How the carrier will become one of our most iconic ships

#1

Hey everyone, we just wrapped up a pretty big design discussion about the future of the carrier and I wanted to give an update about where we’re thinking of taking the ship. As many of you are aware, the carrier is currently a fairly boring ship to play. You can fly around and watch as people spawn and that’s about it - so how do we make it more interesting?

For starters the high level design goal for the carrier is that it’s primarily a flagship. We don’t have a squad/fleet system yet but once we do carriers will be central to any attacking fleet as a mobile spawn point. That being said, we don’t want to make the carrier completely dependent on cooperation with other players or only useful on offense - a carrier captain should still have fun with the ship if playing solo or on defense.

The first major change we’ll be making to the carrier, possibly in Q4 of this year, is to allow it to spawn AI squadrons of interceptors, bombers, and/or corvettes. A carrier will start off with a limited resource pool we refer to as spawn tickets. Spawn tickets will represent the number of ships the carrier can spawn. We have not yet decided if these will be generic or specific to each type of smaller ship as that will depend on who ends up paying the cost for a spawn - the carrier captain or the pilot who’s spawning. Either way, if a carrier spawns an AI squadron the captain will have to pay the cost of every ship in the squadron. Each ship that spawns will consume a spawn ticket. The captain of the carrier will then get a psuedo-RTS view for controlling their AI squadrons wherein they can assign them different targets and goals, such as attack or defend. We’re also considering allowing the carrier captain to hop into one of their AI ships and play as the pilot for however long they like (or until they die). We may limit the number of AI squadrons that can be spawned to some % of the total spawn ticket pool and there will be delays between successive squadrons spawning.

So, what happens once a carrier runs out of spawn tickets? To solve that problem, and add more stuff to do for those of you who love support roles, we’ll allow you to spawn as a hauler at a station and replenish the spawn tickets for a carrier. The AI fleet commander will also automatically create resupply missions for carriers that are running low on spawn tickets.

Even though it’s going to be a number of months before we can address carrier gameplay, we need to build the fleet/squad system first, we’re very excited about the future of the ship. We’re confident it’ll become one of the most interesting and fun ships within the game.

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#2

Why must you over-complicate when your manpower is already stretched so thin? :roll_eyes:

Just do the Sundered mechanic from Planetside 2. Park the Carrier and allow the player to either spawn one of the smaller ships to pilot or take over control of a friendly NPC ship in the battle (what Flavien is already in the process of implementing).

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#3

the resupply thing wont work especially for something so vital as respawn tickets. there wont be enough people willing to just run back and fourth to the carrier repeatedly and with current interception/warp jamming mechanics there isnt much gameplay in stopping those players either.

#4

Honestly? This could work. If you think you’ll be able to pull it off, go for it! :smiley:

Still, controlling respawns is incredibly important, so the ability for the carrier to restock without haulers is vital too. Allowing it to ‘restock’ at friendly stations would be ideal.

*I’d also like to make a point that ‘spawn tickets’ is a really icky bit of non-lore-friendly terminology and hope that phrase doesn’t end up in-game.

#5

Carriers will be able to restock at stations.

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#6

There’s also the issue of making it a viable role in game for when there aren’t carriers that need restocking (when everyone’s on the defensive, for example), so having some verity for hauler pilots would be a must. :slight_smile:

#7

This is cool, I think a Homeworld-esque mini game would compliment the carrier well enough. However it sounds like a lot of work to implement, it would probably be easier to just go with:

… until you have more time to work on feature creep.

That said, I’m all for implementing a good Homeworld experience. If you can properly pull it off it’ll be great, an excellent first step. :+1:


I cannot really imagine anybody really wanting to do this.

I am a support player, I play medic/engy on PS2, when I played Dota I played nothing but supports heroes, I’m a huge fan of the corvette, etc etc. Unless you’re really trying to get the space trucking crowd into playing I:B, I just don’t see the appeal. It would very quickly become a chore, and if you’re really pushing the spawn ticket system as the power capacity of the carrier, it would probably only be frustration for carrier players.

In my opinion, a simple cool-down would be adequate and more easily balanced.

I get why you would want a limiting factor, you probably don’t want an unlimited supply of AI ships being pumped out at regular intervals, however you could achieve the same affect by simply having a dual spawn timer: X amount of allowable spawns per Y time frame, with a minimum Z amount of time between spawns. Gameplay on the carrier’s end would be almost totally unchanged, with no need to rely on trips back to the station away from battle because nobody does supply runs.

Until I understand why the spawn ticket idea is a good idea, it just seems like trying to shoe-horn in a role for playable haulers. I think the playable haulers could work if you used the dual timer or similar idea as the baseline carrier function, then the haulers could add a substantial bonus. However it would probably be a better idea to find out some way to get the AI to make the trip for you.


All that said, I agree that the carrier should become a really awesome iconic ship. It looks jaw-droppingly awesome and desperately needs a powerful role on the battlefield. I just look at the spawn ticket system and think that it’s a system designed to not necessarily to choke it but indeed limit it unnecessarily.


I think the carrier should go all-out on the missile platform. I posted that one thread talking about how to make the carrier a sneaky spawn point, but I think the carrier should also have the option to have a front line-capability.

Give the carrier a siege-shield active ability to protect from cruisers and such from wrecking it, give it all the missile launchers, even a healthy amount of torpedo launchers.

That’s all I have to say for now, I’ll see how this spawn ticket idea develops further before making further comment.

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#8

There are plenty of people that would love to play as space truck. We’ve seen many comments asking for the hauler to become playable, and if you recall the ICP back in 2006, it had a little mining shuttle with was basically space trucking. It was very popular.

So yeah, that might not be your playstyle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something other players would like, even if for a change of pace between two battles :wink:

Besides, I’m not sure if that was made clear, but the hauler’s primary goal is not to resupply the carrier - it’s still to transport resources from factories to stations. Allowing to resupply the carrier is giving a secondary function to the ship, but it’s more like a bonus - something you can also do, not something that is mandatory.

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#9

I like space trucking! Although there would have to be at least a little thought put into it. Interception mechanics or something which helps the hauler plan a safe route to the carrier.

Will the carrier captain be able to choose what AI ships are spawned? I was unclear on that.

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#10

I get that, what I don’t get is having the carrier’s ability to carry rely on:

… as this resupply becomes absolutely mandatory if this is the primary contribution the carrier makes to the battle.


Concerning the number of ships spawning per ability use, I think it largely depends on where you want the carrier to be in relation to the battle field. Because ships can travel so fast in this game, there really isn’t a “front line” or “rear guard” or anything, as cruisers and such can just warp around or even just ctr+w and charge the carrier, if the carrier is anything less than a full-offensive super tanky monster.

Assuming a carrier that sits in the ‘back’ away from battle, if you say that the carrier can “only spawn 5ish ships at a time between cooldowns” (which is totally lame imo), then the spawn ability becomes almost completely irrelevant. Having a very small number of spawnable ships at a time would be the battle equivalent to an interceptor taking on the destroyer. A large number of ships is needed not just to defend the carrier but also to make any sort of noticeable difference.

Assuming a front line beast with siege-shields and all the missiles, then a smaller number could be more reasonable, as the spawned ships would be probably delegated more to defense than offense.


So I guess one of my concerns is that the purposed system seems like it needs to be balanced along side whatever systems that aren’t currently described.

#11

I understand your concerns, especially about balance - and I agree that’s a huge unknown. But giving the carrier strong offensive capabilities isn’t the direction we are going. The carrier should not be strong against other capships, and should especially not be a doomsday ultimate weapon. Its primary role is a huge support ship.

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#12

I’d give it enough fire power to totally wreck a single cruiser in an emergency. All the missiles. All at once. :wink:

That would discourage any single cruiser from just chasing the poor carrier around, and require a concentrated effort to bring it down. Couple that with a siege-shield for a whole lot of defensive ability, and you’re going places.

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#13

Yeah, the big problem with giving the carrier too much offensive firepower is you end up making the cruiser a bit redundant.

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#14

In the future it would be nice if in addition to being able to spawn ai as you describe you could also pay a already existing ai credits, and it will join your squad. Otherwise the only concern i have is if the dev time investment that is carrier specific is worth it for just one ship class. Mainly when other features could be worked on which improve more than one or all classes like the squad mechanics portion of your proposal.

#15

While this is a good observation regarding game development in general, I think the key point here is that the features are only adding on top of each others, meaning the first feature can work independently.

The “carrier player spawns AI ships” feature can be done and released without the “carrier player gets in one of the AI ships” feature, hell, it can even be released without the macro-management feature entirely.

This is a great way to build a game, they can release things along and observe player reception instead of working in a silo for too long, which could indeed be dramatic.

Either way I-Novae pulls it, all of this seems great stuff ahead :+1:

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#16

Agreed.

Perhaps give it strong shields and totally automatic defensive guns? That way it can defend itself if enemy ships get too close but the player would rely on managing the AI ships launched instead for protection. Sounds pretty carrier like to me.

As for balancing how many can be launched etc, I didn’t quite understand it from the description, but I’m not too worried since it can be tested and adjusted.

However, as cool as this all is, I hope it’s lower priority than sorting squad mechanics, missions and loudouts. Sounds like a big task and the other main features should be in place first.

#17

I like the siege mode and shield idea (and haulers could be used to resupply the shield fuel too), the single cruiser wreaking weapon is possible but would need a mechanic to prevent it from bieng used offensively.
Other possibilities include deployment of sentry guns similar to station artillery platforms, or soft kill/team buffing electronic warefare platforms.

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#18

Very interesting.
Thanks a lot for sharing this now! After such a decision has been made. It sounds like it was a big one at that. It’s nice to know that this is how you want to tackle this part of the game now.

Like voiced above, all the best with making it reality. It sounds like a solid idea by itself, yet there are quite a big of unknowns how it works together with the rest of the game.
I see people already trying to tackle issues that arise just by having the features planed. Good discussion though.

I hope it works out and will be worth it in the end.


As for some of the issues raised:
Most of the points sound like balancing issues, I think they are solvable if the right trimming screws are looked at.
What helps is to look at other games and how it is done there.

From what Flavien shared it sounds like the ship deploy feature will be more in the vein of an ability, like the mine and like many other games have, primarily MOBAs and MOBA likes.
Like mentioned, I think having two timers and a max “stock up” would allow for enough balancing options.
One timer that dictates how long it takes for a squad to get ready, one value that dictates how many squads can be ready at the same time and one that dictates how fast squads can be launched.
This is a common way reload mechanic or special abilities are handled in many games
This would allow a carrier to quickly deploy a sizable force but it would mean drawbacks for him later down the line.
This creates hard decisions to make without any complicated input scheme. All the player does is press a button or select a menu option. It all makes the difference when and how often he does so.

As for how the carrier should be balanced to defend itself, I agree that it should be able, even without any support, especially considering the price. I agree missile and torpedo launchers are a good option and already there … even better … they are easy to balance. Make the storage for missiles and torpedoes very low. So they can only kill maybe one or two capitals by itself without having to resupply/being resupplied.
This should do the trick I think. Carriers can jump in and kill one or two cruisers but would then be completely vulnerable. A trade-off they made consciously.

As for resupply. I really like the idea of carriers being resupplied but the question is really how fun it can be. Maybe in the future where ship switching will be more viable I might consider doing a few runs if I see that is really what is needed. Having to throw away whatever you are doing to do something else is quite the barrier right now. Especially in a cap ship.

Haulers could also get the same squad launching capabilities, but with much smaller squads, bringing some of the carrier game-play over, giving it defenses and extending the amount of people that might be interested.
It also could serve as a mini carrier. Much weaker and maybe only able to spawn interceptors and at that a small amount but having the upside of being able to fill more roles.


If it really is the space trucking crowd you want to appeal to, I think just allowing flying back and forth won’t cut it in my opinion. There would need to be quite a bit more to make it more fun. More locations, different routes, different things to haul (and not just one way that is).

Some quick ideas for a probably fun space trucking game inside I:B:

  • Stuff to haul: Resources, Supply, Salvage (“Wounded” was my first idea)
  • Stuff to gain: Sweet sweet cash/xp and helping the team win.
  • Reward / Balancing: Payout depended on how much is in store at a given drop off point.
  • Price dependent on supply and demand. Price/Payout linear between Min/Max. Always able to sell Haul everywhere to not punish new players. The main “consumer” pays out more for the haul.
  • Locations: All the current ones plus carriers and I would love maybe hundreds of random small mining buildings (same model) littered on surfaces of Planets, in Rings and floating in gas giants.
  • Chain:
    • Resources generated at mining building and factory (main consumer Factory)
    • Supply generated at factory (main consumer stations, bases and carriers)
    • Salvage generated at station and bases and carriers where battles are at (convert supply directly into salvage) (main consumer bases and stations without battles)

Only real place that isn’t in the chain are the bases, I thought about adding a “tech” haul but a “full” loop isn’t really needed in my opinion as everything can be sold everywhere.

This would have the hauling player always needing to be aware where the battle is going Maybe risking going in to a place where a battle is in order to be paid more for a resupply run.
Without a hauling player stations will still be supplied by the NPC haulers like is done currently and as such the most basic functions are there.
The Hauling player can help carriers stay in battle longer and help stations and bases that are about to fall hold out a bit longer, has a real impact to the game, is rewarded for that action but not completely indispensable in order to have a normal match.
Also, playing with the classic “supply and demand” is a staple and is fun depending on the amount of bases and risks needed.

Also, the random mining outposts would be a nice way to see the game-world for additional cash and could be optionally be discovered by players using the scanner.

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#19

I see some of you are concerned about how long it’ll take to implement the new carrier systems. Pendrokar ( I think it was him but I could be mistaken ? ) mentionned on Discord that it could be the new AMS and take many weeks/months. I really don’t think it’s that bad ( plus, well the AMS got mixed up with eye tracking, HOTAS and x-mas interruptions, it didn’t take months on its own ).

There’s some work to do on the squads management, but it has to be done for players anyways so there’s a lot of overlap there. There could be more improvements to the AI ( making them fly in formation with their squad mates ) but that again is not necessarily in the first iteration, and that’d benefit the rest of the game anyways too - making AIs fly in formation has been on the todo list forever ). Jumping into a bot ? That’s coming soon with the starmap revamp too. In fact you could say it’s already implemented, except you don’t have control over the ship - that’s the spectator mode ( and in fact, as a server admin I can spectate any ship while at the same time still being in-game in another ship ! we’d had that feature for years… ).

So really, from a technical / implementation level it’s not too difficult. The hard part is the design / balancing of it, and that one could take a lot of iterations and time to figure out how to balance stuff… but that’s not implementation time.

We’re trying to stay responsible, and at every point we “expand the scope” or refine some gameplay features ( we’ve said for a long time we weren’t happy with the place of the carrier and how boring to play it was ) we try to think of the question: “how do we maximize the fun / depth of the game, at minimal time / implementation cost ?”. There’s no way we’d spend months on the carrier alone.

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#20

That’s fair.

I really hope you can get a good command system in place - it would certainly take the high-level gameplay to another level.

I’m not so sure about carriers having heavy hitting weapons at all. IMHO, it should be more defensive than that - plenty of point defence turrets, good shields, EM warfare…
If it wants to take on a capital ship, it might be able to weaken its opponent then launch some bombers. It would play into the strategy element and also strongly differentiate it from the other ships.

It’s not like the player will be bored, if they’re spending most of their time commanding squadrons. And if you lose your fighter/bomber support, you should be (quite rightly) in trouble.

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