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Author Topic: Gradual map borders  (Read 14193 times)

Alex

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2013, 01:51:26 PM »

Couldn't you adjust the AI to make sure that wouldn't happen?

Like... make it respect some kind of border? :)

Seriously, if you're starting a question about the AI with "can't you just", the answer is more than likely "no", because AI stuff is rarely that simple. Also, I think you might be conflating map borders and retreat mechanics. They're related, but not the same.

I'm not sure I see "no borders" as particularly elegant, either - it's comes with too much baggage for me to consider it that, in the context of gameplay implications for Starsector. I can't comment on Final War 2, but in general different games are, well, different. The same mechanics won't necessarily work, sometimes for less-than-obvious reasons. (Does Final War 2 have you in command of a single ship? If so, that'd be the answer right there - this kind of approach would be infinitely more workable then.)

I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this - borders are definitely staying. Not because they're wonderful, but because they're a simple, workable solution to what would otherwise be a complicated problem, and - this part is admittedly subjective - don't have much in the way of downsides. (And, honestly, one might consider that to be "elegant", in some sense :))
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 01:53:14 PM by Alex »
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Gothars

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 02:26:44 PM »

Hmm. First of all, I readily grant that the dialog about whether you want to retreat is annoying :)

I'm not sure whether expanding the area where being near a border affects gameplay (i.e. via gradual pushback) is a good idea, though. The Map border isn't the kind of mechanic you really want to build on, but rather want to keep as unobtrusive as possible - it's there for housekeeping reasons, not because anyone actually wants it or is excited about it. With that in mind, I'm definitely open to suggestions for how to make it more unobtrusive.

I get that you want no involved mechanics for a necessary "evil". One could argue that you could also approach it by making the necessity a virtue instead of playing it down, but since I don't know how that would look exactly I will just shut up about it.


In practice, yeah, that dialog box is an annoyance, and being able to corner ships isn't exactly good. But, having objectives means that battles tend to take place away from borders, so the actual gameplay impact is reduced. As I mentioned earlier, I'm open to other ideas for further reducing it - without introducing other issues, though :)

How about this: If you are near the border a floating message "Press ENTER to retreat" appears (without pausing the game). Flying over the boarder without pressing the key works just like now if you click "No", it's like flying into a rubber wall. If you do press enter your ship will leave the map with the autopilot.

« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 02:40:48 PM by Gothars »
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Alex

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 02:43:44 PM »

Hmm. First of all, I readily grant that the dialog about whether you want to retreat is annoying :)

I'm not sure whether expanding the area where being near a border affects gameplay (i.e. via gradual pushback) is a good idea, though. The Map border isn't the kind of mechanic you really want to build on, but rather want to keep as unobtrusive as possible - it's there for housekeeping reasons, not because anyone actually wants it or is excited about it. With that in mind, I'm definitely open to suggestions for how to make it more unobtrusive.

I get that you want no involved mechanics for a necessary "evil". One could argue that you could also approach it by making the necessity a strength instead of playing it down, but since I don't know how that would look exactly I will just shut up about it.

Yeah, turning it into a core design element and making it into a strength is definitely another way to look at it. Both are valid, I think - as usual, there's probably no one "right way" and it's all situational. One might also argue that "turning it into a strength" is the more elegant approach...

I (also) don't see a good way to do this here, though. Ah, well - not everything is neat and tidy :)

In practice, yeah, that dialog box is an annoyance, and being able to corner ships isn't exactly good. But, having objectives means that battles tend to take place away from borders, so the actual gameplay impact is reduced. As I mentioned earlier, I'm open to other ideas for further reducing it - without introducing other issues, though :)

How about this: If you are near the border a floating message "Press ENTER to retreat" appears (without pausing the game). Flying over the boarder without pressing the key works just like now if you click "No", it's like flying into a rubber wall. If you do press enter your ship will leave the map with the autopilot.

Love it! Added to the todo list.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 02:49:26 PM by Alex »
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Sordid

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2013, 02:53:54 PM »

Like... make it respect some kind of border? :)

No, make it try and not get separated and driven apart. If a ship is being driven away from its allies, shift its priority from "avoid enemy fire" and "keep a distance from enemy capital ships" to "get back to fleet" and have it make a dash for it, try to break through and re-join allied forces.
I appreciate the fact that making AI is difficult and complicated, but you've done an amazing job of it so far. I have a hard time believing that preventing AI controlled ships from drifting away from each other in small skirmishes would be such a big problem.

Quote
Also, I think you might be conflating map borders and retreat mechanics. They're related, but not the same.

I'm not conflating them, they are the same. As soon as an AI ship passes the border, it's gone from the battle. The map border is the retreat mechanic. The simplest and therefore most boring one possible.

Quote
I'm not sure I see "no borders" as particularly elegant, either - it's comes with too much baggage for me to consider it that, in the context of gameplay implications for Starsector. I can't comment on Final War 2, but in general different games are, well, different. The same mechanics won't necessarily work, sometimes for less-than-obvious reasons. (Does Final War 2 have you in command of a single ship? If so, that'd be the answer right there - this kind of approach would be infinitely more workable then.)

You control only one ship, yes, but you can have many on both sides of the fight. Maybe you should try the game first before you declare that it wouldn't work in Starfarer. I think there's a lot in that game that would work beautifully in Starfarer. You said crossing the borders was basically equivalent to a ship firing its travel drive. Well, why can't we have that? FW2 has warp drive. That would neatly solve the problem of small skirmishes drifting away from each other, for one thing. Too far to quickly rejoin battle? Engage travel drive, you're there in seconds. Heck, in FW2 you can even do battle while at warp. It's a much more free-form and open combat experience than Starfarers constrictive, bordered battlefields.

Quote
I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this - borders are definitely staying. Not because they're wonderful, but because they're a simple, workable solution to what would otherwise be a complicated problem, and - this part is admittedly subjective - don't have much in the way of downsides. (And, honestly, one might consider that to be "elegant", in some sense :))

It's your game, you can make it however you damn well please. I'm just disappointed that you're apparently firmly determined to go with a simple solution rather than an interesting one.
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Gothars

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2013, 03:22:34 PM »

Love it! Added to the todo list.

Hussah! I did good. Tomorrow steak.


Yeah, turning it into a core design element and making it into a strength is definitely another way to look at it. Both are valid, I think - as usual, there's probably no one "right way" and it's all situational. One might also argue that "turning it into a strength" is the more elegant approach...

I (also) don't see a good way to do this here, though. Ah, well - not everything is neat and tidy :)

I have some vague ideas floating in my head about being able to enter from another border after retreating - so you would make the border mechanic into a opportunity for tactical maneuvering with the FTL drive. Will report back if I can work that into something sensible if you are interested.



@ Sordid: I see where you are coming from and I was thinking about borderless engagements for some time myself. I think it might turn out great and it might have the potential to work better than borders. But it would require a whole lot of time and effort to clear this "mights" up (with unclear outcome), I'd rather have that time spend on campaign progression which is sure to improve the game drastically.
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Alex

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2013, 03:46:22 PM »

Quote
Also, I think you might be conflating map borders and retreat mechanics. They're related, but not the same.

I'm not conflating them, they are the same. As soon as an AI ship passes the border, it's gone from the battle. The map border is the retreat mechanic. The simplest and therefore most boring one possible.

Borders also keep the entire battle in the same area, play a part in the deployment mechanics, and probably do a few other things. You could have an entirely different retreat mechanic - or no retreat mechanic at all - and still have map borders. Also, in general terms: simple doesn't automatically mean boring, and complex doesn't automatically mean interesting. Anyway, I'd rather not argue semantics...

I think the real difference of opinion here is how we both feel about "no borders". My feeling on it is somewhere between "maybe nice to have" and "meh", and yours is I think a lot more favorable towards it :)

Hussah! I did good. Tomorrow steak.

Whoa there! Need at least 3 more suggestions for that.

I have some vague ideas floating in my head about being able to enter from another border after retreating - so you would make the border mechanic into a opportunity for tactical maneuvering with the FTL drive. Will report back if I can work that into something sensible if you are interested.

Hmm. If you think you have something interesting - sure. My gut reaction to this is it might be more interesting on paper than in action, but that doesn't mean anything :) Besides, you never know what kind of chain reaction it's going to set off. Been quite a few times when a suggestion indirectly resulted in some changes by triggering related ideas - which is part of the reason I really like to read through as much of the suggestion forum as possible, even when the initial suggestion doesn't quite seem workable as-is.

I *am* in the process of a fairly major rework of how a lot of this works, though (oddly enough, it does involve the potential for deployment from the sides). Will probably write a blog post about it - either when I'm more sure of how it plays, or do a two-part "this is what I'm thinking" and "this is how it actually came out" series. Not too sure about whether the latter is a good idea.

@ Sordid: I see where you are coming from and I was thinking about borderless engagements for some time myself. I think it might turn out great and it might have the potential to work better than borders. But it would require a whole lot of time and effort to clear this "mights" up (with unclear outcome), I'd rather have that time spend on campaign progression which is sure to improve the game drastically.

Just out of curiosity (since, again, that's not going to go anywhere), what's the upside here? All I see is a minor feel improvement, offset, like you said, by a lot of "mights" - which could probably be accomplished by better keeping the combat away from borders (via objectives and aforementioned AI tweaks).
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 03:49:36 PM by Alex »
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Sordid

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2013, 04:32:36 PM »

I think the real difference of opinion here is how we both feel about "no borders". My feeling on it is somewhere between "maybe nice to have" and "meh", and yours is I think a lot more favorable towards it :)

Well yeah, because I've experienced a very similar game that didn't have that limitation. I assure you the difference in feel is not minor at all. It's a bit hard to explain, but it's kinda like the difference between Duke 3D and Duke Nukem Forever. Big, non-linear levels versus linear corridors. Not the same thing, but the difference in feel is similar.

@ Sordid: I see where you are coming from and I was thinking about borderless engagements for some time myself. I think it might turn out great and it might have the potential to work better than borders. But it would require a whole lot of time and effort to clear this "mights" up (with unclear outcome), I'd rather have that time spend on campaign progression which is sure to improve the game drastically.

This is eerily similar to the development of Mount&Blade, come to think of it. That's a very similar game, you have a map with groups of troops moving around and when you meet an enemy, you go to a battle mode while the overworld is paused. It's also highly moddable, like Starfarer. Starfarer now reminds me a lot of M&B right around version 0.7 or so. By that point they had decent battle gameplay, so they switched their attention from that to developing the campaign, putting more towns on the map, fleshing out the factions, etc. As a result, the battles remained flawed. They take place on relatively small maps bordered by invisible walls. And much like in Starfarer it's very difficult to tell when you're about to run into those walls. You get nonsense like clumps of troops all pressed up against the wall. The AI is almost non-existent and soldiers and horses can somehow stand on sheer cliff faces. I could go on. Nevertheless it was deemed good enough.

Thing is, all that work they spent on the campaign? Nobody gives a damn, the most popular mods that everyone plays ended up overhauling all of that anyway. But the battles? Mods can't do anything about those, they're hard-coded. So now years and years down the line we have amazing mods that add incredible things to the campaign, but the battles are still the same as they were back in 0.7. M&B would have been a better game had the devs focused more on improving things only they could improve and less on things the community can do for itself.

I would love nothing more than for Starfarer to avoid that fate. It doesn't matter how elaborate you make the campaign, what factions you put in, how many ships, etc, the community's going to outdo you anyway. Focus on things the community won't be able to improve, make those as good as you can. Not just good enough.
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Wyvern

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2013, 04:47:30 PM »

I *am* in the process of a fairly major rework of how a lot of this works, though (oddly enough, it does involve the potential for deployment from the sides). Will probably write a blog post about it - either when I'm more sure of how it plays, or do a two-part "this is what I'm thinking" and "this is how it actually came out" series. Not too sure about whether the latter is a good idea.

Personally, I'd prefer the latter - I'm always interested in what changes, what doesn't work, etc, as well as what actually ends up going into the game.  Doesn't make it necessarily a good idea - there are certainly people who'll manage to overreact to stuff that ends up not in the game - but I'd certainly appreciate it.

* * *

On topic, I'm also in favor of doing something - though I'm not sure what - about the current state of map borders.  I tend to fly solo ships, so I frequently get maps with no objectives at all.  And even on maps with objectives, I'll sometimes need to abandon them simply to prevent my opponent from flanking me - which means, yes, kiting, which in turn means I run into map borders all the time.  Which, at the moment, is not just a tactical annoyance, it's also seriously immersion-breaking.

I think my main suggestion would be, if we must have borders, work them into the lore somehow.  Maybe combat occurs primarily in subspace bubbles with sharply curved space-time near the edges - go with a repulsive force & constant nebula near the edges and a battlefield that's built out of circle-y bits around each nav point, using a 2-D analogue of metaballs.

Or perhaps combat occurs in stabilized hyperspace vortices with a toroidal topology - i.e. there aren't any "borders" as such because flying far enough south brings you back onto the map from the north, and east likewise connects to west.

Or whatever ends up working.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 04:54:44 PM by Wyvern »
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Alex

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2013, 05:31:35 PM »

@Sordid: But, we're not talking about purely adding campaign content - there are also features. A mod is not going to be able to add hyperspace, multiple star systems, dialog with other characters, or UI support for any number of features that may be mechanically feasible but really need it to shine. Conversely, it's quite possible to simulate borderless maps with a mod (I don't want to get into the technical details too much, but you could make the maps *much* larger, move ships around, etc).


@Wyvern: Hmm. I think the solution there might be to reduce the kiting capacity of certain ships (in addition to perhaps making some of the maps a bit bigger). Possibly by making the AI better about recognizing when it's being kited, and backing off in some form of cooperation with nearby ships.

A few builds ago - before the flanking behavior, when stuff tended to make a beeline for you on the initial approach - simply backpedaling was a very good (and boring) tactic. Flanking behavior addresses that somewhat, but I suspect you're running into the same issue by combining a lot of speed-improving hull mods and skills to where it's again very viable. I think that's whats ultimately the culprit in this case.

I suspect that if there *was* no border, just backpedaling and sniping things off would still be a fairly unengaging way to play. Hmm - now, I wonder if say halving the top speed you can achieve by pressing 'D' might not be an interesting thing to try here. But boy oh boy, would that ever break the AI.
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Wyvern

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2013, 05:45:02 PM »

To some extent it's not even kiting necessarily - against medium-sized enemy fleets, I'll often start off by heading left or right, then roll up the enemy fleet as they get in range; even if my ship is slower than what I'm fighting, that still gives me a strong ability to engage the enemy piecemeal.  Heading straight ahead is - unless you really have overwhelming firepower - stupid; that's just asking to get flanked and have to fight everything at once.  But going any other direction means map borders are likely to be an issue.

When I do have an actually faster ship, which I prefer to do, well... then it's simply good sense to engage a ship or two at a time, staying out of range of most of the opponent's fleet. And there will always be a fastest ship; reducing the kiting capacity of certain ships will just make me pick a new flagship to prefer.  Right now, the Apogee is my favorite, but I could easily go back to an Aurora, or a Sunder or Medusa or even a Hyperion, Omen, or Tempest.  Plus, skills - get enough skills (oddly, mostly tech skills - the percentage speed increase from combat only makes much difference if the ship was reasonably nimble to start with), and almost anything can put on some decent speed.
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Histidine

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2013, 05:59:38 PM »

Personally, I'd be happy with any solution that makes ships not successfully retreat while I'm still firing on them from point-blank range. (Travel drive, schmavel drive! Why can't ships activate travel drive before reaching the border, and why can't I just travel drive after the retreating enemy?  :()

But I'm perfectly happy to wait and see what you come up with, Alex  :)

Borderless design
(just brainstorming here, I don't expect an implementation or anything)

I can think of a number of solutions to the issue of combatants drifting away from the center and not being able to rejoin the fight quickly (or at all):
  • Warp drive
  • Slow down ships too far from the center, to limit how far they can drift away
  • Increase zero flux speed boost for ships that have been moving in a straight line for a while; remove if ship turns or gets too close to an enemy
The first two have immersion problems of their own, though. Why can't I warp drive on top of the objective? Why does my ship magically slow down?

As for the spawning/retreat mechanic, how about something like this?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 06:03:35 PM by Histidine »
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zakastra

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2013, 12:52:23 AM »

While im quite happy for borders to exist on the battlefield, and love the "Press enter to retreat" mechanic proposed here, I really hate the rubberband mechanic that bounces you back onto the battlefield. Its very jarring and abrupt in a game which otherwise has very fluid movement and mechanics and can easily get you killed (I lost a hyperion once to being thrown into a pair of torpedos which would have quite happily skimmed past my rear, otherwise)

I would propose handling border transitions like this :

At about 750 unit from map edge (figures subject to balancing) : Prompt the "Press Enter to Retreat" if enter is pressed the ship assumes auto pilot control and coasts off-map.

otherwise at 500-100 units from edge Reduce the percentage of speed that a ship can travel in the direction of the edge at an exponential rate the closer the ship gets to the border. Movement parralel to and away form the border would remain unaffected. This would make it clear that there is a hard boundary, but suggests it more gently and should be much less likely to cause catastrophic damage

It would be nice if the same rules applied to the AI  as well (when manouvering not fleeing) Cheeky wasp wings flying off boundaries and coming up behing my cruisers are very annoyign when I can't do the same.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 01:09:18 AM by zakastra »
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Gothars

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2013, 02:01:28 AM »

Just out of curiosity (since, again, that's not going to go anywhere), what's the upside here? All I see is a minor feel improvement, offset, like you said, by a lot of "mights" - which could probably be accomplished by better keeping the combat away from borders (via objectives and aforementioned AI tweaks).

Well, since you asked:
(I'm sorry this reads a bit like a "what is bad about borders" list instead of "what is good about no borders", but those are very similar)


Immersion - There are no borders in space, so they are a very obvious game mechanic, not even with a lore explanation I'm aware of. A borderless map would feel natural.

Influence on gameplay - Cornering enemies, being unable to fly backwards, being unable to flank or get behind an enemy... those are all unnatural obstructions introduced by borders.

Escape mechanic - A slow ship escapes from much faster ships by the crossing of an arbitrary line. That makes no sense. Travel drives which a suddenly online after crossing the line don't make sense either.

The necessity of post battle capturing / damaging mechanics - The battle goes on after you left the battle? All you have done might become irrelevant because of a dice roll? That's a pretty critical intrusion on the players (striven for) sovereignty over events. If there are no borders nothing can happen behind those (non-existing) borders, you get exactly what you see.

Connection between combat and campaign layer - Since the maps and ship positions are fixed, there's nothing to connect these two but the fleet composition. I think a tight connection between layers is critical to archive a seamless, coherent game experience. The last thing you'd want is making two games. Basing the combat map on the campaign environment would be half the rent, but since there are no borders on the campaign this is limited for maps with borders. The other half would be to take ship position, velocity and travel vector into account.


Just for fun I scribbled what a border free combat system might look like, as seen from the command interface. Obviously there are all kinds of details that would have to be addressed, it's just to get an impression. I only wrote down half of it, if something is unclear, ask. Huge, ugly pictures incoming:

Spoiler
1) You have the ability to determine a formation your fleet should travel in on the campaign layer. Simple drag & drop handling, maybe it could replace the current fleet screen. The formation determines where and in what order ships enter battle. Ships are very far apart due to collision danger/ travel drive properties.


2) Transition between campaign and combat would appear seamless, the camera zooms in when you touch the bubble of another fleet.



3) The two bubbles merge and form the combat area.  The ships enter it with travel mode which they can turn off but don't have to.  Ships in travel mode (orange exhaust) are extremely vulnerable, sluggish and cannot turn off their drives without delay. Their sensor range is drastically reduced. Features of the campaign layer can be found on the combat map.

Spoiler
[close]


4) The enemy and any stationary objectives are not visible. Only the general direction of the greatest enemy concentration can be detected with long range sensors. Thus scouting is important, it is possible to enter with big ships first but they would fly blind.

Spoiler
[close]


5) The battle expands. Ships that leave the designated combat area start to enlarge it. Further reinforcements can use their travel drives to get close to the battle since they have sensor data from allies.

Spoiler
[close]



6) A skirmish that strays too far from the main battle gets a separate bubble.

Spoiler
[close]


7) After one of the parties in a bubble has been defeated it transforms back into a travel bubble. Ships in it a recommended to engage the travel drive (starts faster in here) and head back to the main battle.

Spoiler
[close]

8 ) The inferior enemy starts to retreat. The cruiser holds back pursuers while the hammerhead turns and activates the travel drive. Further reinforcements turn around before arriving on the battlefield.

Spoiler
[close]

9) The heroic cruiser continues to hold of pursuers while its allies escape. Without that protection it would be very dangerous to go to travel mode, it takes time during which a ship is very vulnerable. Alternatives would be to get outside the enemy sensor range or maybe hide in some nebula before activating it.

Spoiler
[close]

10) The cruiser is history and the two fleets are in their own bubbles again. The camera starts to zoom out into the campaign map

Spoiler
[close]

11) The view returns to the normal campaign map, the controls return to point&click. Distance that has been traveled in battle has been traveled on the campaign layer.

[close]

In conclusion, I think borderless combat can work and it can be great, but it would require enormous changes at the campaign layer as well. If I had been around when you started drafting the combat mechanic I might have pushed for it, but now its best to improve upon the border mechanic we have and make it as unobstructive as possible. And it's not as if it had no advantages about borderless.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 02:21:41 AM by Gothars »
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LaughingSmirk

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2013, 02:29:37 AM »

Just out of curiosity (since, again, that's not going to go anywhere), what's the upside here? All I see is a minor feel improvement, offset, like you said, by a lot of "mights" - which could probably be accomplished by better keeping the combat away from borders (via objectives and aforementioned AI tweaks).

Well, since you asked:
(I'm sorry this reads a bit like a "what is bad about borders" list instead of "what is good about no borders", but those are very similar)


Immersion - There are no borders in space, so they are a very obvious game mechanic, not even with a lore explanation I'm aware of. A borderless map would feel natural.

Influence on gameplay - Cornering enemies, being unable to fly backwards, being unable to flank or get behind an enemy... those are all unnatural obstructions introduced by borders.

Escape mechanic - A slow ship escapes from much faster ships by the crossing of an arbitrary line. That makes no sense. Travel drives which a suddenly online after crossing the line don't make sense either.

The necessity of post battle capturing / damaging mechanics - The battle goes on after you left the battle? All you have done might become irrelevant because of a dice roll? That's a pretty critical intrusion on the players (striven for) sovereignty over events. If there are no borders nothing can happen behind those (non-existing) borders, you get exactly what you see.

Connection between combat and campaign layer - Since the maps and ship positions are fixed, there's nothing to connect these two but the fleet composition. I think a tight connection between layers is critical to archive a seamless, coherent game experience. The last thing you'd want is making two games. Basing the combat map on the campaign environment would be half the rent, but since there are no borders on the campaign this is limited for maps with borders. The other half would be to take ship position, velocity and travel vector into account.


Just for fun I scribbled what a border free combat system might look like, as seen from the command interface. Obviously there are all kinds of details that would have to be addressed, it's just to get an impression. I only wrote down half of it, if something is unclear, ask. Huge, ugly pictures incoming:

Spoiler
1) You have the ability to determine a formation your fleet should travel in on the campaign layer. Simple drag & drop handling, maybe it could replace the current fleet screen. The formation determines where and in what order ships enter battle. Ships are very far apart due to collision danger/ travel drive properties.


2) Transition between campaign and combat would appear seamless, the camera zooms in when you touch the bubble of another fleet.



3) The two bubbles merge and form the combat area.  The ships enter it with travel mode which they can turn off but don't have to.  Ships in travel mode (orange exhaust) are extremely vulnerable, sluggish and cannot turn off their drives without delay. Their sensor range is drastically reduced. Features of the campaign layer can be found on the combat map.

Spoiler
[close]


4) The enemy and any stationary objectives are not visible. Only the general direction of the greatest enemy concentration can be detected with long range sensors. Thus scouting is important, it is possible to enter with big ships first but they would fly blind.

Spoiler
[close]


5) The battle expands. Ships that leave the designated combat area start to enlarge it. Further reinforcements can use their travel drives to get close to the battle since they have sensor data from allies.

Spoiler
[close]



6) A skirmish that strays too far from the main battle gets a separate bubble.

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7) After one of the parties in a bubble has been defeated it transforms back into a travel bubble. Ships in it a recommended to engage the travel drive (starts faster in here) and head back to the main battle.

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8 ) The inferior enemy starts to retreat. The cruiser holds back pursuers while the hammerhead turns and activates the travel drive. Further reinforcements turn around before arriving on the battlefield.

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9) The heroic cruiser continues to hold of pursuers while its allies escape. Without that protection it would be very dangerous to go to travel mode, it takes time during which a ship is very vulnerable. Alternatives would be to get outside the enemy sensor range or maybe hide in some nebula before activating it.

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10) The cruiser is history and the two fleets are in their own bubbles again. The camera starts to zoom out into the campaign map

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11) The view returns to the normal campaign map, the controls return to point&click. Distance that has been traveled in battle has been traveled on the campaign layer.

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In conclusion, I think borderless combat can work and it can be great, but it would require enormous changes at the campaign layer as well. If I had been around when you started drafting the combat mechanic I might have pushed for it, but now its best to improve upon the border mechanic we have and make it as unobstructive as possible. And it's not as if it had no advantages about borderless.
i get exactly what you mean, and understand the reasons why, but if we take your last point that means that all these 'terrains' need to be spawned into the world and if you for example fight over the Sun you would be fighting over a bloody sun (YAY) I can see it working but I am sure it won't be that easy to do, you must also remember not everyone has beasts of computers that can randomly load up terrains then save and load them up again (even though this is a relatively small issue).

Well i wrote alot and most of it probably is babble, now try and work what I mean out :)
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Alex

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Re: Gradual map borders
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2013, 09:55:33 AM »

It would be nice if the same rules applied to the AI  as well (when manouvering not fleeing) Cheeky wasp wings flying off boundaries and coming up behing my cruisers are very annoyign when I can't do the same.

Ah - the same rules do apply - they just don't apply to fighters, on either side.


(I'm sorry this reads a bit like a "what is bad about borders" list instead of "what is good about no borders", but those are very similar)

Funny you should mention that. I think it'd be more accurate to say "here is what's bad about the *current implementation* of borders", though.

Immersion - There are no borders in space, so they are a very obvious game mechanic, not even with a lore explanation I'm aware of. A borderless map would feel natural.

Right, fair enough.

Influence on gameplay - Cornering enemies, being unable to fly backwards, being unable to flank or get behind an enemy... those are all unnatural obstructions introduced by borders.

Hmm. I haven't spent too much time making sure borders don't intrude - I suspect a day or so spent working on the AI to respect a wider buffer zone in a natural way might help here. It already does this to an extent, it's just not particularly good at it.

Escape mechanic - A slow ship escapes from much faster ships by the crossing of an arbitrary line. That makes no sense. Travel drives which a suddenly online after crossing the line don't make sense either.
The necessity of post battle capturing / damaging mechanics - The battle goes on after you left the battle? All you have done might become irrelevant because of a dice roll? That's a pretty critical intrusion on the players (striven for) sovereignty over events. If there are no borders nothing can happen behind those (non-existing) borders, you get exactly what you see.

Both of these should be pretty much addressed with the new approach. Well, the escape mechanic is still border-related, but I think it'll feel much more natural (have to see how it works out in practice, of course.)

Connection between combat and campaign layer - Since the maps and ship positions are fixed, there's nothing to connect these two but the fleet composition. I think a tight connection between layers is critical to archive a seamless, coherent game experience. The last thing you'd want is making two games. Basing the combat map on the campaign environment would be half the rent, but since there are no borders on the campaign this is limited for maps with borders. The other half would be to take ship position, velocity and travel vector into account.

Another interesting point. These changes to battle mechanics are actually driven by the need to connect the combat and campaign layers (to enable certain top-secret campaign features), but I think we're thinking of that connection in very different ways. They really are two different games, and I think trying to make them share some surface similarities (such as relative scale, positions of things, etc) would be a mistake. Better, imo, to make the connection stronger with more core mechanics that are actually designed to work across the layers - rather than trying to make scale and positioning work in both layers.

One of the more difficult things to get right is overall feel, and it very much depends on things like distances, speeds, acceleration/turn rate, sizes of ships relative to the distances they traverse, and other such... maybe not intangibles, but things that tend to get taken for granted when they are actually something that took a very long time to tune. I think that trying to make these kinds of things work across two layers with very different mechanical requirements in each would not meet with much success - it's hard enough to make them all work together within the one layer.
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