Author Topic: New FTL Method  (Read 1305 times)

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Offline jatzi (OP)

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New FTL Method
« on: October 05, 2022, 02:09:34 PM »
I'm fully aware that this idea will likely get shot down by everyone but I was talking on the discord about this and people seemed to like it even if there are probably issues still to solve.  The idea is pretty basic, iirc there was something like this in the game before and someone said Steve also was messing around with something like this when toying with the idea of a Newtonian Aurora game. 

Basically it'd like a star trek warp drive or an Alcubierre drive.  Kinda leaning more towards warp as I think it poses less of a challenge to integrate into the game.  You could have the game generate nearby systems when you unlock the tech for the warp drive.  Then you get a choice about where to go when you want to make a jump, you pick a system and go.  Your ship would disappear for however long it takes to go to the system and reappear in the target system somewhere.  There could be a tech fine tuning where you end up, or how deep into the system you can jump into.  If you want to go the Alcubierre route there could also be tech for the distance from the home star you have to be before you can jump, that and the 2nd tech idea could be the same tech.  FTL speed could also be a tech.  There could also be tech limiting how many lightyears you can travel, navigational tech basically.  That'd prevent the game from having to generate every system at once so it could just be like exploring JPs.  Actually to be more like exploring JPs the game could just say hey there's a system here at this distance but that's all there is rn until you explore it. 

This wouldn't be concurrent with jump points in a game.  You would pick which one to use during game setup.  The issues I see with this arise from the time required to build this new system and teaching the AI to use it correctly.  Trying to have everything work with both systems might be hard.  For the Alcubierre idea I imagine you'd need fixed solar system positions relative to your starting system, something the game doesn't have right now I think since it's not really required for wormholes.  For a star trek style warp drive you don't really need it since you can just go to warp from anywhere to anywhere.  You just need the distance in light years from star to star which is part of the Known Stars data (correct me if I'm wrong there).  The game could also just make up a distance for that for a non-known stars game.

Thoughts? I know this isn't really a new idea and I am sure it won't really go anywhere but I thought I'd post about it anyways.
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Offline KriegsMeister

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2022, 05:09:05 PM »
I think it would only really work for a Known stars game, and rather than a random direction or chance to travel to another system you would actually just look at a list of nearby stars and choose which one to target. Maybe 2 tech lines for absolute speed and target list range.

Honestly would be a great system without FTL for doing generation ships, just using your current engine technology and making sure you have enough fuel and supplies to make it to the target system
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Offline stabliser

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2022, 07:55:43 AM »
If it worked similar to the way Jump mechanics work in Traveller RPG I'd be totally on-board, Incremental Tech levels that permitted jumps of between 1 and 6 parsecs, and significant fuel requirement for each jump. Each jump took a week. I doubt I'm even in a minority here with familiarity that system.
I'd even look for the option to switch off jump points/gates in settings if that was implemented, to really get the traveller vibe
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Offline Pedroig

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2022, 08:15:06 AM »
Mechanically what is the difference between OP proposal and what is currently in the game?  A delay on the transition? Without being able to change course underway, there isn't really a difference, the same "point" would still be arrived at from any singular origin, it would just create more "points" for any given system.  In other words, going from Sol to any other system PHYSICALLY would mean entering the target system at the same relative point every single time, because within a galaxy the stars at relative "rest" to one another within even a ten generational timeframe for humans.  It's not the same as orbital mechanics for intra-system travel (which the game doesn't model in the first place) it is much more "straight line shot" type of stuff once one leaves a star's gravity well.

Fun fact, don't even need a Warp Drive, accelerating a constant 1G puts one on the other side of the Milky Way in 12 years, one year to leave the Solar System, course that's only for the voyagers, everyone on Earth would be long dead by the time they arrived on the far side 113,000 years later.  That's assuming the ship doesn't hit anything along the way and avoids the big black hole in the center...
si vis pacem, para bellum
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Offline Garfunkel

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2022, 08:32:01 AM »
It's a terrible idea because it would require several new, complex mechanics to be created and added to the game. It made sense for Newtonian Aurora since Steve would have had to redo all movement and orbital mechanics and rules anyway.

Personally, I dislike having multiple FTL methods and I hated it in Stellaris, so I'm definitely biased and thus probably looking at it too harshly.

Offline nuclearslurpee

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2022, 08:33:27 AM »
Aside from the usual reasons of inertia, I think there are some very good reasons mechanically why this doesn't work in Aurora - or in Starfire before it, where this kind of thing was frequently proposed as well as I understand it. Basically, it is a nice idea from the perspective of exploration, but flattens the strategic and tactical interest of naval combat unless the game is designed from the ground up around this "free-FTL" system.

Strategically, if every system is theoretically accessible from every other system, or at least a larger subset of systems than just 2-3 jump points on average, then it becomes impossible to defend an empire of any significant size against an enemy attack as the attacker has the benefit of concentrating their fleet. Given two polities with roughly equal fleets, if each empire has to defend half a dozen worlds with ~1/6 of their fleet each (neglecting any smaller detachments for minor missions), then there is a massive advantage in attacking, ideally first and with surprise, by concentrating the fleet the attacker can destroy a substantial fraction of the defender's fleet in detail and seize or destroy 2-3 key worlds before the defender could respond. Being on the offensive becomes a massive, insurmountable advantage unless there are extensive mechanics in place specifically to counteract this. In contrast, with jump points that can be fortified and defended, defense remains the stronger form of warfare and the offensive side requires concentration of force to overcome this advantage, which produces a more natural strategic balance and ensures that the decision not to go to war remains valid instead of obviously subpar.

Tactically, without the choke points of a jump point assault, long-range combat becomes the dominant mode of space battle as there is simply no substitute for shooting at your enemy while they are unable to shoot at you. In Aurora terms (and for that matter Starfire), this means that missiles would be the dominant weapon, or they would be completely useless if point defense was strong enough to comfortably defeat missiles. Either situation greatly flattens the tactical landscape of the game. While in theory jump pojnt-centric combat can, and often does, push the balance in the other direction towards short-range weapons, in practice there are enough subtleties that it is not so simple and many different weapon types remain very useful; Starfire had various technological innovations like SBM-HAWKS to complicate warp point assault and defense, while Aurora has the clever Squadron Jump mechanic that can, at high enough tech levels, allow a fleet to jump away from defender beam range in exchange for spreading out the fleet and being vulnerable to missile strikes or pursuit and defeat in detail.

To be clear, I'm not saying that a warp drive-based FTL makes the game boring or simple, but what I am saying is that you need a robust set of mechanics designed to create interesting combat for that particular choice of FTL travel mode, basically which boil down to mechanics that preserve a reasonable advantage for the defenders and promote effective balance between different combat systems. There are lots of ways you could do that - which means lots of ways to make a cool and exciting game! - but it would require a lot of fundamental change to Aurora's basic mechanics, which means that warp drive FTL is simply not a good fit for Aurora specifically.
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Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2022, 07:59:03 PM »
While I don't think it might be possible or realistic to expect anything like this for current version of Aurora we know that Steve toyed with the Idea for both Aurora 2 and Newtonian Aurora so it would not be completely impossible sometimes down the line I suppose.

I probably don't agree that it necessarily would mean that the attacker always have the advantage more or less than it currently is. You could easily make planet defence more potent and dangerous, which means more force to take even small settlement are needed, this would put more valuable resources into attacking actual strong-points that is heavily fortified, just like how things work today with naval forces and invasions from the sea.

It also goes both ways, the attacker can not just attack and hope the defender is just going to sit there and take it and not launch their own counter attacks. A weaker opponent might just destroy your infrastructure instead of taking it, thus forcing you to protect it or suffer the consequences.

Then we have intelligence and surveillance that can and should be able to detect a military buildup and changes in logistical capacities, this should give clear indication something is about to happen so the other side have time to prepare for attack or a counterattack.

In reality we also have political forces that often are too overlooked in computer games. Politics and social strategic goals often override military strategies... this means that loosing something that might be militarily irrelevant can become completely disastrously critical from a political or social standpoint.

In many cases from history we can see large aggressor powers loose wars as they loose political will to continue the fight due to losses in military hardware, human life or simply that their own cities or areas become devastated where no one was prepared to sacrifice that much. A defender on the other hand might fight for their own existence and will be willing to endure allot more destruction in order to prevail.

In Aurora this is all role-play by the player, but it has to be factored into the design of the game. If all we care about is pure military goals, then you might make an argument about the "optimal" way to conduct a war... but this should rarely be the case in "reality" or when role-playing any type of conflict.

This is probably why I don't see why a more open ended system would pose a problem to the balance of defence or offence less than what it does in the real world, or even in the current game for that matter.

Beam weapons could still be important as missiles are a finite ordnance where beams are less so, beam weapons could also still be very important for planetary defence, where ships have to get close to do anything, you also need them to effectively bombard and defeat planetary defences, missiles might be very bad for this purpose for example. You just shift the value of the weapon a bit as there are no longer choke point in space to fight over.

I think there are solutions to all of the above issues no matter what FTL travelling system you use.

Personally I find a more free move system to be tactically more interesting. If you can't move too quickly between systems then defence will still be important in my opinion. One side that concentrate all their fleet in one place will take one system while someone that divide them in four will take three systems and avoid a fight on the one system they faced an over-match. In addition to this you also can have supply hubs and lines of communication be more important for fleet combat as well, that means those systems and/or planets needs to be protected, or an offensive is likely to fail.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2022, 03:31:40 AM by Jorgen_CAB »
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Offline xenoscepter

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2022, 12:39:12 AM »
 --- I'd prefer something that let's you jump either to sufficiently large bodies, like Gas Giants or Superjovians, but requiring a tech, ship component (in addition to a jump drive), and or officer skill to refine how precisely you can land in an intended area as well as how near to it you can get.

 --- Likewise the abiliy to have a considerable offset when jumping at points would make surveillance and mobile defense more useful without fully nullifying either the current defense strategies or making it too troublesome since they would be tied jump points.

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: New FTL Method
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2022, 06:46:21 PM »
--- I'd prefer something that let's you jump either to sufficiently large bodies, like Gas Giants or Superjovians, but requiring a tech, ship component (in addition to a jump drive), and or officer skill to refine how precisely you can land in an intended area as well as how near to it you can get.

 --- Likewise the abiliy to have a considerable offset when jumping at points would make surveillance and mobile defense more useful without fully nullifying either the current defense strategies or making it too troublesome since they would be tied jump points.

I would agree that we would need some way to detect incoming ships and roughly where they might appear. This could also differ between detecting an entire fleet or just a single ship or small versus large ships. There could be different types of jump engines with different qualities such as stealth, accuracy etc..

Some sort of technology that can limit the size of a fleet to jump into a coherent point into an enemy territory. Perhaps some technology to jump in some station or ship that can act as a homing beacon... these structures you would normally have in system to guide traffic and movement as moving without them is both slow, dangerous and inaccurate.

I think there are many ways you can accept more free movement but not make it impossible to detect enemy ships within reasons. There could be many interesting mechanics to interact with this to make it both interesting and asymmetric.