Campaign GSB: Fortifications?

( cross-posted from the main GSB forum here )

I’d like to know that, also.

Yes, the planetary defense in MoO3 was a sad joke. I’m advocating something much more like the SoaSE method!

Now I’m seriously thinking about fortifications for Campaign GSB. They would add some flexibility and interest to the game. I think that fortifications are too important an aspect of the game to be left out – not only do they make sense rationally, but frankly players are going to expect them in some form. I’d like to offer some thoughts on what extent of fortifications would be either too great or too small.

Since the ebb and flow of who’s controlling which worlds with which production facilities is the heart of the campaign economy, then the method by which you gain or lose planets in battle is literally the hinge upon which the entire game turns – for better or for worse:

  1. If it’s too easy for the defender to hold his position, then the attacker is at a major disadvantage and the game’s combat becomes static WW1 trench warfare in space, with real estate changing hands slowly…if at all, as battles are bloody affairs with high casualties. Front-line forces become expensive “sacrificial lambs” and the reserve forces become decisive, being the only elements able to capitalize upon breakthroughs created by the front-line forces. Most of your navy becomes tied-down, which isn’t very fun; on garrison duty if you’re the defender, on siege duty if you’re the attacker.

  2. If it’s too hard for the defender to protect his world(s), then the advantage goes to the attacker and the game becomes something like WW2 tank combat in North Africa, with great fluidity of movement and a maddening lack of persistent control over terrain…worlds changing hands frequently as well as quickly. Overall strategy becomes one of hit-and-run raids as the defender cannot be strong everywhere and in fact is weak mostly everywhere. Decisive battles mostly occur only where major tactical forces of each side blunder into one another unawares.

Those are my worries about what could happen if “the hinge” is either rusted too badly or oiled too freely. As long as their balance is handled with care, neither of the extremes detailed above should be possible. I imagine that the presence of defense bases (or whatever you choose to call them) would still increase a world’s loyalty level, albeit slower than if ships were also stationed there. If both ships and bases are present, then the loyalty level should rise faster than your present baseline of having ships alone.

If using something as simple as defense satellites, then having only that level of protection (no friendly ships in-system) would raise the loyalty level very slowly, perhaps also with an absolute cap on how far. At least the def-sats would provide some benefit for the planet below if no starships were available.

If there was also a larger, tougher, better-armed kind of orbital defense base there in quantity plus the existing def-sats, loyalty would rise faster and to a higher number.

Both of the above fortifications plus naval warships on-station would provide the greatest boost to the loyalty level.

Depending on how large the biggest kind of defense base was and how closely you choose to tie it into your economic system, that largest base could also have some kind of construction/production capability to add to that down on the planet’s surface, as well as possibly offering repairs to naval units at a cheaper cost or faster speed.

I say ,good topic
I think each Race needs a few Things:
1, a Small Defense Platform ( A Couple of Guns, Some Armor) - Can Beat Frigates/Fighters
2, Medium One, (A Battery and Shields And Armor) - Fighters - Frigates, in numbers Weapons can take Cruisers
3, A Fortress (The Size of a Couple of Cruisers) - Can Take on Cruisers 1-1.5

and Maybe having ‘Barges’ Just ships with no Engines that Get Towed around?

The Empire ships have some that already look like that, the irony!

Just this single thing: Orbital defense stations are utterly unrealistic. Ships can fire stuff at you from any distance (note that bullets do not slow down after being fired, so you effectively have infinite range, if you have time to wait until impact), and you cannot dodge them, while your projectiles will take minutes to reach them, allowing them to run to safety trivially easily.

That said, fighters make no sense (too expensive, useless because you could just fire “intelligent” missiles instead) either, and we gladly accept them.


  1. I don’t believe ANY direct fire “bullet” weapons are realistically useful in space. The distances are just too vast for realistic direct firing… even with computer assistance and active sensors lighting you up like a christmas tree.
  2. Everything is moving in space and not necessarily relative to each other. Vega Strike is the only game that illustrates this very well, with a “Match Velocity” button so that you can change your relative motion to that of the target, making it appear as though you were both still (and everything else was moving around you two).

I only see three types of weapons being particularly useful in this environment, at least at some kind of decent range:

  1. proximity-sensitive or remote-detonated weapons with an extreme area of effect
  2. something with an extremely high rate of fire or constant beam that can have its aim be adjusted while firing
  3. missiles that can accelerate toward a target and then make minor course corrections in flight

These are the only weapons that remain effective, whether the target is a spaceship or a space station.

Also, when designing a starship, you have to worry about mass and fuel ratios. These are inconsequential when designing a space station. So, in absence of other considerations, an orbital defense platforms can pack much more potent firepower, ammunition, defenses, armor, and shields than any starship… maybe more than fleet of starships.

On the other hand, construction of a space station is very difficult and often requires ships, making station-building a very expensive process. On the other hand, while stations aren’t required to build ships, they can allow for ships that are constructed better and cheaper. (Maybe not Orbital Defense Platforms… but manufacturing stations in general.)

The best way you could really mess up someone’s day in outer space is dump loads of ball bearings in warp paths, at the speeds ships would have to be going to get anywhere fast, flying into tiny shreds of metal is going to seriously ruin your day.

Maybe the best way to defeat enemy ships is to have something akin to a railgun shot gun, at such massive distances spraying out loads of projectiles at near light speed won’t leave a lot of room for accuracy anyway.

Instead of believing, how about we do some research!

“Bullets” work reasonably. Imagine your ship to be around Neptune’s Orbit. No weapon can reliably hit you there from Earth, because it will take even a laser around four hours (give or take, that’s Sun-Neptune, or 30 AU) to get there, and anything else will probably need days. You can just slowly cruise around in random directions and are pretty much guaranteed to not be hit ever. On the other hand, you can tow a big rock (some meteor, or space debris in one of the rings of Neptune will do fine), and accelerate towards Earth (or rather, towards where it will be in a few weeks, which can be trivially calculated even by current instruments, not to speak of SciFi stuff). You then disconnect the meteor when it reaches “high” speed. Depending on your engines, this might be somewhere between very fast (a multiple of the speed of sound is trivial for any space ship that must start on planets) and ludicrously fast (assuming you can travel between stars, you need some drive that allows you do reach relativistic speeds). The meteor then merrily travels at 0.1% of the speed of light towards that space station, and it weights a few hundred tons. That is like a ripe pear getting hit by a 120mm ship cannon.

If your orbital station guns cannot pulverize the biggest meteor that could possibly be used easily, they are toast. And if they can do that due to magical guns, there is no battle, because they can just as well destroy any ship too.

Harder to achieve than you think due to lack of air.

Even that will have issues hitting when it takes minutes between fire and impact.

Yes. This is probably the best bet.

While this is a sound idea in theory, it does not work due to numbers involved. The amount of area you need to cover is just way too vast. Assume your bullets travel at 10% of the speed of light (way faster than anything we’ve ever made), and the spaceship is as fast as a passenger airplane (which is way too slow), and you try to shoot it at a distance of earth-moon (which is way too close), at about 400’000 km. You bullets need a bit more than 10 seconds to get there. In that time, the airplane can fly 2500 meters. To have a bulett every 10 meters in a square grid of 5000x5000, you’d need 2’500’000 bullets. Assume they weight 1g and have the size of a ball-pen. You just shot 2.5 TONS of material into space at 10% of the speed of light.

What I want to point out: Realism does not necessarily lead to the best game. And should therefore not be used in a “GSB needs X because that’s realistic” argument.

Kdansky, I would like to point out the fact that the spaceships in GSB don’t really act like they were really in a vacuum, so I bet area of effect weapons could be introduced, they would use the space aether as a medium for the shockwave damage.

Thank you for that web site. I blew a complete afternoon reading it. And now I know cats and micro-gravity do not mix.

Hmm - think I am going to go to the used book store and pick up some space operas.



What I want to point out: Realism does not necessarily lead to the best game.
And should therefore not be used in a “GSB needs X because that’s realistic” argument.
Indeed. There is a great bit in consider phlebas(Iain M Banks) about this stuff (weapons ranges) where the main character is in a space battle, ejecting in a spacesuit, and realises theres no point visually scanning for the enemy ships, as they probably opened fire from hundreds of thousands of kilometers away.
Very realistic, but would make for very strange PC games.

Thanks for reading my post!

It’s a bit like, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

Woohoo another website to waste my afternoon!
Actually yesterdays was wasted at court .

Usually I spend them reading wikipedia.

Agreed! In fact given that this game is GRATUTOUS Space Battles, you could make an argument that something being realisic is a reason to NOT put it in the game.

Realistic Boring Battles?