Posts Tagged ‘Αρης’

Mars is a bitch [1] (updated diagram)

So, one of the things, which bother me the most in space sims, is that space fights can get pretty dull after a while. The style of combat tends to be monotonic, the design surrounding and accompanying space fights is the lamest one; literally the one element evolving the least in space sim designs. It gets even lamer once one considers the number of space sims focusing on combat. The god of war (Mars/Ares, not Kratos) appears in space sims as a destroyer of the habit, as an annihilator of boredom and as one of the paths of playing the game, of which the player can choose from. So why do people neglect the mighty god of war despite the fact that he could bring many, many positive changes to the game?

Typical combat designs in space sims consist of chasing the enemy by flying around in circles, while he may or may not be able to get you on his front side to be able to shoot you. If the enemy has gotten turrets, you’re screwed, - or not - depending on the game’s design. Simply put, the ships with the highest speed, most firepower and fattest shields wins. One of the obvious reasons why combat is so dull is the very simple ship balancing. Every ship owner will come to a point at which his ship is basically worthless, due to the “if you aren’t this big, you’re too weak” design, meaning that every “more advanced” ship can defeat any ships below it, regardless of fitting or tactics - no exceptions allowed. That design can be loosened pretty easily though. I’d like to introduce a design with more variations, involving more tactics - rather than just a straight line.

(both diagrams were made by Tranberry from the FGD forums, visit his wobsite under: )

Instead of being instant cannon fodder and thus good for basically nothing at all, fast and light-weight ships, you may call them interceptors or scouts, now have the possibility to be used for, what their name actually suggests, interception of fighters and bombers. They should be quite effective in groups, especially for perturbing the enemy. Interceptors/Scouts should be the cheapest ships in the design. Excluding civilian ships, if there is the need for a separation between faction/military ships and ‘mere’ civilian ships or ships manufactured by independent companies.

The gap in-between would then be filled by fighters, which would be somewhat limited omnipotent packages, perfect for raids, escorts and patrols in small numbers and for hit-and-run tactics, in which you don’t necessarily want to lose a great bunch of your ships.

The next class is filled by heavy fighters and bombers. Heavy fighters, the more expensive variants of the fighters - also with a much greater mass - are intended for universal use. If you have the money and the nerves, that is. The fighter<>heavy fighter relationship might be a critical point in the design when it comes to balancing. Bombers will be designed for anti-capital assaults. They’re particularly slow for their size, although they will have the ability to get a fair speed boost for a limited amount of time during strikes and for evasion of heavy capital turrets and missiles, and their energy systems will be specifically designed for the carriage and launch of very heavy missiles or energy-based bomber equipment, so they won’t be abused as “very-very-fat” fightercraft.

The gap between capital ships and heavy fightercraft will be filled by gun boats (their purpose being the interception of small and medium fightercraft using turrets), corvettes, cruisers and frigates… I will have to think this class through I think.

The capital ships (destroyers, carriers, etc.) are self-explanatory.

As I was already saying in the beginning of this mess of an article, another quite soporific spice put into combat design is limiting and boring navigation and flight physics. Though by any means, do not interpret this statement as it would promote realistic space physics; please don’t. Ultra-realistic flight physics destroy the fun of combat completely. Instead, consider flight physics a way to introduce new elements to combat. Instead of putting all down to physical laws, you should also think of ways technology would’ve worked out the issues of space flight by then. After all, it’s a science-fiction game - don’t take the ’science’ thing too seriously.

Imagine a simple spaceship having two engines. This would allow the ship to accelerate in one direction and thus travel in one direction, but it’d be heavily affected by the gravitational force of the celestial bodies near or not so near it. Thrusters on the front side and on every other sides are added to allow manipulation of the direction in which the ship is heading, as well as the roll of the ship. After a while, a trick allows to get the gravitational force of the celestial bodies out of the picture, which allows much more freedom for space flight. Also, the correction of the course by the thrusters is handled automatically, even though more advanced pilots may consider manual operation for sliding/gliding. The thrusters on the front side are especially effective, in so far as it is possible to stop immediately, decelerate and then recelerate again, making room for many wicked maneuvers. Just to picture it:


You can bite your fingers off at that, vector mathematicians.

Now to a little bit of history. In the history of sefaring, due to the lack of long range weaponry suitable on sea, the first way of nautical combat was quite simple: ram the enemy! The ships were obviously constructed with that kind of combat in mind. The nose of the ship was reinforced with metal and made extra sharp. Thus, the ships weren’t too big and were quite agile. That method of combat was used by the Greek and by the Phoinikians, probably invented by the Pelasgians. Don’t quote me as a reliable source though; the origin of this tactic is unknown.

During the Punic Wars, the Romans were faced with that tactic, since the Carthaginians/Phoinikians were masters of seafaring and nautic combat. They were at disadvantage, as their ships were quite… crappy. Until they had found a solution, they were never able to secure their sea or cut off the Carthaginians from their usual trade routes (Sardinia, Sicilia, etc.). One day, they decided to turn the whole thing into land combat again and filled a whole ship with soldiers, everybody well equipped and well trained for battle. They tricked the Carthaginian ship into approaching them, at which they evaded the Phoinikians, smashed their rudders,  sailed to one side of the enemy ship and jumped over. Seamen can’t fight. And so they were doomed. And so, boarding ships was born.

The same thing would be quite interesting in space: Ships of the size of corvettes - so right in-between capital ships and bombers - with the ability to harden certain areas of their shields for a period of time. A new kind of hit-and-run tactic would be born.

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