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Combat Depth Improvements
09-26-2014, 09:08 PM
Post: #21
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
I like the idea of changing my fleet movements by attacking from another direction. It feels like an intuitive thing that would add another layer of depth. You could build gauss ships and surround a planet by attacking from six sides...this would mean taking the risk of taking extra turns to attack, and chancing that your ships might be attacked if they split up.
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09-27-2014, 12:53 AM
Post: #22
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.

I wanted to put some context into VL's quote; it really shows how much things have changed in SO in the last 1.5 years. There have been 13 updates between now and then (from version 1.1.1. to version 1.2.4 .). Things were waaaaay different.

1. Back then, research was "free". If you had a research center, you got 5 free research. Get research center 3, you had 15 free research. An orbital lab gave you 15 research iirc, and lab 2 gave you 30 research. A single poor planet with 1 pop could generate 45 research a turn. This encouraged industry builds. Why research if you could have labs and centers do it for you?

2. Traits were not balanced the same as now. Highly focused scientist actually GAVE you 2 points (it was considered a penalty). My typical build back then was: Inadequate Farmer, Amazing Industry, Slow Thinker, Prosperous, Old Fashioned, Huge Home, Rich Home, Galactic Navigator, Shared IQ, Highly Focused Scientist, Charismatic. Yes, you could get all of that. Old Fashioned wasn't a problem, because civic funding on even a planet with 1 pop could generate a pop a turn once it had PCM, Robotics 2, and EF2, and cloning was enough until you got there. The formula for civic funding was changed. Planets didn't need Improved Colony Infrastructure; even a small planet had plenty of space for cloning and PCM. Slow Thinker was free because you would never have a scientist on research. Brilliant gave a 100 percent bonus tech, and with highly focused, that means you missed very few. With SI, Huge, Rich, you could crank out colony ships quickly. Games progressed by colonizing about 10 systems, researching RC1-3 for the free research, grabbing Orbital Labs 1-2 for the boost, getting cloning going. By this time you'd have the 10 systems, plus about 10 expansion colonies. That would give you 20 systems, and 20*(15 research for RC+30 research from labs) meant 900 free research/turn (with all colonists on industry building stuff). What this meant is that on larger galaxies, by the time good players reached each other, you had most of the weapon tech (at 900+ research/turn), and you had PCM/Robotics2/Elevator2/SI/ACP3/Gaia and could crank out expensive ships. And warp gate 2 to get them where they needed to be.

3. I should point out that there was another group of players that focused on blitzing (see http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...tid=1565). Blitzers simply went for: Research1 & 2, Laser 2 & 3, Fuel 2, Stardrive 2, attack. "Blitzers" and "Builders" didn't mix very often. There were no leagues to bring them together. VanderLegion was a builder (and a damn fine one) at the time; his quote needs to taken in that context.

4. Ship combat has changed quite a bit since then. Speed and turn radius was introduced, making mammoths very cumbersome and slow and frigates fast. It used to be that a mammoth with 3 combat engines was very quick - faster than a frigate. Mammoths used to cost less than now; the game was rebalanced to encourage less expensive ships. And structure damage didn't slow a ship down (and there was no bonus structure damage from nukes). In short, if you did manage to make it to later game (which was possible even against good players on large maps), battles would shift to building mammoths.

5. Leaders were permanent, and I don't believe you could ban then at that time. If someone won X, they had X forever. Deep Space Jammers still allowed you to hide your fleet, but if they had X and the Twins, even that failed. You would lose if they had both of those leaders if you were playing a "Builder" game.

All that together needs to be taken into consideration when viewing VL's quote. At that time, on larger maps between "Builder" players, battles between "good" players meant battles between big fleets of mammoths. If you went all IPC and they went all Plasma, and had equal combat engines, the Plasma would stay out of range and win. If you went with the same weapon type, and added more armor/bulk, you would win. Proton was defeated by ECM (on a mammoth, it isn't cost effective to go all proton if the opponent had Shield 4 and 3-4 ECM). If you did hybrid (which VL was famous for) you would have a better chance in the case of unknown ships, but that would lose to whoever had the right counter weapon and star drive. With Warp Gate 2 everywhere, you could mass your entire fleet on any of your systems, so an attack could be quickly countered. Ships would just be held back beyond range so they could pounce and strike.

Basically, battle boiled down to knowing how many combat engines the opponent had, and what weapon they were using. The game was largely about trying to hide your fleet (with Deep Space Jammers) and scout out the opponents, which continuing to develop Gaia planets and colonizing with CS3 (which gave 3 pop!) and out-producing the opponent. Largely dominance was determined by your Command Points (so every planet was eventually colonized, and Starbase 3 was placed on all systems). There was no incentive to attack. If you did, you wouldn't get their fleet (it was hiding in the back) and the opponent would know what your fleet looked like and could quickly scrap (there was no scrap penalty) and rebuilt to specifically take your fleet out. Which led to stalemates, which eventually culminated in a massive battle that was mostly determined by your commands points, and whether or not you either guessed right or you knew your opponent's build and countered it.

Fast forward 13 updates, and the community has changed with the game. Blitzing is much more common. There is no longer time or the option to sit and build. Research is not free, not everyone has every tech. I might find out that my opponent has nukes, but maybe I passed up PDS and am nowhere near getting ECM. Most people can't research all weapons; there are very hard choices to make. You almost never see mammoths anymore at all. Most games involve frigates, some destroyers, and the occasional cruiser. Scrapping ships has a cost, so you can't just quickly scrap and rebuild, and without warp gate 2, you can't just position them where you want them. There are a lot more small battles. Leader X is usually banned, and if not doesn't come until turn 50. People have different tech, and usually a lot lower tech level.

An accurate restatement of VL's quote would be "assuming equal technology, industry, command point caps, and fleet size, and assuming you know your opponents ship configuration and location, and assuming you have the time to mobilize your fleets, a good player will always win".

You'll see that never anymore.

For example, a good player with Nuke 3 that passed up Laser 3 and Gauss that makes it to later game will have more than an uphill battle against a player that chose Laser 3, Heavy Armor 2, and finally gets ECM. ECM and shields on the starbases and cruisers will make offensive attacks difficult. Researching and building Plasma or Proton is expensive. And if you chose Laser 3, but didn't get PDS or HA or Reinforced Bulkhead, and your scientists haven't researched ECM yet, you are going to have problems against a Nuke 3 FML Warlord 1/2 fleet. If you went heavy gauss, but skipped laser/nuke, you're going to run into serious problems when the opponent gets shields. Knowing what the other player has no longer means that you can counter it quickly. Choose the wrong technologies, invest too heavily in growth at the expense of military (or vice versa) and you will lose, and no tactical commands can or should help you out of the hole you dug yourself. This means that spying/scouting to understand what your opponent is researching, hiding your own strategy/etc. is very important, so you have the option and ability to adapt.

That said, I would like see more tactical options in battle. We could probably all create a list of things we would like to be able to do. Target that ship first, that other ship second, but save the Starbase for absolute last (yes – that would be great, primary target, secondary target, target to avoid until all other targets are gone).
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09-27-2014, 05:34 AM (This post was last modified: 09-27-2014 05:50 AM by Diebo.)
Post: #23
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
Just thought of an idea for improving combat within the rules of "same turn" resolution:

First, assume combat orders are changed such that you can do "drag and drop" for "target primary" (i.e., you click on your ship, then touch the ship you want it to attack first). Same sort of thing for escort ship. Would make it a lot more intuitive.

If this were the case, it would open up the option of potentially setting ship destinations. What if you could drag where you should would go to as a first point? Click a ship, drag or touch an end destination. Once combat starts, it would head to that destination, and after it reaches it, the ship would follow the normal commands (charge close, keep long, whatever). You could choose to do this (or not do this and just use the default system). Think of it as adding a waypoint.

Perhaps you could choose to have it tethered to that point (just use that point as the equivalent of a ship that it is escorting - the code is already there). And within that tethering, you could set charge close, keep long, etc. just like you currently can. The risk is the ship might be out of range for most of the battle. But it would be your tactical choice to do it (for example, set ships up at random points to catch long-range ships that try to evade/escape).

I think this could add a lot to the tactical "feel" of battle setup. Maybe have all your ships head back to group with an ally so you aren't separated. Maybe send your entire fleet away from one opponent starbase and head toward the other so you aren't getting attacked from both at the same time (or splitting you fleet).

Add this, and more options for battle (i.e., target max shields, target no shields, target leaders, etc.), and I think the tactical part would open up more.


--

Quick thought on Nukes: What if you could specify to hold nuke ammo until you had a target where shields are down to 5%? Keep a couple of ships back to start opening up on that starbase once the shields are stripped. If no target presented itself, the nukes would just be held.
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09-28-2014, 03:32 AM
Post: #24
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
IIRC, the main reason for limited choices during combat is that many complicated orders in large battles take a lot of processing power. It'd be great if there were more options, though.

For the record, I think it's perfectly fine that the outcome of battles doesn't depend so much on tactical decisions when one side is technologically and/or numerically superior to the other side. It's common sense that if your forces are overwhelmingly superior to begin with, tactical blunders usually won't matter that much. The importance of correct orders is the more pronounced the closer in strength the two fleets are to each other, and that's just as it should be.

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09-28-2014, 06:28 AM
Post: #25
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-28-2014 03:32 AM)anthee Wrote:  IIRC, the main reason for limited choices during combat is that many complicated orders in large battles take a lot of processing power. It'd be great if there were more options, though.

For the record, I think it's perfectly fine that the outcome of battles doesn't depend so much on tactical decisions when one side is technologically and/or numerically superior to the other side. It's common sense that if your forces are overwhelmingly superior to begin with, tactical blunders usually won't matter that much. The importance of correct orders is the more pronounced the closer in strength the two fleets are to each other, and that's just as it should be.

I agree that game processing shouldn't take a back seat for these changes, but if the tactical aspect of battle could be improved without significantly changing speed, I say it is worth trying. For example, my idea of waypoints and tethering to spaces instead of ships uses exactly the same same sort of code that already exists. Ships already move (moving to one specific spot first shouldn't be overtaxing). Ships already can tether/escort another ship.

RE: Battles and tactics. Of course a superior force will always beat an inferior one, which is how it should be. But wouldn't it be more enjoyable to be able to meaningfully use Nuke late game (i.e., set it to fire after plasma/proton have dropped the shields). Nuke could slow a ship down, and on big ships with a lot of structure, a single nuke does more damage than a proton 3. But because of coding, and given the longer range of nuke, they get wasted on the shield. Just a simple command to be able to tell the ship to wait until shields are lower, or even if you could tell it to wait 10 combat rounds before firing? There would be a way that shouldn't eat up that much processing speed.

And you are right, it is the battles where it is close that it will matter the most. And that is precisely where it would be nice to squeak out a win based on better tactical use of the commands. Especially if you are a slight underdog. What if you could position a couple plasma 3 at certain points, so that if the opponent got close to one, the other 3 positions would be able to hit at long range? You lose 1 but get to maximize damage from 3. And if the opponent then could think you might do that, so they send ships out to counter it - but what if you don't do that? They they are splitting up their fleet.

I should be the last person to argue for this - I am not the greatest tactician, as evidenced by my Midshipman status in Naval Tactics. But I can see a way to add more tactics without overtaxing the computer. It might be that some options are too intensive (i.e., target maximum damage, based on it and every ship simultaneously calculating damage if they all fired at different targets iteratively to figure out what would be maximum).

I forget how many combat rounds there are? What if you could give a ship certain commands for the first 1/3, the second 2/3, and the final 1/3 of battle? Make custom build focus-style battle commands. Have some basic ones for beginners. You could just cycle through the custom options on the ship screen. Nuke fast versus nuke late.

Wouldn't it be nice if ships could fire their weapons at different targets? Firing your plasma at a close target it pretty useless, but if it could fire at the farthest away target, it would do more damage. And let the IPC on the ship fire at whatever is close. This could be processor-intensive -- but if you had an option for each weapon type to target closest/farthest/weakest/largest etc. that would be fantastic. Have your gauss target close ships without shields, and your IPC on the same ship target big ships with shields, your plasma target whatever is farthest away, your laser focus on targeting close shields to bring them down for your gauss.
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09-28-2014, 06:38 AM
Post: #26
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
+100 to Diebo's ideas Smile

One thing that I'd just like to point out, Dohanlon's examples are about past land based battles between armies where yes, tactics are very influential on victory. But, it's a different story in modern or future naval conflicts. Even today, engagements between ships and aircraft are fought from miles away by clicking a button. Your tactical priorities are too get in optimal range, fire your weapons first, and pray that your countermeasures are affective. Priorities which I think SO's current system gets quite well, though more options like Diebo is talking about would make it even better. Smile

To put in perspective, in the War of 1812, Britain was the master of the seas an had a vastly superior navy then the fledgling American fleet yet the American Navy was still able to make a name for itself in certain battles (most notably Perry's) because of tactics. Despite the overwhelming blockade, the US was able to squeeze a few victories which ultimately helped lead to the war's stalemate in what on paper should have been suicide to the American Military. (And might have been if it weren't for Britain's war weariness after Napoleon.)

But if that were to happen in reverse today, America, King of the seas, vs the British Navy things would play out differently. At the push of a button missile would fly from their batteries and strike their targets in a battle of attrition and technology. There's no evasive action, flanking, or outmaneuvering. It's about stealth, targeting, weaponry, and counter weaponry...all accounted for in Starbase Orion. No matter how much of a tactical genius Britain's admiral may be, unless the American Admiral is incompetent, he can't win against a larger fleet with similar if not better technology unless his ships were built with counters to the American weapon systems, a decision made in production, not on the battlefield. Smile

"We're not retreating, we're simply advancing in another direction!" - Oliver P. Smith

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09-28-2014, 05:17 PM
Post: #27
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
Re Diebo:

Oh, I totally agree with everything you say. My comment was aimed more at the OP who seemed to regard strategy trumping tactics in SO as a problem. It's not a problem, it's realistic and as it should be, as Rocco already replied too.

I'm all for more options in combat if it can be done without burdening the processor too much.

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09-29-2014, 10:54 AM
Post: #28
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
Two things:

1) I just watched this and thought of this thread and how SO games mirrored the flow of that narrative fairly accurately. After I calmed down from watching, cause I hadn't heard about it before Smile

2) I think what the OP and Troy are getting at are that, in history and in story, there are cases where the losing side still beat insurmountable odds. Those cases are usually attributed to some incompetence or bad luck on the losing side. Who built a vent in the Death Stat that could possibly be used to blow the entire thing up with just two tiny missiles? These types of circumstances generally don't work well in a game, because it would suck to be the player of the Empire and lose for no reason.

Tangent thought: That said, I did account for such things in Naval Tactics; those "extraordinary events" are the purpose of the Captain's Cards. Your ship survives this turn against all odds, the wind changes in your favor, etc. I wonder if there might not be room for an equivalent of Captain's Cards in SO2? Say instead of completely random empire-wide events, or even writing routines to try and balance random events, what if each player were dealt 10-20 event cards? Things like population booms to "cast" on one of your planets, or a plague to "cast" on an another player's empire. Could be an interesting way to spice up the game, while maintaining a certain fairness for everyone.
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09-30-2014, 01:58 AM
Post: #29
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-29-2014 10:54 AM)rocco Wrote:  1) I just watched this and thought of this thread and how SO games mirrored the flow of that narrative fairly accurately. After I calmed down from watching, cause I hadn't heard about it before Smile

Pretty cool, and yes, very similar to how SO happens. Sounds like the humans expanded too quickly and didn't build up defenses. Nice to get some tech from allies, and use their industrial output to produce some ships specifically designed to take out the Klingon. And it doesn't hurt to get lucky on Leaders.

(09-29-2014 10:54 AM)rocco Wrote:  2) I think what the OP and Troy are getting at are that, in history and in story, there are cases where the losing side still beat insurmountable odds. Those cases are usually attributed to some incompetence or bad luck on the losing side. Who built a vent in the Death Stat that could possibly be used to blow the entire thing up with just two tiny missiles? These types of circumstances generally don't work well in a game, because it would suck to be the player of the Empire and lose for no reason.

Right. I do think there might be room for a bit of randomness. Example: All weapons currently always hit, and always do fixed max damage. If the chance to hit was not certain (and changed based on ship size and speed) and the damage done was in a range (to reflect that sometimes you hit more vital components) that would increase realism. You could up the overall damage done by each weapon to get the same "average" damage. New tech (weapon guidance system, adds 5% to accuracy; weapon targeting system; increases damage range into the higher range) could be added. Maybe some weapons hit fast small targets better (they get a bonus).

I'm not saying add a 0.05% chance that a single nuke brings down a mammoth (i.e., the Death Star scenario). Take Laser 3, does 12-5 damage. Maybe make it a pretty accurate weapon (say, hit 75% of time) because it is so fast. To get an average of 12 damage, boost the upper end to 16 damage. Now give it a range (say it does between 10-22 damage). On any given shot, it will average 12 damage (75% chance to hit, averages 16 damage per hit) but it could miss, do 10 damage, or even do 22 damage. Could add a critical hit that does double damage, but 1 percent of the time. Could reduce percent chance to hit or change range to calculate that in, to get back to that overall average of 12 damage. Add a targeting computer that increases the damage roll. Still can't go above max, but more likely to do more. But that system would take the place of another system slot = hard choice.

Maybe IPC has a hard time hitting small targets, but lasers and gauss get a bonus? Esp. if ship weapons could target individual targets.

(09-29-2014 10:54 AM)rocco Wrote:  Tangent thought: That said, I did account for such things in Naval Tactics; those "extraordinary events" are the purpose of the Captain's Cards. Your ship survives this turn against all odds, the wind changes in your favor, etc. I wonder if there might not be room for an equivalent of Captain's Cards in SO2? Say instead of completely random empire-wide events, or even writing routines to try and balance random events, what if each player were dealt 10-20 event cards? Things like population booms to "cast" on one of your planets, or a plague to "cast" on an another player's empire. Could be an interesting way to spice up the game, while maintaining a certain fairness for everyone.

At first I wasn't keen on this, but the more I think about it, the better I like it. Would be nice to send a solar storm into a battle that would act as a nebula for a turn, thus disabling the opponents shields. Or delay an opponents fleet (or speed yours up). Or speed up one of your fleets for a turn. It would be fun, and like any option, should be optional. If you don't like it, don't use it.
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10-07-2014, 11:59 AM (This post was last modified: 10-07-2014 12:06 PM by deusohan.)
Post: #30
RE: Combat Depth Improvements
(09-29-2014 10:54 AM)rocco Wrote:  2) I think what the OP and Troy are getting at are that, in history and in story, there are cases where the losing side still beat insurmountable odds.

Those cases are usually attributed to some incompetence or bad luck on the losing side. Who built a vent in the Death Stat that could possibly be used to blow the entire thing up with just two tiny missiles? These types of circumstances generally don't work well in a game, because it would suck to be the player of the Empire and lose for no reason.

I do think it adds a little something when a tactically superior player can overcome what appears to otherwise be very unfavorable odds. But...

(09-29-2014 10:54 AM)rocco Wrote:  Tangent thought: That said, I did account for such things in Naval Tactics; those "extraordinary events" are the purpose of the Captain's Cards. Your ship survives this turn against all odds, the wind changes in your favor, etc. I wonder if there might not be room for an equivalent of Captain's Cards in SO2? Say instead of completely random empire-wide events, or even writing routines to try and balance random events, what if each player were dealt 10-20 event cards? Things like population booms to "cast" on one of your planets, or a plague to "cast" on an another player's empire.

Personally, I would never argue for random events to create an aura of suspense. I agree 100% with Rocco, losing for no reason feels crummy and I would not advocate for that in any form in SO.

One fun thing about SO is it does such a great job of creating a believable game world, with a sensical logic. Theming-wise, its fun. Game-mechanic-wise, it makes everything feel like a contest of skill.

———

So what then am I supporting? I wonder if I can express this better with pictures.

I'm for an additional layer of importance to the game — the tactical layer; an additional aspect in which players can become skilled and gain an edge to separate themselves from one another.

Think of a simple 1v1 game of SO. We might be able to visualize the relative strength of two empires pitted against one another like so:

[Image: Current_SO.jpg]

We can see that Empire B clearly has the edge. But why? A few factors go into the relative strengths of an empire. So we could enrich the picture like so:

[Image: Adv_Current_SO.jpg]

Okay, so now we see that there are multiple factors in the strength of an empire, and Empire B has the advantage especially because of its better income. Perhaps the player running Empire B was wiser in picking planets that would cost them less in high maintenance costs. But wait — it's actually even more complicated, isn't it?

Here's an even more complicated way of looking at the relative strength of an empire (just a quick brainstorm, by no means a complete list of factors!).

[Image: Really_Adv_Current_SO.jpg]

So let's re-examine my premises:

- SO is a very complex game where players look for an edge in a number of areas
- All of the areas matter, but perhaps not to equal extents

With that said, what is my critique/what am I suggesting? Basically, that this is the picture as it now stands:

[Image: Lack_tactics.jpg]

So here is my conclusions:
Tactics in SO are relatively trivial/unimportant for two reasons:
1) There are soooo many *other* factors, and tactics are just one of many, which itself would not make it meaningless except ALSO
2) Compared to other factors, tactically speaking there's very little a player can or is asked to do. Because of the current design, it will always be a tiny bar in our graph.

How much should tactics matter, relative to other factors? That is an area for debate, testing and balancing. My two cents I'm hoping to add to the discussion is, right now, they matter virtually none; which is too little.

Adding more factors that matter will always devalue other factors slightly. But it need not eviscerate them. SO asks you to be good at a lot of things, and tactics can and should be one of them. Just like other areas of SO, the tactical addition should ask players to be smart, contemplative, and analytically skillful.

Again, definitely not arguing for random event or one player being able to win an entire game because 'just because' they are good at tactics. You should not lose battles for no reason. You should lose because you are less skilled and/or don't have the strength in other areas (such as numbers or appropriate tech) to make up for your lack of skill in this one area.

Hopefully a picture's worth a thousand words, thanks for reading. Smile

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