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Combat Depth Improvements
09-25-2014, 01:11 AM
Post: #11
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-24-2014 11:57 PM)Diebo Wrote:  I was referring to Falanor's thread, which I hadn't seen or remembered when I wrote my thread:

http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...hp?tid=961

Right, falanor's great thread is actually what inspired me. I would've linked to it right off, but not having been active enough on the forums I had the spam protections telling me, "No links for you!" Tongue

(09-24-2014 11:57 PM)Diebo Wrote:  It would be nice to indicate where you would start battle too, but I am Ok with the current system. I kind of like the randomness of where your reinforcements end up - you have to cope with where you start to the best of your ability. Battle formation, on the other hand, seems like it should be something within your control.

I am actually pretty okay with the current system, too. It's just an un-tapped opportunity for increased tactical consideration by the player, where they could exert some additional tactical control without significant changes to the dynamic-ness of SO combat (such as switching it to a more artificial feeling grid "chess-type" battle or what not).

(09-24-2014 11:57 PM)Diebo Wrote:  If Roc were to change incoming fleet location, it would need to be intuitive and not introduce more problems than it solves. One way it could potentially work would be to give you the option when sending a fleet to choose up, down, right, left or N/S/E/W to indicate what quadrant you want the ship to enter. That is, you click on your fleet, you then click on the destination, and the destination gives you a choice of where you want to enter.

The logical problem this would introduce is that people would start sending fleets of 1 and 2 ships (i.e., break up there big fleets into 4 units) ...

Excellent insights from an experienced SO-er. Though I love SO with a passion and have lots of relatively executable ideas, I'm sorely lacking in and needing reflection from more experienced players.

I'm surprised — it would really be worth it to separate your fleet, excluding parts of it from multiple turns of combat, just for a slight positional advantage when they enter as reinforcements? <-- Not sarcastic, believe you thoroughly. (Of course there are ways to limit what position options are available)

Changing the battlefield size seems like a *huge* alteration, heavily affecting the effectiveness of long range weapons by increasing the ability to evade. The only suggestion I've ever seen related to changing the battlefield size that makes sense to me is when there is a vastly larger number of ships.

(09-24-2014 11:57 PM)Diebo Wrote:  If you want straight up tactical combat - I suggest you try Roc's masterpiece, Naval Tactics. That is all about turn-based tactical goodness.

I am aware of it and it is great! I guess the thing is I don't want just "straight up tactical combat". It alone doesn't have that zest of a huge scope game like Starbase Orion. (I wouldn't *really* want the huge scope without the tactical combat either, although I would lean that way.)

It's the layers! Creates the richest type of strategic experience ever. For instance, back in the day, Total War was amazing. Combo of strategic over-map/economy and society building PLUS nuanced, weighty battlefield tactics? That was a great game; I think in its own way SO could be even better.

(09-24-2014 11:57 PM)Diebo Wrote:  Keep up the suggestions - glad to see someone mining all the old threads.

Thanks Diebo Big Grin

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09-25-2014, 02:06 AM
Post: #12
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-25-2014 01:11 AM)deusohan Wrote:  It's the layers! Creates the richest type of strategic experience ever. For instance, back in the day, Total War was amazing. Combo of strategic over-map/economy and society building PLUS nuanced, weighty battlefield tactics? That was a great game; I think in its own way SO could be even better.

Well, that there is the unobtainable holy grail; I know there are quite a few MoO2 fans who don't like SO not having tactical combat. That mechanism, however, only works well in single player games; how does one solve the issue where in an 8 player SO game, the other 6 players need to wait while 2 players dish out an 80-turn combat sequence? I dunno, but if some genius figures out a fantastic solution I'd love to be the first one to implement it Wink
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09-25-2014, 02:41 AM
Post: #13
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-25-2014 02:06 AM)rocco Wrote:  Well, that there is the unobtainable holy grail; I know there are quite a few MoO2 fans who don't like SO not having tactical combat. That mechanism, however, only works well in single player games; how does one solve the issue where in an 8 player SO game, the other 6 players need to wait while 2 players dish out an 80-turn combat sequence? I dunno, but if some genius figures out a fantastic solution I'd love to be the first one to implement it Wink

Heck, even implementing 80 turns in a 1v1 player game would be hard! It would be like a Naval Tactic sub-game each battle that breaks off. Imagine having 5 different battles start up during a turn, and needing to start 5 different 80-turn games to resolve it before moving on to the next turn.

I think the solution is in ever-more complex commands and options in the current setup. Program in "Target maximum damage" where at the end of a turn, the ship calculates all damage it could do, and applies it to the ship where it would do that damage. Perhaps have a "Target ships with Leaders". Or "Target closest ship with weakest shields (for gauss). Maybe "hold nuke fire until turn 10" (so maybe shields would be down). Or how about - fire your plasma at one ship far away, and your IPC at the ship right next to you? Separate weapons. Maybe with the new IPC - target strongest shield, to maximize structural damage. Things like that - the tactical decisions you would make if you could make them. I know you run the risk of confusing people, and might make that Zenith 486 server in your basement pop a gasket on big battles, but these kinds of changes would greatly enhance the tactical feel of the game (yet keep it fast-paced). Also better targeting (drag and drop - this ship attacks this other ship first, just drag a line from one to the other).
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09-26-2014, 11:08 AM (This post was last modified: 09-26-2014 11:42 AM by deusohan.)
Post: #14
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-25-2014 02:06 AM)rocco Wrote:  Well, that there is the unobtainable holy grail; I know there are quite a few MoO2 fans who don't like SO not having tactical combat. That mechanism, however, only works well in single player games; how does one solve the issue where in an 8 player SO game, the other 6 players need to wait while 2 players dish out an 80-turn combat sequence? I dunno, but if some genius figures out a fantastic solution I'd love to be the first one to implement it Wink

Absolutely agree. While Total War was a great game in its own way, and MoO2 also featured that richness, I definitely don't think the "everybody waits while these players duke out a turn-based chess match" approach is worth much here in SO. "That mechanism" wouldn't be appropriate here.

And somehow ... I still think you could get a lot if not all of that layered goody richness. How? —

(09-25-2014 02:41 AM)Diebo Wrote:  I think the solution is in ever-more complex commands and options in the current setup.

This. I actually like the dynamic-ness of SO, how it's not on a grid, things happen quickly and shift subtly with the appearance of naturalness.

It's *because* combat is already so alluring that it makes the player want to really get in there, be on that level somewhat, and be asked to answer nuanced, nail-biting questions there.

The galaxy art, map, set-up, and theming do this in a great way on the macro scale; basically nailing it. Now if only the combat could do that same thing more-so on the micro scale.

Here's an interesting zombie quote I accidentally found from VanderLegion when I googled "ECM or PDS" just now (apologies not in quote box, I think it's from an older deprecated forum):

02-24-2013 11:27 AM)VanderLegion Wrote: And with or without CP caps, it's still incredibly important to figure out what you're opponent is trying to do. Unless the sides are seriously imbalanced, Magistrate X and the ability to see your opponent's fleets locations, either through the Twins or through fuel cells and scouts, in the hands of a good player is pretty much a guaranteed win, it's THAT powerful knowing how your opponent's fleet is configured. [emphasis deusohan's]

I don't want to overstate what Vander was saying here or put words in his mouth, so apologies if I am misunderstanding. But you see how, if true, this fact about 'knowing your opponent's configuration being DEFINITIVE' reflects that combat so easily becomes more of an epilogue than a climax in SO.
Also, these ideas are all diabolically cool ——v

(09-25-2014 02:41 AM)Diebo Wrote:  Program in "Target maximum damage" where at the end of a turn, the ship calculates all damage it could do, and applies it to the ship where it would do that damage. Perhaps have a "Target ships with Leaders". Or "Target closest ship with weakest shields (for gauss). Maybe "hold nuke fire until turn 10" (so maybe shields would be down). Or how about - fire your plasma at one ship far away, and your IPC at the ship right next to you? Separate weapons. Maybe with the new IPC - target strongest shield, to maximize structural damage. Things like that - the tactical decisions you would make if you could make them. I know you run the risk of confusing people, and might make that Zenith 486 server in your basement pop a gasket on big battles, but these kinds of changes would greatly enhance the tactical feel of the game (yet keep it fast-paced). Also better targeting (drag and drop - this ship attacks this other ship first, just drag a line from one to the other).


Next idea,

suicide attack (targeted) and self-destruct (area of effect) commands for low-remaining-life ships.

Sometimes, between combat rounds, you observe that one of your ships is very low on structure points, and will probably die within the next round. What if players, under certain conditions, sometimes had additional options about what to do with these ships?

Suicide attack — maybe this is an additional ability of races that are "battle hardened"? Similar to setting a primary target, in between combat rounds you would set a "Suicide Target" for your low-health ship, and it will then make a run at crashing into the suicide target. Of course, to make it worth the suiciding player's while, the damage done would have to be more than the suiciding ship could otherwise have done. — Of course, if no ship is close enough/the low-health ship gets destroyed on its way in, it does nothing. So players would have to examine the relative position of ships on the field to determine if it's worthwhile. Similarly ...

Self-destruct — perhaps "self-destruct unit" is an installable ship system. Unlike suicide attack, which is targeted, SDU is done instantly or near instantly and affects nearby ships within a certain radius (depending on the size of the self-destructing ship).

Both of these would ask players to make the same key assessment: Will this ship survive another round? Do I take advantage of this now, right now, or lose the choice later if I guess wrong?

As an aside, it would also be a neat quality of a leader to provide these abilities. Maybe in a later edition or a current leader. I've seen some players say that Mortis Wretch is not so valuable a combat leader as others. What if he immediately gave both the suicide and self-destruct options to ships in his fleet...

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09-26-2014, 12:42 PM
Post: #15
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-26-2014 11:08 AM)deusohan Wrote:  02-24-2013 11:27 AM)VanderLegion Wrote: And with or without CP caps, it's still incredibly important to figure out what you're opponent is trying to do. Unless the sides are seriously imbalanced, Magistrate X and the ability to see your opponent's fleets locations, either through the Twins or through fuel cells and scouts, in the hands of a good player is pretty much a guaranteed win, it's THAT powerful knowing how your opponent's fleet is configured. [emphasis deusohan's]

I don't want to overstate what Vander was saying here or put words in his mouth, so apologies if I am misunderstanding. But you see how, if true, this fact about 'knowing your opponent's configuration being DEFINITIVE' reflects that combat so easily becomes more of an epilogue than a climax in SO.

Vander's comment is largely correct, but doesn't really affect this discussion. Vander is saying that with X, you can see your opponent's fleet configuration, and assuming two equally skilled players with equally productive empires, this means that the player with X can build the perfect counter fleet to the other player. SO and many, many other strategy games are games of hard counters. If Scissor loses to Rock, it doesn't matter how tactically skilled Scissor is. And if X let's me know your always going to attack with Scissor, then I'll make sure I always pick Rock.

What Vander's comment doesn't state, is that with enough tech you can build a fleet which doesn't have a hard counter; usually some fleet of hybrid weapons and configuration. And that's where tactics should come into play, with two fleets of roughly equivalent production which don't absolutely hard counter each other.
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09-26-2014, 01:34 PM (This post was last modified: 09-26-2014 01:35 PM by deusohan.)
Post: #16
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
Thanks for clarifying this Rocco. Smile

(09-26-2014 12:42 PM)rocco Wrote:  Vander's comment is largely correct, but doesn't really affect this discussion. Vander is saying that with X, you can see your opponent's fleet configuration, and assuming two equally skilled players with equally productive empires, this means that the player with X can build the perfect counter fleet to the other player. SO and many, many other strategy games are games of hard counters. If Scissor loses to Rock, it doesn't matter how tactically skilled Scissor is. And if X let's me know your always going to attack with Scissor, then I'll make sure I always pick Rock.

I actually understand and like the counters aspect of SO. It makes the military tech race very meaningful. The thing is, if the counters are "hard" or definitive, and they take place completely above the battlefield, then what is the point of the battlefield? Is it just theater? It seems like they could both be meaningful, enhancing one another rather than either of them being diminished. The question I wanted to answer is: How could they work together instead of one superseding the other?

(09-26-2014 12:42 PM)rocco Wrote:  What Vander's comment doesn't state, is that with enough tech you can build a fleet which doesn't have a hard counter; usually some fleet of hybrid weapons and configuration.

Hmm. I think that so far my novice-ness means I get rolled before I can really enjoy this aspect. It sounds like a late-game thing, since you need enough tech and production for these ships to be reasonably viable. My perception so far has been that, at least or especially early game, people highly specialize and determine these counter strategies before ever entering battle. Thus the battle is over before it began.

(09-26-2014 12:42 PM)rocco Wrote:  And that's where tactics should come into play, with two fleets of roughly equivalent production which don't absolutely hard counter each other.


This is what I'm in support of and interested in. Sure would be cool if it weren't only a late-game thing when you have had time to accrue a ton of tech and production. You said "that's where tactics should come into play". Is it your opinion that right now the tactics in SO are fulfilling that role? Obviously I have a lot to learn. Like I said though, VanderLegion's Combat Primer spends ~⅓ of its length actually focusing on builds set prior to combat and not combat at all.

Side note: Definitely not saying tactics should be a win-all or override factors like tech or production or total fleet size. Just that tactics should be one more meaningful factor. With superior tactics, maybe I don't win against the person who has superior tech (or better production, or the overwhelmingly larger fleet). Maybe I just don't lose as fast, or bruise the enemy more in the process of losing than I otherwise would have been able to without the existence of meaningful tactics within the game.
And Rocco, what do you think of the suicide attack and self-destruct ideas? Have others suggested them somewhere and I missed it?

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09-26-2014, 02:20 PM
Post: #17
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-26-2014 01:34 PM)deusohan Wrote:  I actually understand and like the counters aspect of SO. It makes the military tech race very meaningful. The thing is, if the counters are "hard" or definitive, and they take place completely above the battlefield, then what is the point of the battlefield? Is it just theater? It seems like they could both be meaningful, enhancing one another rather than either of them being diminished. The question I wanted to answer is: How could they work together instead of one superseding the other?

As I said, if Scissor shows up and faces Rock, then it should all be "theater". If you built canoes while the other player build battleships, the canoes are going to lose.

(09-26-2014 01:34 PM)deusohan Wrote:  Hmm. I think that so far my novice-ness means I get rolled before I can really enjoy this aspect. It sounds like a late-game thing, since you need enough tech and production for these ships to be reasonably viable. My perception so far has been that, at least or especially early game, people highly specialize and determine these counter strategies before ever entering battle. Thus the battle is over before it began.

That's all part of the game; if someone hits you early with a specialized attack, and you didn't anticipate it (through good scouting perhaps?), then you should lose the battle. But, as you say, that's a novice mistake. The more experienced players will know what you built ahead of time, and will make sure they have the ability to counter it. Thus you enter a back-and-forth arms race into mid-and-late game.

To put another spin on it, if you spent the entire strategic portion of the game ignoring any form of strategic thinking, why would you expect to win?



(09-26-2014 12:42 PM)rocco Wrote:  This is what I'm in support of and interested in. Sure would be cool if it weren't only a late-game thing when you have had time to accrue a ton of tech and production. You said "that's where tactics should come into play". Is it your opinion that right now the tactics in SO are fulfilling that role? Obviously I have a lot to learn. Like I said though, VanderLegion's Combat Primer spends ~⅓ of its length actually focusing on builds set prior to combat and not combat at all.

As I said, between two fleets which are not hard counters for each other, then tactics in the battlefield should definitely come into play. You keep bringing the discussion back to extremes, and in the extremes I definitely do not believe tactics should carry the day.

Take weapons and "hard" counters out of the equation; same ships, same weapons. I attack with 10 ships, you have 1 ship. There is not tactic in the world that will change the outcome of that, and only a completely incompetent commander on the larger fleet size would allow even one ship to get destroyed in that battle.


(09-26-2014 12:42 PM)rocco Wrote:  And Rocco, what do you think of the suicide attack and self-destruct ideas? Have others suggested them somewhere and I missed it?

I haven't look at it in depth; I'm sure someone suggested it before. Doesn't really change the discussion, because assumably anything that got introduced would necessitate there being a counter for it; if there were no counter for it, then everyone would build it. Which removes any tactical significance it may have had in the first place Wink
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09-26-2014, 03:54 PM
Post: #18
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-26-2014 02:20 PM)rocco Wrote:  As I said, between two fleets which are not hard counters for each other, then tactics in the battlefield should definitely come into play. You keep bringing the discussion back to extremes, and in the extremes I definitely do not believe tactics should carry the day.

You said 'should' again, and I want to make sure I'm following you correctly. Are you saying abstractly, 'a game should do it', or specifically — 'SO should and does do this adequately already'?

Sorry if I keep bringing it back to extremes. I didn't think my examples were extremes?

(09-26-2014 02:20 PM)rocco Wrote:  If you built canoes while the other player build battleships, the canoes are going to lose.

(09-26-2014 02:20 PM)rocco Wrote:  As I said, if Scissor shows up and faces Rock, then it should all be "theater".

To me, canoes vs battleships seems like an extreme! Wink

And regarding, "it should all be 'theater'", do you really believe this? If it is all theater, then why have orders? Or escorts or primary targets? To further the illusion? I can't imagine. I never thought of these things as window dressing, I think of them as the start of something glorious. Don't you believe that this tactical element adds something enriching to the game? I sure do. Smile

(09-26-2014 02:20 PM)rocco Wrote:  To put another spin on it, if you spent the entire strategic portion of the game ignoring any form of strategic thinking, why would you expect to win?

Certainly I would not expect to win. That's an excellent point. I hope I don't sound like I'm advocating ignoring strategic thinking. O_o I guess basically what we're circling around is the difference between 'the army you field' and 'how you use the army once it's in the field'. SO gives you an intense amount of control over the army you field. Then it gives relatively very little to consider about how you use it once it is in the field. Missteps are hard to make, and it's also hard to imagine how someone might be brilliant.

Again, how you use the army should not necessarily be the decisive factor. Instead how you use your fleet should affect how badly you're able to lose, or how completely you're completely and thoroughly you're able to win. Just one of many, interrelated factors, like tech and production are interrelated.

Of course, if I fielded the largely superior army, but gave them horrendous in the field orders, that should show meaningfully somehow in the outcome.

A big part of what makes SO and other 4x games so special is the way they ask the player to be an effective leader at every level, economic, strategic, diplomatic, and tactical. Okay, okay, /gush

(09-26-2014 12:42 PM)rocco Wrote:  Take weapons and "hard" counters out of the equation; same ships, same weapons. I attack with 10 ships, you have 1 ship. There is not tactic in the world that will change the outcome of that, and only a completely incompetent commander on the larger fleet size would allow even one ship to get destroyed in that battle.

That's true, and I'd say an example of overwhelming force.

Must the end outcome of combat always be seen as a strictly binary value?

Yes, there will always be a winner and loser. That's how it is and ought to be. Yet, with the addition of rich tactics, it's not a question just of simply if you win or lose but also how you win or lose. In this light, is it necessary to see strategy and tactics agnostically?

You can have a war of attrition; lose a lot on the way to winning. Which can happen on a strategic or tactical level. Sometimes you make that choice tactically as a sacrifice because you know you can stomach it from a production standpoint.

Or, you can have a Pyrrhic victory, where you win but really lose. A good tactician might be able to trick or force this on his opponent, depending on his own skill, that of his opponent, and the circumstances.

So these tactical nuances aren't an enemy to the current strategic richness of the game. They should work as a complimentary richness.

Thanks again, Rocco. Side question, I just got Starbase Annex (obviously on iOS). I see there is an Android version. Will it be possible for me to play with my Android buddy from Sacramento if I convince him to download? Smile

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09-26-2014, 04:13 PM
Post: #19
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
SO currently runs the entire gamut of situations. There are battles where one side planned ahead and completely counters the opponent, thus there are no tactical options available which would change that outcome. There are also plenty of battles which are close enough that can be won or lost given the tactical orders already existing in the game. It is accurate to say that if you fail at the strategic level, then you won't be able to experience the tactical level fully ( aka, you keep bringing those canoes against the battleships ). I would label all that as working as intended.

Is there room for improvement? Of course there is. That's why these forums exist.

Quote:Side question, I just got Starbase Annex (obviously on iOS). I see there is an Android version. Will it be possible for me to play with my Android buddy from Sacramento if I convince him to download? Smile

Starbase Annex is currently a single-player only experience. If it ever gets multiplayer, then it will be supported across platforms Big Grin
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09-26-2014, 04:58 PM (This post was last modified: 09-26-2014 04:59 PM by anthee.)
Post: #20
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-25-2014 01:02 AM)rocco Wrote:  I kinda like the notion expressed earlier that reinforcement fleets enter the combat from the direction they travelled on the galactic map. That gives the user intuitive control if they want it (not sure who would fly around just to attack from a different side, but who knows).

Just commenting on this bit a tad further:

If this were implemented, it should be done all the way so that also the original battle's sides depend on where the attacker came from. Say the attacker comes approximately from the "southwest" on the galactic map: then that's where their ships should be lined up in the battle screen and the defender's fleet should be positioned opposite to them, in the northeast.

Currently, the original battle's sides are always on the east-west axis, which, if this little tweak is done, has relevance due to e.g. the defender's starbase being either too far from or too close to reinforcements coming from the "correct" direction.

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