GSB2 Design: Modules

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GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby cliffski » Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:23 am

I'm starting to think about the design for the modules in GSB2. I am hoping to add a bunch of new stuff, specifically stuff that allows one ship to support another, but forgetting that for a minute, I'm thinking in broader terms about what to change from GSB1.

I think I do prefer the GSB1 system to Gratuitous Tank Battles (where you added modifier upgrades to a module), so you would have, for example a variety of beam lasers, each with different costs, crew,power,weight levels, and you would select the one that suited your purposes.

Broadly I think the system of balancing weight vs cost vs crew vs effectiveness is a good one.

I think it would be good to keep the unlock system, where more obscure varieties of a module can be unlocked after winning battles.

I like the current hull / armor / shields mechanic too.

One thing I was thinking of changing was the penetration mechanic, which confused almost everyone. I think a system where weapons did a variety of damage to each type would make more sense. So a weapon does 30 damage vs shields, 10 vs armor, 3 vs hull, for example. Or maybe better expressed as it does 35 damage, and is 100% effective vs shields, 33% vs armor, 10% vs hull.
That way we can have weapons that are purely anti-shield, that are useless once shields are down. It also means thats we get less scenarios of 'invulnerable' fleets where the enemies choice of weapons has insufficient penetration to do *any* damage, because weapons can always have 1 or 2% effectiveness vs all 3 categories, for example.

I'm interested in experienced GSB players opinions and suggestions. Obviously this stuff will be constantly tweaked up until release, but I'd like to make the big decisions on mechanics early, and with player opinions considered.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Red Cinema » Sun Jun 01, 2014 2:08 pm

Well after ten minutes I finally got my discussion board account back in shape...

I support the stuff in the post above. In particular I prefer the GSB method to the Tank Battles method of handling module improvements. TB module changes gave me a headache after awhile.

I also suggest that the unlocking bit, which I like, be cloud-based, not individual computer-based. Yes I know files can be copied and etc., but over the years and a PC crash and burn and a getting GSB for the Mac I had to unlock all the tech several times. After awhile replayability desire lags. "Oh, I have to unlock everything...again."

Go Cliffski go. :)

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby cliffski » Sun Jun 01, 2014 2:17 pm

Yup agreed on the cloud stuff. I've found steams cloud stuff to be a bit overcomplex and unreliable, but that might be my own inexperience with it, and I'd also like to support this for direct buyers and humble/GoG buyers, so I'll likely roll my own cloud service.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby AcePalarum » Sun Jun 01, 2014 3:04 pm

cliffski wrote:I'm starting to think about the design for the modules in GSB2. I am hoping to add a bunch of new stuff, specifically stuff that allows one ship to support another, but forgetting that for a minute, I'm thinking in broader terms about what to change from GSB1.


Okay, here's my immediate reactions:

cliffski wrote:I think I do prefer the GSB1 system to Gratuitous Tank Battles (where you added modifier upgrades to a module), so you would have, for example a variety of beam lasers, each with different costs, crew,power,weight levels, and you would select the one that suited your purposes.

Broadly I think the system of balancing weight vs cost vs crew vs effectiveness is a good one.


While I can't speak to the GTB system, I agree that the current GSB system is good. It's got some flexibility (in the ability to do the aforementioned variants on a theme) but is still basically straightforward and easy to grasp. (Also fairly easy to balance while modding.)

cliffski wrote:I think it would be good to keep the unlock system, where more obscure varieties of a module can be unlocked after winning battles.


Also agreed. Aside: One small thing that bugged me a bit about some of the DLC was the complete lack of locked modules/hulls. Examples: for the Tribe, the ultra-efficient cruiser repair system was unlocked, but so was the (unique at the time) frigate repair. Contrast the Order, where the radiation gun starts unlocked, but you have to work at getting the other radiation weapon (nuclear missiles). Little touches like that enhance the game experience.

cliffski wrote:I like the current hull / armor / shields mechanic too.


The only serious complaint I have here is against armor: with the way it is calculated, in order to armor up a ship worth a darn, you wind up adding so much weight that it can't do anything but crawl. Now an obvious solution is to just reduce the weight of armor across the board, but it's possible there's a different way of using the armor values that would help as well. Maybe having armor behave similarly to shields, where each plate has a resistance and a damage absorbable?

One thing about shields: the "once it's gone, it's gone forever" element has always bugged me a bit. Would it be possible to have at least some shields that, once they fall, have a separate regeneration rate while down, and don't come back up until they reach some arbitrary strength (say 50%, or maybe another variable inside the shield itself)?

cliffski wrote:One thing I was thinking of changing was the penetration mechanic, which confused almost everyone. I think a system where weapons did a variety of damage to each type would make more sense. So a weapon does 30 damage vs shields, 10 vs armor, 3 vs hull, for example. Or maybe better expressed as it does 35 damage, and is 100% effective vs shields, 33% vs armor, 10% vs hull.
That way we can have weapons that are purely anti-shield, that are useless once shields are down. It also means that we get less scenarios of 'invulnerable' fleets where the enemies choice of weapons has insufficient penetration to do *any* damage, because weapons can always have 1 or 2% effectiveness vs all 3 categories, for example.


Would this then completely negate the current penetration system? I would prefer to keep the "threshold" values included to allow a little flexibility for concept (for shields, I think of a shield's resistance as "hardness" and its shieldpoints as "depth" - so you can have a shield that is extremely hard, but very thin, so that only a few weapons can damage it, but one or two hits with those weapons and it's history). And there's nothing wrong with a few 0% effectiveness matchups scattered about - if my engineers brought me a cruiser shield that wasn't completely proofed against bargain-basement fighter lasers, I'd space them immediately.

In practice, you can have anti-shield weapons in GSB1 (high shield penetration, 0 armor penetration; plus shield disruptors) and the same for anti-armor. Adding a factor for hull damage would definitely be beneficial, since right now anti-shield and anti-armor weapons can be combined and you call it good. It would be awesome to have more precisely-targeted types of weapons (anti-shield, anti-armor, anti-hull/structure); I'm just saying that the current system is already halfway there.

cliffski wrote:I'm interested in experienced GSB players opinions and suggestions. Obviously this stuff will be constantly tweaked up until release, but I'd like to make the big decisions on mechanics early, and with player opinions considered.


And don't think we don't appreciate your willingness and desire to let us chime in. :)
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Aeson » Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:48 pm

cliffski wrote:One thing I was thinking of changing was the penetration mechanic, which confused almost everyone. I think a system where weapons did a variety of damage to each type would make more sense. So a weapon does 30 damage vs shields, 10 vs armor, 3 vs hull, for example. Or maybe better expressed as it does 35 damage, and is 100% effective vs shields, 33% vs armor, 10% vs hull.
That way we can have weapons that are purely anti-shield, that are useless once shields are down. It also means thats we get less scenarios of 'invulnerable' fleets where the enemies choice of weapons has insufficient penetration to do *any* damage, because weapons can always have 1 or 2% effectiveness vs all 3 categories, for example.

I don't think the penetration mechanics were all that confusing, personally - resistance > penetration = no effect isn't that difficult to understand, nor is the 2% critical hit chance. The main issue I had with the penetration mechanics was more one of just how high you could push up the average armor rating while still having enough stuff on the ship that it qualified as a reasonable target for the driver and gunner AI. I think the bigger issue was feedback to the player - certain things, like true armor tanks, just don't show up outside of challenges, and so you when find out that your favorite plasma weapon which cut through the armor of everything in all the scenarios and has a penetration capable of beating the average armor on your designs just bounces off of this tank ship over and over again, you get annoyed and don't see why it didn't work - after all, you hadn't been shown that you could make something with that high an armor rating, and, at least for me, seeing just how high you could push the armor rating just wasn't something that occurred to me to do because it conceptually wasn't something that made a lot of sense to me.

I also agree with Ace that it's not a bad thing to leave certain immunities in place. For example, I would generally expect that a weapon designed for fighters to use against fighters could be little threat to a capital ship's shields and armor, though it may perform acceptably against frigates, and the penetration system did a reasonable job for this. A system without some kind of system where you must beat this resistance number or you won't do any damage lacks the ability to distinguish between differing armor weights. There's a potential problem in such a system, because that 5" gun that blasts through tank armor is barely going to scratch the paint on a battleship's armor, and the only way to make that distinction in a system without some kind of penetration mechanic is to make the battleship have significantly more armor than the tank, to the point that an amount of armor damage threatening to the tank could be trivial to the battleship. The lack of a penetration mechanic also has the potential to make regeneration and weapon DPS too important, as the only determining factor of whether or not you can break an opponent's shields/armor/hull is whether or not your weapon DPS can overcome their shield/armor/hull regeneration.

I will also say that armor that simply acts a second non-regenerating health bar is not particularly useful to me, as armor which acts as a second health bar is not significantly different from adding a high-health module to the ship, and is at risk of being seriously overshadowed by shield generators which both increase the normal health bar and provide a regenerating second health bar.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Berny_74 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:00 am

I did not play much GTB so I can form an opinion there on comparisons with that game.

cliffski wrote:I think it would be good to keep the unlock system, where more obscure varieties of a module can be unlocked after winning battles.


Honestly I found this more frustrating than helping beyond the first few scenarios. Every reinstall from one PC to another or new hard drive install had me searching out the ini file to simply change the value to something where I could simply purchase it all. Perhaps a small tutorial scenario of a few missions that quickly unlocks everything? That is optional....

cliffski wrote:I like the current hull / armor / shields mechanic too.


Quite simply - I don't.
As stated by AcePalarum
the "once it's gone, it's gone forever" element has always bugged me.


If a shield system could simply come back in GSB1 it would have given frigates a huge edge in combat. If the shields are dropped perhaps use something like the shield stability recharge rate to figure out when a shield pops back up.

And as stated by Aeson on armour problems, although his concerns and responses may differ slightly from mine.

For armour - I hate the fact that it just ablates away completely and quite quickly. Perhaps armour could have 2 thresholds.... 1 rating like in GSB whereby a weapon required a certain percentage to hit (excluding lucky hits) and a 2nd which would reduce the damage by a percent dependent on the armour.

An "up-armoured" Cruiser should be virtually invulnerable to fighter weapons that are not meant for anti-cruiser weapons. The player should be given the ability to find his own happy medium of how much armour vs speed/space/cost.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Archduke Astro » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:05 am

cliffski wrote:I think I do prefer the GSB1 system to Gratuitous Tank Battles (where you added modifier upgrades to a module), so you would have, for example a variety of beam lasers, each with different costs, crew,power,weight levels, and you would select the one that suited your purposes.

Red Cinema wrote:In particular I prefer the GSB method to the Tank Battles method of handling module improvements. TB module changes gave me a headache after awhile.

Folks, I think that the third option of a "middle ground" concept, if well-implemented, could actually be rather successful.

What I propose is retention of the existing GSB1 system, where the player chooses the module that most closely matches the tactical situation. However, add the following new features to that method --

Create a new group of modules which are superficially similar to the "rigs" from GTB. But unlike GTB, these new modules do not add to the performance of a single module of any type. Instead, they will improve ("buff") the performance of all installed modules of a given type. This gameplay dynamic will function regardless of the number of modules of a similar type that are installed aboard the player's ship. Only one standard module "of interest" might be installed; maybe a dozen are installed. Doesn't matter -- a Buff Module will assist all of them equally.

The overall goal is to add to the ship's tactical distinctiveness by allowing it to find a degree of small-to-medium -- but still useful -- extra performance in a new way that simply adding a few more standard modules cannot provide. Buff modules are therefore a "quality, not quantity" option for the player. I don't think that a large number of these per-ship would be desirable. As long as the usefulness and uniqueness of each buff's nature is well-crafted, even a modest number to choose from (3-6 total to choose from, depending on the size of a hull?) might be fully adequate to compliment GSB1's module system.

Buff modules will not be stackable in any way. Two or more buff modules of the same exact kind are prohibited.


Many useful possibilities exist here. Precise specs are sort of pointless at this stage, so here are just a few tentative examples...

Example 1:
An engine-output buff module that improves all installed engines (the exact type of engines will not matter), granting a universal +15% extra thrust and reduction of all engine power requirements by 80% (GSB1's engine power needs are already very tiny -- GSB2's should cost more). Perhaps a side effect of reducing the hitpoints of all installed engines by 25% might be interesting, plus a higher-than-typical credit cost for purchasing this buff. Within GSB2, such a buff module could possibly replace GSB1's existing High-Efficiency Engine module.

Example 2:
A weapon-damage buff module that improves all installed weapons of a single type (beam, bullet, missile, or plasma), granting a universal +20% extra damage per hit on the target. In addition to the purchase price of this buff module, a 25% reduction applied to maximum and optimum ranges of those buffed weapons might also be fair here. The game GUI should be tweaked to show the smaller "range rings" on the Deployment screen and the Battle screen; give these altered range rings a new color (bright electric blue?) to show that they're the result of a buff.

Example 3:
A weapon-recharge/reload buff module that improves all installed weapons of a single type, granting a universal +15% rate of fire speed-up, but also including a +33% addition to those weapons' power requirements. Extra energy is needed to run the cooling systems, due to less time available for dissipating each fired/launched/projcted shot's heat.

Example 4:
A point-defense-accuracy buff module that improves all installed PD systems, granting a universal +15% Tracking improvement to them. This is not the same effect as GSB1's Point Defense Scanner, which only aids in spotting Decoy Missiles. Possibly adding +66% (or more) to crew requirements for all PD modules onboard might be one cost of this advantage.

Other helpful and interesting buffs are possible; specific effects can be debated. :)


Buff Modules can be easily regulated by hull size. Gunships could be limited to 1 (I would not give any to Fighters); Frigates and Destroyers to 2; Cruisers and Dreadnoughts to 3.

Or you could specify that the "improved" new (new to GSB2) hulls within each overall hull size gets a greater quantity: Gunships would still receive only 1 (and 0 for Fighters); Frigates 1, Destroyers 2; Cruisers 1, Dreadnoughts 2.

Or simply abandon any pretense of democracy, and arrange the maximum limit of number of Buff Modules per hull on a smoothly ascending scale: 1 for Gunships, 2 for Frigates, 3 for Destroyers, 4 for Cruisers, 5 for Dreadnoughts. That will make for some very exciting and hotly-contested battles...

Anyhow, other similar ways of setting the maximum number of Buff modules exist and can be mixed & matched during game development. Buff performance can and should also be tweaked for balance according to what general hull size (small, medium, large) they're intended for.

Buffs should be somewhat expensive (but not cripplingly so!); if the player wishes to conserve credits by not buying the full quantity that he's allowed, he should be allowed to do so without penalty.

Why heck, in addition to the above you could even make them subject to scenario module-deployment limitations, just like every other kind of module.

Everything related to Buff functions and deployment should be fully moddable.



...more musings and general Modules concepts a bit later this evening...
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby darkstar076 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:15 am

cliffski wrote:I'm starting to think about the design for the modules in GSB2. I am hoping to add a bunch of new stuff, specifically stuff that allows one ship to support another, but forgetting that for a minute, I'm thinking in broader terms about what to change from GSB1.

Shameless plug: [=- Master Wish List -=] GSB 2.0 has some rather great ideas gathered from the far reaches of the forums ;)

cliffski wrote:I think I do prefer the GSB1 system to Gratuitous Tank Battles (where you added modifier upgrades to a module), so you would have, for example a variety of beam lasers, each with different costs, crew,power,weight levels, and you would select the one that suited your purposes.

Similar to Archduke, I would also like to see both methods of weapon systems come into play however I am more thinking that the Rigs are applied to the individual slot.

On your ship you have a small number of special slots have the ability to mount a rig on that particular slot which will alter the characteristics of the module mounted in the Rigged Slot. For example - Going up against an Armor heavy fleet ? add some armour penetrating boost rigs to the slots that hold your armour piercing weapons.

To help with balancing you could have a case where while the rig might positively effect some stats of the weapons it can also negatively effect others. For example, increase base damage and armor effectiveness but decrease refire rate and range.

cliffski wrote:Broadly I think the system of balancing weight vs cost vs crew vs effectiveness is a good one.

I think it would be good to keep the unlock system, where more obscure varieties of a module can be unlocked after winning battles.

I like the current hull / armor / shields mechanic too.

Yup, yup & Yup :)

cliffski wrote:One thing I was thinking of changing was the penetration mechanic, which confused almost everyone. I think a system where weapons did a variety of damage to each type would make more sense. So a weapon does 30 damage vs shields, 10 vs armor, 3 vs hull, for example. Or maybe better expressed as it does 35 damage, and is 100% effective vs shields, 33% vs armor, 10% vs hull.
That way we can have weapons that are purely anti-shield, that are useless once shields are down. It also means thats we get less scenarios of 'invulnerable' fleets where the enemies choice of weapons has insufficient penetration to do *any* damage, because weapons can always have 1 or 2% effectiveness vs all 3 categories, for example.

The advantage to the Percentage option is that you can shape a weapon into a role much easier, (ie shield buster would have 200% but only 10% in hull and armor)

A Question: Will the Armor modules contribute to both Hull Hitpoints and Armor Hitpoints or will they only contribute to Armor ?

Since now that every weapon can harm a ship (to a point), they are going to explode much sooner. This means speed is going to be even more crucial as a slow ship is a dead ship.
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Doctor Xenon » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:06 am

I'm not sure if this is possible or even needed, but it would be interesting to see certain modules that are compatible with multiple ship types. An example could be an anti-fighter weapon that could work on both frigates and cruisers, or a point defence laser, or whatever else. I recall in the Praetorian Industries mod there were some modules that were essentially the same thing, but were classified in different groups because of their different ship classification.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules, and combined-arms combat

Postby Archduke Astro » Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:53 am

Doctor Xenon wrote:I'm not sure if this is possible or even needed, but it would be interesting to see certain modules that are compatible with multiple ship types. An example could be an anti-fighter weapon that could work on both frigates and cruisers, or a point defence laser, or whatever else. I recall in the Praetorian Industries mod there were some modules that were essentially the same thing, but were classified in different groups because of their different ship classification.

Welcome aboard, Doctor Xenon! Thanks for posting in this discussion.

In the previous development thread about GSB2, I was posting (see final paragraph here, and most of this post too) about the value of positioning the sequel game in favor of combined-arms operations. Put simply, combined arms involves using multiple types of ships/units/vehicles together for victory in battle. This is not as straightfoward as it seems, because each type of fighting unit itself -- as well as the offensive and defensive equipment it carries -- has its own assets and limitations, all of which are usually substantial as well as unique to that type of unit. More on that in a minute.

The game's developer, cliffski (Cliff Harris), is intrigued by combined-arms operations and I am as well. (He's fascinated by tanks and I'm fascinated by naval warships, but overall we're on the same side of the subject. :D ) The extent to which combined arms would transform GSB2 is very interesting, and it will revitalize the legacy of GSB1's combat dynamics, many of which are losing some of their shine (they're based on a game engine & balance decisions that are nearly five years old).

This is where the module changes come in.

As seen in the previous GSB2 thread, Cliffski is apparently in favor of allowing certain classes of hulls to have some degree of access to the weapons, defenses, etc. of the hull size below them. This means that at least some Fighter items may become available for GSB2's new Gunships; at least some Frigate items may become available for GSB2's new Destroyers; at least some Cruiser items may become available to GSB2's new Dreadnoughts.

Where this process becomes quite tricky is when contemplating the exact selection of which items should be made available to other hulls in the game. If, like with some GSB1 mods, there is major duplication of items across the hull classes, one can quickly end up with an assortment of fleet units that are much too self-sufficient, needing little or no support from other friendly units. That appeals to the type of person who wants everything to be an unstoppable steamroller, with all ships somehow being more than a little too wonderful at any & every given task; bigger, better, faster, more.

But it doesn't usually make for a very interesting game. :/

What combined arms means within GSB2 is not only an interlocking web of mutually supporting strengths aboard very different (moreso than in GSB1) types & sizes of hulls, but also the deliberate inclusion of calculated weaknesses, too. Not only does this element of risk appeal to whatever realism/believability a "gratuitous" game can hope for [-chuckle-], but it's also a reflection of the semi-specialization that I'm arguing GSB2 ships should be capable of. Across a span of gaming experience that extends back to the disco era [-blush-], I've often found that what makes game units truly interesting isn't just the menu of things which they can do well -- it's also due to the things that they can't do well. Combined arms acknowledges that fact of life, and does more than that. It embraces that fact and welcomes it into the family.

As part of the tactical ecosystem I'm predicting for the sequel game, the individual warships within any given group of ships will have to cooperate much more strongly than in the original game in order to survive (let alone actually kick some alien ass). If this comes to pass, not only will a player not need numerous identical weapons/defenses on every size of hull, but such comforting "sameness" would actually be something of a waste. New, customized gadgets which are unique to the newer hull sizes will do a better job than simply spamming generic items we know and love from GSB1 up and down most of the range of warship classes. Such module-spamming across hull sizes may very well be possible; it'll just be inefficient as hell. The new hulls will likely have access to some of the standard equipment of the ship class they "evolved" from -- and I do think they should have the option! -- but I believe that they generally won't need it. The arguments I've posted elsewhere in favor of making frequent use of "Destroyer Escorts" in GSB2 fleets showed another aspect of why I think that is so, and how much more fun combined arms tactics will make this game.

In closing, that's why I believe that massive "tech sloshing" of various modules, icecube-tray-style, might be available within GSB2 but will not usually be necessary or even desirable. I hope that my long-term insights here (peculiar though they may sound) have been useful.
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules and Slots

Postby Archduke Astro » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:16 am

You prolific folks have raised some helpful as well as intriguing points. I'm going to comment & critique in (I hope) chronological order. But first...


A. )

Concerning thoughts of modules in general, there's another angle here that nobody else has even mentioned yet and which seriously needs to be developed further:

    module slots themselves.

GSB1 only has two types of module slots: one for weapon modules, and one for non-weapon modules. The former can also hold the latter's type of items. Two slots is as far as the original game took the concept, and let's be direct: that isn't far at all. :(

As shown right here in the Master Wish List, there's an easy way to provide ships with much more functionality by way of a minimal change to the game.


If GSB2 has one new type of weapon slot and one new type of non-weapon slot added to the old slots from GSB1, this opens up a significantly wider space for player creativity to thrive.


This is not the first time it's been mentioned, but it deserves to be said again today:
My proposal adds dramatically more re-playability to the game, which also increases the value of each customer's purchase and leads to increased goodwill for Positech. Making the game more extensible than its predecessor is a major advantage, and will help encourage more buyers. I can't stress that enough. You want a feature which comes with enough tactical "shiny!" to catch potential new customers' attention, but also offers fresh and exciting functionality as well? This is such a feature.

So that's the economic argument in favor of the new slots. Here's how it works within gameplay itself...


B. )

The first new hull slot is the Advanced Module slot.
To distinguish it easily from the basic module slot, this one is octagonal.


Advanced Module slots can hold either the high-tech modules they're intended for, OR standard modules instead. This flexibility prevents hulls from having to be given a massive increase in their total number of slots. A ratio of approximately 1 Advanced Module slot to 2 or 3 standard module slots on the "average" GSB2 hull in each size is suggested. There will be exceptions, but the overall goal of Advanced Modules is to improve the survivability of the ship, and also provide some "sideways" upgrade paths for secondary equipment modules. The former includes direct defenses such as shields, armor, EMP Shields, camouflage fields and target boosters. The latter includes (but is far from limited to!) engines, crew quarters, power generators, tractor beams, carrier flight decks and all manner of repair systems.

This slot will allow a second, better tier of shipboard modules to exist alongside regular ordinary modules. Higher-tech & much more capable protective and secondary systems -- including ones not even created yet! -- are now possible; the sky's the limit. Naturally not all of the above categories would necessarily be interesting even if they had an advanced "big brother" (or even more than one big brother), but many of those definitely would. It is this ability not only to carry much higher-performance modules aboard your ships, but also to easily restrict them to a reasonable number, that makes Advanced Modules both desirable to play with as well as easy to rein in any excesses.

Add to that whatever completely new types of non-weapon modules that will appear only in GSB2 -- advanced versions of those would also be able to exist, too! The player would have a wonderful assortment of gadgets to choose from. Each ship's total pool of available modules would now have depth as well as width, and this serves as a helpful contrast to the state of GSB1. The end product is interesting and useful without being overly complex or redundant.


C. )

The second new hull slot is the Advanced Weapon slot.
To distinguish it easily from the basic weapon slot, this one is triangular.


Advanced Weapons are a more powerful tier above standard guns. No surprise there. ;) But what is a pleasant surprise is how the existence of this new slot type will allow for ships to be game-balanced between one another in fascinating new ways that simply aren't possible in GSB1. With various types of exciting new super-rapid-fire, extended-range, and extra high damage-per-shot weapons doubtless appearing in GSB2 alongside the more modestly-capable (and modestly-priced) weapons, the best guns can very easily be limited to installation into Advanced Slots only. This helps prevent massively out-of-balance warships from being spammed across the missions or the online Challenges.

Advanced Weapon slots can hold either the high-tech guns they're intended for, OR standard guns instead. This flexibility prevents hulls from having to be blessed with a massive increase in their total number of slots. A ratio of approximately 1 Advanced Weapon slot to 3 or 4 standard weapon slots on the "average" GSB2 hull in each size is suggested. When compared to Advanced Modules, the Advanced Weapons slots will exist in slightly lesser numbers on most hulls. That is because I believe that the relative value & combat usefulness of the upper-tier guns will be rather strong; if I'm wrong about that, we can bump up the number of Advanced Weapon slots somewhat.

When weapon Firing Arcs become a part of GSB2, the often-requested "spinal-mounted" guns can likewise be balanced by only being able to function within an Advanced Weapon slot. Some mechanism will be needed in the code in order for this type of slot to know when the player is plugging-in a spinal-mount weapon, so that this type of gun is correctly given a firing arc that's much narrower than the default arc a slot normally allows for other, non-spinal weaponry.


D. )

We don't have to, but if we wish to put even stronger limits upon advanced weaponry beyond the slot requirement, I can cover that as well. GSB2 can easily be set up such that there's a new module type called Advanced Power. Simply require Advanced Weapons to be energized only with units of Advanced Power.

But unlike the ways that the advanced slots can carry non-advanced items, an Advanced Power generator might only be able to energize Advanced Weapons, and no other guns. I can't help but think of the Wave Motion Gun from "Star Blazers" (aka "Space Battleship Yamato"), and how it can be energized only by connecting the Yamato's Wave Motion Engine to it.

But in their basic form, Advanced Weapon slots are a simple and flexible means to fine-tune our ships and to grow our menu of useful choices to an extent that the original game could not ever hope to match.


E. )

Together, the two new hull slot types I am proposing are a smooth and seamless extension of the existing module and weapon slots from the original game. They are not a difficult concept to grasp. Neither are they something that only a "hardcore" player can understand and make use of.

Even the shapes of the Advanced Slots' icons are pure simplicity itself! How?

The Advanced Module slot is closely related to the square of the basic module slot, except that its corners are all cut -- 8 faces instead of 4.

And the Advanced Weapon Slot is also closely related to the hexagon of the basic weapon slot, except that its triangle has exactly half the faces of the hexagon -- 3 instead of 6.

Neither type of Advanced Slot can easily be confused with the other one, OR confused with the basic slot it is an extension of. It truly is simple. :D


It has been five years since the first appearance of GSB. The competition is not going to be standing still. It's 2014, Cliff -- potential new customers are going to expect -- and rightly so -- a lot more flexibility from GSB2 than its predecessor could give. Unless something refreshing and useful is provided in GSB2 to improve the old, basic slot-and-module dynamic, the addition of ZERO new functionality to the GSB1 hull slots is not going to be greeted with joy.

Instead, let's advance the state of the game by implementing the two new hull slots as a powerful yet easy-to-enjoy gift to "The Next Generation" of players in the GSB series. "Make it so!" ;)


F. )

For maximum creative usefulness, ALL aspects of the new hull slots need to be fully accessible to modders.
This allows the modding community to pick up where vanilla must, due to time pressure, inevitably turn back.
The modders CAN and WILL do that, Cliff --
-- but ONLY IF you grant them the tools to complete the mission.
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Archduke Astro » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:26 am

1. ) -
cliffski wrote:Broadly I think the system of balancing weight vs cost vs crew vs effectiveness is a good one.

Agreed in full. While the precise nature of those interdependencies could be tweaked somewhat in GSB2 for the sake of keeping things fresh, the overall regime is solid and I support continuing it.



cliffski wrote:I think it would be good to keep the unlock system, where more obscure varieties of a module can be unlocked after winning battles.

Same here. My one suggestion here is to make really powerful/high-utility modules, weapons, etc. have a proportionally higher unlock value than they currently do in GSB1. Give the players somewhat more of a "Maltese Falcon" to aspire to on occasion. ;)

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2. ) -
AcePalarum wrote:
cliffski wrote:One thing I was thinking of changing was the penetration mechanic, which confused almost everyone. I think a system where weapons did a variety of damage to each type would make more sense. So a weapon does 30 damage vs shields, 10 vs armor, 3 vs hull, for example. Or maybe better expressed as it does 35 damage, and is 100% effective vs shields, 33% vs armor, 10% vs hull.
That way we can have weapons that are purely anti-shield, that are useless once shields are down. It also means that we get less scenarios of 'invulnerable' fleets where the enemies choice of weapons has insufficient penetration to do *any* damage, because weapons can always have 1 or 2% effectiveness vs all 3 categories, for example.

Would this then completely negate the current penetration system? I would prefer to keep the "threshold" values included to allow a little flexibility for concept (for shields, I think of a shield's resistance as "hardness" and its shieldpoints as "depth" - so you can have a shield that is extremely hard, but very thin, so that only a few weapons can damage it, but one or two hits with those weapons and it's history). And there's nothing wrong with a few 0% effectiveness matchups scattered about - if my engineers brought me a cruiser shield that wasn't completely proofed against bargain-basement fighter lasers, I'd space them immediately.

Aeson wrote:I don't think the penetration mechanics were all that confusing, personally - resistance > penetration = no effect isn't that difficult to understand, nor is the 2% critical hit chance.

Concerning gunnery penetration dynamics, especially regarding shields, I'm in agreement with Ace Palarum and Aeson: retain the bulk of that useful feature, but also make necessary tweaks to the remainder of it. Particularly, I'm concerned about the way that armor resistance in GSB1 can easily spiral up and out of the practical likelihood for ships to harmed at all, outside of the chance of a lucky shot. Same for the shocking way that armor resistance begins to vanish at an accelerating rate -- like a sugar cube in a glass of hot tea -- once it starts taking major damage. Some method of helping both ends of armor's bell curve would be my request.

As long as the penetration effects -- in whatever form they're going to take -- are clearly spelled-out in GSB2's game tutorial as well as by in-game tooltips, it should not be easy for a player to miss discovering that data. Sure, the original game fumbled that to an extent, but we can (and should) do better informing the players in the sequel. In GSB1, that was actually less of a game-feature failure and more of a user interface failure.

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3. ) -
Aeson wrote:I also agree with Ace that it's not a bad thing to leave certain immunities in place. For example, I would generally expect that a weapon designed for fighters to use against fighters could be little threat to a capital ship's shields and armor, though it may perform acceptably against frigates, and the penetration system did a reasonable job for this. A system without some kind of system where you must beat this resistance number or you won't do any damage lacks the ability to distinguish between differing armor weights.

Interesting "smoking gun" you dscribed there, Aeson. I'm compelled to agree with you. Crafting the GSB2 AI such that it has some ability to detect the armor resistance of a target, and then determine whether your ship can actually crack through the target's armor with the weaponry it has -- or whether its mere Quantum Blasters should not even bother trying -- would be of very substantial help.

Aeson wrote:There's a potential problem in such a system, because that 5" gun that blasts through tank armor is barely going to scratch the paint on a battleship's armor, and the only way to make that distinction in a system without some kind of penetration mechanic is to make the battleship have significantly more armor than the tank, to the point that an amount of armor damage threatening to the tank could be trivial to the battleship. The lack of a penetration mechanic also has the potential to make regeneration and weapon DPS too important, as the only determining factor of whether or not you can break an opponent's shields/armor/hull is whether or not your weapon DPS can overcome their shield/armor/hull regeneration.

In related thoughts, I have recently wondered if making some form of partially self-repairing armor as the "standard" in GSB2 might be beneficial. It would not require external supplies or anything of that nature. Like a shield's recharge rating, it might not necessarily be quick but the process would be steady AND it would not be reliant upon the good graces of any other module on your ship. This brings me to...

The current crop of armor-repair modules in the original game would still have utility here, though. I pondered that these should be capable of much faster armor-fixing than the self-healing mechanic, and available as an option for the discerning captain.

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4. ) -
AcePalarum wrote:In practice, you can have anti-shield weapons in GSB1 (high shield penetration, 0 armor penetration; plus shield disruptors) and the same for anti-armor. Adding a factor for hull damage would definitely be beneficial, since right now anti-shield and anti-armor weapons can be combined and you call it good. It would be awesome to have more precisely-targeted types of weapons (anti-shield, anti-armor, anti-hull/structure); I'm just saying that the current system is already halfway there.

I feel the same way. All that needs to be done is to code an addition to the currently "binary" set of damage effects. For my own part, the existing dynamic is conceptually solid to a large degree. However, I'm increasingly dissastisfied by its shortcomings. Let's enhance this for the good of the sequel.

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5. ) -
Berny_74 wrote:
cliffski wrote:I like the current hull / armor / shields mechanic too.


Quite simply - I don't.
As stated by AcePalarum
the "once it's gone, it's gone forever" element has always bugged me.


If a shield system could simply come back in GSB1 it would have given frigates a huge edge in combat. If the shields are dropped perhaps use something like the shield stability recharge rate to figure out when a shield pops back up.

Berny_74, that's an idea which is dear to my heart. Thank you for articulating it. I especially like the idea of using the stability-recharge timer as a clock to measure how long until a shield resurrects itself. Certain other shield generators which can resurrect at a faster rate than that could be available for a price premium, too.

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6. ) -
darkstar076 wrote:
cliffski wrote:I'm starting to think about the design for the modules in GSB2. I am hoping to add a bunch of new stuff, specifically stuff that allows one ship to support another, but forgetting that for a minute, I'm thinking in broader terms about what to change from GSB1.

Shameless plug: [=- Master Wish List -=] GSB 2.0 has some rather great ideas gathered from the far reaches of the forums ;)

And what an excellent resource it is! Anyone serious about the sequel game should read it from start to finish.


darkstar076 wrote:
cliffski wrote:One thing I was thinking of changing was the penetration mechanic, which confused almost everyone. I think a system where weapons did a variety of damage to each type would make more sense. So a weapon does 30 damage vs shields, 10 vs armor, 3 vs hull, for example. Or maybe better expressed as it does 35 damage, and is 100% effective vs shields, 33% vs armor, 10% vs hull.
That way we can have weapons that are purely anti-shield, that are useless once shields are down. It also means thats we get less scenarios of 'invulnerable' fleets where the enemies choice of weapons has insufficient penetration to do *any* damage, because weapons can always have 1 or 2% effectiveness vs all 3 categories, for example.

The advantage to the Percentage option is that you can shape a weapon into a role much easier, (ie shield buster would have 200% but only 10% in hull and armor)

A Question: Will the Armor modules contribute to both Hull Hitpoints and Armor Hitpoints or will they only contribute to Armor ?

Since now that every weapon can harm a ship (to a point), they are going to explode much sooner. This means speed is going to be even more crucial as a slow ship is a dead ship.

Emphasis mine. Darkstar, you've just raised a fascinating as well as sobering point.

If, as I hope, the defense-penetration dynamic for GSB2 migrates to some sort of percentage basis (even while retaining a few notable breakpoints along the way, as Ace Palarum originally advocated), starship longevity will also be noticeably shortened.

This is going to become another argument in favor of some form of partially self-repairing armor and shields which can resurrect themselves.

(Oh yes, and the Destroyer Escort ships I keep advocating for GSB2 will help keep your bacon out of the fire!)

Even so, "discretion is the better part of valor," and evasion will likely become a bit better than trying to be stoic and absorb damage that's leaking through the defenses at a slowly increasing pace. Speed, therefore, is life. If our formations can muster enough speed to exceed the tracking accuracy of enemy weapons, we can tactically withdraw long enough and far enough to make some repairs before charging "once more, dear friends, into the breach."

That, in turn, will also require a shift away from many of the claustrophobically small maps of the past, and on to greener pastures with more generously-sized battlespaces. This will also go hand-in-glove with the new maneuver mechanics that cliffski is considering.

Summary: I like it. May we "live in interesting times"! Darkstar, you're really on the right track. ;)
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby cliffski » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:38 am

Yikes, you people will be the death of me :D
(You cannot *imagine* the complexity I've had to go through with GSB 2's new engine, just graphically, ignoring *any* gameplay changes or improvements...*

Anyway...
1) I definitely agree 100% that the 'shields are down for good' mechanic was a bad idea, and that shields should at least in some cases be able to come back online. I might be tempted to link this to the existence of repair modules of some type, with the implication that you need a few damage-control teams on the ship to have this capability.

2) Engines.
Nobody has mentioned (in the discussion of slots) the suggestion of engine-only slots, to force players to have engines on all ships (unless we end up with immobile starbases etc). I think we do need some mechanic whereby the vast majority of ships actually have engines.

3) Fighter-Carriers.
I'm potentially considering requiring carriers for all fighters deployed to a battle, making the carrier modules fairly cheap and high capacity. This prevents players having a fleet of 500 fighters and 20 frigates and zero cruisers, as carrier modules would be cruiser/dreadnought only.

4) Fuel.
Yeah I'm going there :D. How about a mechanic whereby bigger ships (anything above gunship) can manufacture its own fuel using plasma-subspace-technobabble generators, but the fighters & gunshipos need to refuel. This would *demand* that they have carriers, and also that those carriers remain intact. They can refuel just as they repair now, and this opens up the cool mechanic of targeting enemy carriers to neutralize their fighter fleets.

5) On the topic of rigs / advanced module slot types. I am slightly wary of this. GSB is complex for a newcomer, and I don't want them to 'bounce off' the ship design screen in panic. I can see it as a useful mechanic, but I will muse on it further

6) 100% agreed on combined arms, and the idea that some modules work across different hull types, some do not. Generally I plan to make fighters & gunship modules interchangeable, destroyer and frigates interchangeable and cruisers and dreadnoughts interchangeable. Within that, there will be dreadnought-only weapons, and a lot of destroyer-only support modules. Plus it would be nice to restrict some frigate weapons to just frigates to ensure the destroyers are more support-focused than offensive.

*you will see what I mean when I do demonstration videos of the new engine. It's hard to convey it in screenshots. Plus 2560x1440 res is my new baseline that I'm testing performance on, so I'm hoping for huge fleets and bigger battles.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Red Cinema » Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:41 pm

Just a quick agreement to the idea that the AI and sensor combination (brains and "hey what effect are my shots having") should help short-circuit gamey builds such as the "hey you automated opponent, here is one super armored nigh invulnerable target for you to shoot at...while the rest of my fleet chews on you from a greater distance." Or the "here is a super-fast target you'll have a hard time hitting so shoot at that while the rest of my fleet chews on you" trick. I'm sure there are more.

I'm ALL FOR fighters requiring carriers.

I'd also be ALL FOR there being some kind of storage / cartage / logistical element to missiles--this balance issue is addressed through effective anti-missile defenses, as I recall, but I've never liked the table-top gaming ploy of "here I am at the edge of the table...unloading a gazillion credits of ordnance...." That trick works on the gaming table, but those ships had to have space for all that hardware, and that had to get dragged to the battle somehow, and what about the next battle--got reloads? This point is much less important than the fighters/carriers thought above.

Such fun. . . .

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Aeson » Mon Jun 02, 2014 3:54 pm

cliffski wrote:1) I definitely agree 100% that the 'shields are down for good' mechanic was a bad idea, and that shields should at least in some cases be able to come back online. I might be tempted to link this to the existence of repair modules of some type, with the implication that you need a few damage-control teams on the ship to have this capability.

I think that it might be a decent idea to have some more expensive shield modules that can naturally come back up as long (perhaps only if the generators haven't been damaged, if that's feasible?) and leave the others requiring some kind of repair module. There would probably need to be some kind of trade-off between the advanced shields and the GSB1-style shield generators so as to prevent it from being advanced shields all the time or some such thing - perhaps worse stacking penalties, lower maximum strength, or lower regeneration, or perhaps a repair module can bring the shields back on line faster than the advanced shields can recover?

cliffski wrote:2) Engines.
Nobody has mentioned (in the discussion of slots) the suggestion of engine-only slots, to force players to have engines on all ships (unless we end up with immobile starbases etc). I think we do need some mechanic whereby the vast majority of ships actually have engines.

I would not be opposed to having some engine-only slots, though I don't believe that their inclusion would necessitate adding engines unless the system changes to "all slots must be filled" or you include "all ships must have engines to reach the battle" anomalies as a default scenario condition. It kind of depends on how many engine-only slots there are, though.

cliffski wrote:3) Fighter-Carriers.
I'm potentially considering requiring carriers for all fighters deployed to a battle, making the carrier modules fairly cheap and high capacity. This prevents players having a fleet of 500 fighters and 20 frigates and zero cruisers, as carrier modules would be cruiser/dreadnought only.

I wouldn't oppose this, although I'd suggest having a 'fighter hyperdrive' or some such thing that made the fighter slower and more expensive but allowed it to deploy without a carrier (if speed isn't the primary determining factor of fighter effectiveness in GSB2, then substitute anything that makes the fighter less effective for 'slower'). I also tend to think that requiring carriers is unnecessary if the fuel constraint goes in, as there would then be a trade-off in fleet composition between going without carriers and gambling that your fighters do enough work before running out of fuel and bringing in enough carriers to keep the fighter fleet going for a more protracted battle.

cliffski wrote:4) Fuel.
Yeah I'm going there :D. How about a mechanic whereby bigger ships (anything above gunship) can manufacture its own fuel using plasma-subspace-technobabble generators, but the fighters & gunshipos need to refuel. This would *demand* that they have carriers, and also that those carriers remain intact. They can refuel just as they repair now, and this opens up the cool mechanic of targeting enemy carriers to neutralize their fighter fleets.

Fine by me, although I don't necessarily agree that it would demand that you bring carriers to the battle. It also kind of depends on just how often the fighters need to refuel, relative to the duration of the engagement. If an engagement lasts an average of five minutes, then I probably don't care if a fighter that has four minutes worth of fuel has a carrier, whereas I'd care more if the fighter had one minute worth of fuel. There's also the question of whether or not I can make a fighter that will do enough for me with only its initial load of fuel that it wouldn't matter if it had a carrier to refuel at. Might be interesting to make fighters retreat when they run out of fuel if there are no remaining carriers, and deduct their health from fleet health as if they'd been destroyed. Another thing that could be interesting would be to have a trade-off in flight times - perhaps certain engines or power generators are more efficient but provide less output thrust or power, extending the flight time but decreasing the fighter's performance a bit, or perhaps there are more expensive versions of the engines and generators that extend the flight time without hampering the fighter's performance but the cost increase means you'll have fewer of them than you would have using the standard engines and generators.

cliffski wrote:5) On the topic of rigs / advanced module slot types. I am slightly wary of this. GSB is complex for a newcomer, and I don't want them to 'bounce off' the ship design screen in panic. I can see it as a useful mechanic, but I will muse on it further

I think it's a question of what you do with it. Allowing a module to have 1 modification made to it and giving a limited set of modifiers that provide trade-offs on module requirements - say, reducing the crew requirement but increasing the power requirement by adding a Droid Control Unit to a module - is fairly useful for high levels of optimization but can probably be ignored if you just want to get a ship out.


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