Possible Design Change. Add your views (beating Stacks)

Ok, so as should have been predicted, you can build big ‘stacked’ units where you have your whole fleet bunched on top of each other. This is possible if you have ships with no engines which you just dump on top of each other in the deployment screen. It’s also possible to have ships ordered to stack in formation, and although the collision code will prevent that getting too absolute, it’s still a problem, and it looks ugly :smiley:

The proposed solutions which I like the best are these:

  1. Area-of-effect damage for some, or all weapons. This would be a disincentive to stack ships, clearly because you are making things easier for the enemy that way. If it was only some weapons, then we could have a variable ‘splash damage’ percentage and radius for each weapon, which might also be cool. Maybe beam weapons have zero splash damage, but missiles do? or whatever combination works.

  2. Powerplant detonation splash damage. In other words, when a ship finally explodes, it has a large radius splash damage effect on everyone close by. I thought it might be cool to have this determined partly by the nature of the ships powerplant, so over-powered ships with 3 power-IIIs would go up like the hindenburg and wipe out everything around them, whereas ships that were mainly missile-boats with low power output would just go fizz. This would add all sorts of extra nail-biting about what modules to pick.
    This could either be triggered on final ship destruction, or for even more giggles, determined by when the power-module itself gets to 0% integrity. That could trigger lucky-hit chain reactions within a ship itself too. Maybe splash damage only affects ships without shields? maybe it penetrates shields automatically and does direct internals, if it occurs within the shield bubble of a stacked ship? bwahahahaha.

What do you think? which of these (or both) sounds like a reasonable fix? or is there a better way? I’d much rather have a nice gameplay-consistent designed way to dissuade stacking rather than a harsh hacky code method to force ships apart, which is messy. Can anyone think of ways in which these changes could be counter-productive, or exploitable?

You could also require a ship to have engines. I mean, how did they even get to the battle if they can’t move?

That said, I love both ideas. I think exploding ship damage would be the most interesting, and connecting it to power output sounds great. I’d still love to see some sort of area weapon, although that might go badly for escorting fighters (although someone suggested an anti-fighter flak gun, which I would also really enjoy seeing).

My suggestions on this issue are as follows:

  1. If area-of-effect damage is implemented, consider making it apply to ALL SHIPS. Then, if using area-of-effect anti-fighter weapons later, there’s a disincentive to try and have multiple ships covering each other - they’re going to flak each other to death.

  2. If ships go up in ‘warp core breaches’, this could (and will) be used suicidally - order frigates to zip up and hang around enemy ships. This might be a lot of fun! So I’d like to see it as a toggleable option, but I’m concerned about the possibility of ships you can’t destroy for fear of killing yourself.


I much prefer option one because it means Stacking is a ‘legitimate’ tactic with a ‘legitimate’ counter-tactic - being area of effect weapons. My preferred way of dealing with stacking ships in terms of balance, however, needs to include a way to deal with a large swarm of vessels clinging to YOUR ships. Area of effect, if it gets dealt to both sides, won’t do this. What I’d much rather see is a multiple-missile type weapon that targets multiple ships in a small area when it bursts apart, rather than only one. This way if anyone’s stacking heavy armoured cruisers, these weapons would hit the cruisers and have their submunitions hit the more vulnerable ships underneath/behind them.

EditEdit - The trouble with stacks is their range. If any ship currently ‘colliding’ with another ship is disabled from using its larger weaponry, this could result in an interesting ‘swarm the enemy long range killer’ tactic being more effective. Good and bad.

EditEditEdit - How about a lightning-that-zaps-from-one-target-to-the-next type weapon?

EditEditEditEdit - Also, what about a weapon th at causes ships to be kinetically ‘bounced’ aside? This way a stack could be smacked apart with missiles.

I don’t like requiring an engine. That locks out the future expansion of a space station type vehicle. Space stations are pretty standard fare in explody space battles. It would be the smallest of complaints however, and hardly worth the effort to type the double-line of protest you see above.

Power-plant… I like that but you would completely whipe out a fleet of fighters with that model, when really fighter escorts being “released” from escorting, is a great retaliation technique.

What if bigger ships took more damge…? Or bigger ships had a greater chance of taking the damage?
I mean it makes space-sense. A bigger ship will catch more pieces of giant space-shrapenal. Try this “proof of concept” at home. Throw a hand-full of marbles at a line of ants in the garden. You probably missed them all. Now go throw the same sized hand-full of marbles at a stranger in a shop. You hit the hell out of that guy. And he probably hits the hell out of you back. :slight_smile:

So the stack might go like this:

One power-plant: Just concussive force blow back
Two power-plant: Concussive force and shrapenal
Three power-plants (or two Power-Plant II): Super-nova

That needs balanced of course but I think you are onto a very workable idea.

I posted a boarding idea earlier in my Christmas wish-list.
If boarded vessles could only be used to ram and/or as launch platforms to board other vessles, then a stack would be a perfect line of dominoes. Also a boarded vessle would (you would think from movies) be able to set to self-destruct very gratuitously.

So part of the equasion figuring “Blast Damage” could be based on other energy draining componants.
An engine drains energy just by being powered up. If there is no engine in the power-loop, it would be much more likely to go “Big Boom”
So to protect your stack to some degree, you would want to put at least a small engine on board, and just weight it down with some super-heavy plating. But making a stationary platform of plasma death will not be all the thought it takes to design your fleet.

LOL This is really a funny “rock-paper-scissors” puzzle.

Both sound good. Suicide frigates rigged with powerplants to blow sound awesome, and a small area of effect on things like missiles to dissuade ships actually occupying the same space is probably an effective way to counter stacking as well. Also, with area of affect flak cannon ships for those fighter swarms are that bit closer :slight_smile:

EDIT: and ships with no engines being bounced around by explosions would also stop engine-less stacks

I’m all for area of effect weapons. Especially low damage anti fighter flak and exploding missiles/rockets.

I’m not for exploding power plants, since ships naturally bunch together as they traverse towards common targets. It also strongly emphasizes long range combat. Close range ships will be bunched together. Long range ships can be formation forced to stay apart, with much less detrimental affect on the number of in-range weapons at any one time.

This. Otherwise you’re going to see a ton of practically-unavoidable domino effects.

I support AoE damage for some weapons AND powerplant detonation.

…AND maybe some more detail on engine slots. Adding some stacking prevention in the deployment screen should be enough to stop massive piles of intercolliding space stations, but some more detail on ship engines would also be good. Ideally, I would like to see hulls come with a minimum and maximum engine allowance. That way, a space station hull will never move (and could even be set to constantly and slowly rotate), but you also can’t build a frigate without some method of moving, or one of the super mega ridiculous fighters with 3 engines 2 power plants and a popgun, which is nigh-impossible to hit.

Whether stopping that last one is a good thing is personal preference, true, but if every ship had very permissive maximums and minimums except station hulls, that would solve the problem without annoying too many people.

Edit: Hmm, yes, there is that downside to powerplant detonations… still, if the range on an exploding plant is small and the damage isn’t too vast, it should mostly restrict the effects to intentional stacks, and only add a little battle flavour to other combat.

My solution would be to limit and curtail massive stacking.

If the game was 3D, I wouldn’t say that. In 3D, a stack of ships would actually be in a line, only vertical. You could attack the flank of that line to get an advantage.

Here, all the ships are in the exact same place, flanking is impossible. It’s the ultimate formation.

It goes against every huge space battle you’ve ever seen on TV or film. There, the ships are laid out in rows like a sea battle.

Seems to me limiting stacking, making the big ships unable to traverse the path of other big ships with out a slowdown to ‘change altitude’ is the way to get it more like a 2D game.

I thought that this would be a great idea a while back and forgot to mention it and would also solve the too-fast fighter swarm technique as well (Although I’ve seen some great killer ways to avoid this as well). It would obviously take a lot of power.

Does shield stability change when the power is being used by high energy consuming weapons? If it doesn’t alreayd, maybe it should =D

As for the original ideas. I think a few specific AOE weapons would be great. The problem I see with an exploding warp core is the AI sometimes gets all bunched up together despite having no orders to do so, and would be hard for a player to go “stay away!” and easily be frustrating to the average player as all his ships bunch up for no good reason and they all explode do to a shield disruptor/missile combo

I really like both the idea of AoE weapons and power plant explosions, and I think they would work very well if they were implemented properly. Omnitronic suggests having flak and AoE weapons hitting friends and enemies, which I think is a hilarious suggestion. It could possible lead to careful positioning of anti-fighter frigates/cruisers so their AoE flak guns don’t overlap too closely with friendlies (preventing stacking yet carrying with it the negative of being unable to very closely escort). There would be an automatic balance in effect with these AoE anti-fighter weapons. Similarly, missiles that are AoE launched at enemy ships could stand a chance of taking out your own attacking fighters. Again, automatic trade off. “Do I have AoE missle ships in the same area that I want my fighters attacking?”
The AoE flak weapons could also help with the current, super fighter problem. By having the flak track slightly ahead of the fighter swarm, it may actually stand a chance of hitting them.
I think that the exploding power plant idea could be very fun, as long as it doesn’t lead to ridiculous chain reactions. Because we have no control of the positioning/targeting/pursuit of enemies, (other than roughly at deployment), a battle could start where the ships started spaced out, and then in the heat of battle group up, and all explode due to Power plant explosions. This could lead to frustrated players. I think a more limited use of the power plant explosions could work well (perhaps only explode on level 3, you could say the smaller power plants don’t have enough space uranium to reach critical mass, and that only the lever 3 power plants are gratuitous enough to make a huge explosions). I think it would be a good balance if a level 3 power plant exploded and lightly to moderately damaged ships shields/hulls around them. Or you could have the power plant explosions release shrapnel that stands a (10%-ish) percentage chance of damaging the modules/hardpoints of closely surrounding ships. This technique to lead to thoughts like, “Well, I need the level 3 power plant for this type of cruiser, but I intend to have it be escorted by anti-missile frigates. Do I take the chance that the cruiser will get destroyed and take out the anti- missile weapons of the frigates around it, leaving a hole in my line and potentially dividing my forces in half?”
I would like to propose another suggestion to the super fighter problem. Darloth mentioned having a maximum and minimum speed for ships. I agree with the idea for a minimum but I don’t think we need a maximum. If someone wants to put two fast engines on a fighter let them. But cliffski could add a feature that says, “The fighter hulls were not made to go this gratuitously fast! If you put that many engines on, the fighter will go so fast it will shake itself to death after a predetermined amount of time.” This feature could be expressed by having the fighters gradually weaken until they die (weaker fighters die faster, maybe just getting a few runs in), or stay at full strength and then suddenly die, or suddenly experience a large reduction in speed (“Your fighters engines have overheated!”) making them sitting ducks. This would take care of the problem of the invincible super fighters. And it would force the player to consider the trade off of having superfast fighters, that would be able to get past all the anti-fighter AoE flak to hit the unprotected ships behind them, but who would die after a amount of time, faster than they would just going normal speed.

Seconded - make it a requirement that ships cannot overlap when deploying. Still allow ships to overlay during the actual battle (and your collision code should limit the amount of this) but definitely stop people from plonking down 10 cruisers on the exact same spot. Not only is it (IMO) an exploit, but it looks rubbish.

First of all, I agree this is a huge, huge, huge problem that needs to be solved. I came across it after I realized I could build ships without engines… and then, to prevent the enemy from concentrating on a single of these non-moving ships at a time, I just bunched them up together and finally just stacked them together. It’s been really easy to beat enemies this way… so much so, that the game stops being fun. I’m halfway through the scenarios and I have already unlocked all the available weapons and got thousands of points to spare.

This would have been my first suggestion! I haven’t unlocked any of the new races yet, but at first glance doesn’t seem to be any reason why you should allow ships without engines to be created. If you want to add a spacestation later, well cool, just create a “station” type hull that doesn’t require engines… and that can’t overlap with another of its type or even needs to be at a certain distance away from other “stations”. All this makes perfect sense to me. Creating ships that went into battle without engines does not.

If requiring engines is not enough, you could prevent the player from overlapping his ships at all in the deployment screen. The enemy doesn’t overlap his ships, it wouldn’t feel weird to anybody if you forbade it.

The area of effect weapons I’m not sure I like. It kinda breaks the suspension of disbelief… the ships are far enough apart to not be in any danger of colliding against each other but a tiny missile hitting one damages the other with the same force? Meh. Also, this is not obvious to the player, he probably won’t realize this is happening and that he needs to not stack his ships. (I’m all in favor of new weapons in a future expansion that specifically have an area effect, though!)

As for the explosive powerplants, it sounds cool. But it might unbalance the game in weird ways and/or randomly make a player lose/win a game just because one ship happened to blow up at the precise moment it was trying to retreat and was on top of other ships. Also, players might try to build kamikaze ships or whatever, haha.

Some weapons should have area of effect damage, but not all. For example, how is a laser going to hit multiple ships? Missiles are the perfect place to test this out. I mean, if you are going to launch nukes, shouldnt they hit multiple ships?

Core explosions are also awesome. Do it. I also like the idea of bigger explosions for multiple cores. It provides tension, in that players have to decide whether they want to group their ships and risk chain reactions or spread them out and have less concentrated firepower. In particular, I want to see power plants explode because I would build a cruiser with a ton of power plants and use it like a kamikaze ship, just to see what happens.

One last suggestion for the prevention of stacking: Shield interference. When two shields overlap, they slowly drain.

Speed also helps ships avoid being hit by weapons right now. I think one possible way to balance engines (or a lack of them) is have more extremes in penalties for not moving (hit 100% of the time) and/or greater bonuses for moving faster.

I’m not sure how that bonus works right now, but I think different weapons and difference ship sizes should have different values. A cruiser moving at 0.2 speed is pretty fast for a cruiser, and should get some bonus to avoid plasma shots and mega-ton missiles. But at the same time fighters moving at a speed of 3.0, or frigates moving at 0.5 shouldn’t be too hard to hit.

I guess a lot of this will come down to balance once more of the bugs have been resolved.

Agreed… this strikes me as the easiest answer. A huge stack of immobile ships just seems to go against the spirit of the game.

On the subject of powerplant detonation, this sounds like it could work, but maybe balance it out my making it so that it only has a chance to occur. That way people can’t do things like plan around a strategy that involves making sure their ships are destroyed or something like that.

AoE weapons sound reasonable, don’t think I would make all weapons AoE though.

For those of you complaining about engineless ships:

I’ve made a bunch of these and they still move because all ships come with a very basic engine. Having a basic engine automatically added on is the same thing as requiring an engine. The engines you apply to mounting points are just “extra”

Cliffski I like both ideas.

AoE weapons like missiles (nukes - would be cool to see) will discourage players from stacking if you damage all ships mutually within the area-of-effect. Add some anti-fighter flak weapons to add more protection against fighters - I would love to see a wall of flak ala Battlestar Galactica

Destructible power cores would be an excellent way to force players to separate their ships or risk them being destroyed in a brutal chain reaction. Though if this were the case it would be nice to have a minimum distance order to prevent friendly ships bunching up without having to put them in formation. To lessen the impact of kamikaze ships (which in my opinion is a legitimate tactic) you could have enemy ships pull away from a crippled ship when the crippled ships core reaches a certain damage threshold, thus reducing/preventing the damage sustained in the blast. This would partially protect against kamikaze attacks if the opposing fleet commander setup a minimum distance or formation order.

Oh and make engines mandatory, that would also solve a large part of this problem.