Currently there is only one “mission” we play in GSB. Exterminate.
I would like to see new missions:
Capture the Flag: A device is floating in space (center of map). A ship with a repair bay or a tractor beam must capture it and exit my side of the map. Both players have the same mission. Fighters cannot move the flag (too heavy).
Football: Same as the above BUT you have to exit the enemy side of the map.
Escort/Kill: A ship (with variable armor & shields, set at mission start, no weapons) must make it through the enemy fleet. One player plays “Escort”, the other plays “Kill”. How lightweight a ship can you protect. Talk about formation orders.
Blockade/Escape: Similar to “escort” but it is a variable percent of the fleet that must make it through the “blockade”. The amount is set at mission start. There is no single ship to protect. One player playes “blockade”, the other plays “escape”. How much of your fleet can you get past my teeth!
Exterminate: The current standard mission.
There is another mission I can think of, but just can’t make it work, King of the Hill. A single “hill” is just exterminate. More hills is also exterminate unless ships get “stuck” on the hill they try to take. The problem is multi-hill missions could end in stalemate.
Another mission idea, that doesn’t quite work, or is too similar to Blockade/Escape, is Exit Wormhole/Stargate/etc…/Block. One side tries to fly over a point in the map, at which point the ship disappears having “teleported”. Percent of fleet that makes it “through” determins win.
I’d like to start by saying that I like the idea on general principle.
One of the things I often wonder is why we don’t have different deployment options. I draw a lot of parallels between GSB and miniature war games (especially Warhammer 40K), but the parallel is somewhat flawed. While we do have fleets and squadrons that can engage each other tactically, the principle of taking and holding ground is absent and removes a lot of tactical depth.
I’d like to see some “missions” as variant deployment options, such as wider or narrow deployments or corner deployments. Even an “Ambush” deployment would be cool, where one force is split into two different smaller deployment zones on either side and the other fleet has a large deployment zone in the middle. Maybe even a “four sides” deployment where one side has the top and bottom deployment areas and the other player has the right and left deployment areas.
I’ve been told some of this can be done by modding and I’m eager to try it soon.
I can’t help but feel this would be pointless and frustrating if you don’t have direct control of the ships. Sure, we can make a few more orders, but it still seems to me like it would be more of an excersise in frustration and dumb luck watching some ships go for the flag while others pass up the opportunity. These ships don’t make very intelligent decisions on their own, primarily I think because they are run by a gunner and a pilot, but no captain.
But… we can’t actually stop a ship. We can maybe destroy it, but even then its hard to get the fleet to target a specific ship. More importantly, there’s no way to play defense either. If they want to get within weapons range of the runner, there’s not much you can do about it.
Add to this the complication that the faster a ship moves, the more invincible it is. Thus, stopping a ship intent on leaving the map is exponentially harder than just destroying any old ship.
Still, I could see it sort of working… with a LOT of new orders. You would have to designate a runner, or possibly a priority of runners, like the “Attack” orders. You “Grab Football 20%”, you “Grab Football 45%”, etc. And then it would just take into account the status of the ship, the range of the football, and the priority you set to determine which ship will make a grab for the ball. There could be a bunch of “if you have the ball”, “if the enemy has the ball”, “if another ship in your fleet has the ball”, and “if no one has the ball” conditional orders.
Cool idea. I’m kind of picturing the unarmed escorted ship as an important civilian ship, such as a transport or colony ship.
But I’m reminded of those atrociously hard missions in X-Wing where you had to protect a corvette against Imperial bombers intent on blowing it up. I mean… there’s no way to really stop an enemy ship intent on flying toward its destination. It’s not like there’s terrain and such things to worry about.
But like you say, this could be fun as an exercise in formation building, especially with some better “Break Formation” and “Resume Formation” orders.
Still, the defending force would have to be pretty massive or else the attackers would have to be coming from a particular direction (which kind of defeats the purpose). Otherwise, if the attackers could come from any direction, or any of several directions, only part of the defending fleet would be engaging the attacking fleet at any given time. Also, the defenders would have to instantly destroy the attackers otherwise its just a game of firing long range at the escorted ship. It’s not like we can intercept shots with nearby frigates to protect the cruiser… yet.
This could work in conjunction with other missions, too. Instead of “Do you destroy the civilian transport?” it could be a game of “how much damage did you do to the civilian ships?” or “how many civilian ships can you take out?” By adding a quantitative value, we make survivability and elimination of enemy forces important again, meaning you will NOT simply want to order all your ships to attack the objective, but you will want a sizeable portion dedicating to defeating the defenders and protecting your ships. I like it.
I don’t like this particular scenario, however, because it seems like the solution would be to remove all the weapons from your ship, put on nothing but engines and fly as fast as you can across the screen. If they can’t stop you, and they can’t hit you with weapons fire, you’ve pretty much won, right?
I would really like to have more missions, but the game is currently created for this style of play and I can’t really see any of the other missions working without a massive overhaul of the way things work. Some of them seem like they would even REQUIRE direct control of the ships to make it work. Or at least a more sophisticated order-giving system kind of like a football playbook. “You guys go here, you guys go up and across to flank the enemy, you bunch go toward the middle of the battlefield and hold that position.” (I’d really like to see GSB go in that direction, actually…)
Yes, I believe the game would be a lot more interesting if there was more of a focus on taking and holding particular areas and would naturally lead to new orders and new play styles. But how to represent that in a spacefaring combat game? I suppose we could always fight over several Space Beacons or the XYZ Asteroids, but that seems kind of bland.
It’s still all about speed. You don’t even need any casualties in this scenario.
So in summary, “speed” missions are bad. There needs to be a reason to fight. And missions work best if there’s a quantitative value, like a score. Having boolean true/false values (did you win? is the enemy ship destroyed? did you leave the screen?) are bad because then it becomes all about focussing on the objective and not caring about anything else.
One thing that might help some of these missions work is to have some kind of “Misison Point” system, wherein enemy ships destroyed give you “Mission Points”, but so do completing mission-based objectives. I’m not so sure that solves the problem so much as masks it, because you’d still dedicate 100% of your fleet to performing the action that got you the most Mission Points, either fighting or objectives. Still, it might be a starting place in how to mix fighting with missions, or even mix different missions together.
For example, what if for a particular mission, your frigate and cruiser ships were thought to “control” all the space between them that did not have enemies. You would then gain Mission Points for destroying enemies, but you would also gain bonus Mission Points for how spread out your fleet is. Thus, it’s not all about speed, but also includes combat, movement, deployment, and survivability goals.