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Acharis

Equipment/modules for ships

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The player has built a ship, it has basic weapons and everything. Then the player researched a new "Point Defence laser" for example. What happens then?

 

I want to avoid the overused to death "so the player makes a new ship design and put the new PD into a module slot and starts producing these new ships ", bleh :)

 

I look for something like: the old ships are auto requipped (probably not instantly) or that the newly invented module is produced like an equipment and the ship "takes one from the inventory and installs it" when it visit the shipyard for next maintenance. Something like this.

 

Ideas?

 

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I think ships would be retrofitted with the new tech but to do so they must return to a shipyard or starbase.

They are then out of action for x days where x depends on the age of the ship, newer ships more easily take new technology.

The age of the ship also has bearing on the effectivrness of the mod, older ships struggling with space and or power requirements etc.

Retrofitting would also cost resources e.g. Money depending on the complexity of the mod.

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I was trying to narrow "must have" properties of the mechanic, here we go:

- there are not that many hulls and these should not get outdated too quickly; basicly a hull is a ship with predefined main weapons you can't change, when you build a hull it's ready to go

- modifications/variants - sometimes you will get an event that "ship designers" ask for audience, you will be presented with an option how to modify a cerain hull (like one designer want to add better armour while other wants engine boosters), you select one and it instantly modifies the basic properties of the hull (so all ships of that hull that exist get instantly upgraded for free I suppose)

- modules - these might be invented after the ship is produced, you need to have an option to install and uninstall these. Modules are highly limited (like 1 module per hull - therefore it's not critical to add a cost to produce these...) Not sure how to handle this, probably there should be some "per hull" screen where you can adjust what module it has installed (and/or per hull per fleet so each fleet could have ships with different modules). Also I'm not sure if these modules should be produced or just "appear"...

 

Optional:

- components - each ship has standard stuff like scanners, shields; when you invent a new version of scanner you might start producing the new scanners (all newly produced ships come with newest possible components) and the old ships can upgrade/replace their scanners (but how/when?)

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How about ships having "slots" for equipment, defense and offense equipment?

 

These slots would represent available space and carrying capacity of the ships, and would be different for the ship types. You could have a newly researched ship type start with no module researched, so players have to research everything, build everything and assemble the ships before they can really field them... or the ships could start with some default modules in the slots that can be replaced by newer equipment as you research and build it.

This might also give you the option of having a more advanced version of a laser weapon, that is very similar to an older version, but only takes up half the amount of slots. This way players can replace an older version of the laser by two of them, or equip a much smaller ship that was not able to field such a powerful weapon before with the newer miniaturized version.

 

Maybe the slots (or some of them) are shared, and players can gear their ships more for defense, offense, or any other kind of task as they see fit? 

 

You could not only have weapon modules, you could also give the player the option to fill modules with additional armour / shields (they can give up some offense for a better defense), you could have troop carrying modules (to turn the ship into a landing boat of some kind), cargo bays (if your game has a resource system), bomb / missile bays (Again, if your game supports that), or any kind of weird and wacky radio / radar / ECM / support-device-of-your-choice that your game mechanics support.

 

Players could then outfit their ships as they see fit, or you could limit that by making part, or all of the slots dedicated to either defense, offense or support and control a little bit more what combinations the players can come up with.

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This might also give you the option of having a more advanced version of a laser weapon, that is very similar to an older version, but only takes up half the amount of slots. This way players can replace an older version of the laser by two of them, or equip a much smaller ship that was not able to field such a powerful weapon before with the newer miniaturized version.
But how could we do it without the overused "ship designer screen"? I don't know, slots are...

 

Maybe the slots (or some of them) are shared, and players can gear their ships more for defense, offense, or any other kind of task as they see fit?
Hmm, I was thinking of simply making more hulls available, so the players can buy what they desire. I mean, I don't want/hate the generic hulls you get in 4X nowadays (you get a frigate full and make out of it a scout, a combat vessel, transporter, colonizer...), the mood here is poor. I wanted something more distinctive like you build a hull with plasma weapons or a hull with one big gun or one that is immune to radiation.

 

But you brought a good point that the player should be able to customize them. Probably I would use here the audience mechanic (designers visit you and ask (mutually exclusive choice) what you want to have in that hull type preinstalled).

 

As for modules, definitely not weapons/shields, only weird ones :) Like:

* Communications array

* Tactical net

* Command bridge

* Escape pods

* Tractor beam

 

 

 

As for outfiting ships with the modules, the simpliest way would be:

- you select what module a certain hull type should have in a given fleet (I have a system that supports formations)

- after you click OK all these ships (in that fleet only), existing and future and transferred (transfer of ships always must go via the shipyard anyway, can't move ships between fleets freely), get this module instantly installed and for free; for the next 1-2 turns all ships of that type in this fleet get -10% to something (less ready to fight because of change of equipment).

Not sure I'm happy with it but that's the simpliest solution I can think of for now.

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This might also give you the option of having a more advanced version of a laser weapon, that is very similar to an older version, but only takes up half the amount of slots. This way players can replace an older version of the laser by two of them, or equip a much smaller ship that was not able to field such a powerful weapon before with the newer miniaturized version.
But how could we do it without the overused "ship designer screen"? I don't know, slots are...

 

 

 

Maybe the slots (or some of them) are shared, and players can gear their ships more for defense, offense, or any other kind of task as they see fit?
Hmm, I was thinking of simply making more hulls available, so the players can buy what they desire. I mean, I don't want/hate the generic hulls you get in 4X nowadays (you get a frigate full and make out of it a scout, a combat vessel, transporter, colonizer...), the mood here is poor. I wanted something more distinctive like you build a hull with plasma weapons or a hull with one big gun or one that is immune to radiation.

 

But you brought a good point that the player should be able to customize them. Probably I would use here the audience mechanic (designers visit you and ask (mutually exclusive choice) what you want to have in that hull type preinstalled).

 

As for modules, definitely not weapons/shields, only weird ones smile.png Like:

* Communications array

* Tactical net

* Command bridge

* Escape pods

* Tractor beam

 

 

 

As for outfiting ships with the modules, the simpliest way would be:

- you select what module a certain hull type should have in a given fleet (I have a system that supports formations)

- after you click OK all these ships (in that fleet only), existing and future and transferred (transfer of ships always must go via the shipyard anyway, can't move ships between fleets freely), get this module instantly installed and for free; for the next 1-2 turns all ships of that type in this fleet get -10% to something (less ready to fight because of change of equipment).

Not sure I'm happy with it but that's the simpliest solution I can think of for now.

 

 

You could always put limits on your slots... like if its a huge support weapon, it can only go into a spezialized weapon carrier ship. If its a very sophisticated radar array, it can only be installed in a specialized radar ship.

 

My intention was less to have only generic hulls and then have the players customize them with the modules... my intention was to give even more choice with different hulls having different stats bound to the hull (for example how quick a ship can turn, how much normal armour it has, some crew modifier showing how efficinet the crew can work in it, and so on... and, of course, how much slots of which type it has, so that it can be outfitted with guns, additional armour, support systems, engines, and so on).

 

Of course that could prove to be a balancing nightmare, so IDK how far you want to take it. Most probably you should decide for a subset of these ideas and leave the rest out, just to prevent "runaway OP builds" slipping through your testing radar. In the end, if a single build is clearly better than others, all that customizabilty will go to waste anyway.

 

 

About your dislike of the ship designer screen... why not give the player the option to swap modules "on the field" so to speak? Explain it with a quick-change module technology that allows ships to swap modules in minutes. Have a repair ship / forge ship / mother ship, that other ships can dock on / fly close to, and can swap out installed modules against modules in storage. 

This way, you do not need a ship designer window. If ships are in the range of your mother ship, they will show a neat drag and drop interface where players can drag a module from the motherships storage unto the slot on the other ship, and the rest of the module swap will be done automatically.

 

If your game is about larger formations, maybe make a similar drag and drop interface available without the need of a mothership, and all changes will affect all ships of that type?

 

Or is your dislike of a ship designer screen meant differently?

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Or is your dislike of a ship designer screen meant differently?
I mean, you invent a new gun, you go to the ShipDesigner and redesign all ships, switch production queue to build the new ship, then you invent a new shields, you go to the ShipDesigner and redesign all ships, switch production queue to build the new ship, and so on, so on :D It's soooooo repetitive to redesign all these ships when you make no real choices here anyway (replace Laser I with Laser II).

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Well it seams logical that fleets and ships manage repairs and upgrading them selfs. No deep micro management there.

If you have many fleets some might be reserve to re- enforce or replace battle reduced fleet.

Ship damage comes in light and heavy. Light can be repaired by ship crew medium need repair assistance heavy damage a repar frigate. Or equipment dock. While severe damage means shipyard or repair dock.
That means depending on mission impotance. Some mission have a high priority and are crusal for the war. Then ships go all the way. While less urgend missions depending on damage, ships return to shipyard. Or fall back to the support group.

So as commander you can set the urgency of mission and treshold when to go to defensive stance to where return for repairs.

Repair are costly but lot less then build a new ship.

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I mean, you invent a new gun, you go to the ShipDesigner and redesign all ships, switch production queue to build the new ship, then you invent a new shields, you go to the ShipDesigner and redesign all ships, switch production queue to build the new ship, and so on, so on biggrin.png It's soooooo repetitive to redesign all these ships when you make no real choices here anyway (replace Laser I with Laser II).

 

 

I can understand your dislike of bad UI choices in RTS / strategy games very well... I myself am annoyed to death by such things. When an RTS degrades into a contest of who can do the necessary 1000 mouse clicks to complete a simple task quicker, a strategy game degrades to a simple dexterity contest.... strategy often takes a back seat.

 

Like having to trigger the units special abilities manually, unit-by-unit in SC2.... uuuuugh! Or having to navigate 100 different building and factory and research tree window for simply developing and outfitting a new weapon to a unit.

 

This all is just noise in a strategy game.

 

 

So, how about you just drop any kind of ship builder window? Instead, when the notification window pops up telling the player a new hardware part is researched, add a button "outfit all ships with new part", or a list of ship types (with select / deselect all) to tell the system what ships should be upgraded? Maybe make it a rule that as soon as a new part is developed, and you have the needed resources to produce it, all ships will try to upgrade until you run out of resources, starting in some priority order from the most important ship to the least important one?

 

How about streamlining even more, merging research and production/installation? When a part is researched, all your ships will upgrade automatically to use the newest part. All resource costs involved with that will isntead be accounted for when you initiate the research.

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So, how about you just drop any kind of ship builder window? Instead, when the notification window pops up telling the player a new hardware part is researched, add a button "outfit all ships with new part", or a list of ship types (with select / deselect all) to tell the system what ships should be upgraded? Maybe make it a rule that as soon as a new part is developed, and you have the needed resources to produce it, all ships will try to upgrade until you run out of resources, starting in some priority order from the most important ship to the least important one?

How about streamlining even more, merging research and production/installation? When a part is researched, all your ships will upgrade automatically to use the newest part. All resource costs involved with that will isntead be accounted for when you initiate the research.
Yeah... I should streamline and simplify it.

 

What you think of this?

Each, already built, ship has slots: 1x electronics, 1x scanners, 2x aux. Each slot can have only modules of certain kind (so no choice between weapons and armours), for example electronics slot can have "targetting computer: +5% to hit", "anti hacking: computer is immune to all attacks", "EMP protection: immune to EMP burst", "anti missile tracker: +25% missile/torpedoe resistance". Of course you need to research these modules first to unlock these.

Decision what to install is done on formation level (fleet), per hull. These can be reinstalled anytime (you don't need to produce these).

You can change up to 2 modules each turn (per hull) and all ships/hulls of this kind get -20% to all stats (the penalty dimishes by 10% per turn (or halves each turn?)). If you have -50% penalty you can't reinstall modules (until the penalty fades away a bit).

All new ships/transferred ships come with the fleet's designated modules (they simply inherit the modules and the penalty as well, it's per formation, not per ship).

 

I'm also wondering if the reinstall should not cost some credits (money)...

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