Author Topic: Questions about squads  (Read 685 times)

Offline Pumpkin

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Questions about squads
« on: September 03, 2016, 06:05:31 AM »
First, a question about squad and sim/combat.

So let's say 10 fighters are simulated as one unit. And AoE hitting that "unit" will deal its damage 10x. Fine: AoE are meant to harm numerous small ships. But what about a beam weapon? How will it "carve" through the "one unit" squad? Let's say a beam weapon can hit only one unit of the squad, and let's assume the weapon is powerful, so there is a big overkill: a squad hit by a powerful beam weapon loses one small fighter regardless of the power of the beam. Then beams will be more apt at taking down big (potentially immobile) targets, which is already the case for Spire/photon "slow carve" beams. Okay, so we have the basics of a nemesis system that could play next to armor/RoF in removing the artificial mechanic of Hull Bonuses. Why not. But that's only a personal imagination and nothing in the design document address that. And that imagination has drawbacks: the Wrath Lance or some advanced Fallen Spire weapons might be far less dreadful. (However they feature some sort of "harp" beams: a bundle of beams able to carve out a band in big fleets. Maybe we can say "they're multibeam weapons able to hit all ships in a "band" area, so bye-bye squads of fighters that hard-counter Wrath Lances.)

A question about dead ships in squads.

I recently played Homeworld 2, which has squads (in the sens of multiple units simulated as one) and was frustrated to have two "squads" of identical ships with only one surviving unit each and unable to merge them. How will the AIW2's squads handle that? The design document talks about healing/reconstruction but just asks the question. (If the debate is open, I have a suggestion. See below.)

A concern about the "feeling" of quantity.

Also, still speaking of my experience with Homeworld 2, at far zoom I see only one icon, which ruins both my sense of scale (ten squads of ten units feel like ten units, not a fleet of a thousand ships) and readability when incomplete squadrons fight incomplete squadrons. AI War Classic have an auto-count feature with the drag-and-(not)-drop , fortunately. I don't know if it will be enough; I think it will but I'm worried, considered my poor experience with Homeworld 2 (I love the 1, though.)

How I would see it.

This is the way I would do squads, but I might be far from the reality of what is feasible or not. I would make "dynamic" squads: when the player select whatever units (not necessarily of the same kind) and give them an order, they form a squad (if they are close enough) that the engine simulate as having one position and the slowest speed. Units can be added (when given the same order) or removed (destroyed) on the fly. If some faster ships want to be detached, the player select them (double click to select all identical units) and give them a specific order: the squad is split and the faster ships can move at their full speed. The player would still be able to select one unit and send it away, or get 42  fighters and 24 bombers exactly, or divide 100 ships into 50/50 or 25/75 or 7 groups of 14 or 15 ships each. No problem of multiple incomplete squads.

Sure, there is a need to address edge case, like units far apart wouldn't be instantly merged into one squad, etc. But I believe it would address the fears I currently have.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Questions about squads
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2016, 11:39:14 AM »
So let's say 10 fighters are simulated as one unit. And AoE hitting that "unit" will deal its damage 10x. Fine: AoE are meant to harm numerous small ships. But what about a beam weapon? How will it "carve" through the "one unit" squad? Let's say a beam weapon can hit only one unit of the squad, and let's assume the weapon is powerful, so there is a big overkill: a squad hit by a powerful beam weapon loses one small fighter regardless of the power of the beam. Then beams will be more apt at taking down big (potentially immobile) targets, which is already the case for Spire/photon "slow carve" beams. Okay, so we have the basics of a nemesis system that could play next to armor/RoF in removing the artificial mechanic of Hull Bonuses. Why not. But that's only a personal imagination and nothing in the design document address that. And that imagination has drawbacks: the Wrath Lance or some advanced Fallen Spire weapons might be far less dreadful. (However they feature some sort of "harp" beams: a bundle of beams able to carve out a band in big fleets. Maybe we can say "they're multibeam weapons able to hit all ships in a "band" area, so bye-bye squads of fighters that hard-counter Wrath Lances.)

Sure, any of those things would be feasible.

I recently played Homeworld 2, which has squads (in the sens of multiple units simulated as one) and was frustrated to have two "squads" of identical ships with only one surviving unit each and unable to merge them. How will the AIW2's squads handle that? The design document talks about healing/reconstruction but just asks the question. (If the debate is open, I have a suggestion. See below.)

Having squads that are local to one another merge would be pretty useful, sure.  Or a keybind to do it, if automatically is considered bad.

Also, still speaking of my experience with Homeworld 2, at far zoom I see only one icon, which ruins both my sense of scale (ten squads of ten units feel like ten units, not a fleet of a thousand ships) and readability when incomplete squadrons fight incomplete squadrons. AI War Classic have an auto-count feature with the drag-and-(not)-drop , fortunately. I don't know if it will be enough; I think it will but I'm worried, considered my poor experience with Homeworld 2 (I love the 1, though.)

I had a poor experience with Homeworld 1 and was never interested in #2 because of it.  In terms of groups of units in AI War Classic even, we already show you far fewer icons than are there.  However we have to calculate those on the fly because of readability and performance issues.  The key difference between that and what you probably experienced in HW2 is that as you zoom in you get more and more density of icons in the area.  There's nothing about squads that precludes doing that same thing here.  It's vastly cheaper on the CPU to calculate something like that than to calculate all the things that squads save.

This is the way I would do squads, but I might be far from the reality of what is feasible or not. I would make "dynamic" squads: when the player select whatever units (not necessarily of the same kind) and give them an order, they form a squad (if they are close enough) that the engine simulate as having one position and the slowest speed. Units can be added (when given the same order) or removed (destroyed) on the fly. If some faster ships want to be detached, the player select them (double click to select all identical units) and give them a specific order: the squad is split and the faster ships can move at their full speed. The player would still be able to select one unit and send it away, or get 42  fighters and 24 bombers exactly, or divide 100 ships into 50/50 or 25/75 or 7 groups of 14 or 15 ships each. No problem of multiple incomplete squads.

This doesn't really solve any of the core issues of the game, because:
1. If you don't do that, then we're back to there not being squads at all.
2. You might make squads that are too large to be sensible for balance purposes (carriers in AIW Classic).
3. Balance with squads is actually something that can be done in a really cool way, that isn't possible with what you're doing here.
4. Having diverse units in one squad is a bad idea because then a lot of the calculations don't actually get shortcutted that much.

In general it does speak to perhaps some other needed refinements, though, such as either:
1. Ships in a squad don't completely die until the squad itself completely dies, but rather the squad gets less effective when damaged.  Something along those lines.
2. Or doing something with partial squads that is something along the lines of salvage, where... well, that's an incomplete thought, but there are various ideas possible there.
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Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Questions about squads
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2016, 12:09:25 PM »
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer that.

I'm looking forward to see that.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!