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

Deployment Screen Tweaks

Ok, so here is the current (and close to final) layout of the fleet deployment screen (click to enlarge). The new thing that has gone in, and was a long time coming (apart from some UI tidyups, and better support for the range of possible screen resolutions), is individually highlighting weapon ranges.

You can see that I’ve moused-over one of the icons for this ships modules (Light Plasma Launcher), and the range of that weapon from the ship is shown as a bright white circle around it. The faded out circles represent the ranges of this ships other weapons, and by mousing over them, I can see which is which. This will make positioning ships better much easier, and will remind you what ships are suited to particular roles.

One thing that isn’t done is offsetting those ranges to take into account the modules placement on the ship. It will not make a big difference, but maybe it’s worth doing. For the big ships on small maps, it’s probably worth putting certain weapons at the front.

10 thoughts on Deployment Screen Tweaks

  1. Cliffski,

    I really like this new feature, it will definitely make it easier to manage weapon groups. Have you considered implementing weapons that don’t have a 360 degree arc? It seems a bit silly to me that on this big ships all turrets have a complete 360 degree view of the playing field. Additional strategic play could be squeezed out by restricting the viewing angle for various hard points along the ship’s hull.

    “Do I put my long range missile longer on the dorsal hard point with a full 360 view, or do I put my EM laser there to make sure I can disable ships no matter how I face?”, “Should I load up the port side of my ship with missile bays and attempt to orbit my target counter clockwise while my starboard side defends the ship with point defense lasers and quick firing lasers?”

    Not sure how hard this would be, but it really seems like it would make a big difference.


  2. Firing arcs is certainly something I keep an eye on, in terms of trying to balance complexity against playability.
    Most starship combat games that have employed firing arcs have had a pretty small number of ships per battle, such as starfleet command (I loved the original starfleet battles).
    With a much bigger fleet, you run the danger of having too much to think about for each ship. Remember that the smallest GSB battles will have at least 5 cruisers, probably 10+ ships without fighters per side. The bigger battles may have over 100 non fighter ships.

    Having said that, it would certainly be cool. It’s do-able, but certainly non-trivial :D

  3. I completely understand your argument about complexity. But for a game that is ALL about the setup of your fleet, this type of complexity I believe would be welcome.

    What currently makes one ship type different from another? From what I see, the number of hard points and the ships arbitrary hp/ap statistics. Weapon arcs would add an additional layer of distinction between the ship types (and maybe even the races).

    Also, it might make it easier for you to add more content. Lets say you create a single cruiser type you name the “Devastator”, you could then add five variants with different hard point locations (and consequently different firing arcs). The user could then decide which of the variants would work best for him in the given situation. If the user knows he’s going to need a strong missile defense, he may choose a variant that sacrifices a hard point or two for wider (or full) arcs.

    Just something to think about for a possible expansion. And while your at it, you might as well make an interface that allows the hard points to slide along a preset path for more customization :) This would allow the firing arc to be tweaked slightly for each hard point.


  4. Well now I hate you with a fury, because you make some very good arguments. I can see how it would indeed add to the game in some way, although there are major repercussions as the effectiveness of a ship will be related to both its firing arcs combine with its turning circle, and thus speed/ manoeuvrability.

    I might sketch out how this could be done, and see about what extra burden it pits everywhere (not least on the AI captains, who would now have to choose to rotate a ship according to what weapons were in the right arcs… hmmmm).

    Definitely something to think on…

  5. I’m afraid any suggestions on the AI Captain will have to wait until more of its inner workers are revealed, as I’m sure you’re sad to hear. You don’t happen to have a flow chart or the likes on it would you? I absolutely love AI theory and implementation, its one of my neglected hobbies actually.

  6. Firing arcs was a big deal in Starfleet Command (which I was quite a fan of too). I can certainly see your point cliffski but tend to agree with viper. Without them ships have very little reason to turn in combat, may as well just sit there.. However! I can think of one moderately easy option. Put firing arcs on only the most devastating weapons and get the AI to turn them to bear on the target only when they are nearly charged. Just a thought.

    Erm… Mines would be nice too.. I’ll shut up now.

  7. “Sword of the stars” is a prime example of having firing arcs.

    There needs to be some more ai coding I think, make ships do different tactics like broadsides, strafing runs, standoff etc.

    Turrets need to fire at opportunity targets in their cone when the ships main target is out of it (toggleable perhaps).

  8. There’s a freeware 2D starship combat game with customizable ships called Battleships Forever. While it was originally designed as an RTS, a small part of the game came down to AI vs AI battles between fleets designed by the community. When designing a ship in that game, the player can specify the tactics AI captains will take, such as engage head one, flank, or broadside, then the range from the enemy to stay at, and then place weapons and adjust arcs appropriately or vice versa.

    I would love to see the opportunities weapons arcs would open up. I for one would cherish the additional complexity in ship designing. Imagine sneaking a bomber squadron to a cruiser’s blind spot.

    ps. I shamelessly post the AI vs AI Battleships Forever fleet battle thread I started

  9. I second the proposal of firing arcs,
    it was the first thing that came to my mind when reading the entry, too.
    Different bearing strategies should be available at setup time to influence the AI-captains behaviour.

    Probably much too complicated, but instead of a few given bearing strategies,
    you could even allow custom strategies.
    I’m thinking about a (tuned down) variant of the graphical rules
    in the game Spuds, if anyone knows it.
    As I said, probably much too complicated, it just crossed my mind…

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