Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Re-jigging the ship modules

Tomorrow I’ll be stroking my chin a lot and rethinking how the modules that make up each ship are put together. I’ve got quite a long way into the game with the current system, but I have a few thoughts I need to elaborate on.

Firstly, I think I’ll add a crew requirement, and maybe a heat one too. Ship modules currently have a financial cost, a weight, a hitpoint value (strength) and a power requirement. I think it needs a little more complexity so there are some interesting choices in module loadout for each ship. I don’t want it too complex, but it can’t be too simple and a no-brainer either.

Secondly, I need to think about the number of modules per ship again. Currently they come in three sizes, for the three ship sizes. The downside of this is that I can’t currently have big cruisers with one huge fuck-off mega-gun and ten small anti-fighter lasers. I’m considering a hybrid system where you can stick a few fighter or frigate sized modules in extra slots on each cruiser. I’m not sure about that.

I’m also talking to some artists about doing spaceship sprites. I don’t think my coder art is good enough. I also finally got the GUI and code for escort orders done, so fighters can be set to stick close to bigger ships and defend them from enemy bombers.

7 thoughts on Re-jigging the ship modules

  1. Really looking forward to the game, Cliff. It sounds awesome. I’ve been too quickly bored with the recent offerings (i.e. SoaSE and SotS). Too bad I don’t have any Windows machines anymore — I’ll have to wait till you release it on Mac or Linux. Let me know if you need an alpha (or beta) tester when it hits that point!

  2. Consider adding more conventional weaponry and technology to the ships, such as a massive physical grappling hook. Many space games rely on old standbys like lasers and shields. It would be interesting to see something with more…iron to it.

  3. Hi Cliff,

    Two quick thoughts:

    1. The old Star Fleet Command games handled this quite well by having a crew that earnt experience every battle you had and there was also the option to beam marines over to attack systems such as warp core, shields etc. also each of the ships was balanced in that the warp engine powered everything (including warp engines) such as sheilds, weapons, cloak, tractor beam but each one drew a percentage of warp power and also weight but each section (heavy weapons, engines or light weapons etc) was given an allowance based on the strengh of the chassis – thus you couldn’t over load a scout with a hugh warp engine as that size warp engine would only be able to be fitted to a crusier sized ship. Therefore you could only power certain lower power weapons due to the output of the warp core which was tied to size of your craft. This was then compensated by a slower speed / turning ability of larger heavier ships making it difficult for them to chase or track smaller more agile ships.

    But it still allowed you to say if you wanted one big single shot weapon or a couple of smaller ones with constant fire rate – ideal for Roms uncloaking – fire – cloak or those without cloaks such as Feds being able to keep up a constant stream of fire that drained shields.

    2. In the real world thats the whole point of certain types of ships – big crusiers only have a few light weapons as they need smaller fighters or other ships to protect them.

    Look at a Type 22 Frigate:

    Type 22 Statistics Displacement: 5300 tonnes
    Length: 148.1m / 485.9ft
    Beam: 14.8m / 48.5ft
    Speed: 30 knots
    Complement: 250 (Max 301)
    Armament: 114mm (4.5 inch) MK 8 gun Goalkeeper close-in weapons system (CIWS) Sea Wolf anti-missile system 2 x Quad Harpoon missile launchers 2 x 20mm Close range guns NATO Seagnat Decoy Launchers
    Sensors: Type 1007 navigation radar Type 967 and 968 surveillance radar 2 x Type 911 Sea Wolf tracking radars UAT Electronic Surveillance System Type 2050 active sonar
    Aircraft: Lynx MK 8 helicopters Armament: Sea Skua anti-ships missiles Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes Mk 11 depth charges Machine guns

    vs a type 42 Destroyer

    Displacement: 4,820 tonnes
    Length: 125m / 410ft
    Beam: 14.3m / 47ft
    Speed: 30 kts
    Complement: 287 (Max.312) 287 (Max.312)
    Armament: Twin Sea Dart Missile launcher 114mm (4.5 inch) Mk 8 gun 2 x 20mm Close range guns 2 x Vulcan Phalanx close in weapons system (CIWS) NATO Seagnat and DLF3 Decoy Launchers
    Sensors: Type 1007 & 1008 Navigational Radar Type 996 surveillance and target indication radar 2 x Type 909 Sea Dart tracking radars UAT Electronic Surveillance System Type 2050 active sonar
    Aircraft: Lynx MK 8 helicopters:

    Sea Skua anti-ship missiles

    Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes

    Mk 11 depth charges

    Machine guns

    So each ship has a job to do and relies on the others in the fleet to do theirs. Otherwise everyone would have identical ships and it would simply become a case of last man standing.

  4. You might also consider read the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Lots of great insight into space combat, the need for fighters, different sized ships, different types of weaponry and the best times/situations to use them.

    Plus they’re just fabulous reads.

    In any case, I’ll be watching closely as this subject is very near and dear to my heart. I like what I see so far, so I’ll be happy to provide input.


  5. The thing about fighter-sized ships is that they are cheap to make and can be deployed quickly. During a war of attrition, the fighters become extremely important because they can be built on mass and put into action very quickly – as opposed to a capital ship which may take months or years to produce.

    Fighters require a very small crew (1-5 people: 1 pilot and 1-4 additional gunners depending on the design). Much easier than staffing a Cruiser (150 people or more), not to mention a battleship (many hundreds).

    Finally, the loss of a fighter is insignificant. The loss of a capital ship is huge.
    But the war cannot be won by fighters alone. Besides – big ships are really cool. :)


  6. You could have prices of ships/equipment update via your server, then the ships will balance themselves by cost since if a type of ship/weapon becomes too popular it will also become expensive.
    You could pos introduce some forms of trading there also. (and helps with piracy if these features are online).

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