Page 1 of 6 123456 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 161

Thread: Spaceship bits. What is important to you about them?

  1. #1
    Social Worker cliffski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Deepest Wilt-shire in the United Kingdom!
    Posts
    4,133

    Spaceship bits. What is important to you about them?

    Lets say in theory a plucky young indie dev was making a sort of RTS space battle style simulation/strategy thing, where you built spaceships on a modular basis.
    What mechanics are important to you about those kinds of games, and what is pointless fluff?
    An example of what I mean:

    Say you are considering a positronic uber-blast laser cannon for your ship. The cannon has a certain weight (which affects ship speed) financial cost, and a crew requirement. It also generates heat, which you need to vent using some other module, and requires power from another one

    What else? or what to omit? How technical and geeky is too technical and geeky?
    My gut instincts suggest than balancing heat/crew/cost/weight/power is more than enough to give the player a boatload of options, given suitable variety of modules supplying or absorbing all these factors. Thoughts?

    If anyone has any thoughts on what existing games in that sort of genre do especially well or badly in that regard, I'd love to know. My attitude to all this is formed many decades ago by the traveller RPG, so maybe I'm out of date on positronic flux-noodles and their theoretical properties.

  2. #2
    New Romantic
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Binghamton, NY Gamertag: Demon G Sides
    Posts
    8,006
    If its an RTS... there should be little to no customization on an individual level; especially in an indie developed game where its not going to have huge awesome production levels.

  3. #3
    motmot intention How To Go
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    11,982
    That's too many variables. Cost, and then pick two of the ones you've listed. Add too many and I have to sit there and draw up little spreadsheets every time I browse the store/research tree. While that's fun for big, big decisions (like a totally new ship) it's annoying for small ones like a new weapons that I may change often. I think that heat, crew, weight, etc. are abstracted usually by a "ship size/type required" variable or something else.

  4. #4
    New Romantic
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Panama City
    Posts
    9,270
    Are we talking one ship that you'd want to tweak to perfection, or a fleet that I'll have to manage?

    Because fudging with all of those factors sounds awesome if I'm trying to make the Kessel run in fewer parsecs, but less so if I'm arranging a stellar invasion.

  5. #5
    Social Worker cliffski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Deepest Wilt-shire in the United Kingdom!
    Posts
    4,133
    Quote Originally Posted by zengonzo View Post
    Are we talking one ship that you'd want to tweak to perfection, or a fleet that I'll have to manage?

    Because fudging with all of those factors sounds awesome if I'm trying to make the Kessel run in fewer parsecs, but less so if I'm arranging a stellar invasion.
    It's a fleet thing, with lots of ships, but you can have a dozen ships the same, so its a matter of creating a few types that work well together. The game isn't a normal RTS in the real time multiplayer sense.
    In theory, the putting the ships together is a big chunk of the game, so I don't want it to be too simple.
    I know some people hate that side of stuff, and just want to pick stock ships and go zap. This game is for the people who spend hours stroking their chin over ship design. I know you are out there...

  6. #6
    Spinning Toe
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    523
    Cost and energy/power load are all you need.

    Also, make sure it has an "auto-fit" and/or update to new tech button for when I can't be bothered.

  7. #7
    New Romantic
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    6,301
    Sounds cool cliffski!

    I would tend to agree that it should probably be less technical than more. I really like the heat generation/dispersion idea.

    If I had an overall recommendation for the plucky British indie developer it would be to make Mount & Blade in space.

    Perhaps, Ship & Blaster?

    :)

  8. #8
    How To Go
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    14,135
    ... Plucky? Really. You're going with plucky?

  9. #9
    New Romantic Jon Rowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI Gamertag: Dr JonDanger Steam: Jon_Danger
    Posts
    9,195
    When you are talking about a Niche game like this... erring on the side of more technical is a good thing. (see Dwarf Fortress)

  10. #10
    Keeper of the Frop Bog How To Go
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Enceladus, Saturn
    Posts
    12,372
    Cliffski, I think you're orignal idea sounds best, but I would also add the amount of space each item takes up as another function as well.

  11. #11
    Social Worker cliffski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Deepest Wilt-shire in the United Kingdom!
    Posts
    4,133
    Indeed. At the moment, there are three classes of module (for fighters/frigates/cruisers and every module takes up the same space, but I'm unsure about that.
    It's funny to hear mount b blade mentioned, I love the way they have made that game, by releasing a beta early and continued to develop it with feedback from paying players. I think thats an excellent idea and it's currently my plan for this thing.

  12. #12
    New Romantic
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    6,598
    The Earth 2150 RTSs had customizable units you could save up on a management screen and then launch in bunches as per usual. It was fun, but year, cost and one other variable (spaces/weight/power) is about all you want to mess with.

  13. #13
    Social Worker
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    3,599
    So, I like being able to customize my ships. But some games take it too far, for me at least.

    I rather enjoyed Space Empires IV, where the components were extremely modular, and you just tossed 'em in a ship. You had X weight (let's say 500 tons for a random ship) and the typical weight for a given component was 10 tons. The bigger the ship, the more engines/lifesupport/etc were required to function. Otherwise, more engines=more speed. More guns=more firepower. More life support=insurance against yours being blown up. etc.

    In battle, hits would knock out random components, with the behaviors you'd expect. Naturally, you'd want to put on some armor and shield emitters. Shields (not the emitters themselves) ate damage first, followed by armor, before hits started knocking out random components.

    The components had no spacial position on the ship, they were just listed out. Ships died when all the components were blown up. I *loved* that system.

    Space Empires V made some changes that made things too pointlessly difficult and time-consuming and complicated. They not only made you place components in physical locations on each ship chassis, but there were 3 levels/tiers to the ship. So you were constantly flipping pages between the levels, and you could never get a comprehensive summary view of your ship all at one time. It may have added more 'realism', but to me, it was more of a waste of time than anything. I could no longer quickly crank out ship designs and get on with the game.

    For my tastes, I want to focus on the gameplay, not on engineering the physical layout of ships. The 3D ship maker in GalCiv II was completely wasted on me, for example. Maybe some people love that stuff, but it feels so unnessasary and tangential to me.

    My point: I *like* taking times to design my ships. But the SE IV design let me focus on the more practical stuff in a time-efficient fashion. The games that require me to consider the spacial design of the ships eat up a bunch more of my time for no discernable gain in gameplay.

    EDIT: Of course, these are all TBS games, so my feelings may not directly apply to what you're doing.

  14. #14
    Account closed World's End Supernova
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario
    Posts
    15,264
    I MUST BE ABLE TO FLY THE SHIPS WITH MANUAL CONTROLS.

    Beyond that, everything else pales in comparison and is just fluff.

  15. #15
    Social Worker cliffski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Deepest Wilt-shire in the United Kingdom!
    Posts
    4,133
    Dude. It's 2D. flying the ships just aint gonna happen :D. It's also sort of turn based. But sort of real time.

    The system I currently have is very similar to the Space Empires system described. Having seperate decks sounds hideous though.
    Although I'm having people position the modules, thats purely visual. just so the beam laser zap effect comes from the podule you selected.

    The editor in galciv II makes me worry that I need to support people physically customising the ship a bit. I don't have that yet, purely because I want it to be codable by just moi, and it's already a huge overcomplex beast.
    Hmmm.

  16. #16
    Social Worker
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Drinking coffee from the Colombian mountanside.
    Posts
    4,483
    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    My gut instincts suggest than balancing heat/crew/cost/weight/power is more than enough to give the player a boatload of options, given suitable variety of modules supplying or absorbing all these factors. Thoughts?
    Well, that's half of the equation -- it goes without saying that you have to consider range/damage/type (energy, kinetic, choromatter, misslies, whathaveyoukablooeytypez)

    Still, I think you're jumping two steps ahead of yourself, since these decisions should be made based on the atomic components of the universe. What do you want to track? How do you want the game to play? Is the player going to order ships to fire, and then they'll shoot and hit based on a die roll or the animation cycle?

    Notice how some units actually outpace enemy fire in such games as C&C and WiC so that you actually have to manually 'force-fire' ahead of the speeding target in order to hit it. Meanwhile, other games such as WCIII do everything based on die-rolls, once the unit has been able to fire (arrows follow their targets to the point of spiralling around to hit them) Do you want the player to be that involved in the minutia, while still juggling with heat/crew/energy/weight considerations on the fly?

    How many ships would he have under his control? How will they behave if the player just leaves them alone? All of these are important when you're considering weapon types alone, aside from everything else.

    So, first you have to decide how the game universe is built, and what is important to it before you start considering the more complex structures, such as ships.

    So, first question that said Plucky Indie Developer would have to answer is "How much carpal tunnel do I want to cause?".

    Edit: With the above definitions, some assumptions can be made: You're basing everything off of dice-rolls rather than animation cycles, all ships are 'solid' so they take damage as a single object, rather than each module individually, and the player is going to have pretty much all the time he needs to make decisions...

    With those suppositions, you can eliminate the following concerns: Rate of fire, rate of reloading, turning ratio, ship-firing speed, target speed...

    That is, unless you want to mess around with crew quality.
    Last edited by Tankero; 02-12-2009 at 11:26 AM.

  17. #17
    New Romantic
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Panama City
    Posts
    9,270
    It sounds like, if engineering is the primary focus of the game, that the actual combat would be a bit more hands-off .. Managed by your crew while you give out higher-level orders.

  18. #18
    Social Worker
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    3,599
    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    The system I currently have is very similar to the Space Empires system described. Having seperate decks sounds hideous though.
    Given that it seems somewhat similar to what you're working on, I strongly recommend checking out the space empires games. Steam offers SE4 Deluxe for $10, SE5 for $15, or them together for $20. Their usability is fairly questionable and their UI has a heavy learning curve, but there's a lot of really good ideas in there surrounded by all the boat. Most specifically, their sense of componentization (especially in SE4) is the most awesome of any space game I've ever played.

    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    Although I'm having people position the modules, thats purely visual. just so the beam laser zap effect comes from the podule you selected.
    If physical location is purely cosmetic, I encourage you to let people like me just throw stuff in there with no speedbumps and have it work. I would really rather not have my time wasted so that I could conceivably decide to have the rockets come from the side pods instead of the center gun. If there's people who care, and you want to accomodate that, great. But I'd like your game more if it didn't come at my expense.

    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    The editor in galciv II makes me worry that I need to support people physically customising the ship a bit. I don't have that yet, purely because I want it to be codable by just moi, and it's already a huge overcomplex beast.
    Hmmm.
    How many people really use that, though? Or an even better question, how many people need it in order to enjoy the game? Everyone will benefit from your work on UI and gameplay, and everyone will feel the effects of those areas not being all they could be. I would argue that for scrappy ultra-small developer, you should focus on the core stuff and leave fluff like ship editors to people like Stardock who can afford to invest in such tangential niceties.

  19. #19
    New Romantic
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    7,343
    I would go with mass and energy. Oh, and cost, but that's pretty easy to figure out. Mass is for propulsion and handling characteristics (acceleration, inertia), and energy is for everything else: engines, weapons, sensors, food/fuel, etc. At the extreme, you make everything dependent upon a common energy pool, maybe with some cost to convert from a common fuel into the type of energy you need.

    I suppose there might also be some size restrictions, so that you have a cap on the number of crew, and so that you can fit your ship into docking bays, etc.

    - Alan

  20. #20
    Social Worker Balasarius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    4,801
    Might just be rose colored glasses, but you should follow the MOO2 system.

  21. #21
    Social Worker
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    London, Uk
    Posts
    3,419
    Dude. I have a whole sketchbook detailing my ideas for a game similar to this. Since I'm not going to do it, might as well give you the broad strokes..

    It would be a tactical fleet game that would employ effective use of formations in 3d.. choosing what ships are screening others with point defense, managing rotating out ships as they take too much damage, installing weapons systems on hull facing with the most armor, controlling ship facing to protect exposed propulsion or navigation systems, executing in-battle rescues for vessels critically damaged or drifting,etc.

    I was thinking more of ponderous starships that could take a lot of abuse (something like old ships of war during the age of sail, or space submarines) where the battles are slow, drawn out affairs, tracking incoming warheads, trying to allocate defences to best minimize impacts while not leaving too much exposed for the next volley, choosing targets to concentrate fire on or getting fancy with disguising missile volleys behind another's signature, etc.. Also, somehow creating an interface that factored in the huge distances of space. The idea of spaceships battling within a hundred meters to me just sounds really stupid, and although I understand the visual necessity in portraying them so in movies, I'd love to see a game that broke away from that.

  22. #22
    World's End Supernova
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    20,315
    I just played MechWarrior 4. I always thought weight, heat, "cost," and size/type (can only load missles into missle bays) was enough. You don't even really need heat/power unless you want an extra layer for what happens when you actually use the device. Also, weight is technically somewhat silly in space** so you might have to replace it with size or mass, then decide if you want to limit weapon types to certain bays.

    I really liked that Jets'n'Guns had an instant action test map that let you try your new loadout right away. You can tell immediately if the heat and damage are reasonable, and how the weapon works.

    ** Err, now I'm having to think about ship speed affected by mass in real life. Fire up Google and Wikipedia... ah, should be thinking more of mass and acceleration. Stupid confusing terms.
    Last edited by Tim James; 02-12-2009 at 12:11 PM.

  23. #23
    Social Worker
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    2,788
    I don't care for alot of the things mentioned above.

    Frankly, I think SOTS has the best ship design integration into combat that I've seen:

    1) Beams vs. energy cannons vs missiles vs torpedo vs. mines

    2) AP vs regular ballistic ammo (different effects)

    3) Tracking vs. non-tracking missiles/torpedoes

    4) Armor vs. shields vs. specials (energy absorbers/deflectors/disruptors)

    5) Long range vs. short range

    6) Turrets vs fixed beams and weapon arcs

    7) Fast firing weapons vs. slow firing

    8) All sorts of special weapons - shield breakers, EMP, tractor beams, etc.

    9) Regular warheads vs. MIRV vs. kinetic kill warheads

    The tactical possibilities are almost endless IMO.

  24. #24
    Hustle
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Redmond, WA
    Posts
    435
    Make firing arcs necessary, and don't allow shots to clip through friendly ships. Add directional armor or Mechwarrior-style ship areas that suffer and track damage seperately, and contain different customizable ship areas/systems. Allow users to easily customize and call up ship formations, so you can put your strategic placement of arcs and armor to good use in battle.

    Also, check out Galciv 2 for a great example of how NOT to implement strategic ship design/combat. Obviously it's excellent as a skin builder, but the the actual game effect of the stuff you're putting on your ship is very straightforward, simplistic, and dull.

  25. #25
    Neo Acoustic
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Lesser Bay Area
    Posts
    1,919
    To what Alan said, I'd include mass as a factor in defense as well as propulsion/handling.

  26. #26
    Account closed World's End Supernova
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario
    Posts
    15,264
    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    Dude. It's 2D. flying the ships just aint gonna happen :D. It's also sort of turn based. But sort of real time.
    2D space game? Snoooooooooooooore.

  27. #27
    How To Go
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Merriam, KS
    Posts
    10,955
    2D Space RTS: The RTS of choice for developers who don't want to deal with terrain.

  28. #28
    Formerly CalvinGT Neo Acoustic
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    1,705
    Quote Originally Posted by Balasarius View Post
    Might just be rose colored glasses, but you should follow the MOO2 system.
    Seriously, everything about it.

  29. #29
    Social Worker cliffski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Deepest Wilt-shire in the United Kingdom!
    Posts
    4,133
    well there are a ton of 3d real time space games. I try not to just do indie versions of existing games.
    To clarify a bit, the game effectively *is* the ship construction / fleet design and deployment. The basic flow of the game is :

    1)Assemble modules together to construct various ships
    2)Assemble a fleet out of those ships to a set budget / other restrictions for the scenario
    3)Place those ships on a 2D map, and give basic pre-battle orders to them (such as engagement ranges, target priorities, which ships to stay close to etc.)
    4)Press the "battle aliens" button, and observe your fleet kicking alien ass.

    I'm currently going with the idea of the battle being entirely hands-off. In some ways, it's like the space battles in galciv II. You get stats data on how each ship did, and get to watch in real time or slow-mo how the battle unfolds. Hopefully, you often get severely spanked and need to re-evaluate your ship design and fleet composition next time around.

    I'm currently ignoring fire-arcs entirely, all guns fire 360 degrees. And ship damage is based on penetrating shields, then armour, then being distributed amongst individual modules. Modules can be knocked out (and repaired) mid battle.

    Good idea to pick up discounted space empires copies. I reckon I'll do that tomorrow. I did try the demo ages ago.
    Last edited by cliffski; 02-12-2009 at 01:46 PM.

  30. #30
    Mad Chester
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1,269
    Take a look at Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space.
    Its 2D combat is actually not that fun to play for various reasons, but it feels/looks amazing.
    The main menu has a constant battle as "background" and I could watch that for hours...
    The demo is enough to see what I mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balasarius View Post
    Might just be rose colored glasses, but you should follow the MOO2 system.
    Ugh... what's supposed to be good about the moo2 system?
    The combat was a terrible chore....

    The designing was an unbalanced nightmare.
    Just cramping as many versions of the best of everything in a ship and combining it with special devices that completely break combat (stasis field for instance) is NOT something any game should try to emulate.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •