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KlatuSatori

Diversity of Battles and Wars

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We also try to find a way to give some advantages to smaller organizations to make them attractive compared to what is usually called "megaguilds". But so far nothing has been decided yet.

 

How to keep blob fleets from happening?

 
I think this is a very important game design issue that needs to be addressed and re-addressed.  How to avoid the single strategy that more numbers = win.  Now, there is nothing wrong with the zergling strategy - it should be as viable as the next and I don't think the game should prevent organisations from adopting it.  The problem occurs when it becomes the onlycounter to itself.  A game that has only one viable strategy is either broken or boring.  The key is in providing variability and making combat complex enough that the difficulty in leading players into a battle becomes exponentially higher with larger and larger groups.  Here are some specific features that I think would ensure that wars and battles remain dynamic.  Each topic could probably have an entire thread to itself so I'll try to be brief.
 
Friendly Fire
If you accidentally shoot your guildmate, he is shot and takes no less damage than an enemy would have.  Ideally, this would be implemented by making projectiles, missiles, lasers, etc actually have to travel to their target, and if they hit something else on the way, then so be it.
 
Manual Targetting
If weapons have some kind of auto-targetting feature, it should be sub-optimal and unreliable.  If there is some way for weapon designers to increase auto-targetting effectiveness it should come at a large cost of compromising with damage, range, mass, etc.
 
Bigger Means More Complex
There should be nothing from stopping players building a massive mothership with thousands of players and dozens of capabilities, but piloting and maintaining such a ship should be extremely difficult, and the ship itself should have weaknesses and be very far from invulnerable.
 
Terrain
This is less of an issue on planets as there will always be hills, forests, mountains, rivers, etc, etc that make natural choke points and affect what kind of tactics will be most effective.  In space it is less obvious, but equally doable.  Have vast regions of space encompassing multiple star systems that are saturated by nebulae.  Include dense asteroid clusters, regions of space that are more rocky, planets with immense rings.  There could also be regions affected by strong gravitational fields caused by black holes or neutron stars, and many other possibilities, and they could all be intertwined and overlapping.  Each of these features would have some effect on travel and/or weaponry and defences just like "normal" geographical features do.
 
Terrain on the battlefield and on the meta-scale creates opportunities for inventive leaders to shine and take a larger force by surprise.
 
Resource Distribution
My thought on this is to avoid static, infinite, and clustered sets of resources, particularly high-end resources.  If there is a portion of the map that contains a lot of one particular type of resource then this will encourage "turtling" and make the acquisition of more players unto a single organisation easier.  At the same time, a perfectly even distribution means trade between regions is less profitable, perhaps even not required, so this is a tough topic.  One option is to have resources be finite at their given sources, but to have sources re-spawn elsewhere in the universe keeping the meta-game dynamic and ever changing.
 
Arms Diversity and Rock/Paper/Scissors/Lizard/Spock
Something that DU already has going for it is that all ships will be designed by individual players/organisations so we should expect a lot of diversity.  However, there are bound to be certain a types of weapon and defences that can be mounted.  I like GalCiv's system of having weapon types lasers/missiles/projectiles and their corresponding defences shields/point defence/armour.  In addition to that, adding in mines, mine sweepers, cloaking devices, stealth detection, more and less effective propulsion systems, hangars for carrier capability, and Death Star type weaponry are all elements which can be included, each with their own advantages and drawbacks not just on the battlefield but in including them in a given ship design.  And that's before mentioning ground weaponry (although I'm sure there will be a lot of overlapping) and the possibility of space-ground/ground-space interaction in battles.  This kind of diversity provides more opportunities for inventive leaders to do something special against a superior force.
 
Now, with these elements I believe it becomes much more difficult to adopt a zerg strategy.  A massive army/fleet necessarily requires a practical chain of command, training drills, and disciplined soldiers who have been briefed by competent commanders who have a plan and can think on their feet.  The more players in the fleet, the more difficult management of it becomes and large numbers of inexperienced and undisciplined soldiers will be a liability.  Knowing and understanding the terrain gives a kind of "home advantage" for smart generals, and appropriate use of a variety of different kinds of ships/weapons, or having intelligence on the enemy's new ship designs could be put to devastating use.
 
A quick note: we tend to think of a blob as lots of little ships, but in DU a blob could be a single super-massive ship with hundreds or thousands of players on board.  In this thread when I say "zerglings" I mean massive numbers of players, but not necessarily massive numbers of ships.

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Excellent

 

wondering what you feel about there being a Defense skill line, like Harmonize Shields with allies, to offer some kind of friendly fire forgiveness.

I do think that friendly fire is a necessary factor here in breaking up fleets.

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Im a fan of the manual targeting, I remember Nyzaltar saying somewhere that there may be basic AI we can put in roles, but they clearly wont be as smart as players.

Maybe a hybrid between, auto tracking gimballed mount, and a turret. A player turns the turret towards the enemy ship, they have it targeted, and it will auto track within the cone of vision.

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On the notion of Super Capital ships, they've always been a massive liability. I think people will be reluctant to build them, it just takes so much to operate them. Also I was wondering if the Warp engines can even support them. If they produce waves to distort space around them, either

1.) the warp engines form a bubble that doesn't engulf the whole ship and it breaks itself upon trying to warp.

2.) it forms a warp bubble so big that it really has a hard to moving in between planets, stars, and spatial phenomenon

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Ive been dieing to hear about what they are going to do about resources. Will asteroids respawn? If we actually dig, IE Minecraft style instead of Extractors IE S.W.G. style. It will make salvaging highly valuable after we potentially hollow out planets.. and if that affects their gravity or anything

 

but in terms of resource diversity, im not sure how to handle it. I mean its theorized that there may be old burnt out dwarf stars that are huge morasses of diamonds. heres a link to a little article attempting to explain it http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/lucy-in-the-sky-with-diamonds/

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Not sure I'd like a skill that reduces damage taken from friendly as it dilutes the purpose without any kind of compromise.  That skill would become essential training for anyone who flies in a combat fleet.  How about being able to adjust shields to match the frequency of the phasors Star Trek style.  The risk is that spies could discover the frequency and adjust their shields too.  This could be a simple system or something more complex depending on what they want.

 

I actually think super-capitals will have less balancing problems than they do in other games because of multi-crew ships.  In other games a single player can operate a ship the size of a small moon, but here it will be a massive coordinated effort to fly one effectively.  Traveling in one will be interesting.  As you say the engines will need to be something more and more incredibly the bigger the ship gets, but they should also have serious acceleration and manouevrability issues.  Again, it depends on what space travel and spacecraft piloting mechanics will be like in the game.

 

Nyzaltar has said that there may be consequences for mistreating or over-exploiting planets so in the long term resource replishment could be related to that somehow.

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How do you think we might be able to manage spies, so that they still have a place in the game but don't become ridiculously overpowered. 

 

Say if a person has infiltrated a guild and worked their way up. now they have access to terminals and stuff. they start messing with settings on ships in critical battles. or altering tag settings in combat.

.. should they just be allowed to reign total chaos if they are dedicated to spending years of time infiltrating organisations. and are clever enough of bastards to pull it off??

 

Would it be better to make spy more of a quick infiltration type, that sneaks onto ships and hacks things. gets info on their Resonating Frequencies, Shields / photon weps. and does sneaky stuff like locking all the doors on the ship or turning off the Atmosphere.

 

Im not saying people wouldn't still spend years infiltrating organisations and making friends, only to backstab them. but If there were a more 'fun' path offered . maybe we will see less of the negative and hate filled kind of spy? - the kind that could really turn people away from the game

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Hi Klatu & Saffi !

 

Really important and delicate topics here :)

Here are a few answers:

 

- About "Friendly Fire" and "Manual Targeting":

We would like to implement that. We really would like. But there a very high chance we won't, at least for now (maybe with computer technology evolving, it will change in the future). The fact that massively multiplayer single-shard sandbox games like EvE Online are able to reach several thousands of players at the same place and the same moment is possible due to some compromises (and while we are aiming to higher flexibility in this regard, we're still subject to compromises too): combat system using Targeting/Locking/Firing mechanics in this kind of game is not completely unrelated to the ability to create massive battles, as it's an efficient way to lighten a lot of real time combat calculations.

 

- About "Bigger means more complex":

Well bigger ships will certainly be harder to destroy/invade if they're built in a smart way by players. However we do have some ideas to balance their toughness: They will be slower, less agile than smaller ships, due to their mass. Big Weapon Turrets will also at disadvantage against very fast ships. But nothing will prevent builders to create specialized ships: like a huge battlecruiser full of small weapon turrets to hunt down hostile small and fast ships. But there will be a choice to make: Energy consumption. Every module in a ship will require energy. So it won't be possible to have everything in infinite number, even on a big ship.

 

- About "Terrain":

We have already planned to have asteroid belts (even if it won't be for the Alpha).

But having specific cosmic phenomenon producing side effects in some areas in space (like strong gravitational fields or ionized clouds) is a great idea. I will transmit it to the dev team! :)

 

- About "Arms Diversity and Rock/Paper/Scissors":

This is already planned: We are thinking about weapon families, with each type of weapon very efficient in some cases and not very efficient in others. Right now we plan to have at least 4 different types of damage, but it might still change in the future.

 

Best Regards,

Nyzaltar.

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Thank you for the detailed reply, Nyzaltar. While many of the things mentioned are related to strategy, usually planned in advance, the friendly fire / manual targetting issues are really the only ones that specifically ensure individual pilot and fleet commander skills and tactics play a big part. Obviously, I completely understand if implementing such features is I feasible, but how do you plan to ensure massive fleet battles don't devolve into a single guy on each side ordering "Everyone destroy target A"? Perhaps some kind of targetting interference mechanic?

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Well, this is a development. Though its not as if I had a pretense to either free fire or targeting. Now there can be all kinds of stats and skills which will be fun to explore. I like targeting, but am a fan of free fire, if that makes any sense. Really I just like what will work best because both have advantages and disadvantages...

 

There is alot of science that is way above me. What I want to say is there could be a mechanic where when a certain amount of energy is released in a short amount of time. the shields get exponentially stronger.

I dont know if quantum vectoring ... or some kind of photon science could explain it.

 

Maybe there could be a few passive skills available to players, defense engineers or shield operators ect. That automatically trigger upon receiving a truly massive amount of damage all at once.

Plank Scale Absorber - Refocuses all the attacks into a plank scale anomoly near the ship.

Emergency phase distortion - flux the warp drive in a series of pulses to distort space around the ship causing 95% of shots to miss for a short time.

 or just.. something more smart-er than this. ; ) but along these lines

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