Aurora 4x

Aurora => C# Aurora => Topic started by: Steve Walmsley on December 24, 2018, 11:23:09 AM

Title: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 24, 2018, 11:23:09 AM
About a year ago there was a discussion on the forum about how to move troops to the ground from transports. My final thoughts at that time were as follows:

Quote
Troop Transport Bays will be similar to before, except there are now three sizes (small, standard, large), which are: 100 ton (2 HS), 1000 tons (20 HS) and 5000 tons (100 HS). This is a commercial system and functions in the same way as in VB6 Aurora.

Troop Transport Bays - Drop Ship Equipped is a new module which can function as a normal troop transport bay or quickly deliver troops from orbit using abstract drop ships. If the fast orbital delivery is chosen, there will be two options for the drop - Normal and Abandon. A normal drop will include waiting for the drop ships to return to the bays, which will require two minutes without additional research. A new tech line will reduce drop ship return times, starting with 90 seconds for 2000 RP and ending with 20 seconds for 64,000 RP. In an Abandon drop, the drop ships make a one way trip, allowing the ship to leave orbit immediately after the drop. In this case the bay is damaged (to simulate the loss of the drop ships) and can only be repaired at a shipyard. A ship with intact drop ships can also pick up troops from a planet, although this requires double the normal return trip time (as it is faster to unload than load). In all cases, the ship may only carry out landing or recovery operations if it starts the movement phase in the same location as the planet. For example, in an Abandon drop, the troop ship will arrive at the planet, take any fire for that turn, then launch drop ships and move away in the following turn. There are drop ship equivalents for the three normal bays. They have the same capacities but are 20% larger, 150% more expensive and a military system.

Troop Transport Bays - Boarding Equipped is a new type which can function as normal troop transport bays or launch infantry units in a boarding attack against a hostile ship (in a similar way to VB6 Aurora). There are equivalents for the Small and Standard normal bays. They have the same capacities but are 10% larger, 50% more expensive and a military system.

There are no longer any short-duration troop transport modules, as the 'landing craft' are now the abstract drop ships. This is partly to reduce micromanagement and the number of different ground-related orders, but also to create a real flavour of an opposed landing and to require investment in 'amphibious' operations. Any STO weapons on the surface will be able to target the landing ships on the way in and out of the drop zone. The player has a few options in terms of the troop ships. For example, large and heavily armoured dropping large formations, small and fast with small formations or raiding parties, or bare bones and expendable. Of course, additional ships can accompany the troop ships in an attempt to distract or suppress the defences.

One year on and with more code in place, I am considering making a couple of adjustments and I would be interested in comments, especially on the second part.

1) All the bays will be commercial, not military. This is mainly because now that I see how many military forces would have to be involved in a major planetary assault, building sufficient large military vessels is probably prohibitive due to the shipyard and maintenance requirements. I still expect the boarding-focused troops ship to be military because they will need the military engines and some large troop ships may be military because other systems are needed in the design.

2) I am tempted to abstract the drop ships completely and not require their 'replacement' by requiring the troop ship to repair the bays after an 'abandon' order. I think it is too much micromanagement and the game play benefit isn't enough to compensate, plus given the number of supply runs likely to be required to support a major conflict, the 'repair' element would get tedious fast. In this case, the Normal and Abandon versions of the drop would become a single 'Drop' order. All drops and pickups would be instant for a ship equipped with drop bays, apart from the existing requirement to end an increment in orbit.

The problem is that I am not sure the instant drop passes the 'giggle test'. In effect, it would mean drop ships moving incredibly fast to and from the planet. Or perhaps dropping while the troop ship moving away and catching up later (which begs the question of why the troop ship doesn't remain safe while the drop ships approach from a greater distance).

If I am being over-concerned about 'reality' here, let me know. Otherwise, I do have a couple of alternative ideas that might fit the desired mechanics. The first is that rather than using 'drop ships', the special troop transport bay (20% larger and 3x more expensive than an equal capacity 'normal bay') uses clusters of small tractor beams to drop and pick up troops during a close pass of the planet. This solves both the speed to drop/pickup and the reason to be in orbit. The special bay would have tractors as a prerequisite. The same technology could theoretically be used for cargo holds but the extra cost would make it difficult to justify - I could add the 'tractor cargo bay' though.

The second option is that all ground forces are equipped as standard with some form of anti-grav 'parachute', which allows fast deployment on to planets. In this case, the special bays are designed to allow this type of speedy, mass deployment. However, loading ground forces would require the same cargo shuttles that are needed for normal transport bays (or suitable facilities on the ground). The upside is that this has no impact on other (non-ground-related) mechanics but the downside of this approach is that evacuating a force in trouble would be almost impossible against serious ground defences. Maybe that is actually realistic when considering planetary assault.

Anyway, in summary, I need mechanics/justification to allow a 'special' bay to have instant drop (and perhaps instant pickup) from orbit without micromanagement or tracking of small landing craft. BTW the reason I don't want to have to track small landing craft is that given the huge variety in units sizes (5 tons to 500 tons) and great variety in potential formation sizes, that would be a micromanagement nightmare.

All comments welcome.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: TinkerPox on December 24, 2018, 11:58:40 AM
With the anti-grav parachutes, I believe that drop pods would be the best option.   Although I myself enjoy manufacturing small dropships/landing craft.   Perhaps both could be options to add some depth.   For instance drop pods would more difficult to target and take down, while larger vehicles would need to be carried by transport vessels, and dropships would be able to carry more.  If you want to bring massive units/vehicles to an assault, there should be a logistical burden to deploy/retrieve them.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: clement on December 24, 2018, 01:33:15 PM
I like option 1 or option 2 (compete abstraction of drop ships). Could you make option 2 take some amount of time with research to reduce it. Start at 1 minute with research down to 10 seconds.

I think a planetary insertion via orbital drop (HELLNO jump from the HFY Deathworlders universe) would be a special forces maneuver.

Instead of making an abandon drop ship action require ship yard time to repair to could make it use maintenance supplies, but I am not sure if that is any better in the long run.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: JustAnotherDude on December 24, 2018, 01:46:16 PM
I think that drop pods would work. Also, similar to the repair system but less finnicky, the Drop Bays could consume a drop pod "Ammunition". A given bay would hold X or Y pods, which would reresent the ability to drop X or Y tons instantly. This would make large scale instantaneous deployment expensive, making destruction of Ground to Space batteries more important so that reinforcements can be brought in cheaply and safely. It fits thematically and make the choice between drop and normal bays more interesting now that the military/commercial distinction doesn't apply to them.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Scandinavian on December 24, 2018, 01:47:38 PM
The second option is that all ground forces are equipped as standard with some form of anti-grav 'parachute', which allows fast deployment on to planets. In this case, the special bays are designed to allow this type of speedy, mass deployment. However, loading ground forces would require the same cargo shuttles that are needed for normal transport bays (or suitable facilities on the ground). The upside is that this has no impact on other (non-ground-related) mechanics but the downside of this approach is that evacuating a force in trouble would be almost impossible against serious ground defences. Maybe that is actually realistic when considering planetary assault.
This sounds very sensible to me - underestimating the difficulty of evacuating from a contested beachhead under fire and covered by still functioning shore batteries was one of the (many, many) things the British did wrong in Gallipoli, and one of the reasons it turned from a low-cost mistake into an expensive debacle.

I would even consider limiting drop harness to infantry and light vehicles (with tech upgrades to allow medium and heavy vehicles, but never super- and ultra-heavy). This would restrict the deployment of heavier vehicles until a beachhead had been secured, either with lighter ground forces or by fleet elements blasting any STOs contesting the landing.

This would mean having a standard bay that uses shuttles both ways, a drop bay that uses jump harness for drops and shuttles for pickup, and an assault bay that allows boarding but otherwise functions as a standard bay.

You might also want to consider a non-shuttle troop bay (maybe only available in Large size), which requires a spaceport to load and discharge troops, mirroring the distinction between shuttle and non-shuttle enabled cargo bays. This would give people a cheaper option to construct very large troop carriers for redeployments between existing hubs, and the symmetry with cargo bays seems aesthetically pleasing.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 24, 2018, 02:16:18 PM
The second option is that all ground forces are equipped as standard with some form of anti-grav 'parachute', which allows fast deployment on to planets. In this case, the special bays are designed to allow this type of speedy, mass deployment. However, loading ground forces would require the same cargo shuttles that are needed for normal transport bays (or suitable facilities on the ground). The upside is that this has no impact on other (non-ground-related) mechanics but the downside of this approach is that evacuating a force in trouble would be almost impossible against serious ground defences. Maybe that is actually realistic when considering planetary assault.
This sounds very sensible to me - underestimating the difficulty of evacuating from a contested beachhead under fire and covered by still functioning shore batteries was one of the (many, many) things the British did wrong in Gallipoli, and one of the reasons it turned from a low-cost mistake into an expensive debacle.

I would even consider limiting drop harness to infantry and light vehicles (with tech upgrades to allow medium and heavy vehicles, but never super- and ultra-heavy). This would restrict the deployment of heavier vehicles until a beachhead had been secured, either with lighter ground forces or by fleet elements blasting any STOs contesting the landing.

This would mean having a standard bay that uses shuttles both ways, a drop bay that uses jump harness for drops and shuttles for pickup, and an assault bay that allows boarding but otherwise functions as a standard bay.

You might also want to consider a non-shuttle troop bay (maybe only available in Large size), which requires a spaceport to load and discharge troops, mirroring the distinction between shuttle and non-shuttle enabled cargo bays. This would give people a cheaper option to construct very large troop carriers for redeployments between existing hubs, and the symmetry with cargo bays seems aesthetically pleasing.

The more I consider it, the more I think this is the cleanest option.  We already have bases that can hold their orbit with no engines, which means they have TN thrusters that are so small they don't need to be a dedicated system. Logically, that means a TN module that only needs to control speed of descent as the ground forces approach the ground would be tiny and therefore easily abstracted. Troops would have to be lifted back into orbit using normal loading (cargo shuttles). The only situation were extraction is an issue is one where the troops where dropped into an environment in which the defenders still have functioning planetary defences and then get into trouble, which probably should be a serious problem.

That gives us normal troops bays as exist now, expensive 'drop bays' that are intended to release troops in orbit en masse with the abstracted (and easily replaced) 'descent-control units' and the already planned 'boarding bays', which have tubes to fire infantry at nearby ships. Cargo shuttles, which are a separate system, are optional in all three cases, but would be needed for all three types of bays to lift forces from planets without spaceports or cargo shuttle stations.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Marski on December 24, 2018, 03:53:32 PM
Well, to clarify; Are there "special forces" that upon landing on a planet can "skip" enemy ground forces and attack directly anti-orbital assets?

I have a suggestion:
Keep shuttles as something you can design, but add a "shuttle" box you can check on the design screen.

When you want for a troop transport to send troops to a planet, have an order "shuttle ground unit to" and you select the ground unit(s) and destination. Then automatically the ship launchesthe shuttle(s) if it has them and the ship is close enough so that the shuttles can make the trip, drop the selected unit(s) and return to the ship. You could use this order with planets if you want to shuttle teams to moons or other nearby system bodies.

Add an order if you want it to be one way trip (longer range!)

I like these sort of little things. I transport teams using ships and shuttles in VB6, one time they were used for emergency evacuation of troops from a planet from a distance due to enemy ships approaching. Being able to design military shuttles gives you more options.

This way, in a underdog situation, a player can potentially take a planet from a stronger enemy without sacrifising ships to clear out the anti-orbital assets and ships first.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: MasonMac on December 24, 2018, 04:21:23 PM
"Tell me boys and girls... how will you leave?"
"We go feet first sir!"
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Scandinavian on December 24, 2018, 08:10:04 PM
Cargo shuttles, which are a separate system, are optional in all three cases, but would be needed for all three types of bays to lift forces from planets without spaceports or cargo shuttle stations.
Another thing to consider is whether ship-based systems should distinguish between cargo shuttles for freight vs. troops/passengers. In terms of realism, shuttling containers only requires you to have a spreader and enough lift to get twenty tons of payload into orbit. Self-loading freight is a lot squishier in terms of the kind of g-forces you can expose it to and you need airlocks or enclosed hangars to get it onto the orbiting vessel (whereas containers you can just hand over to a guide rail and let the vessel worry about whether the cargo hold should be pressurized or not). So while passenger lift implies cargo lift (because passengers carry supplies, carry-on baggage, equipment, etc.), cargo lift does not necessarily imply the ability to transfer passengers.

What militates against this is the additional complexity involved for what may well be a fairly minor gain in realism. Presumably space-going vessels will usually be carrying either freight or passengers but not both, and forward bases that have cargo shuttle facilities will usually want to be able to take garrisons as well as cargo. So usually the dual-use facility will be the correct one for planetside use.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Graham on December 25, 2018, 04:29:00 AM
I would support both proposals, since I really don’t want the micro of consumable shuttles. Your refined idea definitely seems like the cleanest solution to me.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Marski on December 25, 2018, 04:40:51 AM
I would support both proposals, since I really don’t want the micro of consumable shuttles. Your refined idea definitely seems like the cleanest solution to me.
I don't think the sort of people aurora attracts who go through the effort of learning to play it mind the micromanagement.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Scandinavian on December 25, 2018, 04:54:19 AM
The shuttles modeled by the cargo shuttles module are 10-20 ton small craft, not the 100-200 ton pinnaces you can design in the class design window. Trying to model something that small independently of its hangar module, when the smallest ordinary class design component weighs in at 5 tons, is going to be an exercise in frustration.

However, I think there is merit to allowing fighter sized vessels to embark and disembark troops without shuttle support (simulating that they are atmosphere-capable). That way you have the option to devote additional space to boat bays and fighter-sized assault vessels rather than shuttle bays, if you prefer to conduct your planetary invasions from stand-off range.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 25, 2018, 04:56:44 AM
The shuttles modeled by the cargo shuttles module are 10-20 ton small craft, not the 100-200 ton pinnaces you can design in the class design window. Trying to model something that small independently of its hangar module, when the smallest ordinary class design component weighs in at 5 tons, is going to be an exercise in frustration.

However, I think there is merit to allowing fighter sized vessels to embark and disembark troops without shuttle support (simulating that they are atmosphere-capable). That way you have the option to devote additional space to boat bays and fighter-sized assault vessels rather than shuttle bays, if you prefer to conduct your planetary invasions from stand-off range.
10-20t smallcraft seem to be very small to carry 50-500t tanks, though. There is some consistency gap there in sizes.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Scandinavian on December 25, 2018, 05:14:05 AM
Some of that is that a tank taking up 500 ton of transport capacity isn't going to actually weigh 500 tons; the 500 tons includes its share of rear area repair depots, fuel and munitions for 30 hours of sustained combat operations, long-term crew accommodations, etc.

Another part is that Aurora abstracts away density. A Tiger I tank of fifty tons can be transported on a standard container flat-rack, and the whole thing is not going to be much larger than a 12 meter container (though the dimensions are a little different). But as a rule of thumb a 12 meter container, fully loaded, weighs 10-16 tons, not 50. And a 20 ton semi-trailer truck absolutely can load and move a Tiger tank, provided it can handle the axle load.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Graham on December 25, 2018, 06:55:01 AM
I would support both proposals, since I really don’t want the micro of consumable shuttles. Your refined idea definitely seems like the cleanest solution to me.
I don't think the sort of people aurora attracts who go through the effort of learning to play it mind the micromanagement.

I’m attracted to Aurora, and I mind. I love the level of control we have over new ground forces, but sometimes you’re just adding complexity for complexities sake, and I think this is one of those cases. There is no fun for me in having to manually rebuild the shuttles for my dropships, because it’s not interesting, it’s just admin that I shouldn’t have to deal with.

To clarify, we already have dropships you can build to run from your carrier to the planet. I don’t think we need to design 10t dropships to fit inside our 1000t dropships.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Jorgen_CAB on December 25, 2018, 07:55:12 AM
I think that you might want to check on a miniature game called "Tomorrow's War", it basically features platoon level combat between sci-fi forces at a similar tech and sci-fi level as that of Aurora.

In there Anti-Grav vehicles can basically drop down from orbits on their own but they can't really get back up on their own. So a technologically advanced or well equipped elite force could very well drop from low orbit using their combat vehicles, while the support part would use anti-grav lifting vehicles to land.

You then have lifting crafts with strong enough anti-grav and thrust engines than can lift containers and/or vehicles from the ground and up or down from orbit as necessary. These lifter would normally just be able to lift large containers and you probably have different types, anything from smaller ones able to lift a medium vehicle or squad to really large ones. The can either lift the vehicles themselves or large containers that can be reused and purposed for different types of cargo in a modular system.

Translating this to Aurora I would think that the proposed system would tailor this relatively well and perhaps you should make it much easier to land stuff than lifting them off the ground, especially anti-grav vehicles that actually can land from low orbit without any direct assistance for quick insertion into a hot combat zone.

You also could have a technology at what distance from a planet you can drop your troops from which you can advance as necessary.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Kytuzian on December 25, 2018, 09:26:46 AM
I’m attracted to Aurora, and I mind. I love the level of control we have over new ground forces, but sometimes you’re just adding complexity for complexities sake, and I think this is one of those cases. There is no fun for me in having to manually rebuild the shuttles for my dropships, because it’s not interesting, it’s just admin that I shouldn’t have to deal with.

To clarify, we already have dropships you can build to run from your carrier to the planet. I don’t think we need to design 10t dropships to fit inside our 1000t dropships.

I agree. I like Aurora, but building drop pods just seems tedious.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Marski on December 25, 2018, 09:41:11 AM
I don't mind.
I play aurora because it has the immense depth of detail that allows me to design my naval vessels and military facilities down to the smallest detail that allows me to run my nation and military forces however I want. You cut that away and its no longer aurora.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: King-Salomon on December 25, 2018, 09:54:41 AM
I would go with solution #2 - complet abstraction of small craft

I don't need small craft which has to be designed..

something I would say is "OK" would be some kind of "boarding torpedo" - which would NOT be designed but have a standard design, which would be stocked in magazines and used like missiles without launchers (included in the dropping bays) but could be restocked easily like missiles... each "boarding torpedo" could have a capacity of X tons, and the game would automatically reduce the needed # of them for the "drop" - after which the ship my restock at a collier...

not more micro for the player than missiles restocking...

but that would be a solution if something like small craft would be really wanted to - which I don't think is necessary...
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 25, 2018, 04:40:18 PM
I would support both proposals, since I really don’t want the micro of consumable shuttles. Your refined idea definitely seems like the cleanest solution to me.
I don't think the sort of people aurora attracts who go through the effort of learning to play it mind the micromanagement.

"It is Aurora" is not an excuse for bad design practices. If you introduce an element, there should be a meaningful decision attached to it.
If you must repeat it a hundred times, you should be able to schedule it automatically. Yes, Aurora has a higher level of detail than many other games, but these details should be meaningful, and not there for their own sake.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: QuakeIV on December 25, 2018, 11:48:25 PM
I only want to design something it if it matters.  It seems to me personally that if a ship that can hold the desired number of troops in its bays reaches the planet, then it can somehow dump them out and go.  No need for further mechanics to let you disrupt the process.  Either the ships troop bay component is destroyed somehow (possibly as part of the whole ship dying) or it isn't.

I don't think it would be insane to say that at least for military hulls, they could simply enter the atmosphere briefly to unload near the surface before departing again, to justify how the troops got from orbit to the surface so quickly.

Should it take time to unload enough dudes for a full scale invasion?  Yes, that should probably only really be possible if enough of the orbital defenses have been knocked out to allow transports to wait around for a while and let everyone (relatively) peacefully and happily disembark over the course of minutes.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Conscript Gary on December 26, 2018, 02:24:23 AM
So, typical ships would require abstracted parachutes to combat drop troops, and shuttle bays/spaceports to load troops at a slower pace, because they have to stay in orbit.

What about fighter-sized transports? They're able to land directly on the surface of the planet, below the reach of STO weapons. The ability to load/unload directly when they're down there would make for an interesting dynamic in case of evacuation.

The ability for all troop bays to drop from orbit regardless is probably the best way forward besides that odd little edge case though.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 26, 2018, 02:54:07 AM
Will we be able to split up a formation over multiple ships?

For drop ship designs there still seem to be two design strategies, either fast to dodge or heavily armored and shielded to survive the drop. A small fast ship will not have much cargo capacity, likely smaller than a single formation. A 3000t drop ship can maybe have 1000t cargo capacity, which are only 250 infantry.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Retropunch on December 26, 2018, 04:16:28 AM
I definitely feel the standard should be drop pods with shuttles for pickup (which is extremely dangerous under fire). It makes sense and provides more risk to the player.

In terms of drop pods, I like the idea of 'ammunition' - this could improve with tech (better avoidance of missiles etc.) and need restocking but wouldn't require actual management. It'd just be a case of tech improvement and making sure you were stocked up. I'd make it cheap and abundant (enough for two drops per ship for instance) but scarce enough that you can't just endlessly drop without resupply.

Similar to what Scandinavian said, it'd probably be a good compromise to limit drop pod usage to infantry and light/medium vehicles, with shuttles used for heavy/ultra-heavy (or set a ton limit). This would give players the best of both worlds, as they have shuttles for the 'heavy hitters' which still need upgrading/monitoring whilst the majority is done through drop pods.

Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 26, 2018, 06:31:36 AM
Will we be able to split up a formation over multiple ships?

For drop ship designs there still seem to be two design strategies, either fast to dodge or heavily armored and shielded to survive the drop. A small fast ship will not have much cargo capacity, likely smaller than a single formation. A 3000t drop ship can maybe have 1000t cargo capacity, which are only 250 infantry.

You can't split a formation across multiple ship (same as VB6), but you an create much smaller formations if desired and then assemble them on arrival. However, given the likely size of most formations large ships are likely to be the norm (which is why I have made all the bays commercial systems). There are likely to be three main class of troop transport. Normal bays on ships with minimal armour, intended for general movement of troops or delivery to combat zones with no STO threat, The more expensive Drop Bays on heavily armoured transports, intended for opposed landings, and fast, probably naval-engined ships, equipped with boarding bays.

Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Garfunkel on December 26, 2018, 06:44:57 AM
I also support that the instant, or near-instant, drop pod/grav chute deployment is restricted to infantry and light vehicles, or a tonnage limit that can be improved via technology to some extent.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 26, 2018, 06:50:07 AM
I also support that the instant, or near-instant, drop pod/grav chute deployment is restricted to infantry and light vehicles, or a tonnage limit that can be improved via technology to some extent.

This is an interesting idea. However, the primary use of large armoured formations would be planetary assault, so if you can't get them to the surface of well protected (by STO) planets, they may not be worth building. STO units are probably going to be rear echelon and therefore difficult to kill. The best way to kill them will be breakthroughs and the best type of unit for that is armour.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Retropunch on December 26, 2018, 09:29:01 AM
I also support that the instant, or near-instant, drop pod/grav chute deployment is restricted to infantry and light vehicles, or a tonnage limit that can be improved via technology to some extent.

This is an interesting idea. However, the primary use of large armoured formations would be planetary assault, so if you can't get them to the surface of well protected (by STO) planets, they may not be worth building. STO units are probably going to be rear echelon and therefore difficult to kill. The best way to kill them will be breakthroughs and the best type of unit for that is armour.

I'd imagine it more that it's costly to drop the large armour formations (armoured drop ships etc. needed) whereas for the majority of the lighter stuff (which is less useful) it'd be instant and cheap to do (with little micromanagement).
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: chrislocke2000 on December 26, 2018, 12:24:25 PM
I quite like the idea of abstracting the drop through small anti-grav units or whatever and with having larger units dropped by shuttles but there is only any point in that if the shuttles can be targeted. Also allowing people to get troops on the ground without loss on that landing phase feels a little wrong to me.  I wonder if there needs to be a drop phase in combat that last for one 3 hour cycle when the ground forces with STOs or anti aircraft capability are able to engage the troops being dropped?

Also the one other thing I'm not sure about is the ability of attacking forces to deliver their forces at any range other than in orbit. I was hoping to be able to have some ships stand off from the planet and still deliver both troops and air cap fighters to the surface. That feels like it needs shuttles to achieve.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Marski on December 26, 2018, 01:33:46 PM
I would support both proposals, since I really don’t want the micro of consumable shuttles. Your refined idea definitely seems like the cleanest solution to me.
I don't think the sort of people aurora attracts who go through the effort of learning to play it mind the micromanagement.

"It is Aurora" is not an excuse for bad design practices. If you introduce an element, there should be a meaningful decision attached to it.
If you must repeat it a hundred times, you should be able to schedule it automatically. Yes, Aurora has a higher level of detail than many other games, but these details should be meaningful, and not there for their own sake.
Command: Modern Naval Air Battles has invidual helicopters as something you can micromanage if you want to. But you dont need to, since the game has a extensive system to streamline multi-phase tasks with conditions. Maybe Steve should take a look at how they do it?
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 26, 2018, 02:02:34 PM
I quite like the idea of abstracting the drop through small anti-grav units or whatever and with having larger units dropped by shuttles but there is only any point in that if the shuttles can be targeted. Also allowing people to get troops on the ground without loss on that landing phase feels a little wrong to me.  I wonder if there needs to be a drop phase in combat that last for one 3 hour cycle when the ground forces with STOs or anti aircraft capability are able to engage the troops being dropped?

Also the one other thing I'm not sure about is the ability of attacking forces to deliver their forces at any range other than in orbit. I was hoping to be able to have some ships stand off from the planet and still deliver both troops and air cap fighters to the surface. That feels like it needs shuttles to achieve.

You won't necessarily get troops on the ground without losses. The troop ships will be engaged on the way in and in orbit. You have to end the increment before the drop in orbit, so short-range defences will engage them. Also, you probably take fire during the approach to the planet, so troops could easily be lost in the bays.

There is nothing to prevent building a large carrier that stands off from the planet and dispatches smaller ships to make the actual drop, although if you want to do that with larger formations you will need to split them and recombine on landing. However, I suspect that large, well-armoured ships will be the best option because of the benefits of large size on armour protection. Plus you can also send in escorts to engage the defences or missiles to keep any point defence occupied. In fact, with a large enough armada, you might even get boarding ships close enough to launch against orbital bases.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Conscript Gary on December 26, 2018, 03:22:23 PM
Yeah, with things as they stand now the stages of an orbital invasion from the perspective of the ground forces/transports is:


Thoughts from this:
Any orders where fighters can transition from being space-based to being ground-based should take longer than a single increment to perform, or have some sort of cooldown, so you can't just hop out of atmosphere to blap someone and then retreat back instantly without facing return fire. I'd be in favor of the former, so that it rewards cases where an empire saw a threat coming from farther away and could scramble the fighters sooner.
Should AA fire be able to oppose the actual landing process between a transport performing the drop order and the troops arriving on the ground? Even if it's just long-ranged AA, that might add a bit more play to things.


And then the other situation of concern here, an evacuation of ground forces.


Thoughts from this:
Should AA be able to oppose the loading process too? Shooting cargo shuttles out of the sky, and whatnot. For that matter, should fighters on CAP be able to do the same thing? Should they be able to interdict loading of normal cargo as well?
Opposed troop loading is going to incur a lot of opposition if you haven't taken out STO assets, but that's fair enough. It's also possible to design ships specifically for rapid troop pickup by using multiple shuttle bays, so this might actually end up with some interesting gameplay depth.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the ability for fighter-sized transports to actually land on the planet's surface should allow for loading and unloading troops without need for a Cargo Shuttle Bay or drop bay, and allow them to do so on the ground without taking fire from STS or STO elements. They should still be vulnerable to ground-based opposition during that process, but the ability to go all Dunkirk or Hoth seems like an interesting use of their capabilities.

My other 2c is that the drop bays shouldn't have any restrictions in what they can deliver to the surface. Yes, not even for superheavy vehicles or static fortifications. Even if it seems a little silly, TN technology is capable enough to make it possible and perhaps more importantly if they aren't able to be dropped it's essentially impossible to reasonably use them in an invasion.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Retropunch on December 26, 2018, 05:45:27 PM
I second Conscript Gary (and chrislocke and others) desire for the planetary assault to be phased and have some level of risk/strategy to it. I'd mostly like to be able to set objectives for different troops and have them opposed at every step of the way (both on landing and on evac). In the face of invasion I imagine that everyone would be shooting whatever they could at the invaders all the time.

Really, the more agency the player has over things like drop type, target priorities and the like the better. I imagine a player might one to take out defences if they've got a second wave coming (but that would prolong the fighting as they wouldn't be taking a proper objective) whereas others might want to disable critical infrastructure even if they lose etc.

No need for more micro, just more general agency.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 26, 2018, 06:07:21 PM
Given the requests for more risk/danger for planetary assault, I am obviously not doing a good job of getting across the level of danger and likely loss for ground invasions with the current mechanics :)

Assume you have troop transport approaching a planet with STO defences. Lets also assume those defences are something like 25cm lasers (with the 25% range bonus for ground-based fire control). Given reasonable fire control tech (still early game), those lasers have a range of 320,000 km and a max damage of 16. Lets assume they fire every 20/25 seconds. So if your (commercial-engined) transports have a speed of perhaps 3000 km/s, they will be in range for almost four minutes (320k inbound, 320k outbound). While the drop is instant, getting to the drop point is not. If the ground-based lasers are smaller, the range is less but the rate of fire is higher. They could also be STO mesons or even particle lances.

If the assault ships survive the STO (or there aren't any), it would not be too difficult for the ships to drop their troops away from the hostile air defences (a planet is a big place). Air defence is for ground units facing attack, not for attacking ships in orbit and the assault ships would not drop their forces into the teeth of the hostile planetary defences. The difficult part (for delivery purposes) is getting the forces to the planet. The air defences are to combat hostile fighters flying at low level to avoid STO fire who are directly attacking the forces defended by those air defences.

I could impose some form of delay, post-drop to simulate the move-up of assault forces from their drop zones, but I don't think that level of detail is necessary.

Also, taking out the STO defences will require fighting your way through the defending ground forces as those STO units will be in rear-echelon. You can't decide to attack those specifically.

BTW the NPR in my test game is currently defending its home world with 48x turret-mounted twin 10cm lasers and 84x 25cm lasers, plus 24,000 infantry (plus supporting CAP, AT, etc.), 800 medium tanks, 800 Light AA Teams, 200 AA tanks, 360 towed artillery, etc.. The total transport size of the current home world ground forces is 555,000 (111 large transport bays). It has deployed formations each with 14x 25cm lasers and 8x twin turrets to two minor colony worlds, plus more supporting ground forces. It is also currently building more STO units than it has already deployed.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Arwyn on December 27, 2018, 02:53:12 AM
Actually taking into the account of contested landings, that might argue for a couple of options.

#1 The Drop Pod: A lot of these are based on power armor sci fi stories like Starship Troopers, Armor, and 40k. Individual drop pods (Starship Troopers) or squad sized or vehicle sized (40K). In all the fiction, these were used to drop on contested planets, and the pods were often disposable, and expected to take losses on the drop, hence the small size and large numbers.

The one thing with all the fiction, and this may be reflected in the builds of the ships, is that these pods take up a lot of space, since they are single use, the dropships carry large numbers of them. That in turn makes the forces smaller. In Starship Troopers, the MI troopers are classified as Raiders, so are more special forces that general infantry.

In the Starship Trooper example, the Troopships waited for local space superiority, or a window where STO was surpressed, and moved in to drop troops and then move off. They recovered troops via recovery boats (shuttles) after the drop troops had suppressed local defenses.

However, an argument could be made for drop pods for larger vehicles. Battletech allowed hot dropping non-jump capable mechs via disposable drop harnesses. That could be replicated, but the number of vehicles in Battletech was quite small, a battalion Battlemechs was only 36 mechs.


#2 Landing craft: This would be the other option, and arguably lower tech. This would be the classic Star Wars, and Starship Troopers movie type assault craft. Larger, armored, and reusable. This is what we are discussing above. You get to build shuttles to accommodate the size of the forces being dropped (squad, platoon, ect). Obviously big shuttles are a big target during a drop, so they are potentially expensive in terms of losses.

Of course, the Battletech example of landcraft, were the dropships. These are quite large, very tough, and intended to drop from orbit into enemy resistance. The downside is size, the smallest Mech dropships was 1720 tons. Now, the flip side to this is that the dropship style actually fits Aurora fairly well. They are NOT jump capable, but are carried in system and deploy when they have a reasonable chance of getting in. Almost all but the largest of them can land, or hot drop their vehicles if they cannot.

#3 Drop vehicles: Another FASA game related to Battletech was Renegade Legion. In that system, the mechanized forces could drop from orbit with minimal requirements. But all the majority of the vehicles were anti-grav systems. Infantry dropped in their individual squad vehicles except for leg infantry and special forces, who used drop pods. Mechanized formations could drop and recover themselves. Non-mechanized or non-grav units required shuttle lift assets to get them back to orbit.

What is interesting about the Renegade Legion argument, is that their forces in many ways mirror whats being discussed here. State of the art combat formations were grav based, very mobile, and included vehicles that provided most of the roles here, armor, artillery, AAA, and infantry carriers. Less sophisticated, or technical modern but CHEAPER legions still used wheeled or tracked vehicles as they were far easier to build and maintain. These units usually got assigned to garrison or police duties, which mirror some of the roles being discussed here.

So, to Marski's point above, you could used these systems to design the military you wanted by using a either the abstract (drop pods & recovery boats) or go for the armored dropships option, which could use the existing ship design rules.

This gives you the option to drop troops and vehicles. This makes it simple and abstract, but to counter this, I would suggest a MUCH higher cost in supply and maintenance since you are consuming all of those pods every time you drop. The would let you potentially build drop pod troopships quite large, but they are going to be brutally expensive to operate.

The armored lander option (Battletech dropship) gives you an option to build multiple sizes of combat landers, which are armored and equipped for combat, and could be built using the existing ship rules. Individually expensive, these are going to be cheaper in the long run from a maintenance and supply perspective, since your not consuming pods all the time.

I think those two options give folks the flexibility to build what they want, and gives some cost offsets and advantages to both options.

Or, if you want to go for more handwavium, you can make a sufficiently high tech armored forces "self drop" capable like the Renegade Legion formations.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: King-Salomon on December 27, 2018, 03:40:26 AM
BTW the NPR in my test game is currently defending its home world with 48x turret-mounted twin 10cm lasers and 84x 25cm lasers, plus 24,000 infantry (plus supporting CAP, AT, etc.), 800 medium tanks, 800 Light AA Teams, 200 AA tanks, 360 towed artillery, etc.. The total transport size of the current home world ground forces is 555,000 (111 large transport bays). It has deployed formations each with 14x 25cm lasers and 8x twin turrets to two minor colony worlds, plus more supporting ground forces. It is also currently building more STO units than it has already deployed.

looking at this the question for me is not to make assaults even more dangerous but if an assault is really worth the trouble at all...

would all STO's be able to shoot at the attacking craft Steve? or only a % of them because of the planetary curvature? if - this early in your game - the NPR is still increasing the STO's I don't want to think about what numbers they have when you could attack them.. that's what? the equivalent of 20-30 "old" PDC's and much harder to kill as "old" PDC's too?

I still say that it should benefit to go with the trouble to assault a planet at all... hmm...

looking at the numbers, I would guess size 1 missiles will be the weapon of choice to overhelm the planetary defenders point defence at the beginning... hmm.. back to the planing board...
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: DIT_grue on December 27, 2018, 03:44:48 AM
While I think the recent arguments for a distinction between light ground units able to be dropped and heavy vehicles that have to be landed have already been answered well, I am no longer able to resist referencing Rule 11 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlock_Mercenary#The_Seventy_Maxims_of_Maximally_Effective_Mercenaries): "Everything is air-droppable at least once." Also, another fiction example of very large tanks being dropped from orbit - Bolos.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Conscript Gary on December 27, 2018, 03:55:51 AM
Well, remember that you have options for suppressing STO fire before you send your troops in- even without any boots on the ground, beam orbital bombardment will be far more accurate against them, and using missiles on them will just just as effective. Even if an enemy holds their STO assets from firing until you're within range, that still reduces the total time you're under fire- and opens them up to counterfire by any bombardment ships you brought along as escort.

Planetary assaults against intact defenses being very lethal is only an issue if there's no counterplay- as it stands, you can mitigate the opposition by firing on STO contacts as they pop up, increasing the speed and/or armor of your transports to reduce the time spent or time-to-kill, send in your transports in formation with other ships so STO assets are more likely to split their fire, simply send in enough transports to overcome the losses, or even sending in fighters on Search and Destroy to try and get lucky with hitting STO positions. If you do none of these things, then your force should have a bad time.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Garfunkel on December 27, 2018, 04:09:30 AM
I think people's opinions here are divided because we all have different ideas about what this should "look" like. Some think of the beach scene from Saving Private Ryan, others might think of the Klendathu drop in Starship Troopers the movie, yet others rely on books.

My opposition stems from the feeling that being able to eject basically unlimited numbers of troops in 5 seconds, and them have them be combat ready on the planet 5 seconds later, is silly. If only infantry and LAV were ejected like that and heavier vehicles and static units required unloading, then it counters that issue to some extent. But this isn't actually that massive of a problem, because I remembered that:

a) the actual troop transport (ie ocean liner in WW2) is staying far away from the planet, and this is the comfortable vessel which has transported the troops from Earth
b) the landing ship (ie LCT or variety in WW2) is a sturdy, heavily armoured and fairly fast craft with the sole purpose of getting boots on the ground as quickly as possible

nothing forces us to make b) 500,000-ton behemoths, they can be as small as we want, we'll just need loads of them to deliver any meaningful amount of troops.

I'll probably use battalion-sized landing ships, then their ability to instantly eject troops from orbit to ground inside a single 5-sec phase doesn't make things too crazy.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: chrislocke2000 on December 27, 2018, 04:43:30 AM
Given the requests for more risk/danger for planetary assault, I am obviously not doing a good job of getting across the level of danger and likely loss for ground invasions with the current mechanics :)


Ok when you put it like that it is sounding pretty brutal on the planetary assault options especially when the attacker has to wait for the STOs to fire before they can specifically target them! A couple of thoughts:

- It looks like long range lasers will be the weapon of choice for STOs to prevent hostiles moving to a sniping position to bombard them. Do you see the use of Railguns or other weapon systems for STOs being particularly viable?

- The level of logistics going into a planetary attack looks like it will be huge once you factor in the troop transport and ammo transport requirements plus the additional ships for escort duty etc. Any concerns this level of requirement is going to tilt the game further towards resource management and production growth with less military action as a result?



Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Conscript Gary on December 27, 2018, 04:55:08 AM
Also, even if the ground forces are instantly considered to be on the ground they'll still likely be waiting a few hours for the combat increment to actually happen.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: King-Salomon on December 27, 2018, 05:09:03 AM
I think people's opinions here are divided because we all have different ideas about what this should "look" like. Some think of the beach scene from Saving Private Ryan, others might think of the Klendathu drop in Starship Troopers the movie, yet others rely on books.

Guess that's right on the money...

it would be much less confusion if we could say "OK, the whole ground-combat and assault system is based on XY-Fiction/timetable...

historical based ideas don't work in 3D space related thinking (D-Day would never have worked if the allies forces could be bombarded/had to fight ALL the German defences in whole of Europe at the tiny place in Normandy.. something we face as all STO's on the planet can fight the attacking forces and not only 1-5% as may be the case in a WW2 scenario.. so the "old thinking" about "the defender has the advantage of dug in while the attacker has the advantage to choice when, where and with how many forces he attacks" don't work... so the "main advantage" of the attacker that the defender has to defend ALL the places the attacker COULD attack is not true...)

WH40k in itself is not logical all the time (even a escort-class ship weapon is able to flatten whole cities in 1 lance-shot [at least in some books] without opposition posible...)....

Honorverse is Newton-based and so no base for space-to-ground-attacks at all as the planet "will capitulate" after the space defences are destroyed (as you could just send a object balistic with near c-speed and kill all live at once  ...)

Starship troupers is a good one and easy one (film not book) but too basic and "flat" for the deep Steve is aiming for...

etcpp

guess it would be easier if Steve would say "OK, THAT fiction is my goal with some modifications" ... but as the system will be a mix of all kind of books/films/ideas etc everyone will have other ideas "how it should look" ... so.. you are right :)
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 27, 2018, 05:25:06 AM
You won't necessarily get troops on the ground without losses. The troop ships will be engaged on the way in and in orbit. You have to end the increment before the drop in orbit, so short-range defences will engage them. Also, you probably take fire during the approach to the planet, so troops could easily be lost in the bays.

There is nothing to prevent building a large carrier that stands off from the planet and dispatches smaller ships to make the actual drop, although if you want to do that with larger formations you will need to split them and recombine on landing. However, I suspect that large, well-armoured ships will be the best option because of the benefits of large size on armour protection. Plus you can also send in escorts to engage the defences or missiles to keep any point defence occupied. In fact, with a large enough armada, you might even get boarding ships close enough to launch against orbital bases.
Steve, can you at least try to implement large formations being loaded onto multiple ships at least as long as they are in the same fleet? Having to do extensive recombinations seems awkward, and the viability of small landing craft should live or die with their survivability, not the patience to restructure units.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Zincat on December 27, 2018, 05:40:51 AM
I am ok with planets being very hard to conquer. I do however have a question. I apologize if it's already been written somewhere and I missed it / forgot about it. In my defense, there's a lot of topics and posts in this forum by now :)

How likely are we to actually have a workable idea of what we are going to face during an invasion? Will espionage tell us more or less in detail in Aurora #? Will a lot of espionage be needed for that?
I assume that's the case, I just want to be sure. Because a blind invasion sounds like a really, really bad idea ;D
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 06:14:03 AM
You won't necessarily get troops on the ground without losses. The troop ships will be engaged on the way in and in orbit. You have to end the increment before the drop in orbit, so short-range defences will engage them. Also, you probably take fire during the approach to the planet, so troops could easily be lost in the bays.

There is nothing to prevent building a large carrier that stands off from the planet and dispatches smaller ships to make the actual drop, although if you want to do that with larger formations you will need to split them and recombine on landing. However, I suspect that large, well-armoured ships will be the best option because of the benefits of large size on armour protection. Plus you can also send in escorts to engage the defences or missiles to keep any point defence occupied. In fact, with a large enough armada, you might even get boarding ships close enough to launch against orbital bases.
Steve, can you at least try to implement large formations being loaded onto multiple ships at least as long as they are in the same fleet? Having to do extensive recombinations seems awkward, and the viability of small landing craft should live or die with their survivability, not the patience to restructure units.

I really don't want to go down that route due to potential complexities. Given the large differences in sizes of different units (5 tons to 500+ tons) and the possible combinations of different landing craft sizes in the main fleet, the code would need to figure out the best way to load them all, then keep track of the split (using a new type of sub-formation) and display that on the UI. Plus what happens if the fleet splits (either voluntarily or due to damage)? Do those sub-formations in the split-off fleets become new formations?

One of the goals with C# Aurora is to make large ships more viable and I think this area is one where large ships will actually have an advantage. For example, here are three designs using tech from my current NPR (my very off-the-cuff designs).

This is a very simple military-engined landing craft with 400 tons of capacity and 24 points of armour

Landing Craft Small class Troop Transport      955 tons       29 Crew       159 BP       TCS 19    TH 128    EM 0
6701 km/s      Armour 3-8       Shields 0-0       HTK 4      Sensors 0/0/0/0      DCR 0      PPV 0
Maint Life 0 Years     MSP 0    AFR 190%    IFR 2.7%    1YR 25    5YR 376    Max Repair 32 MSP
Troop Capacity 400 tons     Drop Capable   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG 
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Morale Check Required   

Magneto-plasma Drive  EP64 (2)    Power 128    Fuel Use 885.44%    Signature 64    Explosion 20%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 1.1 billion km   (44 hours at full power)

Another military-engined ship. This carries 12x more troops, has 6x more armour (152) and costs 4.5x more.

Landing Craft class Troop Transport      8,826 tons       79 Crew       707.2 BP       TCS 177    TH 544    EM 0
3081 km/s      Armour 4-38       Shields 0-0       HTK 27      Sensors 0/0/0/0      DCR 2      PPV 0
Maint Life 0.18 Years     MSP 100    AFR 312%    IFR 4.3%    1YR 549    5YR 8,231    Max Repair 200 MSP
Troop Capacity 5,000 tons     Drop Capable   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG 
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Morale Check Required   

Magneto-plasma Drive  EP272 (2)    Power 544    Fuel Use 53.69%    Signature 272    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 100,000 Litres    Range 3.8 billion km   (14 days at full power)

Finally, a large commercial-engined ship (which needs no maintenance and can be built in commercial shipyards), which carries 125x more troops than the small ship and 10x more than the medium. It has 3390 armour (which is 140x more than the small ship and 22x more than the medium). It could theoretically take 200 hits at point-blank range from 25cm lasers (assuming even distribution). It costs 44x the small and 10x the medium. Plus, every small or medium ship lost means troops lost as well, whereas you have to penetrate all the armour on the large ship before any troops are lost.

Haruna II class Troop Transport      127,890 tons       726 Crew       7,003.6 BP       TCS 2,558    TH 6,144    EM 0
2402 km/s      Armour 15-226       Shields 0-0       HTK 296      Sensors 8/8/0/0      DCR 1      PPV 0
MSP 34    Max Repair 200 MSP
Troop Capacity 50,000 tons     Drop Capable    Cargo Shuttle Multiplier 2   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG 
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months   

Commercial Magneto-plasma Drive  EP256 (24)    Power 6144    Fuel Use 3.54%    Signature 256    Explosion 4%
Fuel Capacity 350,000 Litres    Range 13.9 billion km   (67 days at full power)

CIWS-160 (2x2)    Range 1000 km     TS: 16,000 km/s     ROF 5       Base 50% to hit
Thermal Sensor TH1-8 (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km
EM Sensor EM1-8 (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km

A small, fast ship would be harder to hit for the large lasers (although not for the point defences), although any hit may be fatal and it is unlikely to be so much harder to hit that it compensates for the difference in overall armour and the incremental losses.

Mesons would be a problem for the large. In fact, TBH mesons are so dangerous in general I am considering either making them ruins-only or adding some restrictions (cue new thread :) )

Anyway, my point is that small ships are unlikely to have any major advantages over large ships (probably the reverse) once you take the comparative capacity, protection and cost into consideration, so I don't want to spend a lot of time coding something that probably isn't a good idea anyway.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 06:16:48 AM
I am ok with planets being very hard to conquer. I do however have a question. I apologize if it's already been written somewhere and I missed it / forgot about it. In my defense, there's a lot of topics and posts in this forum by now :)

How likely are we to actually have a workable idea of what we are going to face during an invasion? Will espionage tell us more or less in detail in Aurora #? Will a lot of espionage be needed for that?
I assume that's the case, I just want to be sure. Because a blind invasion sounds like a really, really bad idea ;D

ELINT can theoretically tell you about all the installations on the planet and you will know the total size of ground forces, modified by fortification level (so at the moment you will have to estimate how fortified they will be to determine the likely size). However, I will be adding some more intel options to give information about hostile ground forces (probably additional ELINT capabilities).
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 06:21:47 AM
BTW the NPR in my test game is currently defending its home world with 48x turret-mounted twin 10cm lasers and 84x 25cm lasers, plus 24,000 infantry (plus supporting CAP, AT, etc.), 800 medium tanks, 800 Light AA Teams, 200 AA tanks, 360 towed artillery, etc.. The total transport size of the current home world ground forces is 555,000 (111 large transport bays). It has deployed formations each with 14x 25cm lasers and 8x twin turrets to two minor colony worlds, plus more supporting ground forces. It is also currently building more STO units than it has already deployed.

looking at this the question for me is not to make assaults even more dangerous but if an assault is really worth the trouble at all...

would all STO's be able to shoot at the attacking craft Steve? or only a % of them because of the planetary curvature? if - this early in your game - the NPR is still increasing the STO's I don't want to think about what numbers they have when you could attack them.. that's what? the equivalent of 20-30 "old" PDC's and much harder to kill as "old" PDC's too?

I still say that it should benefit to go with the trouble to assault a planet at all... hmm...

looking at the numbers, I would guess size 1 missiles will be the weapon of choice to overhelm the planetary defenders point defence at the beginning... hmm.. back to the planing board...

All the STOs will be able to shoot at you.

In terms of whether it is worth assaulting the planet, you could try to destroy it instead but these ground defences are backed up by orbital bases (with AMM and more laser turrets) and those bases are also protected by the ground-based point defence, plus any mobile forces. Some form of siege is another option, but the NPR will continue to build while resources last. As I mentioned early in development, it is going to be a LOT harder to conquer a major planet.

If you do go in, you can send numerous large, well-armoured transports, plus warships and missile strikes to occupy the ground defences. You will take losses though.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Scandinavian on December 27, 2018, 08:25:28 AM
I really don't want to go down that route due to potential complexities. Given the large differences in sizes of different units (5 tons to 500+ tons) and the possible combinations of different landing craft sizes in the main fleet, the code would need to figure out the best way to load them all, then keep track of the split (using a new type of sub-formation) and display that on the UI. Plus what happens if the fleet splits (either voluntarily or due to damage)? Do those sub-formations in the split-off fleets become new formations?
My understanding was that fleets can already do this with their sub-fleets, as long as the player pre-designates the sub-fleets. (I may be rusty on this; I've always just doomstacked my fleets for greater PD synergy.)

Given that the ground forces also use a command structure hierarchy, wouldn't it be possible to let the player define sub-formations and provide a set of orders to "assemble all sub-formations (and their sub-formations) on this HQ," "break into sub-formations," or "break into sub-formations and keep breaking into sub-formations until you run out of pre-defined sub-formations or your current formation is no larger than [user defined at time of order] ton."

This would both give the player a way to flesh out their OOB, and remove much of the tedium of rearranging ground force formations to fit the scale of the operation you are planning. When back on the homeworld, your formations may be consolidated into corps or even armies to make it easy to view their deployment at a glance; while during active operations you probably want to break down below the brigade level to ensure that each element is in the correct operational stance.

As a bonus, it would provide scaffolding for possible future implementation of more granular "reinforce to template" or equipment upgrade operations.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 09:06:10 AM
You can't really break down into sub-formations and then reassemble, because there are no fixed templates. The formation template is for building purposes. Once built, you can add and remove units from formations without restriction. Plus, morale can be very varied formations with the same original template type.

Ground combat is going to be complex in terms of organisation even without sub-formations. You can still create very detailed OOBs though (see my German OOB below) and as long as your individual transports in a fleet have bays sufficient for the small formations, you can load the whole hierarchy with a single order.

(http://www.pentarch.org/steve/Screenshots/ExampleOOB.PNG)
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 27, 2018, 09:43:00 AM
Finally, a large commercial-engined ship (which needs no maintenance and can be built in commercial shipyards), which carries 125x more troops than the small ship and 10x more than the medium. It has 3390 armour (which is 140x more than the small ship and 22x more than the medium). It could theoretically take 200 hits at point-blank range from 25cm lasers (assuming even distribution). It costs 44x the small and 10x the medium. Plus, every small or medium ship lost means troops lost as well, whereas you have to penetrate all the armour on the large ship before any troops are lost.

Haruna II class Troop Transport      127,890 tons       726 Crew       7,003.6 BP       TCS 2,558    TH 6,144    EM 0
2402 km/s      Armour 15-226       Shields 0-0       HTK 296      Sensors 8/8/0/0      DCR 1      PPV 0
MSP 34    Max Repair 200 MSP
Troop Capacity 50,000 tons     Drop Capable    Cargo Shuttle Multiplier 2   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG 
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months   

Commercial Magneto-plasma Drive  EP256 (24)    Power 6144    Fuel Use 3.54%    Signature 256    Explosion 4%
Fuel Capacity 350,000 Litres    Range 13.9 billion km   (67 days at full power)

CIWS-160 (2x2)    Range 1000 km     TS: 16,000 km/s     ROF 5       Base 50% to hit
Thermal Sensor TH1-8 (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km
EM Sensor EM1-8 (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km

A small, fast ship would be harder to hit for the large lasers (although not for the point defences), although any hit may be fatal and it is unlikely to be so much harder to hit that it compensates for the difference in overall armour and the incremental losses.

Mesons would be a problem for the large. In fact, TBH mesons are so dangerous in general I am considering either making them ruins-only or adding some restrictions (cue new thread :) )

Anyway, my point is that small ships are unlikely to have any major advantages over large ships (probably the reverse) once you take the comparative capacity, protection and cost into consideration, so I don't want to spend a lot of time coding something that probably isn't a good idea anyway.

The commercial classified ship seems to strain the rules on military maintenance vs commercial. It is clearly a military design, and a drop ship would likely benefit a lot from shields, which classify it as military, but the heavy armor does not.
That seems like a very artificial distinction that goes against the spirit of the military vs commercial. If the issue is that you cannot build large enough drop ships otherwise, increasing the capacity of military shipyards seems the better option.
It seems exploity, like the old PDC hangars which somehow magically let you avoid maintenance.

EDIT: Were commercial designs not limited to 1 layer of armor, or am I now confusing something?
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 10:27:50 AM
The commercial classified ship seems to strain the rules on military maintenance vs commercial. It is clearly a military design, and a drop ship would likely benefit a lot from shields, which classify it as military, but the heavy armor does not.
That seems like a very artificial distinction that goes against the spirit of the military vs commercial. If the issue is that you cannot build large enough drop ships otherwise, increasing the capacity of military shipyards seems the better option.
It seems exploity, like the old PDC hangars which somehow magically let you avoid maintenance.

EDIT: Were commercial designs not limited to 1 layer of armor, or am I now confusing something?

Commercial has always been able to mount any amount of armour. Also, troop transport bays have always been commercial. In VB6, the much more compact combat drop modules are military, as they allow you to put the same ground forces in a much smaller space, with the downside that holding troops for more than one week caused morale problems.

In C#, the drop bays are the same as the normal transport bays in terms of capacity and ability to hold troops indefinitely. The only difference is that the 'drop bays' have the ability to open up and release all the troops at once, compared to unloading via cargo shuttles. I don't believe, given how similar drop bays are to transport bays, that having them commercial is "a very artificial distinction that goes against the spirit of the military vs commercial". Especially considering that CIWS, thick armour and even military jump drives are all 'commercial' systems.

'Commercial' in the Aurora sense was created to distinguish between those ships you need to maintain vs those you don't. In early versions of the game, you needed to maintain and overhaul everything, including freighters, colony ships, harvesters, troop transports, etc.. Eventually, the commercial vs military distinction was added so that you only had to maintain warships, scouts, gravitational survey ships and any other ships with military engines. It was assumed anything built without offensive weapons, capable sensors or naval engines was a 'commercial' vessel that did not require management of maintenance and could be built in commercial shipyards. The shields vs armour distinction was necessary so that commercial ships could operate in nebulae, but giving a ship armour does not really increase its maintenance requirement (whereas shields probably do) so it fit within the commercial side of the split anyway.

Making the new drop bays 'military' would mean they had to be maintained by maintenance facilities and built by naval shipyards, which is a far greater impact on the overall game. Changing the way naval shipyards work would affect even more. Of course, players can still build naval versions of troop transports with military engines and shields if desired. However, shields are better for long-drawn out combat where they have time to generate. Armour is probably superior in bang-for-buck terms for short-period, high intensity combat.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 27, 2018, 11:04:39 AM
I understand that commercial/military is mostly a convenience feature, for me the line just goes down "If it ever comes intentionally into harms way, it should be a military design anyway," which is clearly the case for a drop ship.
(In contrast to a non-drop troop ship which may load troops onto drop ships for a second run, which would be a good use for shields, since they can regenerate between runs)
It is a personal opinion, but when designing a drop ship, I don't want to think about if it qualifies for the very artificial commercial/military classification. For any other ship role, it is basically already given what it will end up as, which is the best way to "hide" such a convenience feature without breaking suspension of disbelief. The only exception that comes to mind is the geosurvey ship, which may end up commercial or military.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 11:51:35 AM
I understand that commercial/military is mostly a convenience feature, for me the line just goes down "If it ever comes intentionally into harms way, it should be a military design anyway," which is clearly the case for a drop ship.
(In contrast to a non-drop troop ship which may load troops onto drop ships for a second run, which would be a good use for shields, since they can regenerate between runs)
It is a personal opinion, but when designing a drop ship, I don't want to think about if it qualifies for the very artificial commercial/military classification. For any other ship role, it is basically already given what it will end up as, which is the best way to "hide" such a convenience feature without breaking suspension of disbelief. The only exception that comes to mind is the geosurvey ship, which may end up commercial or military.

It's not a convenience feature. It was the result of a lot of debate on the forums about maintenance micromanagement vs game play. The only game play effect of 'commercial' is flagging whether a ship needs maintenance facilities and naval shipyards. This cannot be done on an overall class design level, because you don't know what systems may go together or what purpose a player may intended for a design. There are also plenty of situations where unarmed 'commercial' ships are put to military use, including picketing, scouting, decoying, etc. and there are many times that 'commercial' troop transports are used to deliver troops direct to the battlefield.

BTW the same debate re maintenance also covered the differences between relatively small warships and large ships intended for industry, transportation or logistics. The decision was to have two different types of shipyard. In early versions there used to only be one shipyard type and freighters were the same size as warships. That was hard to accept, so as long as something had only commercial (easy to maintain) systems and had less powerful engines (commercial engines), it had less rigorous construction requirements and could be built in the new 'commercial' shipyards. This debate was about ten years ago and also moved shipyards from the surface into orbit.

If the flag was called 'Requires Maintenance & Naval Shipyard' vs 'Doesn't Require Maintenance & Naval Shipyard', would that be easier to accept without suspension of disbelief?
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 27, 2018, 12:55:40 PM
If the flag was called 'Requires Maintenance & Naval Shipyard' vs 'Doesn't Require Maintenance & Naval Shipyard', would that be easier to accept without suspension of disbelief?
Calling it a convenience feature is not exactly the best wording on my part. What I meant was that it is exactly as you said a choice about gameplay and micromanagement, and anchored entirely on game mechanic. The only in-world justification is high-maintenance vs low-maintenance, and for simplicity's sake there is no further graduation.

I very welcome the addition of commercial magazines and maintenance supply storage, which had been a weird point of "Why does a magazine cause my engine to fail" Similarly I very much like the new structural hull, that offers a clear choice between orbital platform and ship, not needing an orbital habitat for the completely different purpose of building it by construction factories.
What I meant for the most part, once you define a role, you automatically define military or commercial flag. Any decent sensors, any weapons, any high powered engine triggers it.

My suspension of disbelief is not threatened by the exact wording, but specifically by heavily armored commercial-flagged drop ships, since there are many systems I might reasonably add which suddenly make it military flagged.
Classifying drop modules as military modules would resolve the issue, but might require some other adjustment to not make landings impossibly hard. Limiting the armor to 1 layer would also do it.

I am very worried that the benefits of no maintenance will completely outclass any other possible drop ship design. There is every incentive not to experiment with adding weapons, adding shields, better sensors, because it would all make it a lot more expensive by breaking commercial status. That feels just sad. Yes, pure armor+drop module designs will preform good, and likely better than many of the complicated designs, but they at least won't be much worse, and thus people will experiment with them, but the expense of the shipyards and maintenance will block most of that off.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 01:22:34 PM
I am very worried that the benefits of no maintenance will completely outclass any other possible drop ship design. There is every incentive not to experiment with adding weapons, adding shields, better sensors, because it would all make it a lot more expensive by breaking commercial status. That feels just sad. Yes, pure armor+drop module designs will preform good, and likely better than many of the complicated designs, but they at least won't be much worse, and thus people will experiment with them, but the expense of the shipyards and maintenance will block most of that off.

OK, I can understand that concern. I think the underlying problem is two-fold. The new ground forces (and their logistics) are likely to take up a lot of space and planetary defences are going to be much more formidable.

You could still design some large military drop ships and the changes to maintenance actually make that easier in C# than in VB6 (easier to create the facilities - cost is the same). I could also look at making it easier to create very large military shipyards, probably by adjusting the bonus given to large shipyards (so no changes early on but accelerating benefits later). However, having said that, I think the opportunities for ingenuity in overcoming planetary defences will be a combined approach from supporting warships of different types, fighter missions, suppression by missiles, etc. rather than the design of the drop ships themselves. The mission is escorting/supporting those transport ships to the drop point, rather than necessarily having complex transport ship designs.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Jorgen_CAB on December 27, 2018, 05:26:19 PM
I must say that I don't like how commercial designs cost nothing to maintain. I agree that you should not need maintenance supplies and do overhaul on them but you could very well add a wealth cost to them, one you have to pay each 5 day cycle no matter where they are. But this is not the main discussion soo...

I do think that having this sort of "artificial" rather big difference in cost/maintenance will make the choice of design very hard and in favor of commercial drop ships only. The cost of military ships are astronomically more expensive. There are no military equipment you could not put on an escort ship to follow the drop ships that would make it worth using military drop ships.

I'm not saying this is a problem, but it will make invasions from an economic standpoint allot easier.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 06:10:40 PM
I'm not saying this is a problem, but it will make invasions from an economic standpoint allot easier.

I agree on this point. However, if the transport ships were military, the economic impact of building the type of ground forces lift capacity you will need to invade a home world would be prohibitive. Even with commercial ships, easier is certainly not easy. The military investment will be in the forces required to beat back the defences, rather than the transport assets. That isn't to say that having a few specialised, large military assault ships is not a good idea, but they are probably not viable on the scale required when you need to land a million+ tons of troops.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Kurt on December 27, 2018, 07:08:21 PM
You can't really break down into sub-formations and then reassemble, because there are no fixed templates. The formation template is for building purposes. Once built, you can add and remove units from formations without restriction. Plus, morale can be very varied formations with the same original template type.

Ground combat is going to be complex in terms of organisation even without sub-formations. You can still create very detailed OOBs though (see my German OOB below) and as long as your individual transports in a fleet have bays sufficient for the small formations, you can load the whole hierarchy with a single order.


I edited out the picture for brevity. 

Steve - I have to say, I'm impressed as hell with this new ground combat system.  I am very eager to get my hands on it, and equally and concerned that I, as the Imperial Overload, will be making decisions involving individual soldiers.  In the picture you had granularity down to individual soldiers, right?  I'm very curious as to how that is working out, from a game-play overhead perspective?

Kurt
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: alex_brunius on December 27, 2018, 07:41:39 PM
I must say that I don't like how commercial designs cost nothing to maintain. I agree that you should not need maintenance supplies and do overhaul on them but you could very well add a wealth cost to them, one you have to pay each 5 day cycle no matter where they are. But this is not the main discussion soo...

I think this is an interesting point, and it's not a far stretch seeing how you already pay fuel for them and upkeep for alot of other things not military.

It could well be used as a balance to add some cost to large civilians fleets be that freighters/colony ships running stretched out supply lines, geo survey ships or large commercial invasion/troop transport/logistics fleets.

I like it.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 27, 2018, 07:55:15 PM
I edited out the picture for brevity. 

Steve - I have to say, I'm impressed as hell with this new ground combat system.  I am very eager to get my hands on it, and equally and concerned that I, as the Imperial Overload, will be making decisions involving individual soldiers.  In the picture you had granularity down to individual soldiers, right?  I'm very curious as to how that is working out, from a game-play overhead perspective?

Yes, individual soldiers and vehicles :)

Game play is relatively straightforward as you move around larger formations (there are a lot of ground-combat-related posts in the changes log that go into detail). You can set their position on the battlefield (front line attack, front line defence, support, rear echelon) and decide which formations are supported by other formations, orbiting ships and atmospheric fighters. Shots and casualties are at the individual level while morale is for all units of the same type in one formation.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 28, 2018, 01:56:13 AM
Steve, just for comparisons sake, how much warship tonnage did that NPR have to go along with the ground defenses? I am just trying to estimate the required build capacities.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 28, 2018, 07:38:18 AM
Steve, just for comparisons sake, how much warship tonnage did that NPR have to go along with the ground defenses? I am just trying to estimate the required build capacities.

It has about a million tons of warships. It is quite a large NPR with 1.5 billion population, 1100 construction factories, 56 research facilities, 245,000 tons of naval shipyard capacity and 1.1m tons of commercial shipyards.

It recently upgraded all its warship designs and is now building its first run of second generation ships. It can also upgrade its ground force designs, although it hasn't done that yet.



Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Tree on December 28, 2018, 08:59:28 AM
Are you going to let us spectate NPRs in C# as you talked about in another thread? Sounds fascinating to watch.
Can't wait to read about NPR vs NPR tests too.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Whitecold on December 28, 2018, 09:48:53 AM
Steve, just for comparisons sake, how much warship tonnage did that NPR have to go along with the ground defenses? I am just trying to estimate the required build capacities.

It has about a million tons of warships. It is quite a large NPR with 1.5 billion population, 1100 construction factories, 56 research facilities, 245,000 tons of naval shipyard capacity and 1.1m tons of commercial shipyards.

It recently upgraded all its warship designs and is now building its first run of second generation ships. It can also upgrade its ground force designs, although it hasn't done that yet.
If you want to drop roughly equal forces, 500kt of troops, and assume your drop ships survive 3 runs, and assume your drop ships carry 50% of their tonnage, you need 300kt of dropships.
That would be currently 30% more military tonnage, but then again an equal sized empire should likely not be able to easily make that effort to conquer a homeworld. Every other colony will be much more lightly defended.
That is a tall order, but by no means infeasible. Putting on shields or using military engines will increase survival rate a lot, as double the speed means half the time under fire even without any lower to-hit chances from going above tracking speed, but maintenance and ease of building would likely still outclass any higher performance, which seems sad.

I think a buff to naval shipyards would make invasions possible, and simultaneously help larger ships, which seems to be a separate goal of C#.
Alternatively, increasing the cost of ground units some would decrease total formation sizes, and thus reduce transport requirements for invasions.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Steve Walmsley on December 28, 2018, 10:36:51 AM
Are you going to let us spectate NPRs in C# as you talked about in another thread? Sounds fascinating to watch.
Can't wait to read about NPR vs NPR tests too.

The next campaign should be two NPRs, with jump ships and one without, and a TN player race, plus Precursors and Swarm active. My focus at the moment is the code to make that new campaign happen.
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: TMaekler on January 23, 2019, 06:44:45 AM
I must say that I don't like how commercial designs cost nothing to maintain. I agree that you should not need maintenance supplies and do overhaul on them but you could very well add a wealth cost to them, one you have to pay each 5 day cycle no matter where they are. But this is not the main discussion soo...

Maybe Steve can make commercial ships also cost maintenance. Let me explain.
Every ship of commercial size or specification does have maintenance supplies. Those are drained during flight time, but at a (very) low rate. Every time they do arrive at a port which has maintenance supplies, they auto refill their stockpile. So normally commercial ships shouldn't ever get into trouble of running out of maintenance supplies - other than if you are careless enough having them never show up at a port with supplies. Thinks breaking apart should only be checked by the game if a commercial ship runs out of supplies.

This could serve the point of having commercial ships also cost supplies as well as not increasing micromanagement by much. You generally have to pay attention that you have ports in the queue which have maintenance supplies and have them produce enough. It would even be possible to give those ships a general order "if maintenance < 10%" go refuel at nearest supply depot; if they don't drive on a route which has supply refuel in them.

And for ships without an engine one maybe can create a maintenance supply ship which can deliver to those ships maintenance supplies with an automated commmand. Something like "Check all fleets in system if they have >25% maintenance supplies. Íf not restock them."
Title: Re: Dropping Troops from Orbit
Post by: Jorgen_CAB on January 23, 2019, 04:16:39 PM
I must say that I don't like how commercial designs cost nothing to maintain. I agree that you should not need maintenance supplies and do overhaul on them but you could very well add a wealth cost to them, one you have to pay each 5 day cycle no matter where they are. But this is not the main discussion soo...

Maybe Steve can make commercial ships also cost maintenance. Let me explain.
Every ship of commercial size or specification does have maintenance supplies. Those are drained during flight time, but at a (very) low rate. Every time they do arrive at a port which has maintenance supplies, they auto refill their stockpile. So normally commercial ships shouldn't ever get into trouble of running out of maintenance supplies - other than if you are careless enough having them never show up at a port with supplies. Thinks breaking apart should only be checked by the game if a commercial ship runs out of supplies.

This could serve the point of having commercial ships also cost supplies as well as not increasing micromanagement by much. You generally have to pay attention that you have ports in the queue which have maintenance supplies and have them produce enough. It would even be possible to give those ships a general order "if maintenance < 10%" go refuel at nearest supply depot; if they don't drive on a route which has supply refuel in them.

And for ships without an engine one maybe can create a maintenance supply ship which can deliver to those ships maintenance supplies with an automated commmand. Something like "Check all fleets in system if they have >25% maintenance supplies. Íf not restock them."

It would be no more problematic than making sure they have enough fuel to get where they need to go.  ;)