The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

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The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby cliffski » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:24 pm

If you read my blog (www.cliffski.com) you will know I've been working on the graphics for GSB 2.0 quite a bit, but soon I'll start work on the non-gfx stuff. I am extremely interested to hear community opinions. I don't so much need specific tweaks yet ("weapon X is overpowered!"), as much as I need to know what people think would/would not be a good direction to take the gameplay in broader areas.
Here are my initial thoughts on what to change:

1) Orders
The system of ship orders was a bit messy and complex and arcane. Assigning orders needs a better GUI. It also needs a way to see what each ship is actually doing mid-battle and why, so you can see more how the orders work. Perhaps some more complex orders, and conditional ones are needed? It would be great to have formations that are interdependent, so the group doesn't disintegrate based on a single ship being lost.

2) More ship classes
I see no reason not to add Battleships as a ship class, when I'm re-writing so much of the other code.

3) Better Ranking/Stats for challenges
The challenge system needs a bit of a revamp, with more features. Right now, finding a challenge from the thousands uploaded is a bit tricky. It definitely needs search features and other usability improvements.

4) Better post-battle stats.
GSB 1 had two different implementations to try out, but neither really worked as well as it should. I think this needs a lot of work, with the GUI maybe giving more concrete suggestions as to why you won / lost rather than just burying you in statistics.

5) Better minimap / split-screen?
I've been experimenting with multiple monitor support. GSB 2 will definitely work fine on 2560x1440 res. (It will also make at least some use of multithreading). I'd like to have the option to use the second monitor as a giant minimap, or as a different camera viewpoint on the same battle. Imagine one monitor following a specific ship, the other used for you to survey the map at will?

6) Inter-ship capabilities.
The game had the imperial shield support beam, which suffered from balance issues, but I loved the idea. I'd love to have more of this, especially when it comes to repair ships that could fly up to damaged ships and repair them more effectively than self repairs. or how about tugs that could tractor-tow big weapons platforms into battle?

7) Space stations.
Surely starbase attack/defense should be a game mode?

8) Modules.
The whole area of weapon/module design needs some attention too. I liked the general mechanics in GSB 1 of balancing cost/weight/power/crew with other capabilities. I also think fixed turret/module slots worked, but am considering adding a new 'engine' slot too. That would encourage some faster ships, and more interesting choices, plus it's another way to make hulls more distinctive.

All thoughts are welcome!

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby Thrank » Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:35 pm

Hello Cliff,
what I am want in GSB's sequel? Ehm... mmh it's a very hard question because the beauty of GSB is the original gameplay. It was interesting to assign orders to ship and see if your strategy was the correct one. GSB isn't a RTS, but I love it too.
What I want:

1) An experience progress for ships... In multiplayer match I prefer a similar Total War game. I will recruit my units and decide how strong they are. Not only by modules and correct orders, but also by experience.

2) Like in total war a well defined army for multiplayer battle. An army that can become veteran or elite battle after battle.

3) If possible an easier possibility to mod the game... adding ships, adding ship classes, planet, etc...

4) The galactic conquest after some battles begin repetitive... try to add "random events" to increase difficult.

5) All factions in GSB in GSB2 (DLC included) then you can add other faction with other DLC, but please, not the same xD

So ... I think this is all! Good Work! :D

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby Captain Sardonic » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:17 pm

Cliff,

First, I want to tell you how excited I am that GSB2 is going to be a reality. I own all the DLC for GSB1 and have played countless hours, watching the glorious destruction of my opponents and weeping bitter tears on the rare occasions when my starfaring fleets were ground into dust. So with the fan gushing out of the way, here are some things (in no particular order) I'd like to see in GSB2:

1) Waypoints in movement orders. I'd love to be able to tell a group of ships, "Go to point 1, 2, 3, set a new minimum engagement range at point 3, go to point 4, execute [X command], etc." It would be a particularly useful way of "baiting" fighters/bombers to keep them away from the main fleet.

2) Terrain/objects on the maps. Sure, it's fun to plot where your ships are going to go, but what if that plotting involves weaving through three or four asteroids? (And if you add terrain or objects, would it be possible to include gravity wells which might affect movement speeds?)

3) Interdependent ship formations, as you mentioned in your OP. I HATE losing a well-crafted formation just because the "focus" ship gets taken out.

4) Hero units, most likely as a "module." Hero captains (slotted as a crew module) might give an armor/shield bonus, hero weapons officers might increase accuracy/damage/fire rate, hero engineers could increase engine output/speed/repair.

5) Hells yes, SPACE STATIONS!

6) (More) area-of-effect weapons/modules. Repair/shield/accuracy/damage/speed buffs/debuffs are just some of the possibilities. An AOE shield covering all friendlies in its envelope would be interesting (but highly vulnerable to fighters).

7) I second Thrank's idea of unit experience. It might make powerful late-game campaign fleets too dominant, but experience would add enormous amounts of depth to the campaign.

8) I would GLADLY pay an extra $10-$20 US to have the campaign mode included at launch. Much as I enjoy playing challenges from other players, I've also gotten a lot of mileage out of stomping my way through the AI.

9) A way to track which mods are installed and to toggle them on and off.

10) A robust campaign editor. Ideally, I'd like to be able to choose which races are available to the AI, but just being able to edit the campaign map (and system maps if terrain is included) would be great. And, of course, the ability to share campaign maps if the editing ability is added.

11) Location-specific targeting (i.e., "fighters, target enemy shield generators; frigates, target enemy engines").

12) (This may make things overly complex, but...) Location-specific hull damage (i.e., being able to blow off a nacelle and have the affected ship lose the modules from the now-missing hull section.

I think that's enough wishful thinking for now. Best of luck on the develoment of GSB2!

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby Archduke Astro » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:43 pm

cliffski wrote:...I need to know what people think would/would not be a good direction to take the gameplay in broader areas.
Here are my initial thoughts on what to change:

1) Orders
The system of ship orders was a bit messy and complex and arcane. Assigning orders needs a better GUI. It also needs a way to see what each ship is actually doing mid-battle and why, so you can see more how the orders work. Perhaps some more complex orders, and conditional ones are needed? It would be great to have formations that are interdependent, so the group doesn't disintegrate based on a single ship being lost.

A new order-assignment GUI should offer more granularity per order, allowing the player to exert finer control over his units.

The addition of new orders to the game would also be most welcome. Ditto for more complex orders that offer a bigger benefit to the player.

Conditional orders sound interesting. "If/then" sequences would help maintain pressure upon the enemy by exploiting sudden opportunities in the battlespace; and if you're on the defensive, perhaps help concentrate your far-flung fleet back together in order to survive the storm.

Your last point is intriguing. While it would be really, really nice if we could remove the current problem of a formation becoming totally unglued if its flagship was destroyed, I think that there should also be some kind of formation-wide tactical bonus ability/abilities (such as +10% damage output, or a buff to the tracking/accuracy of all guns in the formation - the more ships in the formation, the smaller the bonus?) as long as its flagship is intact and uncrippled. If the command unit is rendered unable to, well, command, then the special formation-wide bonus is lost but the remaining warships still try to keep together and execute remaining orders given pre-battle.


cliffski wrote:2) More ship classes
I see no reason not to add Battleships as a ship class, when I'm re-writing so much of the other code.

Dreadnoughts in sight, admiral!
This is great news, Cliff. My ancient dream that dates back to the third week of GSB's pre-release beta will at last be fully realized.

An additional small-hull ship class is another missing part of the game. I strongly urge that we also have a new ship class of Destroyer hulls to serve as larger or "Heavy" Frigates. If you're going to finally include Battleships, then that largest and most expensive of all ship classes is also going to need the very best small escort vessels that you can provide us. In their own niche, Destroyers are just as important as Battleships (and important to Battleships!). I can make a powerful case in support of this proposal.


cliffski wrote:3) Better Ranking/Stats for challenges
The challenge system needs a bit of a revamp, with more features. Right now, finding a challenge from the thousands uploaded is a bit tricky. It definitely needs search features and other usability improvements.

I agree that the Challenges aspect of the game needs some help. At present, it really is an excersise in tedium to sift through the battles to find what you want.


cliffski wrote:4) Better post-battle stats.
GSB 1 had two different implementations to try out, but neither really worked as well as it should. I think this needs a lot of work, with the GUI maybe giving more concrete suggestions as to why you won / lost rather than just burying you in statistics.

You're right about the player being buried in statistics. Some kind of improvement here would really help.

The post-battle phase can be reorganized and expanded into a more useful experience - make it a full "After-Action Briefing". In addition to all of the raw stats, add text tooltips that portray the march of those numbers in terms of actual tactical advice. This will be a help for noobs and veterans alike.

Also, add a final page that serves as an "Executive Summary," its purpose being to put emphasis upon a few bullet points of truly major concern. For example, if the majority of your ships that you lost were blown up due to missile/torpedo/rocket threats, have the Executive Summary display something like:

    "Your fleet had inadequate protection against seeking weapons. 57% of destroyed friendly units were lost due to this. Design less offensively-themed ships, or add a screen of Destroyer Escorts optimized for point defense."

That kind of final summary would help tie the After-Action Briefing together.


cliffski wrote:5) Better minimap / split-screen?
I've been experimenting with multiple monitor support. GSB 2 will definitely work fine on 2560x1440 res. (It will also make at least some use of multithreading). I'd like to have the option to use the second monitor as a giant minimap, or as a different camera viewpoint on the same battle. Imagine one monitor following a specific ship, the other used for you to survey the map at will?

OMG, three cheers for at least some multithreading - the more, the merrier! That would rock. I'm so tired of being needlessly bottle-necked by the flaw implicit in other resource-hungry but single-threaded games that I've played. :-( It's 2014 - we can do better.


cliffski wrote:6) Inter-ship capabilities.
The game had the imperial shield support beam, which suffered from balance issues, but I loved the idea. I'd love to have more of this, especially when it comes to repair ships that could fly up to damaged ships and repair them more effectively than self repairs. or how about tugs that could tractor-tow big weapons platforms into battle?

The original version of the ISSB was great; a shame that it was nerfed too heavily.

I request the addition of a reverse version of the ISSB - a shield siphon. It subtracts points from the target's shield and adds them to the firing ship's shield.

Inter-ship repair would be nice as the next, higher tier up in terms of the effectiveness of repairs.

Inter-ship engines would also be of service in towing crippled friendly warships away from the fighting front and back towards your starting-deployment side of the battlespace, doing so at speeds faster than the crippled ship's wrecked engines can possibly achieve by themselves. It sure beats having to contend with this.

Likewise for inter-ship engines, towing immobile artillery into the fight is a subject dear to my heart. I'm unsure ifif that should be a universal/all-races' ability, or if it should remain the exclusive ability of one race as part of their specialty, but regardless it's still pretty cool.

cliffski wrote:7) Space stations.
Surely starbase attack/defense should be a game mode?

Yes! Please! Absolutely. :D I've waited a long time for this to be added, and would enjoy it greatly.

Likewise for convoy attack and its nerve-wracking opposite, convoy defense. >:-) How about adding that as well?

Not only will Starbase and Convoy modes be fun, different and fascinating in GSB2 itself, but I imagine that they would also have major logistical importance in the strategic Campaign version of GSB2.

I haven't been passively waiting for Starbase missions and Convoy missions -- I've also been actively thinking in detail about their implementation. Cliff, if you like I'd be happy to offer insight on how these new gameplay modes should operate tactically.


cliffski wrote:8) Modules.
The whole area of weapon/module design needs some attention too. I liked the general mechanics in GSB 1 of balancing cost/weight/power/crew with other capabilities.

I want to emphasize that I fiercely enjoy that aspect of GSB. I consider that to be the very heart of the game. If I don't have a design and construction process that offers me a large menu of equipment choices at my disposal, I'm not interested.

cliffski wrote:I also think fixed turret/module slots worked, but am considering adding a new 'engine' slot too. That would encourage some faster ships, and more interesting choices, plus it's another way to make hulls more distinctive.

One of the problems in GSB I was increasingly unhappy with is that the usable amount of hull volume within ships is too limited. The original game sticks fairly close to an unstated standard of 11 module slots and 7 turret slots for the really useful cruisers, but that still felt too small for me. My concern is that if new engine-specific slots are to appear in GSB2, then the total number of slots on any given ship class had best be raised at the same time.

I would not want my choice of engine quantity to be limited entirely by the number of Engine slots, though. That's taking too much choice away from the player.

Hhmmm...here's a compromise: place as many engines as you like aboard your ship (subject to financial costs, and scenario deployment limits), but installed engines placed in a type of slot other an Engine slot would function at a noticeable -- but not crippling -- loss of efficiency. For example, -17% (one-sixth) to -25%. Warship engines would function at 100% efficiency only if placed within an actual Engine slot. How about it?



Back to your mention of Turret and Module slots...

We need a second tier of each of these.

This has been something I've felt the sharp absence of ever since GSB went public. The presence aboard ships of "heavy" or "advanced" Turret and Module slots (in addition to the regular versions of each) will allow for a much wider range of shipboard equipment. Triangular and octagonal shapes are suggested for these two types of improved slots. Ever since 2009, I've thought of these as appearing aboard typical ships in a ratio to the standard module and weapon slots ranging from 1:2 to 1:4. Some less multi-mission hulls in each race's navy would enjoy a higher number of these.

These paired additions to GSB2 will allow the player to customize their ships to a greater extent than in GSB, allowing for the arrival of more specific ship "variants" able to specialize deeply in one or two chosen roles. And that goes a long way towards making GSB2 much friendlier towards the goal of combined-arms tactics, the substantial lack of which frustrated me greatly in the original game. The two new slot types also allows your very prolific modding community to craft new content for the game in a way that we couldn't for GSB. Advanced Modules and Advanced Turrets promises to extend the capability of a GSB2 purchase, which in a wider sense is a very big win indeed.

...

I see that I've mostly been responding to your own initial GSB2 thoughts. :D
I'll offer more of my own original proposals for GSB2 a bit later, and comment on other folks' ideas as well.
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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby cliffski » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:14 pm

I'm definitely interested in the argument for destroyers. Right now, GSB has fighter specific, frigate specific and cruiser specific modules. I do wonder if it would make sense to share frigate modules with destroyers and cruiser modules with battleships, for example.
The problem with having engine slots be not the only location for engines, is it makes understanding the process more complex for casual players. I'm pretty sure a lot of GSB1 players think (quite naturally) that you *must* put turrets in turret slots, and never try putting regular modules in them, for example.

I've considered waypoint orders, but one problem with them is it raises the problem that both fleets are given orders which mean no ship ever gets in range of any other ship :D

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby dafrandle » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:41 pm

cliffski wrote:If you read my blog (http://www.cliffski.com) you will know I've been working on the graphics for GSB 2.0 quite a bit

or you know from all those posts about in the form, anyway moving on

1) perhaps we could give orders for different weapons; example:

Code: Select all

do not fire weapon (cruise missile) at vehicle class (fighter)
or

Code: Select all

Weapon (defense laser) may only engage ship class (fighter)

we might also be able to assign a role to a ship, so that it gets specialized AI

2) first off, battleship is, in my view, not the best word choice, as most battleships were just ships with big guns, and the really big ones were called super battleships (sometimes) and there was always heavy cruisers which were very nearly battleships themselves. It would be better to use the term dreadnought as it distinguishes its size and power better, second we need something to bridge the gap between fighters and frigates I think. Say we call the gunships and instead of the group being 16 of them it would be 4 or 8, basicly the firepower (marginally) of frigates with the speed (again marginally) of fighters

7) i think this would do well as its own ship class, and if you could only deploy it if the scenario was some sort of defense, mabby it automatically has an repair hanger for fighters that either has a lot of supplies, or has infinite supplies but repairs realy slowly. as for galactic conquest mode, to move one you would need to build some sort of ship that could fill the role as sort of a tugboat

8) i'm going to steal some cards from SPAZ and say we should be able to upgrade slots so that there is like three cannons instead of one cannon on the mount, this would obviously increase the weight , cost ect. and fighters should have forced static mounts aka can't turn and if you wanted to add a turret it would cost A LOT.


also i think it would be nice if galactic conquest was added that we are given the ability to create our own maps for it, and perhaps we must bring a ship full of troops to a hostile planet where we then play a minigame, or there is a dramatized dice roll to see if your invasion was a success
Last edited by dafrandle on Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby gunnyfreak » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:50 pm

hmm, this is interesting...

there are a few things that bothered me in GSB 1's mechanics, as long as we're talking about the gameplay of the next one, here they are:


1) all slots are created equal: basically, the slot that's just big enough for a point defense laser is also big enough for a giant ship murdering omfgcannon. Maybe there could be more differentiation in the slots?

something like this, instead of having 2 slots (turret/normal), say..... 5 types (small turret, medium turret, large turret, exterior, interior)

small/med/large turrets are self explanatory, exterior slots are basically slots with a giant hole that can be used for engines, hangars, repair drones, things like that where stuff needs to come out whereas interior slots can only be used for shields, crew, power, etc.etc.


2) shield/armor penetration dichotomy: a lot of times (back when I played anyway, not sure if things changed since then) I found a weapon role to be specifically defined by which shields/armor they can penetrate, and a shield/armor's role to be defined by which weapons they can block. Maybe something more dynamic can exist there?

Instead of a simple full damage/no damage (or %2 chance to damage for armor), I propose something like this:

ChanceToDoDamage = (arctan (20[Penetration]/[Deflection] - 22) (2/pi) + 1)*50
(forgive the adjustments, just think the basic shape of an arctan curve, adjusted so the limits are 0 - 100 and f(0) is a small number like 2)

this means, if penetration 0 ([Penetration]/[Deflection] 0), there will be about 2 percent chance to do damage whereas as penetration increases, the chance to do damage approaches the asymptote of 100 (%100 hit) without ever reaching it. Meaning it's always better to have higher penetration, but diminishing return is present. In the same vein, the higher you make your deflection, the less deflect chance per deflection value you'll get. A similar function can also work for tracking speed/hit chance, maybe?

maybe chance to do damage can be a damage multiplier instead, so instead of small chance to do damage, it just does less damage with every shot? This will make specialized weapons seem more useful (beams doing almost the full damage vs armor whereas a missile does like 30 percent) and make things more consistent in general (nobody likes seeing a missile hit home only to find it did no damage because a dice rolled the wrong way

EDIT: also, fire arcs, think that can be a thing in GSB 2? maybe? please? pleeeeeaaase? :)
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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby AcePalarum » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:32 am

Kind of quick and somewhat disjointed reactions for the moment (just the stuff that comes immediately to mind):

cliffski wrote:1) Orders
The system of ship orders was a bit messy and complex and arcane. Assigning orders needs a better GUI. It also needs a way to see what each ship is actually doing mid-battle and why, so you can see more how the orders work. Perhaps some more complex orders, and conditional ones are needed? It would be great to have formations that are interdependent, so the group doesn't disintegrate based on a single ship being lost.


GSB gives you the ability to see what a given turret is currently targeting. I would like to see this expanded to the driving AI, so that I can determine the "rationale" behind the idiot pilot charging straight into a cluster of enemy cruisers.

There are a few suggestions that have been made for GSB1 that I will reiterate in brief here:
- Ignore [ship class] orders for better control of the driving AI
- Tiers of orders to allow a Formation or Escort order to be replaced with Keep Moving or similar if the target of the Formation or Escort order is destroyed
- Waypoints: While I understand this could be a challenge, I would like to see at least a limited waypoint setup; say, one waypoint to allow my flanking task forces to actually flank

cliffski wrote:2) More ship classes
I see no reason not to add Battleships as a ship class, when I'm re-writing so much of the other code.


Judging from a large amount of the modding efforts for GSB1, I would say perhaps six total classes would be in order (listed by increasing size):
- Fighter
- Corvette/Gunship
- Frigate
- Destroyer
- Cruiser
- Battleship/Dreadnought

Much more than this could easily get confusing and overwhelming for the beginning player.

cliffski wrote:4) Better post-battle stats.
GSB 1 had two different implementations to try out, but neither really worked as well as it should. I think this needs a lot of work, with the GUI maybe giving more concrete suggestions as to why you won / lost rather than just burying you in statistics.


Some suggestions would be quite useful, to establish at least glaring fleet oversights such as:
- Weakness to shield-piercing/armor-piercing weapons
- Weakness to long-range armament (indicating too little speed)
- Insufficient shield-piercing/armor-piercing offense
- Insufficient anti-fighter capability
- etc.

cliffski wrote:6) Inter-ship capabilities.
The game had the imperial shield support beam, which suffered from balance issues, but I loved the idea. I'd love to have more of this, especially when it comes to repair ships that could fly up to damaged ships and repair them more effectively than self repairs. or how about tugs that could tractor-tow big weapons platforms into battle?


Inter-ship capabilities could make it possible to build dedicated repair ships, tugs, support escorts, etc. I also like Archduke Astro's "shield siphon" idea.

cliffski wrote:7) Space stations.
Surely starbase attack/defense should be a game mode?


As the creator of the Stations mod for GSB1, I heartily endorse this. :)

cliffski wrote:8) Modules.
The whole area of weapon/module design needs some attention too. I liked the general mechanics in GSB 1 of balancing cost/weight/power/crew with other capabilities. I also think fixed turret/module slots worked, but am considering adding a new 'engine' slot too. That would encourage some faster ships, and more interesting choices, plus it's another way to make hulls more distinctive.


I agree with Archduke Astro's concerns regarding engines (or actually any module type other than weapons) being restricted to a specific slot type. However, a few more slot types that can only contain a particular type of module could allow for more specialized hulls, much in the same way that the number of hardpoints in GSB1 determines the offensive/defensive capabilities of a hull.

Engine slots are a good addition, intended for fast ships (a ship with two engine slots must either have at least two engines or leave those slots empty).

I would also like to see "defense" slots - dedicated to armor, shields, camouflage, EMP shielding, etc. This would allow hulls to be clearly defensive without providing a ridiculous armor or shield bonus.

The one issue that would need to be addressed when using any new slot types would be ship capacity. Any ship with a noticeable number of engine/defense/whatever-limited slots would by its nature need to have a bit more capacity for overall modules to avoid being pigeonholed into one or two standard builds that everyone uses.


That's my $.02 for the moment. I'll toss out any additional thoughts as and if they occur to me.
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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby gunnyfreak » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:00 am

speaking of defense slots, should armor be a "module" at all? It's not like a shield generator or a crew module or anything that takes up a particular area in a ship's interior, more like a slab of metal around the ship

what if instead of armor modules, we have an armor material (ablative, standard, advanced, etc,etc) and a thickness, with cost and mass increasing exponentially relative to thickness

the materials would have different thickness/mass/cost ratio and different growth rates. i.e: ablative armor starts out very cheap and light for its thickness, but cost increases a LOT faster than standard armor, making only small amount of it practical cost wise whereas advanced armor has better mass/thickness ratio but costs a lot more per unit of thickness than the standard one.
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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby jupiter6 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:39 am

Cliff, aren't there already multiple threads dedicated to this topic? Darkstar076 went so far as to helpfully compile them into one thread. Does that mean they get ignored? I'm mystified as to why you felt the need to start yet another.

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby cliffski » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:19 am

jupiter6 wrote:Cliff, aren't there already multiple threads dedicated to this topic? Darkstar076 went so far as to helpfully compile them into one thread. Does that mean they get ignored? I'm mystified as to why you felt the need to start yet another.


I wanted a thread that was started when work had actually commenced on the game, but I'll definitely be checking older threads as I work on specific parts of gameplay. There is a HUGE amount to do. I'm interested to see so many people mention galactic conquest, which TBH, was something I was not going to worry about with the initial re-vamp of GSB, leaving as a project for another time. I was considering improving on the singleplayer battle 'list' by having a map instead.

I know everyone will want a GC-style campaign 'out of the box', but I'd much rather do something like that *well* than bodge it into the new game with no real improvements. The changes from GSB1->2 basically mean tearing apart all the code, and sidestepping GC for now makes that vaguely achievable. It can always be re-coded later.

One thing I'd like to nail down first is the classes of ships, as that also involves changing a phenomenal amount of code. I'm minded to go with:

Fighter
Gunship/destroyer (not sure of best name) ->in squads of 4/6 so handled a lot like fighters, maybe exactly like them.
Frigate
Cruiser
Dreadnought

A starbase would basically be a dreadnought with no engines, although tbh I have crazy plans for how I could make that so much better...

I think my priorities will work out like this for the next few weeks:

1) Change code to support these extra ship types
2) Investigate adding firing arcs
3) Change targeting so it works on target slots rather than ship centers

Followed by

4) Change code to support new engine module type, perhaps new heavy weapon / spinal mount type too.
5) Improvements to orders
6) Initial work on sorting out the grand plan for the new modules, weapon types and so on.

As I keep suggesting, there is a BIG change coming to GSB2, which I haven't talked about at all, and wont for probably another month, as I want decent screenshots of it, maybe a video too. It will explain in some ways why I'm considering the workload for GSB2 to be so big. It's something I suspect everyone will like :D

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby Archduke Astro » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:29 pm

Oh boy, I'm glad I checked this thread again when I did. Some very topical commentary before I go back to bed.....

AcePalarum wrote:Judging from a large amount of the modding efforts for GSB1, I would say perhaps six total classes would be in order (listed by increasing size):
- Fighter
- Corvette/Gunship
- Frigate
- Destroyer
- Cruiser
- Battleship/Dreadnought

Ace, I am 100% in favor of exactly what you proposed. Did you read my mind? It almost feels that way, because I was going to post an identical proposal (now redundant) later today. Thanks. ;)

Some sort of larger fighter-ish hull -- the Gunship class! -- was the final missing piece in that puzzle, and I'm glad that you and others mentioned it. :D With that addition, the resulting range of playable hull sizes is now just wide enough to provide plenty of usability for any veteran, while also not being too wide such that the average Casual Gamer would be stumped by the menu of choices. I think that's a very workable compromise.

cliffski wrote:One thing I'd like to nail down first is the classes of ships, as that also involves changing a phenomenal amount of code. I'm minded to go with:

Fighter
Gunship/destroyer (not sure of best name) ->in squads of 4/6 so handled a lot like fighters, maybe exactly like them.
Frigate
Cruiser
Dreadnought

A starbase would basically be a dreadnought with no engines, although tbh I have crazy plans for how I could make that so much better...

I think my priorities will work out like this for the next few weeks:

1) Change code to support these extra ship types

Cliff, before I leave I needed to pounce specifically on the quoted part of your latest post.

I am disturbed that, even after your earlier mention of wanting to hear further from me in favor of a new Destroyer hull size specifically as a separate, larger frigate hull, your talking points quoted just above ominously do not include it. And your stated to-do list sounds like you're itching to nail down GSB2's ship hulls quickly. I can't let it end there.


The absence of Destroyers as a new hull size between frigates & cruisers would be a serious mistake.


By way of explanation, I'm going to back-pedal slightly and begin explaining with this:

cliffski wrote:I'm definitely interested in the argument for destroyers. Right now, GSB has fighter specific, frigate specific and cruiser specific modules. I do wonder if it would make sense to share frigate modules with destroyers and cruiser modules with battleships, for example.

I am strongly in favor of making frigate equipment available to the new destroyer hulls, and cruiser equipment available to the new dreadnought hulls. Each new type of warship would also be blessed with exclusive access to plenty of items (guns, defenses, and support equipment) that are unique to its new hull size, too.

The goal here is not, not, not to metaphorically re-invent the wheel merely for the sake of "doing something different" -- instead, to meaningfully extend the abilities that the player has access to, and in a way that GSB could not provide.

Cliff, you wanted an argument in favor of adding frigate-sized Destroyer hulls. Onward:

____________________________________________________________


Introduction of defense-specialized Destroyer hulls for GSB 2


A ) The most problematic issues with GSB's frigate-size hulls is that the ships possible to design on them are:
    1) Weakly armed, even for a small ship;
    2) Even more severely under-defended;
    3) Largely unable to make a credible threat against enemy cruisers

Frigates do still have some value in massed attacks against superior units. They also can help split incoming enemy fire. And while under-performing, they are still a "second-class but somewhat usable" option for an admiral with a small budget. The game has a definite niche for a rather weak, partially throwaway unit that is more sturdy than any single fighter, but still inexpensive enough to specialize as bulk "cannon fodder" while still being the smallest true warship available.

However, the limits of what kind of designs these poor hulls permit the player is a fairly inefficient and unwieldy to get the above sort of battle roles fulfilled. Worse, the victories achieved via such means also tend to be very expensive in terms of frigates destroyed, crews lost and credits wasted. In GSB1, frigates attempting a full anti-ship offensive design were close to 20-25% the cost of a cruiser, but only 10% as strong (on attack as well as on defense) as a cruiser. That mistake has to be corrected in the sequel game. There must be a better way to get the job done with small ships while not needing to resort to the use of cruisers or fighters.

If, as I expect, frigate hulls in GSB2 will become much more successful at anti-ship offense than in GSB, then this is a good thing. Frigates will necessarily be more specialized than they are now, but their ability to fulfill the demands of that specialization will increase noticeably.

On the other hand, your fleet will now require a serious level of protection against those very same attacking frigates. Not even dreadnoughts should be immune to them, so this protection has got to be reasonably successful across a wide range of potential enemy frigate loadouts and tactics. Without new protection capabilities, those upgraded frigates - economically priced, numerous, fast and better armed than before - are a threat which is not easily pushed aside.

____________________________________________________________


B ) But there is a solution!

    1) Create a new type of small-ship hull: a "big brother" to the frigate-sized hull;
    2) Expand its internal volume such that it now has a significantly higher total number of slots than old GSB frigates;
    3) Add defensively-oriented extra Boost values to strengthen shields and armor;
    4) Add a somewhat slower top speed to discourage "joyriding" instead of doing its real job;
    5) Give this new hull type access to regular frigate items of all kinds;
    6) Create a pool of special new items that are limited entirely to this new size of hull.


Enter the Destroyer hulls.


This proposed new hull size is inspired by established naval history, borrowing frequently (but NOT exclusively!) from naval events of World War 1, World War 2, and the Cold War era. However, my guiding principle is not a slavish devotion to "history at all costs," but instead doing what makes solid tactical sense as well as extending the depth, subtlety and enjoyment of GSB's sequel game.

( Some public confusion about the term "destroyer" is predictable. Please see here for a description of how this seemingly-contradictory term arose, how it was applied to the actual ships themselves, and how those ships' combat capabilities were later expanded by future naval needs. )

Larger than a frigate but smaller than a cruiser, this new type of warship is meant to handle a very different combat role than the frigate. Destroyers are to be heavily optimized in favor of providing a very generous quantity of anti-missile, anti-fighter, and anti-frigate capability. The combination of those three combat duties is the essence of the new destroyer hull size: to provide fleet defense. That's it; that's all they do. But they will do it better than any ship design based on any other size of hull. Their duty in battle is to STAY CLOSE -- regardless of threats to themselves -- to the expensive & mission-critical cruisers that form the bulk of the fleet's fighting strength, and the even more expensive & mission-critical dreadnoughts that form the true core of the fleet.


____________________________________________________________


C ) As part of my overall balance plan I'm arguing for (of which my destroyer hulls are but one aspect of), GSB2 frigates will now be mainly dedicated to large, gory, "Charge of the Light Brigade" frontal attacks or sneaky, disruptive flanking & encirclement missions - the types of actions that they're generally not expected to walk away from afterwards. But destroyers will have a different responsibility that's pretty much the opposite of the above.


The paradigm shift I'm talking about will involve nearly ALL of a fleet's active defenses
- aside from a tiny few aboard frigate-sized ships - now being put instead into the destroyer hulls.



Please think about that for a moment.

These stubborn and sturdy little ships are meant to then be put into formation as a protective screen around a fleet's edges, as well as frequently inserted here and there in close proximity to the most important ships of the fleet.

Destroyers will also have new weaponry explicitly designed to let them fulfill that role with excellence.
This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    1) New small-ship "standoff" weapons for hitting onrushing enemy frigates while they're still just outside your perimeter;
    2) Multiple kinds of new point-defense systems to create a zone where your dreadnoughts, carriers (of any size) and other vital big ships can have some shelter from enemy missiles;
    3) New high-accuracy, high-rate-of-fire guns for engaging massed numbers of enemy fighters and gunships.

____________________________________________________________


D ) In the original game, many frigates revolve around an unstated standard of 7 module slots and 4 turret slots. This isn't so good (just try to armor one of these flying taco shells...), but what's done is done. The future, however, should not be a duplicate of the past.

I think that all sizes of hulls should receive a general increase in size (slot count) for GSB2. When compared to frigates, the new destroyers will be jam-packed tightly with equipment that's vital to fulfilling their "shield of the fleet" role. Details are irrelevant right now, but my own very extensive research from 2011 up to and including the present day finally settled upon an average of 13 module slots and 10 turret slots as a standard for the various races' GSB2 destroyer hulls to revolve around. I know that to some of you players, those numbers will seem crazy - at first. But this is what long-term playtesting on my own initiative has repeatedly indicated is best, and I have acted upon that. If future events in GSB2 design and implementation show that more refinement is needed, I'll do so.

These hulls give rise to high-capability units; unlike GSB frigates, you do not want to lose more than a handful of them (good luck with that!). Even with a modest cost-boost discount baked into a destroyer hull, they're still somewhat pricey units compared to their small size. You can't blindly spam them to excess without feeling some noticeable ache in your bank account.

And since destroyers are meant to function in a tactical ecosystem where the largest percentage of defensive weapons have been intentionally offloaded from cruisers and dreadnoughts and onto these brave little guys, you need to have every single destroyer PACKED with the greatest possible quantity of the devices they need to do the job: P.D., anti-ftr. missiles, rapid firing lasers, anti-frigate beam lasers & missiles, etc. Hence, the high slot count for the destroyers: the biggest of the small ships.

The enemy is likely going to be throwing wave after wave of low-value but numerous GSB2 frigates at your fleet (plus fighters AND the new gunships!), and you want him to be the first one to crack -- not you. Trying to do things on a shoestring budget not with destroyers, but with with fragile but numerous little frigates armed with defensive items is not going to achieve the same result for the same price (and the casualty count for your ships is going to be much higher, too). Equipped and handled with skill, destroyers are your best chance to avoid that failure. While GSB2's frigates are being redesigned for a more capable anti-ship offense, my proposed destroyers are your primary defense against those newly-capable frigates.

____________________________________________________________


E ) Remember: the escort ships based upon this proposed new hull are there to keep everyone else around them as safe as they can, and let the bigger friendly ships concentrate solely upon offense (within their own other limits, of course). With few exceptions, the penetration values and warhead strengths of what new, destroyer-only weapons the destroyers should carry are generally not going to be able to pierce shields or armor of a cruiser or larger ship, let alone actually menace one. Frigate-only weapons should now include at least a few such guns which CAN truly threaten big ships, though.

Likewise, destroyers are not going to be able to fulfill their role in the Combined Arms operations mix if they're only a bit more slot-heavy than their little brothers: the existing GSB1 frigates, which themselves are honestly just under-equipped death-traps for their own crews.
This destroyer-based, "overhaul of fleet defense schemes" concept of mine is neither intended nor expected to be utterly infallible, but it's still going to be significantly better than what exists in the current state of the original game. I've been thinking in great detail about this very subject for a long time before today (well before this year, actually).
Again, my ultimate goal here is a GSB2 where the maximum possible extent of Combined Arms tactics is in use -- for attack as well as protection.


In the new game, Destroyers are going to be your primary means of keeping threats away from your fleet's true heavy hitters, allowing them to concentrate their own titanic abilities upon smashing similar units in the enemy formations: cruisers and dreadnoughts. The end product of what the presence of destroyer escorts give you is a naval environment that operates at least a little bit like "WW2 is space", and honestly, that's quite interesting.

Who wouldn't like the imagery of huge, scary but myopic star dreadnoughts being surrounded by friendly, ever-watchful destroyer escorts??? Those destroyers are captained and crewed by space-sailors who are determined to blaze away at every kamikaze attack, every incoming torpedo salvo, and every agile enemy frigate. They're democratic, though; everyone gets the same greeting: near-constant multicolored streamers of rapid-fire DOOM, stopping the attack before it can endanger the vital capital ships, and damn the danger to their own small warships as they defend their assigned battleship. Even though destroyer crews know that a rogue hit from an enemy dreadnought's main-battery cannon will turn them into confetti, these indispensable support ships maintain very risky locations and go on doing what they do best...destroy any hostile object, either crewed or automatic, that gets too close. After all, that's why they're named Destroyers.

I know that the game developer feels the same way about it as I do, just as shown right here. :P

Those Combined Arms operations described above -- mainly absent from GSB -- should in GSB2 be not only much more feasible, but likewise necessary to a great extent. That's a good thing! It not only promotes a long-awaited revolution in our tactical handling, but also creates a new type of fun for us to enjoy in GSB2.

Cooperation between different size hulls is going to be required more than ever in the new tactical environment I'm proposing, and the destroyers are at the center of this achievement. If you truly want the sequel game to be massively superior to its predecessor, this one new type of large-frigate-inspired hull (and my proposed way of using it) is a sizable piece of the puzzle.

Cliffski, please add Destroyer hulls to GSB2 as a hull size larger than frigates -- it's super important. Thank you. :)
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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby dafrandle » Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:31 pm

gunnyfreak wrote:speaking of defense slots, should armor be a "module" at all? It's not like a shield generator or a crew module or anything that takes up a particular area in a ship's interior, more like a slab of metal around the ship

what if instead of armor modules, we have an armor material (ablative, standard, advanced, etc,etc) and a thickness, with cost and mass increasing exponentially relative to thickness

the materials would have different thickness/mass/cost ratio and different growth rates. i.e: ablative armor starts out very cheap and light for its thickness, but cost increases a LOT faster than standard armor, making only small amount of it practical cost wise whereas advanced armor has better mass/thickness ratio but costs a lot more per unit of thickness than the standard one.


i like this idea

A LOT

Archduke Astro wrote: *very long post*


I read most of your post, I must agree, when I first posted the idea of gunships I never meant for those to be "or destroyers" however this might bring up a problem, 2 sets of classes (frigates and destroyers, fighters and gunships) that to an untrained eye would be very nearly the same, and for the record i'm completely okay with that set up, so how would we go about doing this, without confusing a new player.

this could be an unwanted concern because on paper it does seem pretty simple, but then again this is the internet...


off topic: Astro, did you ever serve as a crew member on a destroyer? you talk so passionately about it.
having a job has allowed me to understand why Archduke Astro has no time to work on his mods

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby cliffski » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:40 pm

Indeed, this is my concern, that the average player right now thinks:
Little throwaway fighters
Mid Range Frigates
Big Cruisers.
Now adding 'even bigger dreadnoughts' does make sense, in the 'super star destroyer' style. and I can see gunships/destroyers being thought of as 'bigger fighters'.
But it sounds like what is suggested is this:

Fighters: Very small, very fast, dogfighting, and hard to hit with cruiser/DN weapons, can get inside enemy shields (maybe)
Gunships: Effectively heavy, slow fighters, with more options for modules
Frigates: Fast, offensive ships that can charge ahead of the main fleet, can, when massed, inflict damage on destroyers, cruisers, gunships and fighters.
Destroyers: Support ships. Slow as cruisers, with excellent defensive and ship-support options.
Cruisers: Slow offensive units with big spinal-mount style weapons. The ships that deal the most damage
Dreadnoughts: The central base ships or capital ships. Rarely seen. Extensive support for fighters with carrier bays. Devastating weaponry. Super slow, may require some destroyers acting as tugs to keep up with everyone else. (Iain M banks superlifter style).

The GOOD news is that I experimented today and added gunships and dreadnoughts as classes. It's really not as bad as I feared. although it does clutter up orders a bit. In other words, adding another class isn't actually as hard as I thought. It already all works and runs, although I don't have any new hulls yet.

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Re: The official GSB 2.0 gameplay discussion thread

Postby Archduke Astro » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:11 pm

dafrandle wrote:2 sets of classes (frigates and destroyers, fighters and gunships) that to an untrained eye would be very nearly the same, and for the record i'm completely okay with that set up, so how would we go about doing this, without confusing a new player.

this could be an unwanted concern because on paper it does seem pretty simple, but then again this is the internet...

If all 6 new hull sizes are spec'd with the care that each of them deserves, they will indeed be distinctive enough to not be easily confused. Having repeatedly practiced this myself in GSB1 long before GSB2 was even remotely likely to be a thing, I have full confidence in that.

dafrandle wrote:off topic: Astro, did you ever serve as a crew member on a destroyer? you talk so passionately about it.

Insightful question, dafrandle. Without getting personal, I'll simply say that I'm passionate about numerous things, some of which are relevant to this game.
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