea, the to-hit rolls are actually a percentage, with that percentage of damage being applied to the other ship.

So if PlayerA hits PlayerB and has a to-hit of 70%, he applies 70% of his weapon damage, let's say 70% of 20 damage. This seems to work ok.

The issue I've run into is that 70% is calculated by comparing several stats(ship speed, turret tracking speed, ship resolution etc.) from both ships and as long as the conditions don't change a turret which applies 70% of it's damage to PlayerB will always come up as 70%.

Thing is, I'm not sure if this is an issue or not. On one hand the consistent damage makes it easier to plan for combat and give more reliable results, on the other hand it makes combat a lot more cut and dry. In theory if two ships fight, the results will always be the same if they use the same gear every time. Because the game has no actual visual combat and it's all text based the predictable combat results might actually aid against the lack of feedback from combat. In some ways it makes sense, a Camaro vs a Corvette are always going to have the same lap result in the same conditions. Even still, I've been trained from years and years of video games that damage is never a fixed number so I'm somewhat cautious about this and I'm not sure why.

Would a system like this be preferable for a browser game where you don't directly see the combat? If a huge portion of the game is about building ships to perfection and battling other players, would repeatable combat results in the same conditions be seen as a good thing?

Cheers!

[size=2]Side note, a few more days and I'm hoping to get a beta going biggrin.png

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I came to the conclusion that the targeting computers would be so advanced that it would no longer be a case of a hit or miss
Unless one ship uses the dimensional folding device (a technology found on Proxima 7 in ruins of some advanced long extinct civilization, it distorts the space around the ship so it is actually in a bit different place that it would appear via conventional physics, but if you use powerful computers made of Anolyte crystals you have a decent chance to recalculate the real position of the target ship).

In theory if two ships fight, the results will always be the same if they use the same gear every time.
Why? Don't forget about human factor. The pilot can be drunk, the captain can be underperforming because his wife left him yesterday, a young gunnery recruit could simply break down under fire. Plus, one ship could get hit by a random meteorite :)

Don't worry about "theory" and "how it should work in reality", you can rationalize basicly everything. Just select the set of rules/mechanics that fit your game/taste and then made up a story why it works that way (that's one of the nice thing of making SF/fantasy games).


For damage I would use the MOO2 structure/armour/shield trio. First shields are to be destoyed, then armour and finally structure. Of course some weapons can ignore one or two of these layers and hit directly structure. Whenever structure reaches 0 the ship blows up.

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[quote name='boolean' timestamp='1325184811' post='4897868']I came to the conclusion that the targeting computers would be so advanced that it would no longer be a case of a hit or miss
Unless one ship uses the dimensional folding device (a technology found on Proxima 7 in ruins of some advanced long extinct civilization, it distorts the space around the ship so it is actually in a bit different place that it would appear via conventional physics, but if you use powerful computers made of Anolyte crystals you have a decent chance to recalculate the real position of the target ship).

In theory if two ships fight, the results will always be the same if they use the same gear every time.
Why? Don't forget about human factor. The pilot can be drunk, the captain can be underperforming because his wife left him yesterday, a young gunnery recruit could simply break down under fire. Plus, one ship could get hit by a random meteorite smile.png
[/quote]

XD

One thing I'm trying to aim for in this game is that the pilots themselves have no meaning in combat. Ideally I want it so that everything revolves around the ship itself, but this makes player progression kinda hard since your 'character' is more or less just a name with an avatar =/



Uncertainty masks bad/broken game mechanics so it takes longer for the player to realize the game sucks. That's a big reason why it's popular with designers.


That's an interesting perspective and certainly lines up with the mechanics of the game. I don't suppose you could elaborate?

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You don't need to have any pilot characters. The ship crew can be implied, they are part of the ship and they are the major source of random results of the combat. Even if you don't say it, the player will assume there is some crew on the ship.
Or you can model it very minimalistic way, in MOO2 you have a "crew level" for each ship which can range from "green" to "ultra elite".

Anyway, you don't need to remove random factor from the battle and I would say you should not do it unless you have some important reason. If you let them calculate the outcome with 100% accuracy it is not a strategy game anymore but a game of chess.


How do you plan to show/display battle results?
Would you make unit stacking system (with 1000 ships per side you can't really emulate them all separately in a browser game due to hardware limitations, I guess)?

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I'm currently throwing together a PVP browser game and I'm wondering how best to handle damage.

Since the game is about ships battling in space, after a few versions I came to the conclusion that the targeting computers would be so advanced that it would no longer be a case of a hit or miss, but rather how well a ship hit it's target. Based on this idea, the to-hit rolls are actually a percentage, with that percentage of damage being applied to the other ship.


Are you certain? Taken a look at EVE online? Guns could potentially hit from a huge distance, and ships could move very fast. A small fast ship can be hard to damage, and opposite for a big slow ship. Small guns can rotate fast, big guns rotates slowly. There's lots to justify being able to hit or not.

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I personally hate it when combat is explicitly random(ie. if the game actually uses rand() to determine some aspect of it). As a player I kinda want it to be deterministic since I don't want to randomly lose even if I did everything right. Now, just because combat is deterministic it doesn't necessarily turn into chess. The deterministic rules that govern combat can still be very convoluted. Also as opposed to chess, in a computer game you usually don't have complete information. So even if you knew the "formula" how to calculate the outcome you can only use it if you know the exact properties of the opposing units/terrain/whatever.

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You don't need to have any pilot characters. The ship crew can be implied, they are part of the ship and they are the major source of random results of the combat. Even if you don't say it, the player will assume there is some crew on the ship.
Or you can model it very minimalistic way, in MOO2 you have a "crew level" for each ship which can range from "green" to "ultra elite".

Anyway, you don't need to remove random factor from the battle and I would say you should not do it unless you have some important reason. If you let them calculate the outcome with 100% accuracy it is not a strategy game anymore but a game of chess.


Ahhh MOO2, awesome games. I was just looking at a graph of MOO2 yesterday actually and considering that mechanic. I have a group of "Once I get a few people playing and get some feedback of what they would like to see next I would like to implement something like this" ideas smile.png


How do you plan to show/display battle results?
Would you make unit stacking system (with 1000 ships per side you can't really emulate them all separately in a browser game due to hardware limitations, I guess)?


The game is just one-vs-one ship fights. I'm trying to make building 'your ship' as important as possible. As for the results they are just text updates on a combat status page.


[quote name='boolean' timestamp='1325184811' post='4897868']I'm currently throwing together a PVP browser game and I'm wondering how best to handle damage.

Since the game is about ships battling in space, after a few versions I came to the conclusion that the targeting computers would be so advanced that it would no longer be a case of a hit or miss, but rather how well a ship hit it's target. Based on this idea, the to-hit rolls are actually a percentage, with that percentage of damage being applied to the other ship.


Are you certain? Taken a look at EVE online? Guns could potentially hit from a huge distance, and ships could move very fast. A small fast ship can be hard to damage, and opposite for a big slow ship. Small guns can rotate fast, big guns rotates slowly. There's lots to justify being able to hit or not.
[/quote]

That's a very good counterpoint. Oddly enough the idea of super advanced targeting computers came out of my experiences with Eve smile.png The idea that computers 100's of years from now would fire a laser at a target in clear open space and miss seemed crazy. Unless the pilot (or the ships navigation computer) could erraticaly move faster than a turret could calculate them there would be no reason a turret should ever miss a shot. The to-hit roll then came down to how well the turret could lock onto important parts of the ship while it's tumbling through space, so while hitting the target might be easy, trying to hit it's engine would be very hard. Therefore the idea of ships rarely missing but causing varying amounts of damage came to be.

That being said, this might unbalance the game in areas I'm not aware. One problem that might crop up is that if you have a huge turret that does 3000 damage per shot, but the tiny ship it's firing at is very hard to hit. In this case it might only be landing a measly 10% on it's to-hit roll...that's still 300 damage, enough to one shot a ship. I guess it could be fixed by assuming that the to-hit percentage is harsher, so at 3000 damage it might actually have a -75% or something, but I just have a nagging feeling that something like this would slip through.


The deterministic rules that govern combat can still be very convoluted.


Good point. To further this the players have no control over who they fight, they basically enter themselves into a combat pool and then the server matches you up with another player, figures out the combat behind the scenes and the determines a winner (I'm also developing some post-combat stats you can read to get a better idea of what happened in combat). So while players will have a good idea of how their own ship will operate, they can't really predict combat 100% in advance since they don't know what kind of ship they will be up against.


----

Since there seems to be a pretty even divide, I think I'll keep it so that the results of the match would be repeated forever given the same gear, but add in some items with a specific 'random modifier' attribute. For example, one of the weapons in the game is a flack cannon that can be used to destroy incoming missiles but if the enemy ship ever has its speed reduced to half, each 10 seconds there is a random roll of the dice to see if that flack can be used to hit the enemy ship. I think that might be ok?

I can always change it once the game gets going, but I think that MIGHT be ok just to start with.

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You don't need to have numbers pop up over the ships or in the log.
Just decrease the life bar or whatever you use.
And for the log you can use messages like "Heavy dmg" "Light dmg" "braces" "omgwtfbbq" :P

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I lost a sizable reply to some lovely Javascript...


View PostStroppy Katamari, on 29 December 2011 - 05:11 PM, said:
Uncertainty masks bad/broken game mechanics so it takes longer for the player to realize the game sucks. That's a big reason why it's popular with designers.

That's an interesting perspective and certainly lines up with the mechanics of the game. I don't suppose you could elaborate?
It's pretty self explanatory. Random and complex games can afford to be much lower quality than simple and deterministic ones, and also easier become that way, because both the developer and the player have a harder time noticing the problems.

I'm not saying randomness is bad, but if you don't know exactly why your game has randomness, then it probably shouldn't be there. I doubt most designers who use it to mask otherwise bad and dull mechanics are doing that consciously, but that is what purpose the randomness ends up serving in their designs.

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