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To Stack or not to Stack?

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Moo4 #1 Posted 18 April 2016 - 09:23 PM

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The 2 MoO's handle combat quite differently.  One of the fundamental differences is stacking ships.

 

As has been mentioned many times early MoO2 combat is more intriguing than MoO1.  However, MoO2 combat quickly falls a part at scale while MoO1 handles massive battles easily.  I personally feel that stacking ships is a priority for combat to keep up the pace in late game.  (Manually clicking point defense weapons on individual missiles gets old quick).

 

So, if we go with stacks for pacing/scale.  Is it possible to bring some features of MoO2 combat into the stacking paradigm? 

 

Here's a starter question:

Do stacks of ships have orientation? And/Or Do weapons have arcs?

 

I think an interesting answer to this question is to base it on ship size (s,m,l,h).  

  

Small - "half" orientation.  They just exist in space like MoO1.    However, at any given shot, only 50% of (beam) weapons may be fire forward, other 50% must be fired backward.  They are a (fast) ball of chaos with individual ships constantly changing direction.  Hence at any given time only 50% of ships are facing 'forward'.  In order to do maximal damage in a single turn the stack must either:

a) position themselves to fire front and rear weapons at 2 different stacks, one in front, one behind.

b) have enough speed to fire front weapons then move behind enemy stack and fire rear weapons (at same stack).  

Note that for part b they cannot rotate in space.  They must physically move tiles to bring the stack into position.

 

The idea is that smalls are pretty crappy at sitting back and shooting volleys from a distance.  They do much more damage (potentially 2x as much) when getting close to enemy stacks so that "all" ships can fire.  

 

Medium & Large -  MoO1 standard.  These guys get '360 arc' weapons by default (if you like that analogy).   They can shoot in any direction.  No hassle.  Point and pew pew.  These guys will make up the majority of most fleets, MoO1 style.  Ease of use keeps combat pace flowing.  

 

Huge -  MoO2-ish.  Huge stacks CAN rotate in space.  Not only that but they are restricted to a ~120 degree front facing arc.  These are the guys you bring in for assaulting static defenses at a decent distance.  Their bonus is their large weapon capacity but it comes at a cost of keeping the target 'in front'.

 

 

These suggestions aren't meant to be game-changing.  As mentioned above.  The majority of shots will still come from medium and larges which play just like MoO1.  Smalls and huges have just a bit more micro/planning involved to keep them interesting and effective.  

 

Thoughts?


I want a moddable Master of Orion 1.5 with focus on interface and pacing.  Come discuss MoO 1.5 ideas HERE!


Ilserrad #2 Posted 18 April 2016 - 09:46 PM

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If you're trying to hybridize MoO 1's stacking with MoO 2's facing, what you'd want to try would be a 'squadron' system.

 

Ships would stack based on their ship size and possibly their military tech (Certain tech advancements would allow you to fit more ships into an individual squadron.)

 

Doomstars, for example, would not stack. One Doomstar per tile.

 

Ships that stack would have formations. The formation you pick for them during their movement would determine how their weapon facings would be distributed.

Line - All ships in the stack would follow the stacks' facing.

Circle - Forward facing weaponry would divided evenly among all arcs.

etc.

 

The smallest, most maneuverable ships would have the 'swarm' formation option, allowing them to ignore facing.



Mikko_M #3 Posted 19 April 2016 - 09:11 AM

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The only sort of stacking that I might except in some cases is the Total War type of giving your orders to a unit of multiple men (ships). The Galactic Civilizations (I) and probably MOO (I) kind of stacking where a single ship model represents multiple ships has its place, in the early 1990s.  

Edited by Mikko_M, 21 April 2016 - 09:51 AM.

Moreover, I advise that the tactical combat must be made more player controllable and informative for this to become a proper MOO game.

 

​The long lost formula for space 4X game success = Good tactical combat + good empire management > than just good tactical combat or good empire management alone.


Moo4 #4 Posted 19 April 2016 - 01:42 PM

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I'm surprised as anyone how much I enjoy the ship stacking of MoO1.  Even at 4 sizes and 6 stacks there is a lot that can be done with sizes/costs/movement for a deep experience.  Most of my comments are directed at people messing with their own game developments.  If you want to go AAA then sure, throw money at making complex real-time engines (we'll see how well that works out for MoO4.....).

 

And yes, I'm considering a ship icon + a number to basically capture most of the information you need.  


I want a moddable Master of Orion 1.5 with focus on interface and pacing.  Come discuss MoO 1.5 ideas HERE!


Zeraan #5 Posted 19 April 2016 - 07:38 PM

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In Dominus Galaxia (and also Remnants of the Precursor which is a direct remake of MoO 1), we use stacked ships.  You can see that from the screenshot here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/33r76h31vcyfdoi/Space%20Battle.png?dl=0.  In our game, there's a twist.  There's a low % of scoring critical hit, that if rolled, applies to all of the same weapon mount firing, which still roll their individual damage.  If you move behind another ship's stack, and fire on its rear, the critical % increases, and the base damage gets a slight buff.  So there's incentive to fire on a ship from behind, and to keep your ships facing the enemies.  We're aiming to have the space combat to be on same level as MoO 2's in tactical decisions.  So we'll have different specials and different weapons that has different bonuses.

 

We're still fine tuning the weapons for balance, but it does feel more tactical already with the asteroids blocking line of fire and the crit % bonus.  Also, the ships are automatically split into 6 stacks if you have less than 6 stacks (i.e. 2 large, and 200 mediums would become 1 stack of 2 large, and 5 of 40 mediums).  This reduces the "design all 6 slots to be same ship design" need.

 

Just because the system uses stacked ships doesn't mean it can't be as tactical as MoO 2.  Look at Heroes of MIght and Magic, they have stacked units but is still very tactical, such as which direction the dragon breathes fire because it hits two hexes.  We hope to be able to achieve that!



Moo4 #6 Posted 20 April 2016 - 06:17 PM

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I've read (and responded) on your forums regarding crits.  I think they unecessarily complicate the role of MoO1 shields (straight reduction).  Can't you just give a +ATT bonus for ships flanking others rather than messing with ugly crit modifiers?

I want a moddable Master of Orion 1.5 with focus on interface and pacing.  Come discuss MoO 1.5 ideas HERE!


Mikko_M #7 Posted 21 April 2016 - 09:56 AM

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View PostMoo4, on 19 April 2016 - 01:42 PM, said:

I'm surprised as anyone how much I enjoy the ship stacking of MoO1.  Even at 4 sizes and 6 stacks there is a lot that can be done with sizes/costs/movement for a deep experience.  Most of my comments are directed at people messing with their own game developments.  If you want to go AAA then sure, throw money at making complex real-time engines (we'll see how well that works out for MoO4.....).

 

And yes, I'm considering a ship icon + a number to basically capture most of the information you need.  

 

​And I am not saying that you couldn`t make an interesting combat system with your kind of stacking, but for me the 1990s kind of stacking is immersion breaking. I just can not feel like I am commanding a vast space fleet with one ship model and a number next to it.


Moreover, I advise that the tactical combat must be made more player controllable and informative for this to become a proper MOO game.

 

​The long lost formula for space 4X game success = Good tactical combat + good empire management > than just good tactical combat or good empire management alone.


The_StormWraith #8 Posted 05 May 2016 - 04:17 PM

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I assume that many here will have played "Sword of the Stars" - a game I have high hopes will iterate more in the future. One thing that they did that was (for me) highly innovative was the idea of 'Command Points' that meant that no matter how many ships you had in a single area of space, you could only command so many of them at a time in actual combat. Now obviously you can make some very legitimate arguments against the 'realism' of this system, but in practical terms it made for a very balanced (IMHO) combat system, where there were advantages to researching some kind of technology and information-managing systems that gave a higher technology fleet an advantage against a merely 'swarm' based fleet. And since larger vessels required more 'Command Points' to manage effectively, you COULD make your initial fleet line-up a command ship with a single Dreadnought, if you had limited points it might be better to field an initial line up of point-defense ships, torpedo boats, and missile frigates.

 

Again, there are good arguments for and against the realism of this, but if you can accept that this is an abstraction of combat I found that it works quite well. In "Sword of the Stars", as ships retreated or were destroyed in battle, reserve ships would automatically enter combat as their point requirement was reached, so having reserves was very useful, but not in a General Custer "All the enemies in the world show up and instantly kill you" - unless, of course, they have done their homework and have the information technology threshold to bring all them into use at once. So far I think SotS has had the best fleet combat management I've seen, although admittedly for that particular kind of pseudo-real-time combat. For purely turn based combat it may fall down a bit. And admittedly, you would rarely ever have the kind of fleet size in SotS that you could get up to in MoO2, for example.

 

StormWraith, Feudal Sakkran Researcher,

and author of "Why Chess works for Strategy Analysis and "Snap!" doesn't - a Memoir of actual combat"



The_StormWraith #9 Posted 06 May 2016 - 07:46 PM

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Completely reasonable point on the unlimited reinforcments. I think that this was in some ways contained by the arbritrary time limit in which combat could occur. No matter how many you were, you still had to get the job done in time or it was considered a stale-mate. Not perhaps as realistic as one might wish, but as an abstraction it made for, to me, a reasonable balance between the Hun-nish swarm tactics of Napolean's "Quantity has a Quality of it's own" and the gallant superior technology last-stands against an almighty horde ("Leiningen verse the Ants").





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