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-   -   Ship Talk (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=45108)

Xrati March 12th, 2010 01:49 PM

Ship Talk
Let's talk ships in this thread. Like your favorite pinstripe pattern or weapons array.

Louist March 13th, 2010 05:07 PM

Re: Ship Talk
My favorite ship sprites has always been the curved and pointy ships from SE:IV. I forget the race's name, but they were green skinned, with black eyes and had some accessory, either a microphone or an external HUD over one eye. Give me a s ship-set with the same feeling of space-bound grace and violent intent.

Oh, and throwing the odd curve ball, like sphere-shaped ships is always appreciated. It allows me to invest a little more into my race, and suggests at a much more interesting back story.

Now, I don't know if firing arcs are being considered, but if they are, mix it up a bit with the races. Have a race who have carried on the naval tradition of broadsides, or another who prefers balanced coverage, so that they are never caught defenseless.

Edit: The ships are the core of most 4X games, and is the main chance to show-off or give a sense of the character of an entire race. Sure, you can glean some ideas from race biography, statistics, and portrait, but most of your time will be spent watching ships, both of your own race and others. So it is important that the ship sprites/models reflect fully the most important aspects of any race's culture.

I think Sword of the Stars did a great job of that. It isn't quite a tradition 4x game, as it revolves primarily around research and combat, placing such aspects as diplomacy and economy in the background, but one thing it did very well was conveying exactly what a race was all about by the ship models alone. Harder, I admit, in a more tradition 4x with heavy customization, but still possible, I think.

Ed Kolis March 13th, 2010 07:26 PM

Re: Ship Talk
Curved and pointy from SE4? With a dark, semi-cyborgish look to 'em? Yeah, that's the Xiati... their SE5 shipset isn't as good IMO as the SE4 one :P

Firing arcs? Well, it's not really decided if we'll have them or not; I'd personally like to, but it really depends on how well we can make the combat AI handle them - not to mention what Ken thinks of it!

Funny you say that SotS put economy in the background - sure, it was simplistic, but on the other hand, compared to SE4, it was kinda realistic, with the ability to earn or pay interest, and when you have lots of money saved up your populations grow happier :)

jars_u March 19th, 2010 09:28 PM

Re: Ship Talk
Ship design was always my favorite element of the SE series. I probably spent more time tweaking ship designs and studying the weapons tables in the SE5 ship simulator then I spent playing the actual game itself. For me ship building is a very satisfying aspect of genre especially since I tend to play a combat focused style of play in 4X games. From grazing the threads I've heard some mention a relief that SL is more akin to a SE4.5 than SE5+ for which I am also glad. I'd like to see more meaningful customization but without much of the feel of "excel spreadsheets" I found too often to be the case with SE. Weapons and ship hulls with more distinctive pluses and minuses and overall more quality then sheer quantity without loosing variety. I'd also like to see placement of components in ship hulls take on more meaning - for things like firing arcs, damage, acceleration/maneuverability.

Arralen March 20th, 2010 04:52 AM

Re: Ship Talk
Firing arcs do not make sense unless you have a full 3D battle environment ... and a way to tell the AI how to handle that, what most likely is out of the scope of any game. If you go with a plane, or ship-stacking like SE5, or even "limited 3D" like Imperium Galactica II (with AI absolutly unable to use it), you're doing so many assumptions about how ships move and turn, that the assumption that they could -briefly- pointed anywhere to fire at a random target seems rather minor. Remember: In space, you don't go where your bow points, but where inertia carries you (Hollywood never gets that right, they always show WW2 fighter combat ...), and turning a ship on its C.G. would require very little engine power in comparison to what you need to e.g. get out of a planets gravity well.

Placements of components should have a much bigger impact, or actually, the function of the component should have a much bigger effect on where it must be placed. (In fact, I think, SE3-5 got it almost -wrong- every time ;) ) E.g. it should be mandatory that sensors are mounted outside even the armor, unless they're fantastitech hyperspace sensors. And sublight engines must have some kind of unarmored exhaust, unless, again, you have reached inertialless gravity drives, or something. And, o.c., while armour should be a fine thing to have, it's pretty obvious that there shouldn't be a need to desintegrate every tiny bit of armor before a ship goes BOOOM ... critical hits to internals through holes shot in the armour beforehand should do that much earlier. (IIRC , SE3 got that mostly right).
What else would I like to see in space battles?
- Drifting hulks of ships that lost power (reactor), which are out of the fight, but could be salvaged by the winner. Ships breaking apart long before all their armour and internal components have been destroyed (decouple structural integrity points from components!).
- Really long-ranged long range weapons (E.g., missiles in stock SE5 are laughable: a fighter has to get there, fight, and get back, and does so over the whole battle map, while CSM barly cover the diameter of a big planet...)
- leaky and unleaky shields
- ability to retreat for both sides

jars_u March 20th, 2010 09:49 AM

Re: Ship Talk

Originally Posted by Arralen (Post 736375)
Firing arcs do not make sense unless you have a full 3D battle environment ...

or even "limited 3D"... you're doing so many assumptions about how ships move and turn

I agree a full 3D environment has great application in any space game but for the sake of playability and mod-ability if SL is to be 2d I was thinking more isometric tile sets with an oversimplified z axis so assumptions don't have to be made but obviously some liberties are taken with implementation.

Gravity and movement aside (Babylon 5 as a entertainment perspective of done "more correctly" then others perhaps) I'm thinking more akin to facing as in X-Com (Chaos Gate, Jagged Alliance) with individual units. If I picture individuals as ships from a game play not realism point of view I think it makes sense or at least could work.

Xrati March 20th, 2010 01:34 PM

Re: Ship Talk
I think if you want firing arcs, then you should play a flight sim. :) It is assumed that within the game that a ship will present it's weapons to it's target without all the micro-management of firing arcs. As both of you stated, the AI will not come close to being able to deliver a good performance in that area, leaving the game lacking abilities to be able to provide an entertainment factor. Basically, the game will suck! :shock:

Ed Kolis March 20th, 2010 03:10 PM

Re: Ship Talk
MOO2 had firing arcs, and surely it didn't suck? ;)

If we find that firing arcs prove impossible for the player or AI to manage in combat, we can certainly give all weapons the ability to fire in any direction like in SE5 - it's not set in stone :)

jars_u March 21st, 2010 11:38 AM

Re: Ship Talk
I think another applicable example of firing arcs as well as movement is from The War Engine which actually has its roots here at Shrapnel Games as WDK2K. The full game is available for free download - it had firing arc's (that in the unit editor could be defined) as well as some rules for movement and momentum that I think would translate well to ship combat (acceleration time required in order to get up to full speed/maximum number of hexes moved) as well as requiring deceleration time which would sometimes require you or allow you to plan to crash into something.

Now that I think about it I haven't seen anything in the threads debating hexes vs squares etc. any general thoughts on that?

Ed Kolis March 21st, 2010 12:16 PM

Re: Ship Talk
Perhaps because the movement system is Cartesian-vector-based (like Stars!), not hex or square sector based ;) Yeah, I know, now that everyone knows, there's gonna be a lot of complaining... :P

Note however that unlike Stars!, Star Legacy will have in-system movement as well as interstellar movement; planets and such are not "abstracted away" as they were in Stars! ;)

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