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 Post subject: Re: OFFICIAL: Gameplay Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:43 am 
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I would instead suggest having a "CONDITION" (or "IF") order. It gets evaluated every cycle and, when true, the orders above it are replaced by the orders below it.

An example of the functionality this would add:

ATTACK
CONDITION (shields below 20%)
JUMP

but equally

JUMP
CONDITION (enemy ships nearby)
DEFEND
CONDITION (no enemy ships nearby)
SALVAGE

and so on.

The type of conditions that could be specified is potentially limitless, but this is the kind of thing that can grow over time.


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 Post subject: Re: OFFICIAL: Gameplay Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:42 am 
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[qutoe]
as you mentioned ATTACK with a radius is a DEFEND, but i would like to know which functionality is not there?  I dont see any, so I wont do a RADIUS on ATTACK
Z damage sustained - i just added that yesterday by setting your HULL BREAK LEVEL it will break out of ATTACK orders (and many others) when it gets to a certain hull damage level
V fuel - same thing as damage, just added yesterday
W warhead - I suppose I could add that too
Y time has passed?  hmm not sure on that one, what would be the tactical reason for that?  Please detail further...
until X is destroyed?  well you can currently have it not attack targets unless its a given unit, and then put a NO TARGET after that in your priority list.  But perhaps if I added something like a NO TARGET, like say a BREAK priority target, where if it runs out of priorities and reaches a BREAK, then it breaks out of its current combat mission (ATTACK, DEFEND, PATROL, BOMBARD).  what do you think?
[/quote]

Ok so if I understand this. First you need to set a unit to not attack (weapons not free?) unless it's on the list. Then if you put a NO TARGET in on tthe list it'll stop attacking. But will it then move down to another order (say JUMP)?

Kobra's got what I was sort of saying. Basically it's the rudiments needed for scripted behaviour.


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:37 am 
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One thing to note is that right now, the only effect of the ESCORT order (on its own) is to create a formation. So if we implement a fleet-based formation, and allow the DEFEND order to optionally point to a unit instead of only a co-ordinate, maybe we could remove it altogether (or make it attack enemy units that are targeting the escorted ship). But that's just a small aside.

My general proposal would be something along these lines:

1) Each FLT should have a "Flagship", that could be set manually, but by default it would be the largest unit in the fleet or failing that the first listed (e.g. Alpha 1). The location of the FLT unit as a whole would then be evaluated to the location of the Flagship.

2) Each FLT should have a "Set Formation" button (either in the FLT screen, e.g. next to "Rename", or in the "Give Orders to Whole Fleet" screen, e.g. next to "Set Priority Targets"). Clicking that button would bring up a Formation display where you could set a general formation type and/or locate each unit manually. In the case of nested fleets, only the flagship of one fleet would be located by its parent fleet's formation - the rest of the units within the subfleet would follow the internal formation of that group around their leader. Finally, "In Dock" should be a valid location within the formation.

3) Each formation should have a "Tight" / "Loose" setting, which determines whether units will move from it to fulfill their mission or not. In a Tight formation, even if a ship is engaging a target it will not move from its assigned position (this is important e.g. for anti-fighter gunships escorting a capital ship - they shouldn't go off chasing fighters and leave their flagship unprotected). In a Loose formation, the units will have a user-assigned radius within which they will do whatever it is they have been ordered to do (attack, look for salvage, etc), and will return to their position as soon as they do not have anything to do (e.g. no valid targets/salvage within radius). It would be important, of course, for the Tight/Loose setting to apply to be settable per-unit.

Example of this system at work:

FLT Chimaera contains:
- ISD Chimaera (Flagship)
- CGUN Saber
- CGUN Foil
- FLT Alpha (36 T/F) Flagship: Alpha 1
- FLT Beta (24 T/B) Flagship: Beta 1
- FLT Gamma (24 T/I) Flagship: Gamma 1
- FLT Rho (12 XG1) Flagship: Rho 1

The Formation of FLT Chimaera is:

- CGUN Saber is manually located 600m to port of the Flagship (Tight)
- CGUN Foil is manually located 600m to starboard of the Flagship (Tight)
- FLT Alpha (in fact, Alpha 1) is manually located 1000m ahead of the Flagship (Loose, 10km radius)
- FLT Beta (in fact, Beta 1) is docked inside the Flagship (Loose, 10km radius)
- FLT Gamma (in fact, Gamma 1) is docked inside the Flagship (Loose, 5km radius)
- FLT Rho (in fact, Rho 1) is manually located 100m ahead of the Flagship (Loose, 10km radius)

FLT Alpha is set to a loose (3km) Wedge formation around Alpha 1.
FLT Beta is set to a tight Line formation around Beta 1.
FLT Gamma is set to a loose (3km) Vee formation around Gamma 1.
FLT Rho is set to a loose (500m) formation around Rho 1.


The effect of these settings (and adequate Target Priorities) would be:

- The CGUNs stay right by the ISD and protect it from fighters and other small craft.
- The T/F (Alpha) will run off to engage any group of fighters of bombers, with certain freedom of engagement and pursuit (3km from their leader).
- The T/I (Gamma) will be the "last line of defense" and will undock only to attack fighters or bombers that get too close to Chimaera.
- The T/B (Beta) will stay in dock until a big target is targeted and at strike distance, and will advance together and release all warheads at the same time, then (if their lasers have been set to "engage no target") they will register as Ide, head back to dock, and as soon as they are rearmed their attack order will be again valid and so they will leave dock again for another attack.
- The XG-1 (Rho) will attack any small capships or other small craft, but unlike the T/F they will remain in a more or less compat group.


I think that pretty much sums up what I would like to see in terms of formations.

On a slightly different level, probably much harder to code, I would like to see a distinction between "Fleet" and "Squadron" groupings, and be able to switch any given group between the two, basically to heavily cut down on micromanagement.

A Squadron would be a number of identical units (typically small craft) which no longer can be individually selected or controlled (though they can still target different enemies). When you click on one, the whole set is selected and will list its contents (as e.g. 36 T/F). Then you can give it orders and so on as if it was a single unit - same interface (right now you cannot view the orderlist for a group, which is a real pain). The only visible difference between the command interface for a Squadron compared to that for a single unit is that that you can also assign it a formation as if it were a FLT group. The squadron health status could be evaluated as either the average health of all surviving units or the overall % compared to the defined squadron health (e.g. if half the units were destroyed and all the others 50% damaged, it would evaluate as 50% or 25%, respectively).

One interesting result of this order is that you could assign a SQDRN of fighters to Escort/Defend a SQDRN of bombers, which is very important (arguably the main purpose of fighters) yet extremely difficult to do at the present stage.

Another big advantage is that, when doing a group-select or seeing the list of units in a sector, you will get this:

ISD Chimaera
CGUN Saber
CGUN Foil
SQDRN Alpha (36 TF)
SQDRN Beta (24 TB)
SQDRN Gamma (24 TI)
SQDRN Rho (12 XG1)

Instead of:

ISD Chimaera
CGUN Saber
CGUN Foil
TF Alpha 1
TF Alpha 2
TF Alpha 3
TF Alpha 4
TF Alpha 5
TF Alpha 6
...and so on for several pages.


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 Post subject: Re: OFFICIAL: Gameplay Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 8:43 am 
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generally i would have to rip out the guts of how I do orders by adding IF logic, which by the way I have never seen in a game put out by billion dollar corporations, but I can look at it.

As for Idle's question.

SET WEAPONS FREE/HOLD is just used to make a ship never fire on another.  You use it so that in no-fire zones, like over planets, you dont have to worry about shooting at eachother.

The NO TARGET priority means that as your ship is going down its target priorities, if it reaches a NO TARGET (which can be specified down to the weapon type) it wont engage any enemy.

So for instance, you are on a DEFEND order, and you see a particular ship you want to kill, you can specify your #1 priority as that particular ship, then put #2 a NO TARGET priority.  Your ship will then run out and engage that particular ship, but once that ship is out of the defense range or destroyed it will return back to the defend position.

So SET WEAPONS HOLD is really a catch-all to make sure you dont attack anything, and allows you to go into places where you dont want to shoot at other people, without having to clear your priority target list.


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 8:53 am 
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Lot of good ideas.  I have much to think about.  On the surface the idea on non-selectable members of a squadron sounds neat, but it would preclude the ability to set individual targets for each member.  Also, the squadron would have to be reinforced at times after losses.

Overall, people would lose alot of flexibility to give orders to individual units, but it would neaten up things.

Other things I think about..

I dont see any need to specify a flagship for the fleet, I mean no real code reason to do so.

What happens when you tell a squadron to dock and not all the ships can dock, some are in some are out.  Basically anytime that the members of a squadron cant be doing the same thing will be a code nightmare.

I like the thoughts no doubt, but like any programmer, I have to look past the theoretical coolness of an enhancement down to all the difficulties inherent in adding such a big change to the code base.


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 Post subject: Re: OFFICIAL: Gameplay Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 8:58 am 
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markb50k wrote:
generally i would have to rip out the guts of how I do orders by adding IF logic, which by the way I have never seen in a game put out by billion dollar corporations, but I can look at it.


I haven't seen any billion dollar corporation put out a persistent-world strategy/management wargame ;)

Don't worry about it if it's too much work - it was just a way of making sure you could do more or less well in a long battle without having to be there every single turn.


Quote:
The NO TARGET priority means that as your ship is going down its target priorities, if it reaches a NO TARGET (which can be specified down to the weapon type) it wont engage any enemy.


By the way, this didn't seem to work too well for me. I have two squadrons of TD with strict orders to engage Ferrets and Prowlers only, and I keep finding that they target and follow capital ships halfway across the sector, which is a magnificent way to waste fuel. It doesn't happen all the time, though. I think it may have been triggered by the previous manually-fixed target disappearing (destroyed or otherwise).


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:25 am 
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With respect the the squadrons, you could make the squadron selectable vie LMB, and the individual ship selectable via LMB+ALT, in the same way you can currently select enemy units (or use any other method of differentiation). You'd need to make it so that you can't then give orders to that one unit, without taking it out of the squadron.

With the docking thing, just add a wait command until all the individual units have docked. Then if th player attempts to dock a 74 unit squadron with a capital ship with 1 spot the rest of the squadron just sits there. For situations where small craft outnumber docking slots you can then either use that as an incentive to make sure there's enough docking or add a bit of code where the craft take it in turns to to dock, R'n'R and then undock. Again the entire squadron can WAIT until all individual's have done this and before folowing the next order.

Does the current escort order cause the escorting unit to attack any unit engaging the escorted unit, or just to fly alongside it?


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 Post subject: Re: OFFICIAL: Gameplay Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:31 am 
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ok i will look at that, but remember if you just specify FERRET and PROWLER but dont put a NO TARGET afterward, it will then just look at every enemy if it doesnt find any FERRETs or PROWLERs.  And of course, the NO TARGET would have to cover ALL weapons.

so if you set it up like this

Any FERRET
Any PROWLER
NO TARGET (all weapons)

and it still chases cap ships, let me know as soon as it happens, and I will try to figure out whats wrong, because that would be a bug.


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:34 am 
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the current escort order, as Kobra pointed out, just sets up a position for the ship to stay at.  It will engage enemies as normal, and not specifically ones that target the flagship.  It was a limitation that I decided would be good enough, but as with everything I periodically reconsider it.


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:46 am 
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Don't worry, I understand very well that certain things can be code hell (I had already thought of most of the examples you mentioned, but didn't want to extend myself too much). I'm happy to just make a wishlist, and anything that can be done out of that is a welcome addition :) If you think the end result might be worth a big re-working of the code base, I'll also be happy to help with ideas for solving problems that may arise.

I will elaborate on some of the points you raise:

Flagships. The main "code" reason to implement them at this stage is so that the "fleet" object has an actual position in space, around which the formation can be arranged. As the game expands in the future, though, there will undoubtedly be more reasons to implement them, e.g. Admirals might only give bonuses when aboard a fleet's flagship, there may be morale checks when the flagship (and thus chain of command) is destroyed, etc. From a user-side point of view, they're just a cool thing to have ;) They're also the unit to give orders to if you want the rest of the fleet/formation to follow, so it makes sense they're highlighted somehow.

Squadron targeting: I think few of us want to tell TD Alpha 17 to engage X-W Red Four ;) In 99% of cases, with a Class or Category priority it will be more than enough. If you absolutely positively need to change the target of an individual fighter, you just revert the SQDRN to FLT and micromanage away.

Squadron reinforcement: This is something I wanted to suggest at a later stage, as it was a bit too detailed for my previous post. *If* Squadrons have a predetermined size (which is probably not necessary, but might be useful in some cases), then there could be a "Reform" function (an order or just a GUI button) which re-arranges units between squadrons in the same fleet. So if you have three 12-ship squadrons with only 11,9 and 7 fighters remaining, the Reform function would rearrange them into 12,12,3 (it would still be a 12-ship squadron, but at 25% strength). Also, if you had fighters of that type in the Unassigned Units group, they could be assigned to fill the gaps - at least if jump-capable, as they could simply get a JUMP order to join their new group. For non-jump-capable fighters it might be harder, as you'd need to put them into a carrier and move them to the general vicinity of the rest of the Squadron before they could join it. It might be as simple as having the Reform function only 'call in' unassigned units if they're either jump capable or within a selected radius of the Squadron leader.

Squadron docking: This is probably the trickiest part. Then again, it's a tricky issue already even without the squadrons. One possible (albeit admittedly ugly) solution is to not let the Squadron dock unless there is room for all its fighters. To some extent, it makes sense that a fleet should have enough docking space for all its fighters - unless they're self-delivered jump-capable ones, which would be based off-sector and would have to return there anyway.

In fact, I will go out on a limb here and say you shouldn't even be allowed to build Small Craft (basically anything which can run out of fuel) unless you can base them somewhere, even if it is a planetside base. Furthermore, all Small Craft should have a "Home" unit/base they will automatically return to when their fuel runs low (or, optionally, when they run out of warheads). This became essential the instant fuel expenditure was implemented.

Another thing that might help, by the way, is a RESUPPLY order, where a unit would go to their Home base, dock and do nothing until it was fully resupplied (or the mother ship had no more supplies available). Thus a Squadron would not leave dock again until all its fighters had docked and resupplied, which would help preserve a formation (in the example I gave earlier, the TIE Bomber squadron would be screwed if, after expending all their ammo, not all of them docked at the same time - as soon as one fell out of formation, it wouldn't resupply at all). <--- while I was typing, Idle_Scholar suggested something along these lines

Going one step further yet, even the basic hierarchy of units may need to change for this to work. Small Craft may well be a sub-property of their "Home" ship (or space station, or planet base, or whatever). That would tie in nicely with the reinforcement function discussed earlier, and make it much simpler.


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 Post subject: Re: OFFICIAL: Gameplay Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:50 am 
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Yes, I had a "No Target" priority afterwards, that's what I meant.

I seem to recall fighters with orders to attack Small Craft then No Target also run off to chase a capship at some point.

Could it be that giving a set of priorities to a group of units, then changing the priorities of an individual within that group somehow affects the priorities of the other individuals within that group?

Anyway I'll let you know in more detail if this happens again.


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:16 am 
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i have been thinking and I am coming up with some good ideas

first, i would propose that there not be FLEETs and SQDRNs, just fleets.  so any ship will be in one of two modes.  An individual ship, under unassigned, or in a FLEET

second, a FLEET be given a "movement class", i.e. a virtual notation of how fast it moves, etc. 

third, a FLEET, when created, would require a POSITION to be noted as its starting location.  Then any orders its given it would then move from that location using its movement class parameters.

Docking:  FLEET would just stay in docking until all ships are docked.  I could write code to do that and could probably write code to have it cycle ships through docking and such.

i got more ideas, but what I will probably do is first implement the FLEET formation code, since it is so similar to ESCORT

i got some more thoughts but I'll listen for some feedback.


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:30 am 
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Kobra wrote:

Squadron docking: This is probably the trickiest part. Then again, it's a tricky issue already even without the squadrons. One possible (albeit admittedly ugly) solution is to not let the Squadron dock unless there is room for all its fighters. To some extent, it makes sense that a fleet should have enough docking space for all its fighters - unless they're self-delivered jump-capable ones, which would be based off-sector and would have to return there anyway.

In fact, I will go out on a limb here and say you shouldn't even be allowed to build Small Craft (basically anything which can run out of fuel) unless you can base them somewhere, even if it is a planetside base. Furthermore, all Small Craft should have a "Home" unit/base they will automatically return to when their fuel runs low (or, optionally, when they run out of warheads). This became essential the instant fuel expenditure was implemented.

Another thing that might help, by the way, is a RESUPPLY order, where a unit would go to their Home base, dock and do nothing until it was fully resupplied (or the mother ship had no more supplies available). Thus a Squadron would not leave dock again until all its fighters had docked and resupplied, which would help preserve a formation (in the example I gave earlier, the TIE Bomber squadron would be screwed if, after expending all their ammo, not all of them docked at the same time - as soon as one fell out of formation, it wouldn't resupply at all). <--- while I was typing, Idle_Scholar suggested something along these lines

Going one step further yet, even the basic hierarchy of units may need to change for this to work. Small Craft may well be a sub-property of their "Home" ship (or space station, or planet base, or whatever). That would tie in nicely with the reinforcement function discussed earlier, and make it much simpler.


This works great untill some of the docking capeability is destroyed. But in principle it would make things easier to make small craft a sub property of larger ships.


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 Post subject: Re: OFFICIAL: Gameplay Suggestions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:36 am 
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I set up a list of orders going 1. Attack 2. Jump, I then set up an attack list going 1. Carreck 2. No Target

Now that the Carreck's dead should the ships jump?


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion: Formations
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:45 am 
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Elaborating a little further on the "squadrons as ship properties" issue...

Within each dock-capable capital ship's info/order screen there would be a "create squadron" button, which would let you define a Squadron assigned to that ship, by selecting type and number, e.g. "12 TF".

There would also be a clickable list of Squadrons and their status. An example for ISD Chimaera:

TF Alpha: Attacking (6/12)
TF Kappa: Attacking (10/12)
TF Iota: Docked (8/12)
TB Beta: Rearming (7/12)
TI Gamma: Docked (12/12)
TD Delta: Destroyed (0/6)
SHU Lambda: Docked (6/6)
Unassigned Craft (12)

For each, the following options would be available:

A "Reinforce Squadron" button would attempt to transfer fighters from Unassigned Craft to refill losses. If not enough onboard, it could give the user the choice to call them in from outside. Then, any Unassigned fighters within a certain range (anywhere, if jump-capable) would move to dock with Chimaera. As soon as the fighter had docked, it would be shown as having transferred to the Squadron and received the appropriate name, but it wouldn't physically join the Squadron until the next time they docked to resupply. No mid-flight reinforcements, as it were.

A "Reassign Squadron" button would set a new Home craft for the Squadron (provided it had enough space of course).

A "Dissolve Squadron" button would move its remaining members to Unassigned Craft. They could later be used to reinforce that ship (or another's) other Squadrons.


In the event that the Home ship for a Squadron was destroyed, the user could either try to fit it somewhere else by Reassigning it, or would simply Dissolve the Squadron - the individual fighters would then become Unassigned Craft (with no Home), and could be picked up by any friendly ship(s) and reabsorbed into their own Squadrons.

Unassigned Craft floating in space would be considered destroyed after a period of time (e.g. 50 turns).


Last edited by Kobra_warlords on Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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