Hi and a question

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Hi and a question

Postby teinedraig » Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:03 am

Hi,

I have been lurking and following the development thread for awhile.

I very interested in the new version, having played the prior version for quite awhile before RL interceded.

From what I have seen so far it looks excellent - which leads me to my reason for this post ...

I was wondering - when will the next progress update be :)

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Postby Charles Lewis » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:13 pm

That stoopid real life has been intervening again, but I'm working on the next update and hope to have it posted by the end of the week. :)
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Postby teinedraig » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:49 pm

Thanks for the update - RL always gets in the way of the fun ;)

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:24 pm

You can blame me -- I have been busy, too, so rules development has been slowed a bit on this end. Since Jay and Charlie both have been overwhelmed, responsible has fallen on me to be creative and get rules formulated and written.

Luckily, we just more or less finalized the tech system, which just leaves writing up the rules. So Charlie should be able to get a Diary report out about those in a week or two to tantalize players with :)
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Postby HairyHeretic » Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:40 pm

Would it be possible to get an idea of how you're doing tech now, or is that all under wraps at present?

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Postby teinedraig » Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:59 pm

I second that request :D

The new tech system hinted at sounds excellent.

As a question - will you tie some tech to racial attributes - I am thinking things like modeling tech such as living ships, etc.

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Postby Charles Lewis » Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:57 pm

The next dev journal will go into detail on what will then be the current iteration of the new tech system. It has changed several times since we started.

The short, thumbnail sketch, is that there will be unit SIZES. A unit's size determines the total mass of stuff that can built-in from basic DV, AS and AF numbers to special abilities like cloak or EW or cargo. A frigate might be SIZE 1 or 2, for example.

The system will be pretty straightforward for the main 2E rules. However, the intent is to have a follow-on Engineering Manual that will greatly expand the tech rules and allow for racial-specific tech and so on.

We want to try and get a solid design system that is relatively munchkin-proof up and running before we expand it (and potentially complicate it) too much. ;)
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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:05 pm

Adding a bit more "meat" to Charlie's overview, players will be able to research from a list of technologies, mostly unit stats (Defense, Anti-Ship, Anti-Fighter, Command, etc.) but there will be some other tertiary technologies also available for research (Shipyards and other facilities).

Each empire will have a list of technologies that it has researched, with each technology rated by its Tech Level (TL). When a new technology is unlocked it begins at TL 0, and the player can spend Tech Points (produced by colony-based Tech infrastructure) to increase TLs. The maximum TL for each technology is 10, representing complete mastery of that concept. We may allow TL 11+ research in the Engineering Manual.

Now, what does the TLs mean? When you unlock a stat-based technology, which gives you TL 0 in that tech, you are able to purchase it at its listed cost. This cost is halved for every 5 TL you possess. This means that Anti-Ship, which has a Mass Cost of 50 at TL 0, would cost 25 at TL 5 and 13 at TL 10. This halving effect allows tech advancement to be useful while ensuring that empires with TL 10 in a field are only four times as efficient as at TL 0. For game balance purposes, this allows a player that falls behind 1-2 TLs to still retain some parity, but there is still a major difference in ability between empires with greater tech disparities.

For non "Equipment" technologies, such as Shipyards, the TL bonus will either reduce Construction Costs *or* (and more likely) define the efficiency of the unit. In the latter case, an empire with TL 3 Shipyard technology would have 4 Docks (TL + 1) per Shipyard. That would mean that empires with better Shipyard tech would be able to make more efficient use of their Shipyard capacities.

The cost of techs will end up being tied to both the TL being research and an empire's total population (Census) value. I will let Charlie cover that in more detail in his next design journal, but suffice it to say that the idea is to make sure that larger empires pay a bit more for their tech development because of their "social momentum" which will make it harder for new inventions to be adopted. And, beyond the fluff, it also allows small empires to still have the possibility of keeping pace with some larger opponents, or more properly so that large empires can't just use their superior economies and Tech infrastructure to completely outclass opponents (these situations lead to runaway victories, which is never fun).

As for the unit design itself, a brief summary:

Players start by choosing a Unit Size (SIZ), from 1 to 10. I have reengineered the original size spectrum so that SIZ 1 is a Corvette and SIZ 10 is a Superdreadnought. This gives us a lot of versatility for the types of units that most players will be building and deploying during an actual campaign. Support for larger Unit Sizes will probably be deferred to the Engineering Manual, just so that we can offer a more controlled experience in the Campaign Guide.

A unit's SIZ defines its Maximum Mass (how much stuff you can apply to it), its Command Cost, and (indirectly) its Construction and Maintenance Costs. SIZ is also used to determine how many Docks a unit will occupy when it is being built or repaired. In other words, it would take 3 Docks to build a SIZ 3 Destroyer, but only 1 Dock to build a SIZ 1 Corvette. (The Shipyards in 2E will be much more granular than those from 1E, as a result).

This creates a situation where your Tech Levels in the various technology fields will define the Mass Cost to add abilities to new units. Players with better tech will be able to either include more stats for the same Mass, or else build a ship at a lower Mass and a comparatively lower cost. How the rules are setup, too, even if going for a lower Mass will not decrease your Construction Cost, it *will* decrease your Maintenance Cost.

Another thing worth pointing out in relation to tech is that all units will be designed using the same basic rules. Flights and Aircraft (the ground equivalent to Flights) will follow these same rules, too, just with the caveat that their assigned SIZ values actually also define how much space they require to be based aboard other units.

As a live example of unit construction, let's assume that we are an early Interplanetary power and we wanted to build a simple space ship. We have TL 0 in Defense, Anti-Ship, Anti-Fighter, Command, and Engines (the relevant stats for this example). We don't have much going for us, and we just want to build a small ship to go check out the other planets in our solar system. For that reason, we are going to build a SIZ 1 ship (Corvette). This vessel currently has a Maximum Mass of 100, so we can't go over this total. If we plan on going anywhere, it will need Engines. Engines have a Mass Cost of SIZ x 20, so adding 1 Engine would cost 20 Mass. We'll do that.

Now, we probably also want a point of Defense so that we can take 2 Damage before being destroyed (ships with 0 Defense take 1 Damage to Destroy). Defense costs 50 (ed: yes, it should cost 75, but we are encouraging players to use Defense, and want to keep the main stats at 50), however, so we couldn't add Defense if we also wanted Command capabilities (Mass Cost 40). Luckily, we don't expect to ever have this unit in a combat situation, so we opt to forego Command in favor of Defense.

In the end we have a SIZ 1 Corvette with 1 Defense and 1 Engine for stats and nothing else. The Construction Cost will of course be low (1 EP), and based on its SIZ it would have a Command Cost of 1/2. The ship's total Mass is 70.

If we had wanted to add some Command Rating or weaponry to the ship, we would have had to bump it up to SIZ 2 (Frigate), which would give us a Maximum Mass of 200 to play with (note: Max Mass values aren't set in stone yet, and are subject to change).

Now, if we had TL 5 in these technologies, the Mass Cost for our ship would drop from 70 to 35. We could almost triple the stats and still get it to fit on a Corvette frame, or else we could throw on some Command and Anti-Ship or Anti-Fighter weapons to give the unit a reason to exist.

This is more verbose than I had intended. The overall effect of this unit design system is that all units (space and ground) are designed using the same basic rules, and that a player is free to pick and choose which abilities (called Equipment currently) he wants to add to the units. Tech advancement, especially from TL0 to TL 5, will have a substantial effect on Mass Costs, and TL 5 should be considered "average" for any tech.

One final thought: these changes go along with a general expansion of the traditional range of values for ship types in VBAM. Before, an average power might have a Heavy Cruiser with mostly 6's in its core stats. In 2E, this will increase to 10's. This provides us with a wider range of values, so that there can be greater differentiation between ships on the lower end -- corvettes, frigates, destroyers, etc. 1E had a problem with small ships being very difficult to differentiate from one another, especially when doing stat conversions from other sources. This increased range of values should alleviate some of these problems.
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Postby HairyHeretic » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:55 pm

Sounds interesting. I'll enjoy getting a look at it.

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Postby teinedraig » Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:44 pm

Thanks for the replies - that all sounds great :)

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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:05 am

teinedraig wrote:Thanks for the replies - that all sounds great :)


So far it has gone over well within the internal cabal, and no one has raised any heated objections. Hopefully it will work! Once I have the rules typed up in a semi-complete manner, I will go ahead and post them like we did the CSCR 2. That way players can start testing the system to see what works and what doesn't.
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Postby nys » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:10 am

Sounds very cool, but this part confuses me:

"Players with better tech will be able to either include more stats for the same Mass, or else build a ship at a lower Mass and a comparatively lower cost. How the rules are setup, too, even if going for a lower Mass will not decrease your Construction Cost, it *will* decrease your Maintenance Cost."

Does this mean that smaller, higher-tech ships are cheaper to maintain than large "simple" ships? I kinda figured it would be the other way around or roughly equal. Or perhaps I'm just reading it wrong. Perhaps having lower maintenance costs could be a technology all by itself? Looking forward to more details. :)

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Postby Charles Lewis » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:14 pm

I think, at this point, that the savings comes in from the miniaturization effects of higher tech levels, which would allow you to build the same effectiveness with less mass -thus the maintenance savings.

If you then fill that empty mass potential with more doo-dads, then your maintenance will go back up.
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Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:02 pm

nys wrote:Sounds very cool, but this part confuses me:

"Players with better tech will be able to either include more stats for the same Mass, or else build a ship at a lower Mass and a comparatively lower cost. How the rules are setup, too, even if going for a lower Mass will not decrease your Construction Cost, it *will* decrease your Maintenance Cost."

Does this mean that smaller, higher-tech ships are cheaper to maintain than large "simple" ships? I kinda figured it would be the other way around or roughly equal. Or perhaps I'm just reading it wrong. Perhaps having lower maintenance costs could be a technology all by itself? Looking forward to more details. :)


I can see the reason for confusion. All Units Sizes are assigned what could be called a "maximum Maintenance Cost", which is currently equal to SIZ / 10 (SIZ / 8 would be closer to my original notes, but with the scale change at the last moment it is just easier to drop Maintenance Costs a bit, but I digress). This means that a SIZ 2 ship will have at most a Maintenance Cost of 1/5, while a SIZ 7 ship will have at most a 7/10 (0.20 and 0.70, respectively, for those readers that are allergic to fractions). This Maintenance Cost is further modified by the amount of Mass actually used compared to the Maximum Mass for a unit of that SIZ.

If we assume a SIZ 3 Destroyer has a Maximum Mass of 400, then a DD at 300 Mass would have a Maintenance Cost of 300/400 * 3/10 = 9/40 (0.23). Meanwhile, a DD at 400 (Maximum) Mass would have a Maintenance Cost of 3/10 (0.30). Therefore, building a DD that uses less Mass will result in a lower Maintenance Cost.

(Pardon me if the above is a reiteration of something mentioned elsewhere in this thread; I just got back from Origins and am working on 2 hours sleep)

Now, going back to your actual question, the Mass Costs associated with unit abilities will decrease as an empire gains more technical skill in those areas (i.e., increases Tech Levels). Assuming all Tech Levels are the same, a TL 0 empire's unit that weighs in at 1000 Mass would decrease to 500 Mass at TL 5. This difference in Mass allows the player to build the ship as a unit at a smaller size that before. For the sake of argument, let's say that the TL 0 ship is a SIZ 6 Cruiser, and that this is the minimum SIZ hull that the player can use to build a ship of this SIZ. Now, at TL 0, the ship's new Mass (500) drops it down to the point that the player can build a unit with those same capabilities on a SIZ 4 Light Cruiser hull instead. At TL 5 the Maintenance Costs for these two options would be something like this (note: these numbers are rough guesses, pending further development):

CL: 4/10 * 500/600 = 1/3 (0.33)
CA: 6/10 * 500/1000 = 3/10 (0.30)

In this particular example, the player can build a CA version of this unit with a bit lower Maintenance Costs (albeit only 0.03 EP/turn less).

Now, compare this to the original CA from TL 0:

CA-old: 6/10 * 1000/1000 = 6/10 (0.60)

Comparing apples to apples, the new CA would cost half that of the old ship to maintain, thanks to the effects of miniaturization. The cost of the unit would also incidentally go down, too, because less Mass is being used.

I still think I am not answering your direct question, but my mental gears just aren't turning. The short, concise answer (given after the long, rambling one, incidentally) is that a high-tech power will have miniaturized technologies to the point that they can fit them into less space (lower Mass Cost) which will both reduce its Construction and Maintenance Costs. This means that a unit with the same characteristics/abilities at your current Tech Level will be superior to its immediate predecessor at a lower Tech Level. In purely practical terms, this means that "a cruiser is a cruiser is a cruiser." For some examples, this would mean that in a Babylon 5 campaign set during the Earth/Minbari War, the Earth Hyperion Heavy Cruiser might have costs associated with it that are very similar to that of the Minbari Sharlin War Cruiser, but the Minbari have a massive tech advantage and their "cruiser" is a much better fighting ship. Or, in Star Trek, the Constitution and D7 may have nearly equal Mass and costs, but the slight technical disparities between the two powers might mean that one ship would have a bonus to one stat, or a deficiency in another (+1 Defense for the Feds, +1 Anti-Ship for the Klingons, possibly).

All in all, after actually reading the post after yours, I think Charlie answered the question much more succinctly, and it seems to jive with what I have stored away in my brain.

It is worth repeating, too, that the difference in miniaturization between TL 0 and TL 10 is 4 times, which means that while a very low-tech empire would be up very untenable odds if assaulted by a TL 10 opponent, it could still conceivably put up a spirited defense. If it is at TL 5 ("normal" Interstellar tech level), then the difference is reduced to 2 times from 4, vastly increasing the odds that the inferior power will be able to hold its own against the superior force.
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Postby jygro » Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:07 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
Now, going back to your actual question, the Mass Costs associated with unit abilities will decrease as an empire gains more technical skill in those areas (i.e., increases Tech Levels). Assuming all Tech Levels are the same, a TL 0 empire's unit that weighs in at 1000 Mass would decrease to 500 Mass at TL 5.


First off, I hope you have gotten some sleep. Too bad I didn't get to hang out with you and Jay more. Another time I hope!

I do have a question why the amount of mass has to be tied to TL5 and TL10? Shouldn't mass requirements go down a little with every TL advance? My thought would be to have it slowly lower over time to give each TL a little something.

Using 0.9^TL*50, you get the following progression:

Mass: 50,45,41,37,33,30,27,24,22,20,18

It turns out the at TL 5, you are only at 30 (instead of 25 - 0.87 works for that), but it makes for an easy formula. If you hide the formula and just put the mass requirements in the book, you could make it so that TL5 is close to 25 and the like.

-Bren


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