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Space combat in Imperia

Discussion in 'Steve's Thoughts (The Developer Forum)' started by pavlosg, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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    Hello fellow emperors and empresses !

    I kind of hike over Steve's development space to start the discussion about space combat in Imperia. Steve and I have talked about it, tuned our visions and came to some broad lines. He also saw some photoshop mockups: time has come to engage the higher gear, as we shall start to work on the battles proper.

    For those who did not read some previous posts in the 'starships' thread (here), space combat in Imperia is not interactive: it happens too far away and you as an emperor do not command fleets directly. You appoint admirals, give them a set of general directives, and they choose which course of action they will take.

    Space combat is made up of two phases: the approach and the battle proper. We shall talk about the approach in another post, as it is being reworked.

    Here is a mockup of the battle-phase below:

    [​IMG]

    In the example above, two fleets under imperial command (one yours and one from your allies) are attacking a Kaozheng, a planet controlled by an enemy. Your admiral decided to split your forces in order to execute a pincer movement: this is shown in the top right little window: you can see there the status of your admiral: he seems in good spirits: he feels "daring" and his current plan is "pincer movement". As you can see to the left, nothing is known about the enemy commander, if there is one.

    So, your admiral chose to split the fleets: each fleet is shown with its separate window and status bar. You can immediately see its status, damage level, and its current set of orders. The orders most of the times follow what the admiral says, but sometimes the fleet will act on its own -when it is routed, for instance. As an example, the '3rd Squadron''s status is 'coordinated' and its orders are 'long range suppression': this fleet will remain at long range and harass enemy ships. The lower fleet is executing its flanking maneuver, but has already been under enemy fire: its status is 'confused'. It will have accuracy negative modifiers to its weapons.

    Near each ships you can spot some icons. Those are critical damages: ships can be stunned or hacked, can loose power or suffer engine failure. Repairs will take only a few turns, but meanwhile ships will be vulnerable.

    You might even spot some missile volleys, in the center: the numbers below are the missiles left in the volley.

    At the right bottom of the screen are the player controls, where you can fast-forward, rewind, pause or play the battle.

    The most observant of you will spot a weird icon and a strange menu below your admiral. I lied when I said you could not influence the battle: as your psy-powers increase, there might come a time when, with the knowledge of a man, you might influence its mind. Here, you may change the behavior of your admiral: you can change its stress level, induce calm or fear. [ This feature is experimental, I haven't talked to Steve about it yet, he will discover it here, hehe].

    That's about it for the battles.

    What do you think ?

    P.
     
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  2. skd

    skd Viceroy-in-Training

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    Will it be possible to personally lead a fleet or at least be personally present to reap the glory?

    I can just imagine the situation where the ruler himself would be reluctant to hand over the fleet to anyone in fear that the admiral in question would become popular and ambitious after some great victory and turn the fleet around to return home as a conqueror.
     
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  3. Texashawk

    Texashawk Developer
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    Welcome skd!

    That's an area that we are still kicking around with the design. While I am leaning heavily towards no direct involvement, I am open to allowing your emperor to be on board the flagship as sort of a rallying/confidence symbol. (Of course, how inspirational you are depends on how popular your rule is...) One of the base design tenets of Imperia that makes it (hopefully) different from other 4X-type games is that you, as the emperor, can only do emperor-like things. You can't see or know everything, and you aren't a grey eminence microing everything behind the scenes. This will not change. What can be tweaked is exactly what is considered 'within the emperor's control'. One suggestion was to allow combat to be directed in fleets where you are personally present. We're still looking at it. What you see above will most likely be a battle-replay of a plan that you and your War Prime (essentially your Secretary of War) puts together to fufill an objective, whatever that may be. Here's what I posted on the topic many months ago on the blog, along with the Fear concept. It sort of ties together, and will affect your people's morale when you do go with your fleets:

    FEAR, simply put, is a number that is tracked concurrent with your Popular Support (PoSup) on each planet. For purposes of maintaining your hold on power, fear only has an effect when it is higher than your PoSup. It then takes the place of your PoSup, but is notated as Fear instead of PoSup and will be in red. Note that you need to have sufficient intel in order to see this specific effect on a planet. As long as your Fear rating is higher than your PoSup, it will act as your PoSup for purposes of unrest, economic effects, and most important, your hold on power. For an example, think of the Empire during Star Wars IV-VI – the populace was loyal, but only because they were cowed into obedience. Creating fear generally requires a large and loyal military, with a substantially loyal military leadership and viceroys/governors who are willing to go along and not incite a rebellion. Once you have made the decision to rule by fear, it is very difficult to rule any other way without significant nationalist policies and significant reforms for your people.


    Now, to GUNS, GUNS, GUNS!!!


    Every force in the game, whether ground or space, has 2 essential factors that determine what they will do on a given turn, and how they will perform:


    STANCE– All forces can have one of 5 stances when at an Empire world, which you as Emperor have nominal ability to manage:


    • PEACEKEEPING – This is a general ‘protecting your people’ stance. People will feel safe and protected if there are combat factors equal to the security rating of the planet. The required security rating will fluctuate depending on the size, population, ADL of the planet, and several other factors. Very Tyrannical commanders may actually not allow this stance, or at the very least be very unhappy about it.
    • GARRISON – The same general stance, but more prepared for action. People are not quite as happy about a garrisoned force, but they are still positive. Slight readiness bonuses are given.
    • STANDBY – This is a ‘neutral’ stance. Your forces are prepared to act either for or against your people. The fact that they are not designated as explicit security forces causes concern among your pops, generated as Fear.
    • SUPPRESSION – At this stance, your forces may act against your pops or your leaders as needed. Fear is generated from this action, as well as significant unrest control. Military forces who are not loyal to you or whose commander is significantly Nationalist (or just, or planner, or benevolent, etc) will not generally support this action and will not be able to be issued this stance. This stance also provides diminished protection against hostile forces.
    • INTIMIDATION – The ‘stormtrooper’ stance; you are actively working to create fear and root out disloyalty on your worlds. This stance provides maximum fear and unrest reduction, but provides very minimum actual protection against hostile forces. Only very loyal commanders will allow this stance to be enacted.

    Depending on the size, tech level, and skill of the force and the commander, it may take several months to change the stance of a given force. This represents not only the logistics of the change, but the psychological effects of taking time for your populace to actually see and believe in the change.


    Fleets have 2 additional stances: IN TRANSIT, which allows fleets to move between stars, and INACTIVE, which essentially holds the ships in a mothball status and provides no bonuses or maluses, It costs somewhat to keep an inactive fleet in the process, but less than building an entire fleet from scratch. Fleets in INACTIVE status lose ability over time, reflecting lack of practice or action. Commanders in charge of inactive fleets also tend to be annoyed at their loss of station. There will be combat stances when you send a fleet to attack a hostile system/planet, but that will be discussed in a later blog under Battle Plans.


    You will be able to see your fleets/ground forces in each system using the War Map view, which will show you the fleets, ground troops, and planetary defense bases (PDBs). You will be able to select fleets for quick action using a right-click to bring up a fleet list, which will then open up the Fleet Command System as a pop-up window, similar to the Edict window and the Character window.


    Last, let’s talk more about commanders.


    There are actually 2 ‘commanders’ of a force: a direct admiral of a fleet/general of a ground battalion, who is a character and will have all the normal characteristics as well as tactical and strategic ratings that will determine how effectively fleets will fight and conduct their stance orders.


    The other commander, the one actually giving the stance and movement orders to the fleets/divisions is normally you, but you have the option to ‘loan’ military forces to system and sector overnors (you can not give fleets to viceroys!) This will have the obvious benefit of placating them and increasing their Loyalty, but once you give a fleet to a governor, taking one away will be very damaging to their prestige, and depending on their personality, they may not choose to give the fleets back at all! At that point, you are forced as Emperor to declare war on that governor for defying the Empire, or allowing the refusal to stand.


    If you allow the refusal to stand, you stand a tremendous risk of rebellion from the affected system/sector since they see weakness from the Empire, while they see strength from their governor. This will also have ripple effects throughout the Empire as other characters will be emboldened by your timidity,


    Building new forces on a planet requires the necessary facilities – a military base to build divisions, and a starship production facility to build fleets. Creating a division or fleet takes one or more Pops – they are moved into a Military role. This also assumes the families and support staff for these divisions, which is why it takes at least one Pop to create a division or fleet. Military Pops will fight harder for their world of origin and will be less effective for suppression/intimidation roles.
     
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  4. Texashawk

    Texashawk Developer
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    And here's some expanding on the 'nuts and bolts' of the system:

    Basics


    In Imperia, all military ships will have the following:
    *Engines (warp, sublight ratings) warp speed rating determines number of distance units able to move per month
    *Weapons (missiles, cannons, lasers)
    *Defensive systems (armor, shields, ECM)
    *Subsystems (ECCM, tactical system, counter missiles)
    *Cargo capacity (for supplies and Marines)


    Ships have a extended range, long-range, medium-range, and short-range attack rating, derived from their weaponry plus AI bonus plus leadership bonuses, as well as corresponding defensive ratings. These ratings are compared to each other during each phase of a battle.


    So for example, the USS Hawking, with an extended range attack rating of 20 (they have 2 long range missile systems which at the extended range and hit probability work out to 10 each) goes up against the ISS Fubar, with an extended defense rating of 5 (they have no ECM and very basic AMM capability). Dividing the attack rating into the defense rating gives the extended range attack a 75% chance of succeeding (5/20). All attacks are considered salvos for simplicity, but each weapon fired in the salvo is checked against this hit percentage. Continuing the example, one missile system hits, and one does not. Next, damage is checked. Missiles do not have a ‘fall off’ amount with range, so the calculation is simple – damage points (say 50) minus average shield rating minus average armor rating = damage done to the ship itself. Armor damage is taken if damage points get through the shields. If no damage points get through the shields, no armor damage is taken. From that point, there is a determination of which systems are affected and taken offline.


    Each battle round, each side determines if they are going to break off, meaning that the combat is over if the attacker breaks off, and the defender must endure additional rounds without firing back equal to the range they have entered plus one attack in the current range. So if the defender decided to break off when the ships were in medium range, the attacker would get 4 ‘free’ attacks (medium + medium + long + extended) In certain situations (usually when there is drive damage) ships can not break off. After any determination of break off is made, the range of the next attack is determined by several factors, including the attacker’s preferred range, the engine ratings of both sides, and the tactical ratings of the leaders of both sides. Generally, the attacker has the advantage to ‘force’ a range, but this can be offset by the defenders maneuverability and superior leadership. Combat continues until the sides reach disengagement range or one side is destroyed. Alternately, one side can surrender if your empire military policy allows for prisoners. (no quarter vs. no mercy)


    Ratings are adjusted by type of ship, technology level, and crew efficiency. So if a missile system has base attack ratings of 10/20/40/30, an exceptional tactical AI may increase those ratings to 20/40/80/60, while a crew may adjust it further. You will always know the modified ratings. The same holds true for defenses ratings, and these are affected by the type of weapon being used.


    All ships will have names above destroyer. They will be generated from a random file (that will be modifiable as a simple text file). As Emperor, you would not be involved in naming every ship, but you will have the ability to name one of your ships after yourself. You will also be able to designate a fleet flagship.


    Fleets


    Ships are organized into fleets–>task force–>squadrons. The only ships that are run as singletons are system defense ships. Even destroyers must be designated to a squadron to be considered active. Newly built ships are placed in reserve until assigned and are inactive. They must be assigned to a sector fleet, Prime fleet (the emperor’s fleet) or system defense forces. Ships that are sublight are considered system defense ships and may not be assigned to a fleet. If ships are assigned to Prime Fleet above a certain amount, it is considered tyrannical. Your Empire will use your capital planet’s Admin to run fleets that are not assigned specifically to a sector command, such as Prime Fleet or Empire-designated fleets. Task forces are usually the largest force that can be assigned to a sector, since they usually have fewer Admin points to use. A sector governor may, at their discretion, assign part of their sector task force to a system and place those forces under a system governor, but this is rare. Ships will never be commanded by a viceroy.


    All fleets are run by an admiral, as are task forces. Squadrons are considered to have inherent command structure but generally would be run by commodores or lower. Ships are crewed by trained crews that gain experience as they fight and train.


    Building Ships


    All ships are built at starship production centers (SPC); maximum ship size that the SPC can build depends on the SPC level. Damage can be repaired at starbases or SPCs, depending on level. So it is entirely possible to have a damaged dreadnaught that was built by a planet that you no longer own, with only one place to repair it (the empire capital). You must plan for your support infrastructure when you are designing your Navy.


    Planet Attacks


    Ships can attack planets with kinetic strikes if they have railguns. While this is very effective to quell unrest, it is obviously a Tyrannical act. Sector governors and system governors (if they have ships under their command) can do this independently if they feel the need (and if they are Cruel or Craven enough; most leaders would not resort to this). You can also send missiles at a planet; however you alone have that ability and many admirals will simply refuse to do so, as this is considered an atrocity against your people and causes tremendous damage to the planet itself (bio rating) as well as the population and economic sector ratings.


    Ship sizes


    System defense ships: Size 0
    Frigates, destroyers : Size I
    Light, heavy cruisers: Size II
    Battle cruisers: Size III
    Battleships, dreadnaughts: Size IV
    Superdreadnaughts: Size V


    Component types


    Weapons
    Missiles
    Railguns
    Gauss cannons
    Lasers
    Defense
    Armor
    Shields
    AMM systems
    ECM
    Engines
    Warp engines
    Sublight engines
    Transport
    Cargo bays
    Troop bays
    Tracking
    Radar
    Lidar
    AI
    Tactical AI system
    Defense AI system


    Ship Design/Assignments


    Ships generally are designed by your Military Prime and their staff. As Emperor, you can ask for a certain type of ship to be built (“I want a very powerful superdreadnaught class available!”) and after a certain amount of time that design (as your military perceives it) will be available to build. You may create build orders as a military Edict, so for example, if you have 2 classes of ships, the Wasp Class (destroyer with good ECM ratings and speed) and the Hornet Class (heavy cruiser with good missile ratings and excellent armor and shields) and you want to create a sector defense task group down the line, you can ask for 2 Wasps and 4 Hornets to be built as a build order. Your military will designate which SPCs are used to build the ships, and when they are done, you may designate them to a specific organization or create a new organization and assign an admiral from your military character pool. Fleet organization actions use Admin, but they are not considered Edicts, but Military Actions, similar to Character Actions.
     
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  5. bmorris2

    bmorris2 Alpha Tester
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    Now, I agree with a lot of what you said, but that is making the huge assumption that the Emperor is hands-off. Many famous leaders in history have been military leaders as well who were not at the back of their military, but at the front (literally and/or figuratively). What if I view myself as a tech-guy who likes building stuff.

    Maybe one solution is to allow Emperors to pick one (1) trait which would allow them more control over an area whether economics, military, ship-building, technology, whatever. That would allow people to play a bit more within their own style but not give up what you are trying to achieve. A military leader isn't going to be able to focus as much on economics as an economics leader would and vice versa.
     
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  6. pavlosg

    pavlosg Art Director
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  7. Texashawk

    Texashawk Developer
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    That is a good idea in theory. The issue is you would have to create an interface for every trait that allows greater interaction. The challenge there is deciding what the Emperor could do while staying within the canon. I do like the idea in principle though!

    -Steve
     
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  8. bmorris2

    bmorris2 Alpha Tester
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    Hi Steve:
    How can I eXist in the game if I as the Emperor can't exist how I'd like? Let's not overdue it and make a ton of traits, but maybe make enough to cover each one of the major areas (espionage, military, economics, trade, mental powers). I realize the idea is one which would require a lot of work, but without it you are forcing the players to eXist how you think they should. Now granted, every game does this at some level, but you are getting into such detail with the NPC's but not the emperor him/herself (from what we've seen so far I am quick to admit). NPC's have traits like greedy and such, but the Emperor isn't given that same consideration and if anything, should be given more.

    If you like the idea, then make it something that changes based on playstyle if you want to go crazy. At the start of the game, you might have one trait and it allows you to do more detailed things, but not much because well, you are young and such. But as you play, maybe it keeps track of variables based on actions and those traits can grow or wither and die and turn into other traits. If you go broad enough, you may not have any traits and just be kind of a jack-of-all-traits (which could be a trait).

    I just keep thinking that if the NPC's have this great detail, it would be criminal to not give the Emperor the same, if not more, level of detail. That's my 2 pence.
     
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  9. Texashawk

    Texashawk Developer
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    B,

    You make excellent points. In the full game, the emperor should be the 'star of the show' and this is the aim of the game, for sure. I want you as the player to feel a balance between 'almighty God' and 'still human'. What you propose is interesting. Are you talking about skills/traits that you 'pick up' depending on how you play that would allow additional actions?

    -Steve
     
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  10. bmorris2

    bmorris2 Alpha Tester
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    Steve:
    Thank you. I agree a balance needs to be struck as well because while a player should have freedom, there also needs to be what you want. As your sig says, you are building YOUR dream game, not ours.

    My initial thought was yes, make it skills/traits you could pick that would allow additional actions. For example, let's say you have a trait "Media Darling" (just making one up, though it sounds neat). Maybe that would give a bonus in some way to propaganda and/or things having to do with the media. It might also give a bonus when trying to get your people to do something since it would make them look bad going against the "Media Darling". It might also allow for a special action which is useful when it comes to improving your image.

    Another could be "Finance Wizard". This is where the Emperor can take a special action for Planet/System/Sector and it could be something like "Examine the Books". You would take a good, long, hard look at the whatever's budget and find places to trim inefficiency and improve their bottom line. You could only do it once per X amount of time and it would give +x to their income for that amount of time as bonus income. And maybe the Empire gets a bonus +1% in income.

    Honestly, I would allow one "special" trait to be picked (see above) and then allow the player to pick one or two other traits (like greedy, honest, etc.). Those could be minor things which would affect what options you have and how you interact with the others. Honest people might be able to ask for kickbacks for example. Just some thoughts.
     
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  11. Texashawk

    Texashawk Developer
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    I like that. And it would be immersive without a ton of overhead. I'll try sone test traits in an appropriate build. I actually like Media Savvy as a test trait since popular support is so important to the game. I like it!

    Steve
     
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  12. bmorris2

    bmorris2 Alpha Tester
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    Cool. If you ever need more, let me know. I can brainstorm with the best of them.;)
     
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