Creating large-scale fleet battles (Discussion)

#1

A few of threads have brushed up close to this topic, but as far as I can recall, none have really gone into depth about it - which kind of surprised me when I realised it.

As we know, I-Novae intend the combat in Infinity:Battlescape to ideally include large fleet battles inspired by spectacles in certain well-known sci-fi films. I have started to wonder how this might be implemented at a practical level, given some of the other game design criteria we know of.

For example:

  • How will an fps control scheme influence the way players interact with a large fleet battle? It may take quite a lot of courage to dive into a massive furball and risk your ship… which suggests there must be reasonable incentives to do so.

  • How might combat roles be defined in a space-fight scenario? Go with traditional “classes”, or allow more freedom through equipment choices?

  • And perhaps most importantly, How will players be able to contribute to the battle in a meaningful way? There will need to be clear objectives of differing challenge and specialisation. Giving the battle a fluid, interactive feel would make it exciting and purposeful. If destroying fighter cover allows your capital ships to fire better on the enemy, you would have a sensation of achievement.

In my opinion, in order for fleet/faction battles to function on the scale I-Novae would like, there needs to be a focus on working for the benefit of your team, rather than personal glory. If you get rewards and upgrades along the way that help you achieve that teamwork goal, so much the better.

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Technology - Realism - And Player Roles in Space Combat
The Economy of Battlescape
#2

(The opinions below are my own personal thoughts on this subject)

How to encourage large player battles?

  • Player roles that encourage co-operation and strategic advantage. (“engineers” / “medics” etc)
  • Asking players to complete tasks that require the co-operations of multiple team members
  • Penalties for “Respawn” on death determined by ship type, or available resources/currency.
  • “Cooldowns” for larger ships / items etc (part of the balancing act)
  • World events. That require the co-operation of many team members in order to complete / oppose. (I’m thinking of the “Titan” gameplay in Battlefield 2142)
  • Rewards for team accomplishments, (squadron, fleet, armada, etc) as well as individual rewards for leadership / task completion.
  • Pinch points. Key installations or facilities that require massive team effort to capture or defend. Not necessarily static points either, given orbital mechanics, or rebuild / destroy / rebuild scenarios.

Many of my ideas stem from playing Planetside2. In which I regularly experience large team battles.

Again, my own opinions on the subject, not an official stance on I-Novae or Battlescape features.
I’m quite interested in hearing what others think on the subject.

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#3

I also have gained a few ideas from that game :smile:

These two definitely work together to encourage more strategic teamwork, rather than solo spamming. Anything that stops people exploiting the ability to resurrect themselves in a game by carelessly flying in just to score kills is fine by me.

This also raises the question of just how dangerous large battles might be. Could you accidentally (or deliberately) attract a heat-seeking missile that was fired at another ship? Is there a danger of being taken out in a crossfire?

I think the more danger there is, the more rewarding successes are. But death in battle shouldn’t be too quick, or people will just get fed up of respawning. The key is making them feel like they are making an impact on the battle, even if they have to give their in-game life to do so!

Edit:
There is also the presence of NPC ships to consider here. I am of the opinion that a healthy supply of drones or AI-controlled enemies could lend an extra feeling of chaos to the battle (and provide extra, easier targets for new players to shoot at). And… AI capital ships as in the ICP?

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#4

Planetside 2 and ARMA 3 both illustrate how teams can work together to tackle problems. I think that INS could clone ARMA 3 gameplay, replacing infantry with slow-warp fighters and going from there.

[quote=“Sab1e, post:1, topic:596”]
It may take quite a lot of courage to dive into a massive furball and risk your ship… which suggests there must be reasonable incentives to do so.[/quote]

I assume that the risk is in throwing away a limited resource, as with Planetside 2 or ARMA 3. Planetside implements personal resources, while ARMA 3 goes with shared resources. The incentive is simply to win the game.

[quote=“Sab1e, post:1, topic:596”]
How will players be able to contribute to the battle in a meaningful way?[/quote]

By ensuring that everyone has weaknesses that are compensated by the ability of other players. I may have a powerful bomb to drop, but I can’t do it with any accuracy unless someone actively designates a target. I may be able to designate a target, but I have to sit still to do it, making me vulnerable. I may have a powerful ship, but its sensors are terrible and I can barely see anything unless I’m sitting right next to it. I need other people to tell me where to go at the strategic level. And so on.

The scenario that I’d like to see that gets players interacting with each other is the city siege. That’s the one we talked about in the old forums. Ships from two or more factions try to control a city in turns. They can fight and supply in real time as much as they like, and the results of their supply efforts give them a number of moves and game pieces on the city “chess board”. City moves take place once every hour or so.

The game itself could set up a defending faction and an attacking faction, then give the two sides certain ships and let them have at it. New resources spawn at their bases at regular intervals. The conquest of a city could take days or weeks, and is a perfect lead-in to an MMO.

The next step after that is giving the players the ability to also collect resources, build new infrastructure in support of their efforts, and so on. So instead of relying on regular and automatic resupply, the players have to decide how much time they’ll actively spend working on their team’s infrastructure. The infrastructure could even be outside the reach of the enemy faction. All the PvE players could focus on supporting the PvP side without fear of PvP guys jumping them.

Certainly the Planetside/Unreal Tournament approach of having a network of contested sites is another variation that could be pursued. Instead of fighting over one city, fight over multiple simultaneously. If the game engine prefers to have 4 20v20 fights instead of a single 80v80 fight, that’s a way to do it.

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#5

All good thoughts, and brings up the issue of communication - which is always essential for good teamwork. Stopping to type in a chat-box can regularly lead to death in many online games, so it is likely that hotkeyed voice commands would work best.

However, I think this also needs to be tied into the HUD display, so if someone calls for help it perhaps highlights that player and their target, aiding people who wish to help. This would also fit with being able to target enemies for other members of your team (much like how the ‘spotting’ works in Planetside 2).

Perhaps gaining qualifications in some manner (by completing specific objectives that build relevant skills, rather than just grinding for it) could lead to unlocking more complex strategic commands that can be relayed to your team. If you are more experienced and want to round up a group of new fighters who have no idea what is happening, suggest they form a squadron and give them targets. An alternative might be some sort of command ship class, which has less fighting ability but can coordinate friendlies.

#6

A good system.

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#7

That looks like the right direction to me, World of Tanks has an even simpler context sensitive order system that changes orders based on target.

#8

I am not a fan of canned voice. It’s available in a number of games that I’ve played and I don’t hear people using it. Further, if “Move up” and “Attack this” is all that’s needed to coordinate players, then the gameplay is too simplistic. Give me voice. The very best games I’ve ever enjoyed have had voice. Either LAN parties or just games that had a bunch of us carefully coordinating over voice.

Note that TeamSpeak is a start, but a separate TeamSpeak implementation doesn’t provide for the fiction of in-game communication. Targeting a ship and doing tight-beam communication that nobody else can hear. Shipwide broadcasts. Fleet broadcasts. System-wide calls for help. Other game-context-sensitive uses of voice. Heck, I’d like it if I got some static on a line when communicating with a ship that was in a communication-hostile environment. A strong magnetic or gravitic field. Highly radiated. A dusty atmosphere. Whatever. Communication dropouts (or distinctive interference) when starting or ending a jump. Or all through the jump.

ARMA 3 demonstrates the fun of this sort of thing. I watch Jester814 videos all the time, and I really enjoy the richer sense of the experience that comes from having the voice stuff.

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#9

@JB47394 you are talking about some hypothetical dream game that you would make if possible or something that you expect INS to implement?

#10

Let me heartly disagree with you.

See the complex moba League of Legends. At one point there was only a general ping, that could be transformed to “defend that tower” if clicked on a friendly tower or “attack that tower” if clicked on ennemy tower.
It was simple yet effective. Now there are 4 different existing pings that behave on a coherent manner: “ennemies missing”, “i’m on my way”, “assist me” and “danger”. The general ping still exists and serves to target players / towers.

Most players use all those pings on a regular basis. You can always add more pings / orders but they won’t be that much used necessarly.

Anyway, a wheel display of command / ping issues, the latter being inside radius, in is the best efficient way.


EDIT : as a side-note, Riot seriously considered adding a voice channel for your team in the current game, but they ended voting against it. Many reasons to that: some players being toxic, not everyone speaks the same language, and most importantly, they don’t want to shove it down the player’s throat as most of them would play happily without being annoyed / disturbed by team mates.
There’s already an existing (non-official) plugin that can create this room for you: Overwolf I think. They accept that player use this third-party soft, but they won’t implement anything.

#11

I wouldn’t mind having something akin to eve voice that your availavlr to join in any channel, including local and regional chats as well as private or corporation chats. I think it could be fun to chat with random people over local in voice, or call for assistance…or negotiate a ransom :smiley:

#12

Fighting for resources would fuel large battles, as long as resources are useful enough for a large number of people to be involved. I think you would have to have a command structure interface, with fleet commanders, squad commanders, Etc. Players would have to fight in an organized manner for the benefit of their team.

#13

And this is going to be one of the defining design decisions that I-Novae will have to make. It is tied in so closely with so many other aspects of combat mechanics.

Making sure that the space-jockeys on the front lines have just as much fun as those who wish to pursue a more strategic role is going to be tricky.

#14

I think this is likely to be one of our biggest design challenges. We want the game to be just as fun for someone who only has enough time to pick it up and play for 20 minutes as well as those who want to organize large corporation’s and coordinate strategy, tactics, etc.

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#15

Maybe have something where a larger ship(cruiser/carrier) in the fight is able to respawn ships similar to the spawn vehicles(the name escapes me at the moment ) in ps2…this allows people with little time to play to immediately jump into a fight where at the same time creates strategic adjectives to attack and defend.

To stop them from becoming infinite spawn beacons have the ships need to refuel more fighters at an allied based which deducts resources…If your team doesn’t have many resources it becomes difficult to respawn in the field

Edit: one major challenge in balancing this sort of system is the availability of resources…if its too easy to obtain then restocking fighters just becomes annoying. Too little and it will be barely used or considered… And how much the carrier fighters cost compared to the fighters you’d spawn at a base

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#16

This is more or less along the lines of what we’re thinking atm. Larger capital ships will act as spawn points however their resources, along with everybody else’s, will be finite unless they can be resupplied. Resupply is something that will affect everyone, even the small ships, however some will be affected more than others depending on their weapon choices.

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#17

This sounds like a good move. It also opens up more non-combat roles, depending on how resupplying works. Ideally, I suppose, there would be the opportunity to mine or gather materials in some other way and take it to the capital ships/bases. Having to do this in the middle of a gigantic battle could prove quite interesting and provide additional missions for other ships (protection).

Of course, we know how much depth these systems have will largely depend on funding, but we’ll take that as a given.

Fuel could be a resource and might lend some interesting characteristics to battles. Fighters would have less fuel but it would be easier for them to disengage to refuel. Larger capital ships could last longer and depend on smaller ships to refuel/resupply them. This would naturally make the capital ships more valuable in a battle because they can maintain a frontier while fighters and other craft zip in and out.

This could also aid the balance of battles, because if one team has a larger number of combat-based players, they may run low on fuel/resources and still lose the battle against a more balanced team.

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#18

Limiting warp range for smaller ships could be also good for scale. You may be able to traverse a whole Jovian System with your corvette but not travel to another Planet without a tanker or something. To travel they would need to dock with bigger ships … maybe allow slow boating as a failsave.

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#19

Wouldn’t take examples from planetside 2, their spawn system is bad enough that they had to circumvent it with deployments and instant action and stuff. That entire game was a huge step back in gameplay mechanics and was riddled with pay to win.

Any spawn system should follow some basic principles. First, suicide should never be the preferred option for travel. A few issues can get in the way of this, first of all is if death costs too little, you get strategic suicides just to not have to chug accross the map. Second, mobile spawnpoints which can spawn large enough ships can also cause problems.

Second, the spawn rate shouldn’t be something you have to overwhelm. Another big example of a failing by ps2, battles were entirely just overwhelming the enemy’s spawn rate then spawncamping till the base captured, completely devoid of interesting fights, gameplay and strategy on an individual and group level. A game that does this well is natural selection 2, to summarize NS2, it has a resource system that increases for each player a set amount every so often based on how many resource points are held. Higher life forms and weaponry cost resources, so if you wipe the enemy team’s players out they are pretty much fucked especially later into a round, and spawn rate is limited per team. if there ever is a situation where one team is dying so quickly that their deaths might actually start to be a benefit to them (why reload a clip, you can just die and respawn!) then the spawners will get clogged and most of the players will be stuck off-screen and will soon be destroyed. This is endgame anyway, it doesnt matter than these players will be left sitting at the spawn screen for too long, as in the long run it saves everyone time and frustration from a round that’s already lost

Third, You shouldn’t be able to use spawning as a method of surprise. This means a few things, first of all it means you shouldnt be able to just materialize 100 's of soldiers/ships because a single small supply ship is nearby (see planetside 2’s sunder and galaxy? dunno if theyve changed the galaxy again), and more relevant to infinity, if something like a player pilotable frigate exists, it shouldn’t spawn out of a front line carrier that can clearly only hold fighters. Yes, it means the bigger ships will take longer to travel, but they should also be balanced to last a lot longer than a spawned fighter. NS2 has a good example of this again, the skulk can spawn near instantly and moves quickly to swarm the front lines but will die fast, but the top tier onos will take some time to evolve and (unless the player wants to throw all his resources away) will do so at a well defended base, then it is very loud and relatively slow.

Bad spawning can kill a game, especially in the kind of game battlescape is looking to be. Do it right or risk being planetside 2, 2.

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#20

I have to disagree partially.

I agree that the Spawn system is an essential part and Inovae shouldn’t just copy the spawn system of Planetside 2 / Battlefield.
But I don’t think that Battlefields (or whoever invented it) spawn system is inherently bad. It just creates game play that you probably disagree with.
As I played Battlefield 2142 competitively I have quite a good feel for how the Spawn system works.
Essentially the Battlefield / Planetside 2 Spawn system balances itself trough travel distance to objectives. In conquest, or most modes, the defender has always an advantage as they don’t have to walk/drive as far from the battle. This means the closer the war gets to the objective the fiercer the battle gets.

Now to special spawn points. Mobile spawnpoints add another layer to the mix. They are a big danger to defenders as they drastically higher enemy density. As the enemy doesn’t have to travel to the objective anymore their forces get more compressed and the defender loose their advantage. But they can be destroyed and they are frequently because they are high priority targets. Defenders also have enough tools at hands to destroy them: Rocket launchers, Air Support, Defensive Turrets (Like on the Titan in BF2142). And if the attack is only one squad and not a whole battle group the defenders have won in one blow because now the squad has to start back in their territory.
“Get into action” orbital drop in Planetside 2 was implemented for people who don’t want to play for a longer period. They circumvent the “get to the objective” gameplay and thus allow for a broader audience. If the fight is over and they won, those players may suicide sure. But maybe they also hop into one of the Sunderes/BMPs driving of and start to experience that other part the game has to offer. Inherently it is a good idea especially for new players that don’t yet now how they can get from A to B. If we make it hard to travel long distances in Battlescape a “Joker” spawn could allow newbies to get to the “Star Wars” like epicness without fully understanding the travel system.

In BF2142 squad matches can spawn at their leader or even at a custom place able spawn point. It never was an overpowered feature but one that is essential to tactical advancement in the game. If not used right it wasn’t of much use. But if it was by a well organized squad, they could turn the tide even if overpowered 5 to 1. Depth that I wouldn’t just discredit as being bad just because I disagree with it.

An other advantage is that it scales incredibly well! You can have maps with linear paths or ones that branch out, you can have tiny or giant maps. Ones with vehicles and without. It is an incredible versatile system.

It is a quite unrealistic system yes. Reinforcements just appear out of nothing or before your face. But mostly for that to happen the enemy sneaked up behind and placed a SpawnBeacon / BMP / Sunderer or Carrier there and you have failed to notice that. Limiting amount of available Spawns per Spawn point or loadouts could solve that problem. I think there are some games that did this. A carrier would then only allow for maybe 30 respawns and then would need to resupply. This idea is floating around in the threads in the last couple of weeks.

I agree that the Spawn system molds gameplay drastically. It’s one of the key mechanics that influence how players play or how they use other mechanics.

@mattk50 : Could you describe how exactly the spawn system breaks Planetside 2 for you? What aspects makes it unenjoyabel?