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Monday, December 12, 2011

Stacked Ships vs Single Ships

A person commented on my change from stacked ships to single ship system, and I was about to post a comment providing explanations on why I changed it when I had a thought. (The post is here)

Originally, the reason why I changed to single ship was due to diplomacy/reserves/space races/population transportation in individual ships/some other reasons that I've forgotten. I also wanted to have a X-Com-esque combat where if you miss, it physically miss and can hit another ship (even a friendly ship), allowing for fantastic technologies.

However, when I started to explain that, I realized that the biggest goal of Beyond Beyaan is to make it moddable, and that means giving more options to the players. So I thought about what would require to support either single ships or stacked ships.

Inside the game code, there'll be minor changes (a boolean value indicating whether or not the game uses stacked ships) for handling fleets, nothing too major. However, the biggest "design" and "UI" changes will be as following:

The UI will need to display the ship number, and a slider for selecting amount of ship for fleet UI. Single ship system will use the current fleet window. So I will need to add a new fleet window class that's for handling stacked ships.

Single ships system can have their components damaged or destroyed, requiring repairs (basically refitting), while stacked ships can't have this due to simplified UI. So stacked ships will act like MoO 1's, all components working until hp hits 0. Then that ship is destroyed, and the next damage will apply to the next ship in the stack. However, you can still upgrade/refit ships in both systems.

Firing weapons (this was one big reason for me changing to single ships) will result in a "stacked" fire. This means if you have 100 scouts, each armed with 3x laser cannons, the stacked ship will fire three times, with 100x damage each firing.

I will need to add "streaming" support, in that if a weapon is streaming, it carries over leftover damage to the next ship if the current ship is destroyed. In Single ship system, this will mean that the weapon continues on its course with leftover damage until it hits another ship or leaves the combat field.

However, all of those changes don't require a lot of work, but will make more people happy (if they want games with stacked ships, they can choose that, or choose a game with single ships). I will add "gameConfiguration.xml" that sets whether or not a mod uses stacked ship, as well as if technologies are removed from a field when one technology is researched. In-game options will be minor options that affects small things, while gameConfiguration.xml will contain major game-changing settings.

I will add this after I'm done with the screens and saving/loading games, but before I add space combat. When I add space combat, I will have both systems implemented and ready for me to test them both. That way, I will avoid coding in a way that will restrict me from adding one system or another.

This isn't a result of me being unsure on design for my game, this is a result of me trying to make the game more mod friendly. My fear is that there may be no other turn based 4x games anymore, the trend is real time 4x. I want to provide a game that allows people to create their own 4X games without having to develop everything from scratch. I hope that this will make people happy :)


  1. I can see a use for stacked ships INSIDE a mostly single ship system:


  2. Yes, I thought about having fighters inside a ship, and even designing those fighters. But it would introduce an even more complex gameplay and increase the development time by a lot, so I decided to cut it from my design. I also originally had plans for ground combat to be similar to X-Com, where you can equip your troops with different weapons, and have various vehicles that you've designed, and the combat is carried out under your control. That also was cut to have this game actually be finished.

    However, if Beyond Beyaan prove to be successful, then I will consider working on a new version that have all of the above features, plus a lot of other features that I've cut out from this game. One man can only do so much... :(

  3. "My fear is that there may be no other turn based 4x games anymore, the trend is real time 4x."

    Yeah, this does seem to be the growing trend. Sword of the Stars 2 did just come out, but its extremely buggy (actually unfinished) from what I've heard. Other than that, it seems like most 4X releases lately have been real-time rather than turn-based.

    Maybe these things go in cycles and a couple years from now the pendulum will swing back. I'm guessing my game won't be ready for a couple years anyway, so maybe I'll be lucky and hit on a rising tide of interest. Or not... :)

    By the way, your stacked vs. single option sounds like a great idea.

  4. Being the "person" (so I passed the Turing test :) ) sending the original comment, I have to admit I like this solution. Though I am not sure if it's possible to support both equally, your approach still seems to be reasonable.
    You seem to handle the research issues, I guess you will do the same for diplomacy issues as well.

    Regarding the death of turn based 4X: there are far too many projects out there to believe that.
    The people starting them originally wanted to play with something like that :(
    Maybe the market is not big enough for big game studios, but I don't consider that a major issue.
    This genre is almost as good with bad graphics and without music and it can be improved from released game to released game - Space Empires series proved that.

  5. "My fear is that there may be no other turn based 4x games anymore, the trend is real time 4x."

    I have a feeling that FreeOrion, Beyon Beyaan, Dark Matter as Stareater (Zvjezdojedac) will be completed in a same year making sudden inflation of turn based 4X games :)

  6. TBSS - I'm glad you like the solution. Both will be supported equally in that both will perform as expected, and there won't be advantages/disadvantages to picking one over others. It will depend on the technologies and race's perks for balance, not whether it's single ship or not.

    You said there's far too many turn-based 4X projects, can you point me to some? All those that I've found are either in development for a long while (freeOrion), abandoned, or came out in 1990's and early 2000's (MoO 1,2,3, SEV, etc), or are incomplete/buggy (Sword of the Stars 2). All the new 4X games that I see are real time.