Author Topic: Designing ship hulls instead of ships  (Read 964 times)

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Offline hostergaard

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Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« on: July 25, 2017, 11:56:37 AM »
I was thinking about how arbitrary the whole "eligible additional classes" and refit cost is and how unsatisfying designing a ship actually is.   

It hit me that rather than designing ships we should be designing ship hulls.    Ship hulls that we define to have a certain size, engine mounts of certain sizes, number of weapon mounts of various given sizes, internal system spaces of given sizes, external system mounts of given sizes and so on and so forth.    Of course, what is realistic and appropriate to class together to allow to be fitted or mounted in a given space of mount would have be carefully considered.   

Anyway, then that hull would have to be researched as any other race specific tech and then a shipyard tooled for said hull.    When that is done ship variants can be designed from said hull (take inspiration from Star Citizen and how they design ship variants of ships with identical hulls).    For example a large pressurized internally empty hull section could be used for hangar space, cargo, cryogenic transport, troop transport and so on depending on what components are installed in that section.    Or a ship could be outfitted with a more powerful but fuel consuming engine of a size same size size to create a racer variant of the standard layout.    The shipyard would be able to build it all the same as all they do is build the hull and fit the components and leave the construction of said components to planet based factories.   

This means that older ships can much more easily be refitted with new components, meaning that you don't have to throw out an entire design when you make some minor improvements to some system.    You just replace the engine or whatever.    Its also more realistic as fx modern submarine design is all about modular design as hull design is often a major cost of development.    The only time you should design new hulls is when there is a shift in fleet doctrine or trough some paradigme shifts in technology that necessitates entirely new hulls (maybe some new line of research that affects hull design?).   

One could consider partially keeping the old system for cases where you want to design a ship from a hull with systems different from what the mounts and hull spaces allows.    Say and extra engine to make a speeder version.    This could be allowed but sees a logarithmic increase in cost depending how much the ship differs so to allow a one to create rare and expensive "elite" ships for cases where you would normally design a new hul but you want just a few ships of that variation so you modify an already existing hull and produce it at the shipyard for that hull, at a much higher cost than normal ship variations.   

Finally, one could then also consider making possible to design sections that can be produced separately and later be put together later.    Like engine section, mid section, front section or what have you.    Especially useful for capital ships, modular stations and creating unique ships fitted together from various hulls sections (Then we can have cool  randomly generated pirate ships and stations slapped together from various hulls of ships they have captured all over the galaxy, think of the possibilities! ;D ) At some cost the ship health or production cost whatever seems realistic and balanced.   

Anyway, its just what I have been mulling over it and this is just my early thoughts that I want to throw out there to hear what people think, the particulars can be changed later, just consider the basic concept of what I am suggesting.   

I know there is a suggestion thread, but I feel this would be a major change and generate a lot of debate, so I made a new thread.    Sorry if I broke any rules.   

Edit: It may also be worthwhile to consider this for Aurora C# given the how much it would likely change the game. 
« Last Edit: July 26, 2017, 11:41:55 AM by hostergaard »
 

Offline sloanjh

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2017, 07:26:13 AM »
I know there is a suggestion thread, but I feel this would be a major change and generate a lot of debate, so I made a new thread.   Sorry if I broke any rules. 

Nope, no rules broken - this is exactly why people are able to make new threads in Suggestions (unlike Bugs).  One thing you should probably do in addition though:  Put a short (e.g. one line) summary in the official thread with a link to this post.  Steve uses the official thread as a filing cabinet, so if you just leave your suggestion as a dangling thread then there's a good chance he won't be able to find/remember it after the first time he reads it.

Thanks and Have Fun!
John
 
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Offline hostergaard

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 11:44:11 AM »
Quote from: sloanjh link=topic=9627. msg103703#msg103703 date=1501071973
Put a short (e. g.  one line) summary in the official thread with a link to this post.   

Thanks will do! I hope my idea is well received
 

Offline byron

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 10:07:16 AM »
I definitely like the idea of trying to make the refit/parallel build rules more sensible.  It's always annoying when it's going to require retooling to install, say, improved lasers (same power, same size, better focusing), but you can just build a bunch of different small ships. 
I'm not certain this is the best way to go about it, though.  How would ship design work?  Do I have to design the hull before I'm allowed to try out equipment fits on it?  That's going to be annoying.
My thoughts would be to look for some mechanism where you can measure the degree of change.  A ship with all the same type and size of mechanisms is going to be more similar than a ship with the same size but different type, and so on.  Not sure exactly how you'd implement it, though.
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Offline Gnoman

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2017, 09:08:13 PM »
Rather than having hulls be a designed tech as suggested, I would add a new button to the ship designer interface labeled "Add Variant".  This would work exactly like copying the design, but the hull, armor, and possibly engine would not be modifiable - removing components would not change the size of the design (instead adding "empty space"), and you would not be able to alter the amount of armor, make the ship bigger, or change the engines. 

A shipyard tooled for a given design could then build or refit to any variant of that design's hull, with the caveat that doing so is more expensive and/or slower than a properly tooled shipyard would be.  This would allow for easy construction of limited-build designs (such as flag variants of warships or jump-capable variants for example), allow basic multi-purpose hulls to be converted into a great variety of tasks (a basic 1000 ton design could be easily adapted to a light tanker, an active sensor platform to support LAC strikes, an intelligence platform packed with passive sensors, a clean-up gunship, etc - much like we use airliners for in the real world) without tying up a huge number of shipyards, or any number of similar purposes.

You could even allow for the provision of "empty space" in a given design to represent modularity, with the penalty that components using this space would be bulkier (instead of the time/cost penalty) than a fixed system.
 
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Offline Barkhorn

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 11:11:24 PM »
I really like this idea.  I feel like we're close to being able to simulate the way some warships in WW2 were just refitted civilian ships.  There were lots of gunboats and corvettes that were originally built as trawlers; the first aircraft carriers were refitted cargo ships.

Currently this is pretty much impossible in Aurora because of the hard line between military and civilian ships; refitting a freighter to a carrier costs more than just building the carrier from scratch.  Which is silly because both carriers and freighters are mostly empty space; hangars and cargo holds should be pretty much the same thing.  A hangar is basically just a cargo hold with tie-downs for parasites.
 

Offline TCD

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 08:51:09 AM »
Rather than having hulls be a designed tech as suggested, I would add a new button to the ship designer interface labeled "Add Variant".  This would work exactly like copying the design, but the hull, armor, and possibly engine would not be modifiable - removing components would not change the size of the design (instead adding "empty space"), and you would not be able to alter the amount of armor, make the ship bigger, or change the engines. 

A shipyard tooled for a given design could then build or refit to any variant of that design's hull, with the caveat that doing so is more expensive and/or slower than a properly tooled shipyard would be.  This would allow for easy construction of limited-build designs (such as flag variants of warships or jump-capable variants for example), allow basic multi-purpose hulls to be converted into a great variety of tasks (a basic 1000 ton design could be easily adapted to a light tanker, an active sensor platform to support LAC strikes, an intelligence platform packed with passive sensors, a clean-up gunship, etc - much like we use airliners for in the real world) without tying up a huge number of shipyards, or any number of similar purposes.

You could even allow for the provision of "empty space" in a given design to represent modularity, with the penalty that components using this space would be bulkier (instead of the time/cost penalty) than a fixed system.
This seems like a great idea. It will make for some interesting decisions about whether you create new designs or alter existing ones, and match real life much more closely.

I don't think you even need the caveat of the slower/more expensive build. If the hull size, armor and engines are all fixed there isn't that much abuse you can do. I also don't think you need to complicate with modular empty space. People who want that can just add in extra fuel tanks instead.
 

Offline byron

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2017, 10:48:00 AM »
Rather than having hulls be a designed tech as suggested, I would add a new button to the ship designer interface labeled "Add Variant".  This would work exactly like copying the design, but the hull, armor, and possibly engine would not be modifiable - removing components would not change the size of the design (instead adding "empty space"), and you would not be able to alter the amount of armor, make the ship bigger, or change the engines. 

A shipyard tooled for a given design could then build or refit to any variant of that design's hull, with the caveat that doing so is more expensive and/or slower than a properly tooled shipyard would be.  This would allow for easy construction of limited-build designs (such as flag variants of warships or jump-capable variants for example), allow basic multi-purpose hulls to be converted into a great variety of tasks (a basic 1000 ton design could be easily adapted to a light tanker, an active sensor platform to support LAC strikes, an intelligence platform packed with passive sensors, a clean-up gunship, etc - much like we use airliners for in the real world) without tying up a huge number of shipyards, or any number of similar purposes.

You could even allow for the provision of "empty space" in a given design to represent modularity, with the penalty that components using this space would be bulkier (instead of the time/cost penalty) than a fixed system.

That does seem like a very workable plan, although I'm torn on how much you want to let players flex the space.  This proposal basically gives you carte blanche so long as you don't touch the engines or armor.  The minimum variant on it would require that spaces retain the same use (weapons, sensors, etc), although that does seem like it might be too limiting, and definitely rules out things like flagships.  Maybe allow some small percentage of flexing in space usage.  No more than 5-10% of the ship can be different types than they were before.  So you can trade a bit of fuel for the extra reactors you need to power your improved weapons, or place a flag bridge in place of a few guns, but you can't just trade ship types at will.
I'm aware that this fails to capture some of the possible complexity that we saw in WW2, but I'm not sure we can capture that.  We should (IIRC) be able to capture the 'general auxiliary' conversions, even if carrier conversions are out.  Tthose don't make sense in the modern world due to the increased complexity of carrier operations, and I don't think we should slavishly imitate WW2.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 11:00:05 AM by byron »
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Offline TCD

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2017, 02:23:44 PM »
That does seem like a very workable plan, although I'm torn on how much you want to let players flex the space.  This proposal basically gives you carte blanche so long as you don't touch the engines or armor.  The minimum variant on it would require that spaces retain the same use (weapons, sensors, etc), although that does seem like it might be too limiting, and definitely rules out things like flagships.  Maybe allow some small percentage of flexing in space usage.  No more than 5-10% of the ship can be different types than they were before.  So you can trade a bit of fuel for the extra reactors you need to power your improved weapons, or place a flag bridge in place of a few guns, but you can't just trade ship types at will.
I'm aware that this fails to capture some of the possible complexity that we saw in WW2, but I'm not sure we can capture that.  We should (IIRC) be able to capture the 'general auxiliary' conversions, even if carrier conversions are out.  Tthose don't make sense in the modern world due to the increased complexity of carrier operations, and I don't think we should slavishly imitate WW2.
Perhaps a better approach to get things going would be to consider what logically you shouldn't be able to change, and what you should. I'm assuming the premise is that the shape and size of the hull are the key requirements from a shipyard perspective, that it would be much easier to change internal rather than external components, but that even then there is a maximum size of component you can rip out of a ship before it compromises your overall structural integrity. On that basis you could come up with a fairly consistent (if arguable) list of fixed components:

Hull size: fixed
Armour: fixed
Engines: fixed (large component that materially affects hull design)
Jump drives: fixed (large component that materially affects hull design)
Hangars: fixed (the hangar doors/launch mechanisms can't be easily added or removed without major hull changes)
Construction: fixed
Terraforming: fixed
Fuel harvester: fixed
Spinal weapons: fixed
Everything else: variable if individual item is less than ?10%? of hull size, fixed if over ?10%? of hull size

So the end result would be to give you a lot of flexibility in swapping small components around. And just like in real life you can add light AA turrets to anything, but you can't expert to be able to stick a battleship turret onto a freighter.
 

 

Offline byron

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2017, 03:19:32 PM »
Perhaps a better approach to get things going would be to consider what logically you shouldn't be able to change, and what you should. I'm assuming the premise is that the shape and size of the hull are the key requirements from a shipyard perspective, that it would be much easier to change internal rather than external components, but that even then there is a maximum size of component you can rip out of a ship before it compromises your overall structural integrity. On that basis you could come up with a fairly consistent (if arguable) list of fixed components:

Hull size: fixed
Armour: fixed
Engines: fixed (large component that materially affects hull design)
Jump drives: fixed (large component that materially affects hull design)
Hangars: fixed (the hangar doors/launch mechanisms can't be easily added or removed without major hull changes)
Construction: fixed
Terraforming: fixed
Fuel harvester: fixed
Spinal weapons: fixed
Everything else: variable if individual item is less than ?10%? of hull size, fixed if over ?10%? of hull size

So the end result would be to give you a lot of flexibility in swapping small components around. And just like in real life you can add light AA turrets to anything, but you can't expert to be able to stick a battleship turret onto a freighter.
I think this may be a bit too restrictive.  Things like fuel harvesters, mining equipment, and terraformers all seem pretty similar (assuming my memory of sizing is correct).  It seems very possible to design one hull which is good at all of the various fixed-location industrial tasks.  Likewise, it seems odd that I can't substitute a far-UV 25 cm spinal laser for a near-UV 25 cm spinal laser.  And now that I think about it, it would be nice if I had some way to put my new fuel economy upgrade on my ships without having to retool everything. 
I'm aware that trying to put together a full set of rules to reflect what should logically be possible is probably going to result in something too complex to play, and I definitely favor your proposal over what we have now, but it seems a bit too tough.
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Offline Gnoman

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2017, 07:30:32 PM »
Going to argue with your list, just to exchange perspectives.

Quote from: TCD link=topic=9627. msg103782#msg103782 date=1501701824
Hull size: fixed
Armour: fixed
Engines: fixed (large component that materially affects hull design)

All of these are fine, with the possible exception that you could designate engines as "external" (compare a B-52 to an F-16 - it would be entirely possible to upgrade the engines on the former, but rather difficult on the latter), sacrificing armor protection for upgradeability. 

Quote from: TCD link=topic=9627. msg103782#msg103782 date=1501701824
Jump drives: fixed (large component that materially affects hull design)
Since, unlike engines, we have no RW basis for how a jump engine might work, this could go either way.  I'd lean toward making it expensive but possible to install or remove a jump drive, but there is some argument there.

Quote
Hangars: fixed (the hangar doors/launch mechanisms can't be easily added or removed without major hull changes)
Construction: fixed
Terraforming: fixed
Fuel harvester: fixed

None of these make particular sense to me.  Logically, all any of these really need (other than the requisite internal volume) is external access of some sort, which hardly seems particularly difficult to accomodate on a ship large enough to hold them in the first place.  With hangars in particular, I wouldn't mind them being greatly expanded with launch rates and such, which would make sense with the assumptions you're using, but the game as it is appears to just be opening a door in the side of the ship and flying away.

Quote
Spinal weapons: fixed

This makes sense, as part of the logic behind them involves them being integrated into the structure of the ship.


Quote
Everything else: variable if individual item is less than ?10%? of hull size, fixed if over ?10%? of hull size
This constraints I heavily disagree with.  Leaving aside practical difficulties of "what constitutes an individual item", as most things we add individually really should be thought of as integrated systems, I don't think it would work as a game-balance perspective.

You also seem to be thinking primarily in terms of conversions - taking an already built (or half-built) ship and turning it into something else.  While my variant on this suggestion was intended to allow just that, it would be reasonable to make it very expensive to do too extensive a refit.  Rather, my main focus was on purpose-built variants, which sidesteps a lot of the difficulties you seem to be envisioning. 
 

Offline obsidian_green

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2017, 06:41:18 PM »
I think the rules for additional eligible classes could be more intuitive. If I remember my wiki reading, I think it's based on a build point comparison, but a restricted HS comparison might give us more realistic design flexibility. By restricted, I'm agreeing with TCD's notion that in order to build additional classes at a given shipyard, components like engines, hangars, armor, etc. must remain unchanged. (I'm not in complete agreement w/ TCD's whole list---I could see large civilian components like terraforming modules or cargo bays as modular components added to a common frame.)

Basically, variants on a design should be possible from a single shipyard. The same basic ship, differing only in weapon or sensor packages should not really require different shipyards, especially when that naval shipyard seems so capable (at least it says so on the DAC screen) of churning out a bunch of civilian shipping line designs nothing like the warship the yard is designed to build.
 

Offline Barkhorn

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2017, 12:25:13 AM »
I think it should depend on the weapon.  Missile launchers should not be interchangeable with beam weapons.  Turrets should not be interchangeable with fixed weapons.  Turrets should also have to be the same (or very similar) size.  The turret ring is a pretty major thing to change after all.  Fixed weapons should also have to be the same (or similar) size.
 

Offline Hazard

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2017, 04:30:07 AM »
Swapping weapons for smaller/lower tonnage/less BP designs should be possible in this case, so long as the weapon type is similar. So yes to shoving in an equal number of turrets with similar capacitance requirements and smaller size, but no swapping weapon types.

Actually, this offers a different design constraint.

You first design a basic 'hull form' with a number of set weapon mounts by type, cargo space, fuel tanks, engines, sensor size and crew complement, and then you can shove in what weapons you want that fit the mounts, sensors up to the maximum sensor size and swap cargo space for either manufacturing or dedicated forms of cargo space, like colonist berths, troop transports, magazines or drop systems.

It'd be a more convoluted 2 step design process though.
 

Offline obsidian_green

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Re: Designing ship hulls instead of ships
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2017, 11:30:55 PM »
I think it should depend on the weapon.  Missile launchers should not be interchangeable with beam weapons.  Turrets should not be interchangeable with fixed weapons.  Turrets should also have to be the same (or very similar) size.  The turret ring is a pretty major thing to change after all.  Fixed weapons should also have to be the same (or similar) size.

That sounds good, especially regarding missiles vs. beam weapons. As for the differing size of in-type weapons, I figure that could show up as added build cost as long as the HS still falls within the compatibility range for additional eligible classes.

 

 

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