Author Topic: Starfire 3rd  (Read 2538 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ocie

  • Chief Petty Officer
  • ***
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Starfire 3rd
« on: March 12, 2008, 10:15:21 AM »
Starfire 3rd, ah my first space-war and strategy game. And still my favorite. I have played Aurora and it is good, but I sincerely wish some of the talent and ideas were transferred back to SA. I will always think 3RD and SA are the best game i ever played, and i remember the old zip lock bag days. Please Steve, revive SA and put the functionality into SA it deserves. I don't think Marvin has a leg to dispute you. Starfire will soon be in the Abandon-ware category.

Ocie
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by ocie »
 

Offline Grond

  • Leading Rate
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re: Starfire 3rd
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2008, 11:28:35 AM »
Quote from: "ocie"
Starfire 3rd, ah my first space-war and strategy game. And still my favorite. I have played Aurora and it is good, but I sincerely wish some of the talent and ideas were transferred back to SA. I will always think 3RD and SA are the best game i ever played, and i remember the old zip lock bag days. Please Steve, revive SA and put the functionality into SA it deserves. I don't think Marvin has a leg to dispute you. Starfire will soon be in the Abandon-ware category.

Ocie


Second!

Scott
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Grond »
 

Offline Kurt

  • Global Moderator
  • Rear Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 878
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Re: Starfire 3rd
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2008, 11:31:15 AM »
Quote from: "Grond"
Quote from: "ocie"
Starfire 3rd, ah my first space-war and strategy game. And still my favorite. I have played Aurora and it is good, but I sincerely wish some of the talent and ideas were transferred back to SA. I will always think 3RD and SA are the best game i ever played, and i remember the old zip lock bag days. Please Steve, revive SA and put the functionality into SA it deserves. I don't think Marvin has a leg to dispute you. Starfire will soon be in the Abandon-ware category.

Ocie

Second!

Scott


As much as I am a third fan, this is unlikely.  While you are probably right that Marvin has no legal grounds to interfere with Steve should he revive SA, why should Steve have to deal with the hassle, when he can work on his own game and not have to worry about it?

Kurt
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Kurt »
 

Offline ocie

  • Chief Petty Officer
  • ***
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2008, 04:50:04 PM »
Because we are begging him, and we stuck with him through all the dreck?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by ocie »
 

Offline Father Tim

  • Commodore
  • **********
  • Posts: 755
  • Thanked: 6 times
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 06:37:20 AM »
I'm happy to have any sort of Steveware, whether for 3rd ed. or Aurora.  Actually, I'm leaning about 60-40 to Aurora due to the workable ground combat system and the lack of a 'wipe it clean and plant settlers two days later' rule.  I do love conquering planets!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Father Tim »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

  • Aurora Designer
  • Admiral of the Fleet
  • Posts: 6470
  • Thanked: 814 times
    • View Profile
    • http://www.starfireassistant.com
Re: Starfire 3rd
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2008, 07:24:03 AM »
Quote from: "ocie"
Starfire 3rd, ah my first space-war and strategy game. And still my favorite. I have played Aurora and it is good, but I sincerely wish some of the talent and ideas were transferred back to SA. I will always think 3RD and SA are the best game i ever played, and i remember the old zip lock bag days. Please Steve, revive SA and put the functionality into SA it deserves. I don't think Marvin has a leg to dispute you. Starfire will soon be in the Abandon-ware category.

I also greatly enjoyed 3rdR and SA but there are several issues with getting back into Starfire. I agree with you that I don't think Marvin could win any legal dispute over Starfire Assistant. However, he obviously disagrees and is still telling people that he stopped publishing 3rdR so he can sue me at some point. I know that makes no sense but even defending against a legal action and winning would still be a major hassle. Also, if I wanted to get back into 3rdR, I would want to publish the Unified Rules because the system is currently so fragmented. In that case Marvin would have grounds for legal action because the text of the rules themselves are copyright even if the associated ideas and mechanics are not.

While 3rdR is one of the best games I have played and far superior to 4th and its successors, it still has a few issues (for me anyway) on the mechanics side. Aurora addresses a lot of the problems I found with 3rdR, such as internal inconsistency in the area of weapons and fighters, the magical CFN, the unrealistic timeframe and growth, the sameness of planetary systems, a tendency toward cookie-cutter ships because of the set speeds and hull sizes, lack of detail on areas such as how you figure out where ships are during a survey, etc.

One of the things I liked most about 3rdR was the epic scale and the way in which it lent itself to fiction so I tried to boost that in Aurora by expanding themes, adding commander names, etc. I have also tried to make it easier to play epic campaigns than in SA because the Rigellian Campaign was getting bogged down by its sheer size and I think Kurt was running into similar problems with the Phoenix campaign. Aurora allows you to create large-scale universes over epic timescales but without the population density and number of ships in Starfire. Its also much easier to play large scale battles because the ships pretty much fight themselves once you tell them what to shoot at and you can handle their movement on the PC without need for a tactical map.

I could have made similar improvements to SA. The tactical map and the system generation were based on code I originally intended to add to SA but in the end SA is restricted by the Starfire rules, which were intended for a board game. Getting board games rules to work on PC was actually quite difficult. One of the real problems Marvin had with SA was when I started to add functionality that took advantage of the possibilities of computer assistance but wasn't usuable in a P&P setting. With Aurora I can add whatever I (or anyone else) can imagine without either the constraints of board game rules or the threat of legal action.

I really, really like Aurora now and its still in its infancy. I worked on SA for ten years while Aurora is probably only eighteen months old and very much a work in progress yet it already does more than SA ever did. I know there has been a lot of change recently but much of that has been directed towards establishing a stable game environment. Many of the v2.6 changes go a long way toward that by bringing fighters and missiles within the same model as that used by ships. There will be epic campaigns such as the Rigellian Diary once the rate of change on Aurora slows down and those campaigns will be both far more detailed and easier to manage than the large Starfire campaigns. The Rigellian Diary was great fun but in the last few turns the amount of work was starting to outweight the amount of fun and I want to get back to the fun epic campaigns. Aurora has all the elements I liked about Starfire and improved all the elements I didn't like (from my perspective). Its becoming the game I always wished someone would invent.

The real problem though with bringing SA back to life, which outweighs all of the above, is that putting in hundreds of hours of programming without any financial reward requires a huge degree of enthusiasm on my part. I have that enthusiasm for Aurora but due to all the hassle with Marvin, I have lost it as far as Starfire is concerned. I could promise to look at SA but the reality is unless I really want to do it, I will just keeping putting it off and spending my spare time on more fun activities. I am not saying I will never regain my enthusiasm for Starfire or that I will never look at the Diary again, just that I can't see it happening any time soon. I am sorry I can't be more positive about your request but it would be irresponsible for me to commit to something that I just know I wouldn't enjoy and therefore wouldn't deliver.

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline TrueZuluwiz

  • Zulu
  • Warrant Officer, Class 1
  • *****
  • Posts: 95
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2008, 01:17:59 PM »
Sooooooooo................do you suppose the admiral really was involved in a coup against his superior? In that case why not go all the way and overthrow the Emperor? Then he (being someone else) could take over the Diary and move on from there. The Emperor is dead, long live the Emperor!

Dahak, implement Case Omega.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by TrueZuluwiz »
Expecting the Spanish Inquisition
 

Offline crucis

  • Lt. Commander
  • ********
  • Posts: 247
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2008, 04:04:28 PM »
Quote
The real problem though with bringing SA back to life, which outweighs all of the above, is that putting in hundreds of hours of programming without any financial reward requires a huge degree of enthusiasm on my part.

Boy, Steve, I fully understand what you're saying here.  Fan produced stuff requires a large commitment in time and you have to have a huge amount of enthusiasm to allow you to make that commitment.  


Quote
One of the things I liked most about 3rdR was the epic scale and the way in which it lent itself to fiction ...


I agree with this FULLY.  I also think that one of the major strengths of 3rd ed was the canon history.  It gave a deep flavor to Starfire that is totally lacking in Ultra.  While I believe that there are a number of interesting things in Ultra (particularly in the strategic rules), I find the lack of any historical background to be a devastating blow to Ultra's likeability.  Also, from a business standpoint, 3rd's canon history provided the opportunity to produce historical module products that were another source of revenue.  OTOH, Ultra's only source of revenue is Ultra itself.  

Also, I think that it seems quite clear that the downfall of 3rd ed brought with it a collapse of interest on the Starfire mailing list.  It's been my opinion that the fans of 3rd ed were much more inclined to write game fiction and other stuff, whereas the 4e players seemed more of the competitive type.  And from my standpoint, the fiction writing fans generally seem more devoted to the game system than the competitive type fans.  But that's just my impression.  ;)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2008, 08:31:28 PM by crucis »
 

Offline Shinanygnz

  • Lieutenant
  • *******
  • Posts: 175
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2008, 05:51:01 AM »
Quote from: "crucis"
<snip>
Also, I think that it seems quite clear that the downfall of 3rd ed brought with it a collapse of interest on the Starfire mailing list.  It's been my opinion that the fans of 3rd ed were much more inclined to write game fiction and other stuff, whereas the 4e players seemed more of the competitive type.  And from my standpoint, the fiction writing fans generally seem more devoted to the game system than the competitive type fans.  But that's just my impression.  ;)
Absolutely.  Traffic on the list is practically non-existant now.  I'm looking forward to a "finished" version of Aurora (i.e. Steve stops adding "essential" cool stuff) so the Haggi Confederation can start again.

Quote
"internal inconsistency in the area of weapons and fighters": I'm a little unclear on this particular point, so I'll let it pass.
This is the whole size of fighter weapons compared to ship weapons thing.  If a fighter can mount a little fL or fL2, what is the "realistic" reason a ship can't mount loads (equivalent in HS) of them instead of one L or HET2?

Quote
"a tendency toward cookie-cutter ships because of the set speeds and hull sizes"
To some degree, I understand what you're saying here, but I think that part of the problem here is in a lack of advancement in engine tech in 3e.
Because of this, there is a total stagnation of ship speeds throughout the canon history.  Also, the stagnation in ship sizes compared to the tech system needs throughout the tech progression causes ships to end up feeling progressively smaller as the TL's advance.  That is, a TL3 DD will feel like it's got a lot more combat potential than a TL13 DD, because the TL13 DD will feel the need to include a lot of tech systems in it that didn't exist 10 TL's earlier (such as cloaking ECM, and so on).
Were I in charge of things, one of the concepts that I'd seriously consider is having more advanced versions of the tried and true "I" increase the amount of hull spaces in each hull type.  Huh?  What I mean is that an I2 engine might have the capacity to move larger (in terms of HS) hulls within each hull type.  That is, an I2 might be able to support a 35 hs DD, and an I3 drive migth be able to support a 40 hs DD, while remaining a "DD" with a DD's turn mode and max speed.  Indeed, improved generations of I would also have greater max speeds.
The end result of this sort of concept would be, for example, at around TL12-14, an I3 driven, 96 hull space BC with a max speed of perhaps 8.
The benefit of such a concept, aside from increased max speeds, is that larger hulled ships (i.e. 40 hs DD's, 96 hs BC's, and so on) are able to counteract some of the space requirement needs imposed by advancing TL's.  Thus, your TL~13 40 hs DD might be able to be viewed as a viable DD design, whereas in the current system, the poor ol' 30 hs TL13 DD seems to have the armament of a frigate.
Another benefit of such a system is that designs would have to adapt to their increasing sizes and to some degree, they'd end up seeming somewhat less cookie cutter.  You'd have DD's and CL's and BC's (and so on) of varying sizes.  Well, true, you'd probably fall into smaller buckets of cookie cutter sizes, dictated by engine types, but that'd be better than a totally static list of hull type sizes.

4th Ed/Ultra did this and one of it's good points.  However, you will almost always end up a bit "cookie-cutter" because why would anyone build a ship less than max size and speed?  You can force some specialist smaller size versions by going back to a max size that'll fit through a warp point rule or have some "historical" reason for a smaller size ship, but both are a bit naff.

The Expanse sonds interesting and it's always nice to see new stuff, especially from someone with your track record.

Stephen
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Shinanygnz »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

  • Aurora Designer
  • Admiral of the Fleet
  • Posts: 6470
  • Thanked: 814 times
    • View Profile
    • http://www.starfireassistant.com
(No subject)
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2008, 09:58:56 AM »
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote
One of the things I liked most about 3rdR was the epic scale and the way in which it lent itself to fiction ...

I agree with this FULLY.  I also think that one of the major strengths of 3rd ed was the canon history.  It gave a deep flavor to Starfire that is totally lacking in Ultra.  While I believe that there are a number of interesting things in Ultra (particularly in the strategic rules), I find the lack of any historical background to be a devastating blow to Ultra's likeability.  Also, from a business standpoint, 3rd's canon history provided the opportunity to produce historical module products that were another source of revenue.  OTOH, Ultra's only source of revenue is Ultra itself.  
Yes this was a great disappointment with 4th. The problem was that Marvin just saw the background material as unnecessary fluff and could never understand why 3rdR players thought it was so important.

Quote
Also, I think that it seems quite clear that the downfall of 3rd ed brought with it a collapse of interest on the Starfire mailing list.  It's been my opinion that the fans of 3rd ed were much more inclined to write game fiction and other stuff, whereas the 4e players seemed more of the competitive type.  And from my standpoint, the fiction writing fans generally seem more devoted to the game system than the competitive type fans.  But that's just my impression.  ;)
That's very true. There was far more 3rdR fiction and the 3rdR fans seemed far more devoted to the game, probably because 3rd appealed to role-players and 4th appealed to competitive gamers. The problem for 4th is that almost every successful game that take months to play is a role-playing game, because you need to keep people's interest and competitive players don't stay interested once there is little chance of winning. If I want to play competitive games I usually play something that lasts a few hours, or at most a weekend.

Quote
Quote
While 3rdR is one of the best games I have played and far superior to 4th and its successors, it still has a few issues (for me anyway)
Frankly, some of these issues with 3rd ed are not uncorrectable or aren't really that big a deal (IMHO, of course).  

The "sameness" of planetary systems would be terribly easy to correct.  Simply edit the existing system generation rules to produce a wider variety of star systems.  Ultra produces a somewhat wider variety of star systems, and I have no doubt that it's possible to take it even further without that much effort.
The system generation in Aurora was written before I gave up on Starfire and was originally intended to be added to SA for 3rdR Starfire. However, it is really a computer-only process because of the detail level. There is just no way to get that level of detail in a paper-based game. I remember playing second edition starfire with no computer support and it took about 30-60 minutes to roll up a star system.

Quote
The "magical" CFN:  The pre-SM2 IFN was more complex than the SM2 CFN.  But I think that the point here is that when you're playing a paper game, you have to make choices about balancing "realism" and playability.  Sure, using an assistant program can allow for more complex processes for handling such things as a CFN, but not everyone may want to use an assistant program ... so the rules should really be written for a paper-based game.  
The IFN was more complex (probably too much so for a paper game) but also more realistic. I agree that simplication is necessary but the CFN was very oversimplified and unrealistically flexible. You could lay a million mine patterns anywhere in the Empire in about an hour. Any ship, anywhere, always had full access to maintenance and missile resupply. It wouldn't have required much imagination to come up with a slightly more realistic system based on proximity to major population centres.

Quote
Now, mind you, I'm not outright defending the SM2's version of the CFN.  But I can fully understand where the desire to simply some rules, particularly on the economic side, comes from.
I understand the need for simplification and I am still a huge fan of 3rdR in general, but the CFN just failed the giggle test for me.

Quote
"Unrealistic timeframe": Repeat after me... It's a game!  You've got to make things happen in a (real time)  time frame that won't cause players to lose interest.  Frankly, I don't find the time frame of ISF to be particularly offensive, as I understand that it's yet another decision made in the interest of playability.
The Rigellian Empire was a huge star-spanning empire with knowledge of almost a thousand systems and a population of over one trillion. It somehow managed that in 14 years from single starting planet. The problem is that from a fiction perspective it's hard to maintain an illusion of reality given those timescales. Symon Cook played a Starfire campaign with much reduced growth rates and from his description of events, it played very well. It wouldn't have been too hard to give Starfire more realistic growth rates and shipbuilding times and it would have also made larger campaigns much more playable. One of my goals with Aurora was an epic campaign system that really felt epic in terms of historical timelines. When writing a history, it should cover decades and even centuries.

Quote
"internal inconsistency in the area of weapons and fighters": I'm a little unclear on this particular point, so I'll let it pass.
A fighter in Starfire is less than 1 HS in size. A fifth generation fighter could carry 3 internal weapons and 4 on XO racks, so it could carry seven fighter lasers, each of which could do 3 points of damage at point blank range. A ship-based HET laser is 6 HS and can do 8 points of damage at point blank range. If that ship used fighter lasers instead, seven of which can fit into one HS along with the fighter itself, it would have forty-two lasers doing 126 points of damage (and still space for the six fighters). If fighters can carry such powerful weapons, why can't ships? Keeping fighters and ships consistent has been another Aurora design driver. Fighters can be powerful in Aurora but they still have to abide by the same physical constraints as larger ships.

Quote
Quote
"a tendency toward cookie-cutter ships because of the set speeds and hull sizes"
To some degree, I understand what you're saying here, but I think that part of the problem here is in a lack of advancement in engine tech in 3e.
Because of this, there is a total stagnation of ship speeds throughout the canon history.  Also, the stagnation in ship sizes compared to the tech system needs throughout the tech progression causes ships to end up feeling progressively smaller as the TL's advance.  That is, a TL3 DD will feel like it's got a lot more combat potential than a TL13 DD, because the TL13 DD will feel the need to include a lot of tech systems in it that didn't exist 10 TL's earlier (such as cloaking ECM, and so on).

Were I in charge of things, one of the concepts that I'd seriously consider is having more advanced versions of the tried and true "I" increase the amount of hull spaces in each hull type.  Huh?  What I mean is that an I2 engine might have the capacity to move larger (in terms of HS) hulls within each hull type.  That is, an I2 might be able to support a 35 hs DD, and an I3 drive migth be able to support a 40 hs DD, while remaining a "DD" with a DD's turn mode and max speed.  Indeed, improved generations of I would also have greater max speeds.

The end result of this sort of concept would be, for example, at around TL12-14, an I3 driven, 96 hull space BC with a max speed of perhaps 8.
The benefit of such a concept, aside from increased max speeds, is that larger hulled ships (i.e. 40 hs DD's, 96 hs BC's, and so on) are able to counteract some of the space requirement needs imposed by advancing TL's.  Thus, your TL~13 40 hs DD might be able to be viewed as a viable DD design, whereas in the current system, the poor ol' 30 hs TL13 DD seems to have the armament of a frigate.

Another benefit of such a system is that designs would have to adapt to their increasing sizes and to some degree, they'd end up seeming somewhat less cookie cutter.  You'd have DD's and CL's and BC's (and so on) of varying sizes.  Well, true, you'd probably fall into smaller buckets of cookie cutter sizes, dictated by engine types, but that'd be better than a totally static list of hull type sizes.
The problem though is that because hull sizes are fixed, you will always have the max number of engines so every destroyer of the same TL will be the same size and the same speed. You will also tend to build the largest hull for each level of speed. This was something else I tried to avoid in Aurora by allowing players to build whatever size of ship they wanted and give that hull whatever name they liked. There are no hull sizes or restricted maximum speed, except those limited by physical constraints on engine power vs ship mass. In addition, most ship systems, including engines, are designed by the players so you get a great variety of ship types, speeds and capabilities. Obviously this is more of a problem in a paper game, although the Traveller design system is very physics based and has had a significant influence on some Aurora concepts.

Quote
I really would love to be able to revive 3rd edition Starfire.  I have so many good ideas that I'd love to produce.  
It would be really great to see 3rdR live again, although as we have discussed its unlikely I would get back to modifying SA in preference to Aurora. I know you really want to see a playable paper-based game though so that shouldn't be a problem.

Quote
A current concept for a mod(s) that I'm working on (for my personal gratification) is something I'm calling "The Expanse".  It'll take place either about halfway between 4th ISW and Insurrection, or immediately after Insurrection. (snip rest of description)
Sounds fascinating. I would be very interested to read the full history. 3rdR had some great scenario books and I have often reread the books just for the interludes.

Quote
(BTW, refering back to Steve's "sameness of star systems" comment, one of the things that would like to incorporate into The Expanse is the use of some very non-standard star systems.  Nebulae, for example.  Imagine having to fight a major battle in a nebula and not having your Shield working.  Ouch!  And this battle happens with ~TL13-ish weapons...  double ouch!)
This is something I have added to Aurora for v2.6. No shields, no missiles, reduced sensor range, degraded fire control and a maximum speed, all based on the density of the nebula.

Quote
That's about all the detail I want to release at the moment.  I'm currently taking a break from working on The Expanse, cuz I ran into a bit of a writer's block in coming up with ideas, but I hope to get back to it very soon.  Hopefully, my muse will return.

I don't know if I'll be able to maintain the enthusiasm to complete The Expanse, but for now, it's a very entertaining diversion to work on.

Can you work on this stand-alone without the need to have "official sanction" to work on 3rdR? I know Damon Bradley has developed extensive scenarios and optional rules for Starfire.

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline crucis

  • Lt. Commander
  • ********
  • Posts: 247
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2008, 10:17:11 AM »
Quote from: "Shinanygnz"

Quote
"internal inconsistency in the area of weapons and fighters": I'm a little unclear on this particular point, so I'll let it pass.
This is the whole size of fighter weapons compared to ship weapons thing.  If a fighter can mount a little fL or fL2, what is the "realistic" reason a ship can't mount loads (equivalent in HS) of them instead of one L or HET2?

Ahhh.  OK.  I understand now.

Well, short of getting rid of fighter beam weapons and only letting them use ordnance, or getting rid of fighters altogether, I'm not sure how one solves this issue.  Furthermore, doing this would end up going very much against the canon history, which also seems to be something that 3e devotees are loath to do.


Quote
Quote
"a tendency toward cookie-cutter ships because of the set speeds and hull sizes"

To some degree, I understand what you're saying here, but I think that part of the problem here is in a lack of advancement in engine tech in 3e.
Because of this, there is a total stagnation of ship speeds throughout the canon history.  Also, the stagnation in ship sizes compared to the tech system needs throughout the tech progression causes ships to end up feeling progressively smaller as the TL's advance.  That is, a TL3 DD will feel like it's got a lot more combat potential than a TL13 DD, because the TL13 DD will feel the need to include a lot of tech systems in it that didn't exist 10 TL's earlier (such as cloaking ECM, and so on).

Were I in charge of things, one of the concepts that I'd seriously consider is having more advanced versions of the tried and true "I" increase the amount of hull spaces in each hull type.  Huh?  What I mean is that an I2 engine might have the capacity to move larger (in terms of HS) hulls within each hull type.  That is, an I2 might be able to support a 35 hs DD, and an I3 drive migth be able to support a 40 hs DD, while remaining a "DD" with a DD's turn mode and max speed.  Indeed, improved generations of I would also have greater max speeds.

The end result of this sort of concept would be, for example, at around TL12-14, an I3 driven, 96 hull space BC with a max speed of perhaps 8.
The benefit of such a concept, aside from increased max speeds, is that larger hulled ships (i.e. 40 hs DD's, 96 hs BC's, and so on) are able to counteract some of the space requirement needs imposed by advancing TL's.  Thus, your TL~13 40 hs DD might be able to be viewed as a viable DD design, whereas in the current system, the poor ol' 30 hs TL13 DD seems to have the armament of a frigate.

Another benefit of such a system is that designs would have to adapt to their increasing sizes and to some degree, they'd end up seeming somewhat less cookie cutter.  You'd have DD's and CL's and BC's (and so on) of varying sizes.  Well, true, you'd probably fall into smaller buckets of cookie cutter sizes, dictated by engine types, but that'd be better than a totally static list of hull type sizes.

4th Ed/Ultra did this and one of it's good points.  However, you will almost always end up a bit "cookie-cutter" because why would anyone build a ship less than max size and speed?  You can force some specialist smaller size versions by going back to a max size that'll fit through a warp point rule or have some "historical" reason for a smaller size ship, but both are a bit naff.

Why to build to less than max speed? Can't think of any reason.

Why to build to less than max size?  Well, under the old ISF SYD rules where build rates weren't always the same, I always found that it might be advantageous to build units at sizes that took advantage of the build rates.  For example, if my SYD's had a build rate of 27 hs/month and I needed some DD's ASAP, then maybe 27 hs DD's that I could turn out in a single month were more advantageous to build than a full sized 30 hs DD that'd take 2 months to build.  Or if your build rate was 25 hs/month, then perhaps a 125 hs SD (DN under the new nomeclature) that could be built in 5 mos. was a better option than a 130 hs SD that took 6 mos. to build.


Yes, Ultra has "generational hulls" as an optional rule, but I don't particularly like its justification.  I don't buy the concept as any sort of advanced "hull".  IMHO, it's all about improved ENGINE technology being able to move around larger hulls.  Of course, this may seem like semantics, but in a game where people worry about things feeling at least somewhat realistic, I think that this particular semantic matters.

And BTW, another new tech from Ultra that I like, but disagree with the pseudo-science justification is fast and rapid hull tech.  Again, IMHO, it's not about the hulls; it should be about the engine technology, although in the case of Fast and Rapid Hulls, my pseudo science does include hull shape as a part of the overall equation.

My pseudo-science for fast and rapid hull tech goes like this.  Fast and Rapid Hulls are really all about drive field manipulation.  In my historical/pseudo-science, engineers know that a purely spherical drive field is the most efficient.  But what the engineers in the Grand Alliance star nations never learned (up to ISW4) was that the "most efficient" drive field geometry didn't necessarily produce the fastest ships.  My vision of "fast hulls" (and later rapid hulls) is that it will be learned (from a race in the Expanse) that fast hulls are formed by deforming the drive field in an oblong manner.  This will end up necessitating hull shapes also be longer and narrower so that drive nodes can be placed in the proper manner to produce the longer, narrower oblong drive field that produces a faster ship.  (This would be even more accentuated in "rapid hull" technology.) But a possible downside to such tech is that it (may) increase the size of a ship's blind spot.

Furthermore, my pseudo-science for describing 85 hs CV's and CVA's (and fast SD's) is that the Grand Alliance came up with a serendiptous way of emulating true fast hull tech.  The nature of CV and CVA hull shapes was such that they had to be more oblong in nature to support carrier operations and the like.  And their use of overpowered engines in the case of CVA's (and fast SDR's) further emulated fast hull tech in a grossly inefficient manner.  (Yeah, this is largely a case of me using "pseudo-science" to BS my way into describing/excusing/whatever the old 85 hs CV and CVA/F-SD's.  But then again, most pseudo-science is simply just BS to justify the game systems that are created.)



Another point about Ultra's generational hulls and faster engines ...
Unless you use the generational hull rules, Ultra's multigenerational engines will still retain the same problem with hulls appearing to "shrink" as TL's increase, as I described in a previous post.    I also didn't loke a number of things about how Ultra's generational hulls were implemented. Frankly, about the only thing I did like is the increasing size.  The other things related to gen hulls I felt really weakened the concept.  I like my "gen hulls" via improved engines concept much better.  IMO, It seems much more rational and beneficial.


Re: Cookie-cutter.  Well, I suppose that it depends on how one defines "cookie cutter".  Like you said, why would anyone build a ship at less than max speed and max size?  

As I said before, it's possible that someone might play around with ship sizes a bit to match sweet spots in built rates.  And that could become even more pronounced with "gen hulls" when hull types no longer always land on numbers of hullspaces ending in 0 or 5. But if you're at peace, you'd probably build your ships to their max sizes and accept the extra month in build time.


Re: max speed.  I think that one can assume that not all ships at speed 6 (for example) really have the exact same speed.  Some may go a smidge faster and some a smidge slower than what a tactical speed of 6 translates to in MPH or KPH.  However, since Starfire speeds necessarily have to be defined in tac hexes per tac turn, any minor differences that might exist are glossed over in the game system.  It's just the price of doing business, so to speak.


I think that another aspect of cookie-cutter-ism is that people have their own design beliefs and these probably tend to show themselves in their NPRs as well.  Also, even with as many weapons systems as their appear to be, the number may be more limited than we think and at any given TL, the weapon choices are somewhat limited.  And weapon sizes are defined at hardcoded sizes, which has a fully understandable effect on ship designs.  That is, limited choices of weapons at set sizes will, in turn, limit ship design variety.

For example, all Cap Missile Launchers are 5 hs in size, period.  And everyone who build cap missile launchers into their ships is building them at the same size.  I think that in "reality", different star nations might develop cap missile launchers that somewhat differ in size from other star nations Rc's.  That is, perhaps the Terrans develop a nice, average Rc at 5 hs, but maybe the missile-centric wizzes in the Zarkolyan Empire developed their Rc at 4.8 or 4.6 hs per launcher.  Of course, doing it this way could create quite an accounting headache when it came to ship design, but it would really throw a monkey wrench into cookie cutter-ism.


Think about it.  If you really, REALLY wanted to kick around cookie-cutterism, a game process that allowed for non-standard tech system sizes in, say, 0.1 hs increments would really throw that proverbial monkey wrench into the works.  No two races would probably ever have the exact same sized tech systems across the board.  

Presumably, every tech system would have an acceptable range of sizes.  And perhaps, you might be able to downsize your systems (within the acceptable ranges) when you increase TL's.  Thus, as you increase in TL, your race's array of tech systems might always be shifting in size.  (You'd probably have to do a research project to attempt to downsize a system, and it'd be best if there was no guarantee of success.)  And you'd have to keep some sort of list of your tech systems' sizes, so that you knew just how big your navy's Rc launchers were vs. the standard list size.  And if tech system sizes were changing thru the TL's, you'd probably need to track that info as well.


Add this all up, and you have a MAJOR accounting nightmare.  But you'd also have a way to nuke cookie-cutter-ism.

And if you really wanted to go crazy, you could also do something similar with weapon damage.  For example, maybe a standard nuke has a damage range of 0.9 to 1.1.  Or maybe a AAM CM instead of doing a set damage of 6, does somewhere from 5.5 to 6.5.  And I don't mean that it varies in combat.  Rather, maybe some nation's warheads are a little better than others.  How would you manage this in combat?  Maybe just add up all your damage, and drop or round any fractions.

But again, an accounting nightmare.  Maybe even more so, since you might have to come up with combat damage tables customized for each race's tech mix.


I think that cookie-cutter-ism tends to come from simplicity and a degree of blandness.  The way to deal with CC-ism is to add variety.  But adding variety necessarily increases complexity.  The question then becomes trying to balance simplicity and complexity, and blandness and variety to retain a playable and entertaining game.



Thinking back on what I've typed above, which BTW was just ideas I was creating on the fly, such a "variable size tech system" concept might be an interesting optional rule.  I'll have to give it some thought.


Another thing that might help with variety would be to come up with smaller versions of existing weapons.  What do I mean by this?  Well, in the TL progression, the tech push usually appears to favor developing bigger, more powerful weapons, ie. more powerful, longer ranged capital weapons.  But what about TL advancement also trying to develop downscaled versions the standard sized beam weapons?  (And I'm not refering to trying to shave a tenth of a hs off of a variable sized beam weapon, in the idea I describe above.)  What about trying to come up with a truly downsized Force Beam, for example?  Maybe a 3 hs or a little smaller version, as an "advancement" in Force Beam technology?  While the bigger, nastier Capital Force Beams are great for big capital ships with the space to spare, what about the smaller DD's and cruisers?  If only for the sake of variety, maybe they'd benefit from being able to cram in an extra "normal" Force Beam projector or 2 in their hulls, rather than going for the big, nasty capital Force Beam?  

Of course, people can do some nice analyses that may say that a smaller number of Capital beam weapons are better than a couple more smaller "standard" weapons.  If everyone anaylyzes the "best" choices, doesn't that also work against variety and the avoidance of cookie-cutter-ism? If avoiding cookie-cutter-ism is a goal, then acceptance of the less than optimal solution is sometimes a necessary evil.  

It also might be a good idea to consider ruling that "capital" weapons are only allowed on ships above a given size.  After all, should light cruisers be zipping around with 16" guns, or 6" guns?  Of course, from a pseudo-science standpoint, it may be harder to justify such a rule, than it is to understand why wet navy CL's shouldn't/can't carry 16" guns.  



Quote
The Expanse sounds interesting and it's always nice to see new stuff, especially from someone with your track record.

Stephen


Thanks, Stephen.  I'd love to be doing this as an official product, but somehow, I doubt that it'll ever be "official".

I've been working on a library of new tech systems over the past few days.  Some may make the cut.  Other won't.  I try to take ideas and concepts from a number of sources, and filter thru them, and hopefully come up with something inspiring, sane, and useful.

=====

Well, I've been typing up this reply for a while now and I see that Steve's thrown in his 2 cents and I want to reply to his comments as well, so I'll end this particular reply right now.  :)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by crucis »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

  • Aurora Designer
  • Admiral of the Fleet
  • Posts: 6470
  • Thanked: 814 times
    • View Profile
    • http://www.starfireassistant.com
(No subject)
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2008, 11:35:44 AM »
Quote from: "crucis"
Why to build to less than max speed? Can't think of any reason.
That is really the problem. Its a no-brainer to put the maximum number of engines on a ship so there is no design decision involved.

Quote
Why to build to less than max size?  Well, under the old ISF SYD rules where build rates weren't always the same, I always found that it might be advantageous to build units at sizes that took advantage of the build rates.  For example, if my SYD's had a build rate of 27 hs/month and I needed some DD's ASAP, then maybe 27 hs DD's that I could turn out in a single month were more advantageous to build than a full sized 30 hs DD that'd take 2 months to build.  Or if your build rate was 25 hs/month, then perhaps a 125 hs SD (DN under the new nomeclature) that could be built in 5 mos. was a better option than a 130 hs SD that took 6 mos. to build.
That is a meta-gaming reason to build smaller hulls though rather than a realistic reason. If ships could be delivered partway through the month, they would all be full size.

Quote
My pseudo-science for fast and rapid hull tech goes like this (snip description).  (Yeah, this is largely a case of me using "pseudo-science" to BS my way into describing/excusing/whatever the old 85 hs CV and CVA/F-SD's.  But then again, most pseudo-science is simply just BS to justify the game systems that are created.)
There is nothing wrong with pseudo-science and technobabble and, as you say, almost all game systems have to have some TB to make them playable. The key for me is to have internal consistency within the pseudo science, which makes it far easier to suspend disbelief.

Quote
For example, all Cap Missile Launchers are 5 hs in size, period.  And everyone who build cap missile launchers into their ships is building them at the same size.  I think that in "reality", different star nations might develop cap missile launchers that somewhat differ in size from other star nations Rc's.  That is, perhaps the Terrans develop a nice, average Rc at 5 hs, but maybe the missile-centric wizzes in the Zarkolyan Empire developed their Rc at 4.8 or 4.6 hs per launcher.  Of course, doing it this way could create quite an accounting headache when it came to ship design, but it would really throw a monkey wrench into cookie cutter-ism.

Think about it.  If you really, REALLY wanted to kick around cookie-cutterism, a game process that allowed for non-standard tech system sizes in, say, 0.1 hs increments would really throw that proverbial monkey wrench into the works.  No two races would probably ever have the exact same sized tech systems across the board.  
This is similar to the way Aurora works. You develop various background tech and them combine them in different ways to build an engine, a laser, etc. You can design different size sensors, missile launchers, jump drives, etc. and even if two races have a system the same size, its likely to have different capabilities because different background technologies are probably involved. This can be done in a paper game too because Traveller does something similar.

Quote
And if you really wanted to go crazy, you could also do something similar with weapon damage.  For example, maybe a standard nuke has a damage range of 0.9 to 1.1.  Or maybe a AAM CM instead of doing a set damage of 6, does somewhere from 5.5 to 6.5.  And I don't mean that it varies in combat.  Rather, maybe some nation's warheads are a little better than others.  How would you manage this in combat?  Maybe just add up all your damage, and drop or round any fractions.
Again, this is similar to how Aurora handles damage. For missiles you can develop warhead tech, engine tech, fuel efficiency, active/thermal/EM sensor strengths, ECM strength, etc and then combine these in different ways to create different types and sizes of missiles. There are literally millions of potential combinations. Then you need to design appropriate missile launchers and missile fire control systems and combine them on a ship with all the other various ship systems.

Quote
But again, an accounting nightmare.  Maybe even more so, since you might have to come up with combat damage tables customized for each race's tech mix.
True. Every weapon in Aurora uses its own damage table and each ship class has its own damage allocation chart. Easy enough for a computer program but difficult for a paper game.

Quote
I think that cookie-cutter-ism tends to come from simplicity and a degree of blandness.  The way to deal with CC-ism is to add variety.  But adding variety necessarily increases complexity.  The question then becomes trying to balance simplicity and complexity, and blandness and variety to retain a playable and entertaining game.
Very true. Its trying to find the right balance of variation and playability that is the tricky part

Quote
Thinking back on what I've typed above, which BTW was just ideas I was creating on the fly, such a "variable size tech system" concept might be an interesting optional rule.  I'll have to give it some thought.
I know you haven't played with Auroa yet but download it and take a look. The system design areas might give you some ideas for future Starfire mods

Quote
Another thing that might help with variety would be to come up with smaller versions of existing weapons.  What do I mean by this?  Well, in the TL progression, the tech push usually appears to favor developing bigger, more powerful weapons, ie. more powerful, longer ranged capital weapons.  But what about TL advancement also trying to develop downscaled versions the standard sized beam weapons?  (And I'm not refering to trying to shave a tenth of a hs off of a variable sized beam weapon, in the idea I describe above.)  What about trying to come up with a truly downsized Force Beam, for example?  Maybe a 3 hs or a little smaller version, as an "advancement" in Force Beam technology?  While the bigger, nastier Capital Force Beams are great for big capital ships with the space to spare, what about the smaller DD's and cruisers?  If only for the sake of variety, maybe they'd benefit from being able to cram in an extra "normal" Force Beam projector or 2 in their hulls, rather than going for the big, nasty capital Force Beam?  
Master of Orion II had an ability to create smaller versions of older weapons. I have stayed away from that in Aurora because its very hard to maintain balance and avoid having small, old weapons being more effective then large, new weapons. I have stayed with allowing greater capability for the same amount of hull space.

Quote
Of course, people can do some nice analyses that may say that a smaller number of Capital beam weapons are better than a couple more smaller "standard" weapons.  If everyone anaylyzes the "best" choices, doesn't that also work against variety and the avoidance of cookie-cutter-ism? If avoiding cookie-cutter-ism is a goal, then acceptance of the less than optimal solution is sometimes a necessary evil.  

I wrote the above before I read this paragraph but I see you share some of the same concerns. With weapon design, I have tried to create weapons that work well in some but not all circumstances. All weapons should have an advantage in certain types of situation or using certain tactics. I am sure I haven't succeeded as well as I would like yet, but that is my target.

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline sloanjh

  • Global Moderator
  • Admiral of the Fleet
  • *****
  • Posts: 2628
  • Thanked: 22 times
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2008, 12:17:22 PM »
Note that the comments below are merely observations - I'm NOT trying to be argumentative on Aurora vs. SF.  The main observation is that many of the inconsistencies in SF flow from the fact that it's a paper-and-pencil system (and I realize that I'm preaching to the choir on that point).

Quote from: "crucis"
Well, short of getting rid of fighter beam weapons and only letting them use ordnance, or getting rid of fighters altogether, I'm not sure how one solves this issue.  Furthermore, doing this would end up going very much against the canon history, which also seems to be something that 3e devotees are loath to do.
Yeah, it took the Aurora list about a year to a year-and-a-half to figure out how to get any sort of beam weapon at all into fighters and GB in a "realistic" (by Steve's definition, which includes not overthrowing game balance) way.  Interestingly enough, the important idea was a high-power engine tech - didn't I hear you say something about that? :-)

Quote
However, you will almost always end up a bit "cookie-cutter" because why would anyone build a ship less than max size and speed?
IMHO, the reason for the whole max size/speed issue is the fact that 7 "I" engines push a 33HS DD just as fast as they push a 30HS DD, rather than having the 33HS ship be 10% slower.  As you point out, this is necessary for a paper-and-pencil game (to avoid fractional speeds), but the step-function nature of the speed vs. HS curve leads to these "unrealistic" optimizations.  If the incremental speed gain from adding engines was smoothly decreasing, then different ship designs would end up at different optima.
Quote
I don't buy the concept as any sort of advanced "hull".  
Actually, I think Steve got advanced hulls right in Aurora - they're made up of stronger materials and so consume less hull mass (or volume).  And if your speed is based on the ratio of engine power to hull mass, that leads to faster ships.

It occurs to me that this might be an optional rule (or maybe technobabble) for SF advanced hulls.  Let's pretend that there's an invisible 30% "tax" on hulls made up of lowest-tech hull-material.  So a 35HS DD has and extra 10.5HS of "dead" space that doesn't show up on the ship sheets.  A first-level advanced hull could cut that penalty in half, so that you could have a 40HS DD.  A second-level advanced hull could cut the penalty by 2/3, resulting in a 42HS DD.  Note that I picked the ratios to match the levels of armor improvement - that's what Steve did in Aurora (the hull is just considered to be level-1 armor).
Quote
IMHO, it's all about improved ENGINE technology being able to move around larger hulls.  Of course, this may seem like semantics, but in a game where people worry about things feeling at least somewhat realistic, I think that this particular semantic matters.
Yep - the fundamental limiter on speed in Aurora is an engine's power/HS ratio, which goes up with engine tech.
Quote
Re: max speed.  I think that one can assume that not all ships at speed 6 (for example) really have the exact same speed.  Some may go a smidge faster and some a smidge slower than what a tactical speed of 6 translates to in MPH or KPH.  However, since Starfire speeds necessarily have to be defined in tac hexes per tac turn, any minor differences that might exist are glossed over in the game system.  It's just the price of doing business, so to speak.
This is actually one of my big "realism" peeves with SF (and to a lesser extent Aurora).  ITRW, two different ships of the same class will have slightly different performance characteristics - one will be a little bit faster than the other at max speed.  It just doesn't seem right to have a pursuit across a solar-system where both fleets (and all ships within each fleet) are moving at exactly speed 6.  It would be a lot more interesting if big fleets had to make a choice between losing cohesion and slowing down to wait for stragglers.

STEVE - have you considered putting a random 5% "jiggle" on individual ship speeds?  I'm of two minds - the extra "realism" might just end up being an annoying level of micromanagement.  Maybe putting a random up-to-5% bonus on individual ship speeds that would only be used in combat (similar to the order delay penalty that fleet training affects).
Quote
Think about it.  If you really, REALLY wanted to kick around cookie-cutterism, a game process that allowed for non-standard tech system sizes in, say, 0.1 hs increments would really throw that proverbial monkey wrench into the works.  No two races would probably ever have the exact same sized tech systems across the board.  
I think this is precisely what Steve was going for in Aurora.
Quote
Add this all up, and you have a MAJOR accounting nightmare.  But you'd also have a way to nuke cookie-cutter-ism.
Exactly - the computer handles the accounting nightmare.

John
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by sloanjh »
 

Offline crucis

  • Lt. Commander
  • ********
  • Posts: 247
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2008, 12:18:53 PM »
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote
One of the things I liked most about 3rdR was the epic scale and the way in which it lent itself to fiction ...

I agree with this FULLY.  I also think that one of the major strengths of 3rd ed was the canon history.  It gave a deep flavor to Starfire that is totally lacking in Ultra.  While I believe that there are a number of interesting things in Ultra (particularly in the strategic rules), I find the lack of any historical background to be a devastating blow to Ultra's likeability.  Also, from a business standpoint, 3rd's canon history provided the opportunity to produce historical module products that were another source of revenue.  OTOH, Ultra's only source of revenue is Ultra itself.  
Yes this was a great disappointment with 4th. The problem was that Marvin just saw the background material as unnecessary fluff and could never understand why 3rdR players thought it was so important.

I think that he understands it now.  Unfortunately, probably too late.  ;)[/quote]
That's very true. There was far more 3rdR fiction and the 3rdR fans seemed far more devoted to the game, probably because 3rd appealed to role-players and 4th appealed to competitive gamers. The problem for 4th is that almost every successful game that take months to play is a role-playing game, because you need to keep people's interest and competitive players don't stay interested once there is little chance of winning. If I want to play competitive games I usually play something that lasts a few hours, or at most a weekend. [/quote]

I've never played an ISF campaign "competitively".  From everything that I've read of other people's observations on the matter, it seems incredibly difficult to keep a decently sized group of players together long enough to play a good, competitive strategic starfire campaign.  It almost seems better suited to solo play, since the solo player can guarantee his (or her) enthusiasm over a long period of time, and he could even set the campaign aside for a time and come back to it later, whereas coordinating the availability of multiple players seems like a nightmare.


Quote
Quote
Quote
While 3rdR is one of the best games I have played and far superior to 4th and its successors, it still has a few issues (for me anyway)
Frankly, some of these issues with 3rd ed are not uncorrectable or aren't really that big a deal (IMHO, of course).  

The "sameness" of planetary systems would be terribly easy to correct.  Simply edit the existing system generation rules to produce a wider variety of star systems.  Ultra produces a somewhat wider variety of star systems, and I have no doubt that it's possible to take it even further without that much effort.
The system generation in Aurora was written before I gave up on Starfire and was originally intended to be added to SA for 3rdR Starfire. However, it is really a computer-only process because of the detail level. There is just no way to get that level of detail in a paper-based game. I remember playing second edition starfire with no computer support and it took about 30-60 minutes to roll up a star system.

Star system generation is one thing in particular that greatly benefits from computer support.  I never particularly spending time on managing my empires' economics and such.  But time spent rolling up star systems seemed rather wasteful, since I wasn't getting any enjoyment from the process.  Odd as it may seem to some, I suppose that I have a bit of an accountant's soul (my father was one, after all) and doing the "books" for my empires always seemed like fun to me.  But that was a "creative" thing.  Rolling up star systems is just tedious.  Thus, star system generation programs are a major boon to any ISF campaign that I played.


Quote
Quote
The "magical" CFN:  The pre-SM2 IFN was more complex than the SM2 CFN.  But I think that the point here is that when you're playing a paper game, you have to make choices about balancing "realism" and playability.  Sure, using an assistant program can allow for more complex processes for handling such things as a CFN, but not everyone may want to use an assistant program ... so the rules should really be written for a paper-based game.  
The IFN was more complex (probably too much so for a paper game) but also more realistic. I agree that simplication is necessary but the CFN was very oversimplified and unrealistically flexible. You could lay a million mine patterns anywhere in the Empire in about an hour. Any ship, anywhere, always had full access to maintenance and missile resupply. It wouldn't have required much imagination to come up with a slightly more realistic system based on proximity to major population centres.


The thing that I don't particularly like about the SM2 CFN is that there's no apparant time constraints.  Money just instantly moves across your empire.  I don't mind the idea of an IFN/CFN without any freighters that you had to build yourself.  But resources should take time to move in the CFN.  If I want to send 10,000 Mc to a planet that's 12 systems away, it ought to take about 3 months to get there.

I'm less bothered by the CFN relative to the maintenance issue, although I do have my own issues on the topic.  I wouldn't mind seeing fleets of ships that want to operate far from large bases/major populations need to have a "real" (as in not CFN) fleet supply train of freighters that carry maintenance resources for the fleet.  I haven't given this much thought, but maybe if you're going to operate a fleet a distance from major population, etc. you should have to have an overall fleet train H capacity equal to the number of months travel you are from your source of maintenance.  And, BTW, those freighters actually have to HAVE that amount of Megacredits of maintenence resources in their holds, meaning that you had to pay to fill the holds with maintenance "stuff" prior to leaving your base.  Something to think about....




Quote
Quote
Now, mind you, I'm not outright defending the SM2's version of the CFN.  But I can fully understand where the desire to simply some rules, particularly on the economic side, comes from.
I understand the need for simplification and I am still a huge fan of 3rdR in general, but the CFN just failed the giggle test for me.

Quote
"Unrealistic timeframe": Repeat after me... It's a game!  You've got to make things happen in a (real time)  time frame that won't cause players to lose interest.  Frankly, I don't find the time frame of ISF to be particularly offensive, as I understand that it's yet another decision made in the interest of playability.
The Rigellian Empire was a huge star-spanning empire with knowledge of almost a thousand systems and a population of over one trillion. It somehow managed that in 14 years from single starting planet. The problem is that from a fiction perspective it's hard to maintain an illusion of reality given those timescales. Symon Cook played a Starfire campaign with much reduced growth rates and from his description of events, it played very well. It wouldn't have been too hard to give Starfire more realistic growth rates and shipbuilding times and it would have also made larger campaigns much more playable. One of my goals with Aurora was an epic campaign system that really felt epic in terms of historical timelines. When writing a history, it should cover decades and even centuries.

I suppose that it's entirely a personal matter.  What offends your sensibilities, may appeal to mine.  

I'm not terribly sure that I could get particularly excited about playing a campaign where it took a hundred turns (10 years, if you go with 10 month years) to go up a TL, and so forth.  

I've never terribly minded the time compression in the campaign game, since I tend to prefer "getting on with it".  But that's just me.


Quote
Quote
"internal inconsistency in the area of weapons and fighters": I'm a little unclear on this particular point, so I'll let it pass.
A fighter in Starfire is less than 1 HS in size. A fifth generation fighter could carry 3 internal weapons and 4 on XO racks, so it could carry seven fighter lasers, each of which could do 3 points of damage at point blank range. A ship-based HET laser is 6 HS and can do 8 points of damage at point blank range. If that ship used fighter lasers instead, seven of which can fit into one HS along with the fighter itself, it would have forty-two lasers doing 126 points of damage (and still space for the six fighters). If fighters can carry such powerful weapons, why can't ships? Keeping fighters and ships consistent has been another Aurora design driver. Fighters can be powerful in Aurora but they still have to abide by the same physical constraints as larger ships.

Yes, this is just what Shinanygyz said.

And like I said, I'm not sure that you can do after the fact, given how heavily this topic is covered in the canon history and the "historical" Starfire novels.

I mean, a number of solutions are possible, if people were willing to accept some divergence from the novels.

a) ban all beam weapon packs, only allow internal beam weapons on fighters.

b) downgrade the damage of fighter beams.  Perhaps 1 dp for fL, and 2 dp for fL2.  Or maybe even just 1 dp for fL2, but increase its range.

c) rule that fighter's XO hard points are for ordnance or non-weapon packs only.  That is, only fR, fM*, f?, fQ, f, fXr, and so forth.

It should be noted that DW's original fM2's and later FM's were 2 load point missiles, and that these were downgraded to 1 lp in the UTM (maybe even 3rdR).  And of course, this has an impact on the damage potential of fighters.

I suppose that one can even get touchy about even 1 dp fighter lasers.  But unless you're going to go the route of Ultra with replacing individual fighters with fighter squadrons, where you could then rule that an entire squadron could do only a single dp of laser damage with its lasers, there's no much lower you can go than saying a fighter laser can only do a single point of damage.

I suppose that another alternative would be to ban fighter anti-ship energy weapons altogether, and rule that only their expendable ordance, which have either nuke or anti-matter warheads, have the punch to damage ships.  Of course, this idea smashes headlong into the historical novels.  But it certainly might be a viable solution.



Quote
Quote
"a tendency toward cookie-cutter ships because of the set speeds and hull sizes"
To some degree, I understand what you're saying here, but I think that part of the problem here is in a lack of advancement in engine tech in 3e.
Because of this, there is a total stagnation of ship speeds throughout the canon history.  Also, the stagnation in ship sizes compared to the tech system needs throughout the tech progression causes ships to end up feeling progressively smaller as the TL's advance.  That is, a TL3 DD will feel like it's got a lot more combat potential than a TL13 DD, because the TL13 DD will feel the need to include a lot of tech systems in it that didn't exist 10 TL's earlier (such as cloaking ECM, and so on).

Were I in charge of things, one of the concepts that I'd seriously consider is having more advanced versions of the tried and true "I" increase the amount of hull spaces in each hull type.  Huh?  What I mean is that an I2 engine might have the capacity to move larger (in terms of HS) hulls within each hull type.  That is, an I2 might be able to support a 35 hs DD, and an I3 drive migth be able to support a 40 hs DD, while remaining a "DD" with a DD's turn mode and max speed.  Indeed, improved generations of I would also have greater max speeds.

The end result of this sort of concept would be, for example, at around TL12-14, an I3 driven, 96 hull space BC with a max speed of perhaps 8.
The benefit of such a concept, aside from increased max speeds, is that larger hulled ships (i.e. 40 hs DD's, 96 hs BC's, and so on) are able to counteract some of the space requirement needs imposed by advancing TL's.  Thus, your TL~13 40 hs DD might be able to be viewed as a viable DD design, whereas in the current system, the poor ol' 30 hs TL13 DD seems to have the armament of a frigate.

Another benefit of such a system is that designs would have to adapt to their increasing sizes and to some degree, they'd end up seeming somewhat less cookie cutter.  You'd have DD's and CL's and BC's (and so on) of varying sizes.  Well, true, you'd probably fall into smaller buckets of cookie cutter sizes, dictated by engine types, but that'd be better than a totally static list of hull type sizes.

The problem though is that because hull sizes are fixed, you will always have the max number of engines so every destroyer of the same TL will be the same size and the same speed. You will also tend to build the largest hull for each level of speed. This was something else I tried to avoid in Aurora by allowing players to build whatever size of ship they wanted and give that hull whatever name they liked. There are no hull sizes or restricted maximum speed, except those limited by physical constraints on engine power vs ship mass. In addition, most ship systems, including engines, are designed by the players so you get a great variety of ship types, speeds and capabilities. Obviously this is more of a problem in a paper game, although the Traveller design system is very physics based and has had a significant influence on some Aurora concepts.[/quote]


What to say here?

For starters, nothing's really stopping players from calling their hulls whatever they want.  The "official" hull type names are largely IMHO a common point of reference.  

I remember reading in the List archive about someone's campaign where the SM allowed every player to name their hull types whatever they wanted.  All they had to do was provide the SM with a "translation table" to cross reference their empire's designators with the official hull type designators.  And IIRC, one player did some sort of espionage that told him that his enemy was going to have X "battlecruisers" in system Y, so he showed up with a number of his own (official designator) BB's to deal with the BC's. However, the BC-owning player had actually designated his BC's as 130 hs ships.  That is his "battle cruisers" were SD's on the official hull type table.  And the spying player had forgotten about the naming hulls whatever you want house rule, and assumed that BC's were BC's... to his regret.


Regardless, I don't mind the hull type table per se.  Personally, I think that a number of minor changes could be made to the table to help matters.  

For example, start with having a common cost per hullspace, regardless of hull size.  

Secondly, have the base turn mode be defined not strictly by hull type, but by the number of hullspaces in the ship.  For example, maybe the turn mode should be a flat 1 per 30 hs of ship FRU.

Third, maybe the number of engines per movement point shouldn't be hard coded to hull types, but should be defined as (for example) 1 I per 30 hs of ship, possibly rounding to the nearest 1/2 hs.  (ships/hull types  below, say 20 hs, might need a special table.)

BTW, these three ideas are concepts that we used in our unpublished Crown of Stars game.

Another idea might be to set no max speed, but let the player decide how many engine rooms he's willing to pack into his ships and how much of all the other stuff he's willing to give up.  Of course, this really goes against Starfire "traditional" rules, but it would seem to create variety of designs, as player would have to find their own balance between speed and combat potential.

Another related idea would be that more advanced engines would be defined by improved power to mass (in hs) ratios, this allowing for less space being required to produce the same speed in a less advanced engine, and allowing for more space devoted to other things.



Of course, if you start defining turn modes and engine power (i.e. I/MP) by hullspace ratios, and you have flat per hull space costs, hull types tend to disappear (for better or worse), since currently turn modes and engine power and so on are tied to hull type designators, rather than hull size ratios.





Quote
Quote
A current concept for a mod(s) that I'm working on (for my personal gratification) is something I'm calling "The Expanse".  It'll take place either about halfway between 4th ISW and Insurrection, or immediately after Insurrection. (snip rest of description)
Sounds fascinating. I would be very interested to read the full history. 3rdR had some great scenario books and I have often reread the books just for the interludes.

Same here (i.e. reading the stories, the profiles, and the interludes).

Right now, the problem that I'm wrestling with is getting from the start point (i.e. the Tesaggha Supernova creating new WPs, yada, yada, yada) to one of my envisioned goals (a really, big nasty, blowout of a war with multiple star nations on each side).  Trying to create a viable political situation that seems justifiable in a WP paradigm with multiple races is tricky.  

I'm also hesitant to go ahead with the first phase of whatever might be the first (chronologically speaking) conflict(s) without trying to plot where I want things to go longer-term.  

Simple example:  The Shoknavoon and the Osadda are blood enemies and have been for centuries.  That's a given in my mind.  The trick is that I have two mutually exclusive views of how the Shoknavoon and more importantly the Osadda are viewed by the Star Union and the Zarkolyans.  One version has the Sh and the Os both being seen as pretty decent peoples by the Crucians and Zarks  (even if the Shoknavoon and Osaddans hate each other) which of course creates its own future issues.  OTOH, my second version has the Shoknavoon as the nice guys and the Osaddans as the evil guys, which in turn takes things in a different direction long term.

Truth is that my original ideas leaned toward the first version.  But as I've expanded my vision for The Expanse, I've come to see that I may need to have the Osaddans be "bad guys" to create some sort of balance of power in my longer term vision.  I'm trying to avoid a ISW4 situation where it's everyone against a single big bad guy (even if the Bugs weren't quite that "big" as was feared at first).  I'd prefer to create a situation where there are multiple star nations on each side of a possible future big war, rather than everyone against the big baddie.  And this seems to make my planning that much more complex.  If my long term story ended up with an "everyone against the Biggggggg bad Empire", it might be easier to plan, but it might feel too much like ISW4 and not be as fun.  Of course, I suppose that I could just wimp out and have the big, bad Galactic Empire of Meanness show up to try to conquer everyone.  (Yawnnn.)  One thing I do want to avoid on any large scale is some sort of machine race attempting to purge the galaxy of all that evil organic life.  Sounds like nothing more than Bugs with mechanical bodies. Yuck!



Quote
Quote
(BTW, refering back to Steve's "sameness of star systems" comment, one of the things that would like to incorporate into The Expanse is the use of some very non-standard star systems.  Nebulae, for example.  Imagine having to fight a major battle in a nebula and not having your Shield working.  Ouch!  And this battle happens with ~TL13-ish weapons...  double ouch!)
This is something I have added to Aurora for v2.6. No shields, no missiles, reduced sensor range, degraded fire control and a maximum speed, all based on the density of the nebula.

Yep, definitely good stuff!


Quote
Quote
That's about all the detail I want to release at the moment.  I'm currently taking a break from working on The Expanse, cuz I ran into a bit of a writer's block in coming up with ideas, but I hope to get back to it very soon.  Hopefully, my muse will return.

I don't know if I'll be able to maintain the enthusiasm to complete The Expanse, but for now, it's a very entertaining diversion to work on.
Can you work on this stand-alone without the need to have "official sanction" to work on 3rdR? I know Damon Bradley has developed extensive scenarios and optional rules for Starfire.

Steve


Oh, I can certainly work on the product without any official sanction.  That's not a problem for me.

Steve, I've sent the rest of my reply on this specific question to you as a PM.


BTW, I notice that you've already replied to my first reply to Shinanygnz.  I think that I've got to step away from my computer and get something to eat before I start writing my next tome-like reply.  ;)

 

It's too bad that back in the late 90's that I wasn't involved in Starfire.  I think that things may have gone in a different direction if I'd had a strong voice in the development of SF back then.

And it seems that you and I tend to think along similar lines.  You and I might have made a formidable 3e development team.   Sigh.  Oh well.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by crucis »
 

Offline crucis

  • Lt. Commander
  • ********
  • Posts: 247
    • View Profile
(No subject)
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2008, 01:49:58 PM »
Quote from: "sloanjh"
Note that the comments below are merely observations - I'm NOT trying to be argumentative on Aurora vs. SF.  The main observation is that many of the inconsistencies in SF flow from the fact that it's a paper-and-pencil system (and I realize that I'm preaching to the choir on that point).

A)  Don't worry.  I'm not in any Starfire vs. Aurora pissing match.  Just having a good discussion.  :-)

[/quote]

Well, "realistic" can be viewed in a number of different ways when you're talking about a game like this.  But that's neither here nor there.

Re: high-power engine tech:  As I recall, one presumption for fighters is that their development only comes about once one is able to develop succificiently high power, fighter sized engines.  


Quote
Quote
However, you will almost always end up a bit "cookie-cutter" because why would anyone build a ship less than max size and speed?

IMHO, the reason for the whole max size/speed issue is the fact that 7 "I" engines push a 33HS DD just as fast as they push a 30HS DD, rather than having the 33HS ship be 10% slower.  As you point out, this is necessary for a paper-and-pencil game (to avoid fractional speeds), but the step-function nature of the speed vs. HS curve leads to these "unrealistic" optimizations.  If the incremental speed gain from adding engines was smoothly decreasing, then different ship designs would end up at different optima.

I see no reason to presume that a 10% larger ship would mean that it's 10% slower.  Hell, for that matter, other than for game design reasons, I see no reason that one couldn't decide that the theoretical max speed of a given drive system doesn't even vary with size.  As much as anything, it's mostly a game design issue to me.  And sometimes I think that we can overthink these things.

I suppose that it comes down to different people having different mental tolerances for giggle tests and pseudo-science stuff.




Quote
Quote
I don't buy the concept as any sort of advanced "hull".  
Actually, I think Steve got advanced hulls right in Aurora - they're made up of stronger materials and so consume less hull mass (or volume).  And if your speed is based on the ratio of engine power to hull mass, that leads to faster ships.

I'm not so sure that I agree here.

Part of some people's view of of the psuedo-science of Starfire engines is that their inertialess drives tend to mean that a ship's mass is largely meaningless, and that it's all about volume.  If that is one's working assumption, then I don't see how advanced materials are going to do much of anything for volume.  1000 cubic meters of starship is a 1000 cubic meters.    Oh, I suppose that advanced materials might make the hulls cheaper to build for the same weight of material and lead to cheaper hulls.  But I'm not really sure that I see any performance benefits.  (But I could definitely be missing something.)



Quote
It occurs to me that this might be an optional rule (or maybe technobabble) for SF advanced hulls.  Let's pretend that there's an invisible 30% "tax" on hulls made up of lowest-tech hull-material.  So a 35HS DD has an extra 10.5HS of "dead" space that doesn't show up on the ship sheets.  A first-level advanced hull could cut that penalty in half, so that you could have a 40HS DD.  A second-level advanced hull could cut the penalty by 2/3, resulting in a 42HS DD.  Note that I picked the ratios to match the levels of armor improvement - that's what Steve did in Aurora (the hull is just considered to be level-1 armor).

I'm a little confused by what you mean by dead space.

Still, I prefer the idea that more efficient and powerful engines (as in more powerful per HS of engine) lead to an enhanced ability to more more volume.  Where seven 1st gen I's might be only able to move a 30 hs DD at a speed of 7, perhaps seven 2nd gen I2's could move a 35 hs DD at that same speed of 7.  And so on across the hull type table.

It seems like an elegant enough idea, IF (!) one sticks to the current SF hull table paradigm.





Quote
Quote
Re: max speed.  I think that one can assume that not all ships at speed 6 (for example) really have the exact same speed.  Some may go a smidge faster and some a smidge slower than what a tactical speed of 6 translates to in MPH or KPH.  However, since Starfire speeds necessarily have to be defined in tac hexes per tac turn, any minor differences that might exist are glossed over in the game system.  It's just the price of doing business, so to speak.
This is actually one of my big "realism" peeves with SF (and to a lesser extent Aurora).  ITRW, two different ships of the same class will have slightly different performance characteristics - one will be a little bit faster than the other at max speed.  It just doesn't seem right to have a pursuit across a solar-system where both fleets (and all ships within each fleet) are moving at exactly speed 6.  It would be a lot more interesting if big fleets had to make a choice between losing cohesion and slowing down to wait for stragglers.

That's all well and good, but since movement has to be defined in tactical hexes per turn, not KPH or some other measure, we're stuck with the limited and simple granularity of the system.

If one ship is doing 100% of speed 6 (whatever that is in KPH), and another ship is doing say 96% of speed 6, exactly how are you going to represent that?  A major point of the Starfire game system is simplicity, and trying to manage that degree of speed granularity seems to run counter to the entire Starfire design philosophy.




Quote
Quote
Think about it.  If you really, REALLY wanted to kick around cookie-cutterism, a game process that allowed for non-standard tech system sizes in, say, 0.1 hs increments would really throw that proverbial monkey wrench into the works.  No two races would probably ever have the exact same sized tech systems across the board.  
I think this is precisely what Steve was going for in Aurora.

Good for Steve!  ;)



Quote
Add this all up, and you have a MAJOR accounting nightmare.  But you'd also have a way to nuke cookie-cutter-ism.
Exactly - the computer handles the accounting nightmare.

John


But what if you don't WANT to play a computer game?


Frankly, I think that it wouldn't be all that difficult to manage ship construction and design in Starfire with tech system being variably sized in 0.1 hs increments.  Rather, designing that ships wouldn't be all that difficult for anyone with decent math skills and a calculator.  The trick would be in keeping track of the varing sizes of all of your tech systems.
You'd almost need to keep custom tech lists for every empire, so that you knew what size each empire F's and Rc's and so on were.

And as cool as it might be to have that degree of variety, I think that once you start factoring in a bunch of NPR navies, it could start getting a bit overwhelming.  Of course, I suppose that one could rule that only player races have to worry about it.  (And maybe any major multi system NPR's that start looking like player races.)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by crucis »
 

 

Sitemap 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51