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suliman

Interesting spaceship combat in 4X? Fleet composition

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Hi!

4X sci fi (space empire builders) games normally has spaceship combat. Im planning a game and i'm not sure i want to have a "ship designer" feature. It's common to place all the components: weapons, shields etc in slots of ship classes/sizes (such as frigate, destroyer etc). This is cool but finicky and often you find an optimal and just go with that anyway (so the gameplay becomes tedious: you just always replace components with the latest research once replaceable, laser->better laser->best laser).

Another problem is that the largest "ship hull" is often just overall "best". Once you research battleship there is no point in building cruisers or destroyers for example.

In a empire builder like 4X, is it possible (and fun) to instead try a rock-paper-scissors kind of meta game? Im thinking e.g.:

1. Carrier (sends strike bombers). Good vs capital ship
2. Frigate (has "flak" guns). Strong vs carriers
3. Capital ship. Strong vs frigate.

Another example is Homeworld, but its system with classes and counters would be too complex for a empire builder. I'm thinking to have fleets enter battle (different view from moving on the map) line up against each other and semi-automatically resolve combat by shooting their optimal targets. Battlefield movement was mostly pointless in these games anyway.

Another way is to separate ships into front-line ships (tanks) and artillery ships (dps/damage dealers that are fragile) or a mix thereof. Or have shield generation ships that protects other ships.

Thoughts?

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How about going a logistics route and trade "more powerful" with "more feasible?"

Cost: (2x width) x (2x length) x (2x height) = 8x resource cost. If higher-tier ships cost exponentially more than lower-tier ones, it forces players to juggle military power v economic stability.

Time: Similarly, higher-tier ships takes exponentially longer to construct

With Short-Term Gain versus Long-Term Investment, the impatient (with cheaply made, hastily constructed ships) would win against the slow but lose against the prepared.

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I like Lendrigan Games idea, I also agree with you that each ship should have its own strengths and weakness but this will then require some fine tuning and balancing.

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Hey suliman!

I'm not a big fan of direct upgrades. I like lateral changes (eh... latgrades?) a lot more! So, you end up not just having hull, hull+1, hull+2 etc. but rather slim hull that makes it possible to move faster and unnoticed, bulky hull that has more room for fuel and ammo, light hull that only works well with light components, heavy hull for the tank type etc.

Always rock-paper-scissors that stuff! Players gotta have a catch-up feature. If they notice one player just pushing tanks, they can strike with something that obliterates tanks.

Make every decision cost something other than the resources the player has a ton of. If factories are limited, make the build time high, like Lendrigan Games suggested. If distances are large, make speed slow, so that you gotta really commit to your locations or someone faster will catch you with pants down. Every decision should have a clear cost and the player most balance between how much he/she needs that vs what other alternatives there are.

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15 hours ago, Ianuarius said:

Hey suliman!

I'm not a big fan of direct upgrades. I like lateral changes (eh... latgrades?) a lot more! So, you end up not just having hull, hull+1, hull+2 etc. but rather slim hull that makes it possible to move faster and unnoticed, bulky hull that has more room for fuel and ammo, light hull that only works well with light components, heavy hull for the tank type etc.

Always rock-paper-scissors that stuff! Players gotta have a catch-up feature. If they notice one player just pushing tanks, they can strike with something that obliterates tanks.

Make every decision cost something other than the resources the player has a ton of. If factories are limited, make the build time high, like Lendrigan Games suggested. If distances are large, make speed slow, so that you gotta really commit to your locations or someone faster will catch you with pants down. Every decision should have a clear cost and the player most balance between how much he/she needs that vs what other alternatives there are.

I love this idea, maybe you should use this one instead of others as this can make everything more simple yet better :)

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This sounds good but could you give a less abstract example?

How would this translate to unit types/rock paper scissors fighting in a line battle?

Edited by suliman

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Well, for an example...

In something Age of Empires style this could be: swordmen are good against archers, spearmen are good agains swordmen, and archers are good against spearmen.

So, if you just build swordmen, then the enemy can quite easily kill them just by building spearmen. But if you accompany the swordmen with archers, then the enemy must do something else to overcome that.

In Starcraft: Vulture beats zealot. Zealot beats tank. Tank beats dragoon. Dragoon beats vulture.

Point is, some unit is always easily destroyed by some other unit. In your game you could replace unit types with mechanics. I haven't given this any thought, but off the top of my head: speed, armor, firepower, range, penetration...

So, some parts lend themselves more easily to specific mechanics. And if you end up focusing on one mechanic, you're most likely dead. If you end up balancing everything perfectly, it becomes too expensive.

Edited by Ianuarius

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On 9/11/2018 at 8:07 AM, suliman said:

How would this translate to unit types/rock paper scissors fighting in a line battle?

One possible way of doing rock/paper/scissors
For sake of simplicity, we'l say that 1 Capital Ship costs as much as 10 Frigates, and 1 Frigate costs as much as 10 Fighters
100 Fighters can swarm 10 Frigates
10 Frigates can swarm 1 Capital Ship
1 Capital Ship is too heavily shielded for 100 Fighters to dent

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My plan is now:

1. Escorts. Frigates and destroyers. Fast tracking laser turrets that is strong Vs strike crafts.

2. Strike crafts. Corvettes. Fast moving with torpedoes. Strong Vs capital. 

3. Capital ships. Cruisers and battleships. Heavy armour and mass driver weapons. Strong Vs escorts. 

This seems to make sense and would balance well with upgrades and research. 

Edited by suliman

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