Open Playtest

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby Gareth_Perkins » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:56 pm

It might be easier for me to play a supporting character because I'm not too familiar with SD,
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Re: Open Playtest

Postby mwaschak » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:53 pm

We don't have to use SD either. It is just a setting we can easily emulate and we can see how closely it falls to the 1e baseline.

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby aelius » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:26 pm

I think SD would make a good setting to emulate, as long as it wasn't too close. I like civil wars, they're colorful.
Besides it means we only have to come up with one starting fleet. After the start both sides would of course be free to prototype new classes.
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Re: Open Playtest

Postby bzarhands » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:02 pm

I've just discovered VBAM (via Starmada), and I'm absolutely stoked to learn that such a game exists! :D

How are open playtests typically conducted (sub-forum, thread, email)? If possible, I'd be keen to monitor from the sidelines to see how a campaign plays out.

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:38 am

Glad to see things are getting off the ground. I will have an updated 2E draft out this Sunday, with the most substantial change being that units only cost half as much again. The mass unit formula is then Construction Cost x 2 x (1 + 10% x Tech Level). Testing while on vacation showed this was a necessity. Even if the numbers looked prettier with the higher costs, it did horrendous things to the economic system on the higher end, more or less making it impossible to build large ships at anything other than a homeworld.

I will include a general change log when I upload the new draft Sunday night.

I think it is a good idea to try for some sort of an established start for all of the players. I would probably recommend giving each player several starting systems, maybe about six total? Using the codified colony importance levels from the in-progress 2E draft, that could be 1 Homeworld, 1 Core World, 1 Colony, 1 Settlement, and 2 Outposts. That would give each player two good colonies, two that are average, and two that are poor but might show promise. You would then have to generate enough of a map to give the players enough room for their colonies, plus a little bit of breathing room.

If you created a map that put 2 rings of hexes around each homeworld and interlocked them, generated system stats, and then placed colonies accordingly for a fairly even start, that would probably be pretty fair. You could also adjust the number of colonies slightly if one player's starting position was too good or another player's was poor.

The amount of starting assets each empire has could then be tied to its starting position, with a total construction cost of non-starship designs equal to its total production capacity and a total construction cost of starship designs equal to its total shipyard capacity. Then give each player 5 x Colony Income to spend purchasing those units to place around their empire at the start of the game. It's probably best not to do exploration in this playtest and just have all of the systems explored and accessible, but then allow the players to fight over them.

As for emulating specific settings, you could do that, but it might be more fun for the playtesters to just create their own imperial personas and run with them and see where it ends up.

Iron Sky's comment about exploration does make me want to ask, though, if most of you would like to have the exploration and new empire activation rules be included in the Campaign Guide? You're a great cross section of players, and I'm interested if the exploration elements of the game are something that you all want to see in the core rule book instead of a separate book.
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Re: Open Playtest

Postby Iron Sky » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:50 am

I think an "undefined" setting is preferable since there's a good chance whatever setting is picked there will be someone who doesn't know anything about it.

As this is pretty much a pen-and-paper 4X game, exploration would seem to be key. It's always one of my favorite parts and once "all is known" the game loses some of its excitement for me. Especially since the majority of players are likely to be playing solo games due to the intrinsic difficulties in getting a group of players together much less getting them to stay committed.

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby mavikfelna » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:29 am

I agree with Iron Sky, I like exploration. Though I also love ship design.

I also know absolutely nothing about the stars Divided setting. :)

As for the playtest, It really depends on what this meant to test for the setup. If it's game balance, combat and tech, then the starting set of systems for each player should be identical and the interlinking system should be as evenly distributed with equal access to resources, jump lanes and opponents as possible. This is the type of playtest it sounds like you're looking for.

If you want to test the flexibility of the rules in general and the system development rules then a slightly more random start is called for.

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby Gareth_Perkins » Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:02 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:Iron Sky's comment about exploration does make me want to ask, though, if most of you would like to have the exploration and new empire activation rules be included in the Campaign Guide? You're a great cross section of players, and I'm interested if the exploration elements of the game are something that you all want to see in the core rule book instead of a separate book.

Ideally, yes,

Bu I don't think that they are critical if something has to be dropped - certainly I would try to lay the groundwork now though so they aren't a huge shock to the system when they arrive (NPCs where a huge lump of rules to swallow in VBAM 1e)
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Re: Open Playtest

Postby murtalianconfederacy » Sat Aug 20, 2011 11:42 am

I would like the exploration rules in the 2E CG, yes, if at all possible (as I am a solo campaign player, exploration gives me more options). However, as has already been said, if it gets moved to the CC in favour of something else, that's fine.
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Re: Open Playtest

Postby mwaschak » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:53 pm

bzarhands wrote:I've just discovered VBAM (via Starmada), and I'm absolutely stoked to learn that such a game exists! :D


Welcome! We are happy you could join us.

bzarhands wrote:How are open playtests typically conducted (sub-forum, thread, email)? If possible, I'd be keen to monitor from the sidelines to see how a campaign plays out.


These are going to be pretty open at the onset. Basically I am going to be developing what the playtest looks like here, and then divide any interested party in to teams. SD is the leader at the moment, but some of that will depend on what Noel will let us do with his setting after the great civil war :) . Otherwise I have a few ideas in the wings.

There will be exploration, but the key focus will be the galactic stage, whatever that shall be, to see how arms races, military operations, and diplomacy do well under pressure. Anyone who has played BK or in any of my Wing Commander games will get a feel for the kind of game I am shooting for. I am working on maps and source stuff at the moment and trying to get that right.

-Jay

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby mwaschak » Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:16 pm

Let me run a few thoughts by you. Right now I am trying to emulate the difference in carrier types in the tech system since it will be pretty important here soon. Let's take an example of the Federation of Terran Worlds vs their aggressive Fereni Empire neighbors (scratches serial numbers off for obvious reasons).

Late in the thirty year war the Terrans are falling behind in the carrier building race. They have better fighters, generally better pilots, and overall better tech (let's say TL 5), but they don't have the same population and economic might of the Fereni warlords. The Fereni can put more ships out at TL 4 and have the will to fight indefinitely. The Terrans generally build high end fleet carriers, but recently introduced an escort carrier design which can survive frontline duty. The main advantage there is that it can field high end two-man bombers with high ship killing capacity.

In classic VBAM 1E I would just have a Basing(4) carrier and make a setting rule that a carrier can't handle a specific fighter DV unless specified. So a Strike Carrier design could handle all the nice bombers, but the standard fleet carrier might only be able to handle medium (DV 2 or less) designs in most of the bays.

I have a few ideas, but wanted to get your thoughts.

Thanks,
-Jay

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby mriddle » Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:30 pm

I THINK Jay you may have hit on a tipping point on scale detail. Not knowing the number of "expected ships" in a game, leaves you with a couple options..

1) change the ship design model to allow two parameters when buying BASING.. number of fighters and max size of fighters. Because if all fighters are not the same size, then all BASING can not be the same size.

2) treat basing like cargo, and a basing 4 ship can carry 4 size 1 fighters or 2 size 2 fighters...(for me this causes "suspension of disbelief" issues, because a ship can handle 10 or even 20 single seat fighters, does not mean it can handle even 1 fighter twice that size, hull openings etc)

3) Make fighters organic with the ship design. ie a carrier class x can only carry 4 y class fighters... less flexible but clearer. (ie when you "buy the basing".. you are picking the fighter that goes in it) (this model may be worthwhile when the number of ships gets large.. you need only need to track the number of fighters on each carrier, because the type is know by the type of carrier)

4) Options 1 and 2 ASSUME that the issue is size, not some other issue.

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Re: Open Playtest

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:05 pm

For the particular setting that you're aiming for, Jay, it might make more sense to have the maximum construction cost of flight that a carrier can hold be equal to its command cost (min command cost of 1). A light carrier would then be restricted to 2 CC medium fighters, while larger carriers could hold bigger fighters. Not a good idea as a general rule, but it would work in a pinch for the playtest scenario that you're devising.

If these empires are supposed to have been in space and fighting for that length of time, too, I would probably start them at TL 10-15 instead. With the way that the tech level system was modified earlier this summer, TL 0 is really pretty limiting and you don't get to "normal" capability levels until TL 10. That creates a buffer zone between fresh interstellar powers and those that might have been around for awhile.

Also, to be clear, Defense rating is a really bad measuring stick for unit size in 2E. Defense is just a measure of survivability at this point. Construction cost or command cost are better tools as they indicate how big a unit really is. Construction cost is probably the better of the too, as command cost is itself derived from construction cost so you might as well go back to the original state for the sake of comparison.

Mike brings up a very good point when he asks how big fleets are likely to get in 2E compared to 1E. Maintenance costs are similar to what they were before for most empires, but without the maintenance group inefficiencies. At TL 10, an empire with 40 income that pays 50% of that as maintenance expense could support about 60 @ 10 EP light cruisers (if my math is correction). In 1E, this empire could support about 40 of those lights cruisers. That's a 2/3 increase in the number of units that an average empire can increase. This advantage narrows as units become more advanced and their maintenance costs increase, but at that point the ships are of a higher quality and are more effective in combat.

Looking at another comparison, this same empire in 2E could instead support 400 destroyers compared to 120 destroyers in 1E. For cruisers, this is around 50 in 2E or 30 in 1E. So an empire could field a larger number of units in 2E, but in practice I have found that it is uncommon for an empire to allocate as large of a portion of its income towards maintenance expenses as occurred in 1E. This is because there are so many more things to spend economic points on, and players need to have a healthy reserve to keep their empires growing.
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Re: Open Playtest

Postby Chyll » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:45 pm

As Noel "Puppet Master" Weer I can profess a certain biased enthusiastic interest in an SD game.

However, my gut reaction is in line with a couple of the other posts that a basic-virgin explore game may be the best venue for this effort.



Now, this isn't a disadvantage vis-a-vis SD as a playtest for 2e adjustments will still need to take place in the future - certainly for Classic SD (Terran Civil War). And the Pandora (Post Civil War) material needs to get dusted off now that 2e is approaching lift off.
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Re: Open Playtest

Postby mwaschak » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:20 pm

Hi guys,

It has been a busy couple of days but I am looking to get this started soon.

Thanks!
-Jay


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