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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: Of Slipstreams and Sensor Ghosts (09/24/21)

Author Topic: Managing Detachments  (Read 1229 times)


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Managing Detachments
« on: October 17, 2017, 07:00:04 PM »

In the early game, we start with a couple ships and by mid game have a respectable fleet. Outposts will start in the mid game, and grow into the late game. There's a distinct lack of overlap between the two. I believe it can be filled by a system for managing fleets. For clarity, I will call them detachments.

The player can only create detachments at a base. Every detachment must have an officer to command it. Rather than create a detachment then give it missions, the player must select a mission then form a detachment from their available ships. Once the detachment meets the requirements of the mission, it can be dispatched. When the mission is completed or cannot be completed, the detachment returns to its base.

When a mission ends one way or another, a mission report is sent to the player.

While one-and-done missions can work, many missions for detachments should be continual: when the mission ends successfully, it restarts with the same detachment.

While there are a lot more details required to make it work, the above is the core of the system.

Below is the legion of various details I've accumulated while thinking about this.
Bases serve as the barrier to entering this mode of play.

That said, founding an entire colony shouldn't be the only way to get a base. I believe the new market structures system could be used to allow the player to buy, build, or acquire a base on an existing market.

There could be different kinds of bases that offer different benefits to different activities. Maybe the player's first base is a "headquarters" or something.

I assume all bases will be at markets, though I guess that doesn't have to be the case.

Missions are the bread and butter of this system. I focused on trade missions while thinking this out since they provide clear benefits and dangers.

The continual form of a procurement mission could be called a supply contract. There's a maxim about making money on each leg of a journey, so supply contracts could come in three versions: standard, one-way, and triangular.

 - The standard version has the player's detachment carry a cargo to both the destination and back to its base. The pay for each delivery is awarded seperately.

 - The one-way version is like a procurement mission, except continual. It can be to or from the destination market.

 - The triangular version sends the player's detachment to two markets in turn before it returns to its base market. The detachment carries a cargo on each leg. Like the standard supply contract, the player is paid for each delivery seperately.

Every mission involves ships going somewhere, and that means fuel and supplies. I think the player should be forced to pay for a minimum amount of fuel and supplies up front as part of the requirements for sending a detachment on a mission. Like all AI fleets, the detachment won't track fuel and supplies while its travelling, so I guess lore-wise anything extra comes out of the commander's pay!

For missions that involve cargo, the fuel and supplies should count against the detachment's available cargo. Logically, the detachment would only need to carry enough for the longest leg of its journey. Waystations could count for reducing the length of a leg.

Setting up for a trade mission is a prime opportunity to introduce mercenaries to the game. The player could hire mercenaries to join their detachment for the course of the mission, for a price of course. On the other hand, the player doesn't lose anything if a mercenary gets blown up.

On the flip side, mercenary escort missions could be available to the player, too. The player's detachment would be part of an AI fleet that launches once you confirm the mission. If the AI fleet went to another market and disappeared like mercantile convoys do, the player's detachment would reappear in its own fleet and fly back home.

When a detachment loses ships, the estimated cost to replace them would appear in the mission report. Similarly, "protection" money paid to - and a percent of bounties paid on - pirates would appear in the mission report.

I mentioned missions might not be completed earlier. For example, if a detachment on a procurement contract lost so many ships that it didn't have enough cargo capacity to finish the mission, the mission would fail and the detachment would return to its base. Whether the failed mission would disappear or appear in the available missions list again, I don't know.

A detachment could be destroyed completely. If it is in FTL relay range or visible to the player, the mission report would post immediately, but if a detachment is destroyed far away by itself then it is only noted by the game. Ater enough time a mission report posts stating the detachment has "disappeared".

I think the player would not appreciate having to travel to each base to assign missions there, I know I wouldn't. The solution is obvious: a screen where the player can manage all their bases and detachments. I don't remember if it takes time for FTL relays to send messages to each other, but if so mission reports and the player's remote orders could take time to travel back and forth.

Couriers (abstract or not) could link remote bases to the relay network. They wouldn't let the player issue remote orders or receive mission reports while far from a relay or base, though. No, splitting off a ship from the player's fleet as a courier is not okay; we covered that in the second paragraph up at the top.

Stuff like smuggling would probably require special mechanics, but I have no idea about that. Alright, THE END!