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Author Topic: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM  (Read 3663 times)
Deus Siddis
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Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« on: January 15, 2007, 08:51:18 pm »

I know you are not supposed to suggest things that you are not capable of helping implement yourself, but maybe because this has to do with the core UQM, my life can remain intact for now. Cool

It has been suggested in the past, both by others and myself, that it could be a very rewarding improvement to make UQM capable of having multi-ship simultaneous combat, as opposed to all battles being a series of duels. Every fan-made sequel or spiritual successor to this game also goes down this path, as it seems to be the next logical move forward.

One of the main difficulties expressed with regards to implementing this in UQM however, was that many of the SC2 ships have auto-tracking turreted and guided missile like weapons. In a duel this is usually advantageous, but in a large (literal) melee, this could make it very difficult for the player to hit the target that he/she wants to, because the weapon could fire on any number of enemy ships.

The usually way around this is to have a targeting system, where the player can pick a target by a mouse click or through one or more keys that cycle through the targets in the battlespace. The problems with this is it would be difficult to implement and would complicate the very fast-paced gameplay too much.

So instead, I think there are two simple solutions to this dilemma, one that would usually be for auto-guided turret weapons and one that would usually be for auto-guided missile weapons.

For the turrets, it is easy, just attack the closest target.

For guided-missile-like weapons, it is a little more difficult, because these weapons usually fire off the bow (instead of any of the other 360 degrees) and because they are usually much longer ranged. So for these, I think the solution is to attack the target that is closest to being off the bow, so that you can aim for the target you want to hit. This also keeps missiles or plasma from looping around and hitting the ship that fired them.

This idea is from the original versions of Starflight, the predecessors of this game. Because all the weapons in that game were turreted, it probably would have made more sense for weapons to target the closest ship, but this system would work perfectly and simply for guided missile weapons in UQM.

These two targeting systems should probably be their own weapon attributes, so that the best solution could be picked for each weapon. So even though, say, androsynth bubbles are more like guided missiles than turreted lasers, they might be better calibrated to attack the enemy that is closest.


The minor issue of what opposing vessel to display on the sidebar could be resolved by simply displaying whatever vessel the player has hit most recently.

During the campaign, the choice to have the classic single-file duel battles or full scale battles could either be made ahead of time in the options menu (where you already turn on/off the fighting auto-pilot) or at the beginning of an encounter, where you are choosing your ship (there would just be a button next to the question mark that toggles fleet battle mode on/off.)


So the question is do you think these design solutions would make simultaneous fleet battles do-able for the core UQM (which has already added new features not in the original, like a starmap location finder and network play)? Or are there other design issues that I have overlooked? And how hard would this be to implement? (I appreciate all feedback I get on this, but I would especially appreciate word from the UQM core dev team.)
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guesst
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2007, 09:26:37 pm »

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I know you are not supposed to suggest things that you are not capable of helping implement yourself

This is a concept that would effectivly end 90% of the suggestions on this board.

This conversation is purely theoretical. It's the sort of thing that doesn't belong in a Star Control game IMHO. Star Control is a space duel. But I think the answer to your question is "how would it work in a real setting." Not that I'm accusing Star Control of being realistic, far from it, but this gives you a way to think about the problem.

So a missle, yes, it targets the closest thing to it's bow as it travels forward. This means a faster ship could sideswipe the missle, cause it to veer off course and miss the slower capital ship. In the end this would make the fire and forget nukes next to worthless.

Good thing humans still got their point defense lazer. But is the point defense turrited or is it like one of those lightning balls that causes an arc to jump to any and all closest targets in range? In which case you don't need to aim anything, just be within slapping distance. Sylandro too.

Now Arloo have turreted weapons, no doubt about it. They can only tag one guy at a time, but I imagine their turrits whip around, no need to wait if it changes targets and someone else is suddenly closer.

Basically we're talking about a case-by-case situation. Basically we're talking about a lot of work. Ain't no quick fix for this. That's why I say it'd be better as a new game all together.

Which is why I say I've got to get to programming again one day.
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Jumping *Peppers*
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 10:04:04 pm »

Personally, I'd go for the targeting route, like what's used in TW. It seems much easier, IMO, and wouldn't screw up the basic gameplay that much. Besides, you can't add any new features without changing the gameplay now and then.

A possible compromise would be to have a "Target closest enemy" key in addition to the "target next/last enemy" keys, so you could quickly lock on to whoever's attacking you.

Also, as for keeping track of the crew/battery of enemy ships, perhaps there could be green and red bars (for crew/batt, respectively) over enemy ships? I know that's what they use in a lot of games...
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 10:09:14 pm by Jumping *Peppers* » Logged

Quote from: Arne, on the origin of the Mycon
Maybe a precursor were just like "Hey I built this mushroom thing, it can traavel between plaaanets!" and the others were like "Yaaaay!" and then they all deliriously clapped their hands and giggled like little schoolgirls.
AngusThermopyle
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 11:36:30 pm »

How would you handle the Illwrath cloak? If there are multiple ships on screen at once, you can't zoom the way it does now in Super Melee.

Maybe bump the Avenger's point value to reflect this?
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Deus Siddis
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007, 02:08:10 am »

Guesst
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It's the sort of thing that doesn't belong in a Star Control game IMHO.

And your opinion should definitely be respected, which is why this is would be 100% optional. After all, this is a suggestion for the Core version of UQM (not a mod) and so it must not replace or alter the original gameplay, it can only add more options for players.


Quote
This means a faster ship could sideswipe the missle, cause it to veer off course and miss the slower capital ship. In the end this would make the fire and forget nukes next to worthless.

Negative, the missile does not change targets, even if something crosses in front of it.


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In which case you don't need to aim anything, just be within slapping distance. Sylandro too.

Actually, given that the Slylandro bolts do not seem to target asteroids, fighters, or marines, this is probably not the case. The weapon probably works more like the skiff laser.


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They can only tag one guy at a time, but I imagine their turrits whip around, no need to wait if it changes targets and someone else is suddenly closer.

I do not think this would be a major issue, but if it was, you could simply have it so the gun does not retarget until the player has released the fire key. Also, it would take no time to start shooting at a new target.


Quote
Basically we're talking about a case-by-case situation. Basically we're talking about a lot of work. Ain't no quick fix for this.

Given the small handfull of ships with auto-track weapons, I do not think this would be the case at all. This would just be a couple of optional weapon attributes, that would only have an effect on auto-tracking weapons.


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That's why I say it'd be better as a new game all together. Which is why I say I've got to get to programming again one day.

There's actually three or four SC fan games already doing this, they are just not nearly as complete as UQM, and their gameplay is different in a number of other areas.


Jumping Peppers
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Personally, I'd go for the targeting route, like what's used in TW. It seems much easier, IMO, and wouldn't screw up the basic gameplay that much. Besides, you can't add any new features without changing the gameplay now and then.
A possible compromise would be to have a "Target closest enemy" key in addition to the "target next/last enemy" keys, so you could quickly lock on to whoever's attacking you.
Also, as for keeping track of the crew/battery of enemy ships, perhaps there could be green and red bars (for crew/batt, respectively) over enemy ships? I know that's what they use in a lot of games...

Meep already said a targeting system would be a lot of extra work, and this would probably especially be the case if you start adding that many features. That kind of detail really would be good for a new game, but I am just talking about UQM on this.

Also, this many more controls would completely overload a keyboard's channels when two players are dueling (not when networking though of course.)


AngusThermopyle
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How would you handle the Illwrath cloak? If there are multiple ships on screen at once, you can't zoom the way it does now in Super Melee.

You might have something to show the position of your ship normally, but that would be an issue in side-by-side two player. However, the cloak would still function as a way of throwing off tracking weapons.
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2007, 03:19:01 am »

@Deus:

Like I said before, it's already been done, and with good results too. Really though, control schemes are probably the least of your problems when it comes to fleet battles. I suspect that a lot of the ships would be under/over powered in fleet mode, because it's such a drastic change.

Two more things (yes, i'm being nitpicky Tongue): How would you handle camera? Also, how would self-guided weapons (marines, fighters, limpets, DOGIs) work?
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Quote from: Arne, on the origin of the Mycon
Maybe a precursor were just like "Hey I built this mushroom thing, it can traavel between plaaanets!" and the others were like "Yaaaay!" and then they all deliriously clapped their hands and giggled like little schoolgirls.
Deus Siddis
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2007, 06:06:11 am »

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Like I said before, it's already been done, and with good results too.

And I would recommend a manual targeting system for any star control like new project. But it is probably too much of an overhaul UQM in particular, that's all I am saying.


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I suspect that a lot of the ships would be under/over powered in fleet mode, because it's such a drastic change.

I am not so sure, given that the timewarp folks do not seem to have a big issue with this from what little I know. Overall, I think there would be a lot of new strengths and weaknesses for most ships in this sort of scenario. For instance, the Cruiser would not be able to adequately run from two Dreadnaughts coming at opposite angles at once, but if there were four other Cruisers, that would give it an advantage, except that now it would have to fire less aggressively when a friendly is in the way (since there are three times more friendlies to worry about than the dreadnaught has too.)


Quote
Two more things (yes, i'm being nitpicky ): How would you handle camera?

I do not think that is nitpicky at all, seems like a good question.

I think there are a number of options for camera control and it might take some trial and error to figure out which is best. One option might be to position the camera between the player ship and the enemy he/she has hit last (which would also have its status displayed on the sidebar) and when in a side by side human match, base camera actions on keeping the two player ships in frame. Another might be to have the camera zoom out so that all vessels are in frame at all times, and center the camera on the player ship, as was done in the aforementioned Starflight.


Quote
Also, how would self-guided weapons (marines, fighters, limpets, DOGIs) work?

Again, this would just be a little bit of playtesting, given that you only have two targeting methods to choose from-- target whoever is closest or target whoever is most in front of the ship.

Since Limpets and Dogis are fired off the back, you might have them go for whatever is most behind the ship, but maybe attacking the closest target would be the best method in which case you would not need to worry about this.


One thing is for sure, there are plenty of fans to test this stuff. Especially if the ship and weapon stats were made available in some sort of text format, for easy player testing and moding.
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2007, 10:23:43 am »

The multi-ship battles made me instantly think of Heroes of Might & Magic - the gameplay in the story game will look a lot like it if the multi-ship battles were introduced, with the notable exception that UQM is real-time, while HoM&M is turn-based.
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Jumping *Peppers*
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2007, 04:04:30 pm »

Is there any place I could download this Starflight game? It sounds interesting...

I think the best camera option would be to show all the ships at a time, but that could be a pain on a large map. Hm....

Maybe just have the camera follow your ship at a set distance away from it?
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Quote from: Arne, on the origin of the Mycon
Maybe a precursor were just like "Hey I built this mushroom thing, it can traavel between plaaanets!" and the others were like "Yaaaay!" and then they all deliriously clapped their hands and giggled like little schoolgirls.
Deus Siddis
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2007, 04:58:51 pm »

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Is there any place I could download this Starflight game? It sounds interesting...

Yes, but depending on which version you download, your experience with it will be somewhat different. It originally came out as a PC game back in '85, then there was the Amiga/Mac port with updated graphics, and the Sega port is not too faithful to the original, but it has graphics that are considered by some to be the best. The PC and the Amiga/Mac ports are the ones with the automated camera techniques that could deal with groups of enemy vessels, that I was refering to. There's downloads of different versions on various sites:

http://www.the-underdogs.info/search.php?search_game=starflight
www.starflight3.org
http://www.coolrom.com/roms/genesis/s/
http://www.consoleclassix.com/gameinfo_starflight_gen.html


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I think the best camera option would be to show all the ships at a time, but that could be a pain on a large map. Hm....

Actually, I am fairly certain that all the battlespaces are the same dimensions, so it would just be a matter of how far apart the ships are.


Quote
Maybe just have the camera follow your ship at a set distance away from it?

Hmm, I don't know, it would be great if the auto zooming could remain, it is good to be able to see both the full battlespace and also the up close conflicts.


Also, while on the camera issue, it occured to me that something would have to be done about the weird retro thing UQM does when the two ships get too far away, having them trade positions on the screen. There are a few approaches for this, which are somewhat dependent on what camera technique is used.

I am not sure, but I thought Timewarp and ReMasters centered the camera on the mass of fighting ships, zoomed accordingly, and then any vessel that got too far away from the center of the camera/melee was warped to the other side.

If the camera focuses between the player ship and the enemy it has most recently hit, then if the two ships stray away from the cluster, they must either be warped around to always stay a certain distance from the cluster, or when one is dead, the survivor must be warped back to someplace near the cluster. Probably the former is a more realistic solution.
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2007, 12:36:15 am »

I don't know if you can still DL the game, but the "Star Control Online" project handled multi-ship battles well. You can pit 14 vs. 14 ships and is a lot of fun. All the suggestions that DeusSiddis posted seemed to be taken directly from that project...

http://starcontrol.classicgaming.gamespy.com/files/clones.shtml



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Deus Siddis
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2007, 06:39:50 am »

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All the suggestions that DeusSiddis posted seemed to be taken directly from that project...

Nope, only heard the name, never played it. I guess great minds just think alike. Tongue

How exactly did the mechanics work, there have been quite a few alternate suggestions for each issue in this thread, it would be nice to know what has already been tried and perfected.
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Deus Siddis
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2007, 11:28:47 pm »

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You can then target an enemy by clicking on it with the mouse.

Trouble is UQM does not have mouse support, let alone mouse support for selecting things not on the sidebar interface. Also, it is probably not necessary to have to select a target anyway, since tracking weapons would find their own targets based on the above listed methods.
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2007, 11:34:34 pm »

Fun Fact: UQM has just enough mouse support built-in to tell you that it doesn't have mouse support.  Smiley
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Re: Simple Solutions for Multi-Ship Battles in UQM
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2007, 01:10:58 am »

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You can then target an enemy by clicking on it with the mouse.

Trouble is UQM does not have mouse support, let alone mouse support for selecting things not on the sidebar interface. Also, it is probably not necessary to have to select a target anyway, since tracking weapons would find their own targets based on the above listed methods.

Wow, way for my drunk ass to half-assed read the thread and completely miss probably the most important point in the original post.. Doh.

The only polite thing to do is remove my post and offer an apology.
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