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Author Topic: System map and navigation thoughts  (Read 3830 times)

Mystic

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System map and navigation thoughts
« on: February 12, 2015, 01:50:26 PM »

I am just now finally getting into the full game mode of Starsector.  I have read herein that the current system navigation map and paradigms are not what are planned for the final release, but nonetheless I want to contribute a thought on the map and the system navigation experience as they currently exist.

The biggest issue I am having with the system map and navigation within it in its current state is that everything is all about a speed advantage.  If you've got it, you can force encounters or escape from potential encounters almost at will, while if you don't have speed, your ability to create an encounter or escape from one is virtually nil.  The biggest contributor to this is the fact that you can see everyone in the system ... and they, based upon how they react to your presence, can always see you too.  There is absolutely no possibility of surprising an opponent.

To that end, I'd like to suggest that engine use should be made a direct and major contributor to the range at which a fleet can be detected.  In other words, a fleet that stops dead in space is assumed to have shut down its engines to "lay in wait" (a.k.a. "lying doggo") for passersby and as a result have their emissions drop to the point where said passersby may not be able to detect the ambushing fleet until it is nearly or entirely too late to escape the encounter, even if they are faster than the ships that were lying in wait.

What would be the penalties for lying doggo with engines shut down?  Well, first off, you have to have picked just the right spot to shut down if you want to be in a position to force an encounter.  Then, if you are detected at a little greater range in spite of that, it takes you a little bit of time to get your engines up and running again, meaning that you get a slow start in trying to chase down your alerted prey, giving them greater time to escape (even if you have faster ships) that they would if you were already in motion.  And of course the same applies if a powerful enemy fleet shows up to hunt you ... it will be harder to get away from them than if your engines were already fully up and running.  Then you have to make a choice: will that oncoming enemy fleet fly right by me without detecting me if I continue lying doggo, or do I light off my drives now and give away my presence in an effort to escape before they get too close?

I believe that a few mechanics like this to affect detection ranges based upon a fleet's activities could contribute to a much more involving experience while navigating in the system map.

(My apologies if stuff like this is already on the drawing boards, but all I have read here thus far is something about the idea of detection ranges that are based on fleet size or available technology ... nothing about detection ranges that vary based upon a fleet's activities.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2015, 03:19:38 PM by Mystic »
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Cosmitz

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2015, 04:26:38 PM »

You're very right. The galaxy/system map gameplay atm IS about speed. There are some mechanics related to modifying speed but they're not a serious factor most times.

Also, you're right. A stealth system would really beef the gameplay availible on the map a lot. As would almost anything else since out of the whole game, minus relay tapping and smugglers switching allegiances there really isn't anything that 'plays with you' on the galaxy map.
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SafariJohn

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2015, 05:29:25 PM »

If burn speed had an effect on visibility or whatever, then the simplest way to allow easy control over it in the UI would be to make the current Burn speed UI interactable. Just click, drag, etc. to pick what speed you want. Want to go 2? Click on the second bar.
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Toxcity

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2015, 06:14:42 PM »

+1 to this idea. It'd be pretty cool if you could 'hide' on the map and intercept overlapping fleets.

I think having greater control over engine speed would be nice too. Like you could slow down to decrease overall fuel usage, or speed up but, have increased fuel usage. Would certainly help traveling to and fro systems, and give more reason to use tankers.
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TrashMan

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2015, 04:55:08 AM »

It kinda makes sense that mobility lets you dictate the engagement. It's true in RL too.

What you COULD do is have an upgrade that grants a one-time massive interception speed boost (engine booster/booster rockets) to an ambushing ship.
That will make it possible for slower fleet to stage ambushes
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Uomoz

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2015, 06:28:50 AM »

I reached the same conclusion about this. Good burn speed makes the game kind of boring on both sides. Either you are the one with speed advantage and the AI can't do anything about it (they can't chase or run away) and the encounters are always determined b whatever the player wants to do (which I find kind of boring) or the player is so slow that can't run and can't chase anything. My idea is that the game needs lees information available to the player AKA stealth rules for map moving, sensor range, hidden burn enemy speed, hidden shiptypes etc.
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icepick37

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2015, 06:46:25 AM »

It's not really supposed to be super fun, though. It's the over game. You move around n' stuff. I kind of feel like this will be a non issue as there is more and more to do outside of combat.

"sensor range, hidden burn enemy speed"

You are basically sensor limited to the screen size, and hidden burn speed would take it from boring back to the tedium of chasing someone around for a while before having to give up. Maybe in combination with other mechanics that would work, though.
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Midnight Kitsune

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2015, 05:54:30 PM »

What you COULD do is have an upgrade that grants a one-time massive interception speed boost (engine booster/booster rockets) to an ambushing ship.
That will make it possible for slower fleet to stage ambushes
I LOVE this idea!
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TJJ

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2015, 03:48:31 AM »

Perhaps if speed were not strictly limited, and was instead a function of fuel/supplies consumption efficiency (like the classic 4x game "Stars!").

You'd then be able to have piracy fleets that sacrificed range for the ability to intercept faster trade fleets (who are journeying further, so cannot afford to waste fuel travelling quickly)

Kind of why the Enterprise didn't cruise around at warp 9.8 all the time - too inefficient.
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nomadic_leader

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2015, 05:32:36 AM »

My idea is that the game needs lees information available to the player AKA stealth rules for map moving, sensor range, hidden burn enemy speed, hidden shiptypes etc.


This and the OP are so true, and it goes much deeper into the entire game than just the map.  I've got a few suggestions to throw up/out

Issue: Omniscience on the map makes combat grindingly predictable, and makes many other aspects of the game rote.

Since you know exact enemy fleet composition/numbers, you know exactly what to deploy. In real war you usually need a forces ratio of 3:1 for assured victory in order to beat the odds and unknown enemy dispositions. In SS you need a ratio of about 1.1:1 since you know everything ahead of time. Thus combat becomes rote and predictable. See target X, deploy Y.

Solution: Limited info on the map (fog) +  mix of sensor/stealth skills, Hull upgrades, and specialized ships (e.g. AWACS) for both player and AI.

Changes to map:
The map displays fleets incompletely in some conditions
  • Incorrect number of ships (within reason)
  • Only as ships' size, not class
  • Mask fleet faction at distance
  • At worst, entire fleet is a question mark, or entirely invisible
  • Mouseover fogged fleet shows question mark, vague shapes, or different sizes, etc.
  • Map shows  fogged fleets as different sized lightspecks/engine glows.

This might be affected by following conditions:
  • Distance from detecting to detected fleet
  • Local EMR emitters/absorbers such as nebula, black holes, etc.
  • detecting fleet sensor skill
  • detected fleet stealth skill
  • various sensor and stealth upgrades in both fleets
  • presence of AWACs or jamming ships in both fleets
How it might be fun:
Spoiler
Players could choose to invest in AWACs ships and sensor skill/upgrades to get something like the information we get now; stealth skills/upgrades/ships to deny the enemy some information, or just lots more ships to compensate for not knowing what you're fighting.

Different factions could also take different approaches to this problem in their fleets, further differentiating them.

You could take a capital ship and apply a stealth hull coating upgrade to it, compromising armor but preventing enemy fleets from seeing if it's an Atlas or a Conquest

In the early game weak players might stick close to friendly space. Tension would be added to daring, lucrative trade runs in unstable systems.
[close]


Applicability to combat:
  • Increase/decrease sensor range and visibility radii of friendly/enemy ships with skills/upgrades & AWACs ships
  • Affect friendly/enemy missile guidance via skills/upgrades/jamming ships

How it might be fun:
Spoiler
You could deploy a fragile, expensive AWACs ship to combat and have it roam the edges of the map- either making one large visibility bubble or extending the visibility bubble of all your ships.

You could upgrade some fast frigates to have very low visibility radii and then use them to surprise attack.
[close]


Applicability to player/faction relationships:
  • Chance of faction detecting/punishing attacks against them depends on stealth skills, hullmods, or distress call jamming ship
  • Trade & blackmarket related offense detection depends on stealth skills.

How it might be fun:
Spoiler
Pirate players could upgrade skills that let them plunder with increased (albiet not always total) impunity from rep hits. (Lore explanation: false flag tech) Or have jamming ships in the fleet (that would 'block' any distress signals, so faction never learns of crime).

Smugglers could upgrade "business stealth" skill to sell blackmarket goods or flood markets and get less punishment. (Lore explanation: computer hacking, fake identities, shell companies, bribery, etc)
[close]


Applicability to exploration metagame
Planets etc could also be invisible until discovered by the player, making 'exploration' playstyle more rewarding. Though lorewise you'd think everyone would have a map; gameplay wise it is fun- cf. Escape Velocity et al.

How it might be fun:
Spoiler
-Players could follow trader fleets to discover new markets, or roam empty space to discover secret bases.
-Modders could implement exploration based scenarios
[close]

Quick breakdown of hypothetical new skill/aptitudes: (Some might be put into combat aptitude, etc, just suggestions)
Aptitude: Sensors
Skills:
-Long range sensing: Fleet Detection range on map, fleet ship sizes and numbers
-Astronavigation: Planet detection range, cancel out nebulae on campaign map, etc
-IFF, enemy ship class breakdowns
-Combat sensors- combat viz radii, missile guidance, etc?

Aptitude: Stealth
Skills:
-Block your IFF signature and fleet composition until close to enemy
-Stealth navigation- Reduce range of other fleets detecting your fleet on map
-Stealth in combat: Reduce range your ships are detected at in combat.
-Identity Masking- reduce punishment for attacking faction ships
-Market manipulation: use hacking/intermediaries to mask your activities on markets and get punished less.

Basically it's a question of how much of this would be too much, and what mix of special ships vs. skills vs. hullmods would be preferable for these features.[/list][/list][/list]
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senor

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Re: System map and navigation thoughts
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2015, 01:02:00 PM »


This and the OP are so true, and it goes much deeper into the entire game than just the map.  I've got a few suggestions to throw up/out


i havent read through all of it yet, nomadic_leader but it looks like great ideas from skimming it.  I'll read it through later on and post any other feedback i have then.

Edit: Sounds good.  I cant wait to see if Starsector gets stuff like this.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 04:30:06 PM by senor »
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