You wanted it. We’re giving it to you. The Battle viewer.
Beta 2 of Galactic Civilizations IV brings back the Battle Viewer and a new After Action Report. It’s pretty basic for Beta 2 and we plant to add a lot more to it.
Today, I’m going to talk about what is already in it and what we plan to add.
The viewer and the after action report
There are really two elements here that players tend to want to see:
Their ships in action to see how different designs are stacking up and an after action report to look at the data from the big picture.
For beta 2, we did some cosmetic work to make the battles look a lot better
We have a lot more data planned for Beta 3 but we wanted to get this out in time for Beta 2.
Additionally, we have some ideas for how these battles should work that we’d like your feedback in the comments such as:
More meaning to the ship roles. Right now, ship roles mostly affect the placement of a ship in the battle arena but this is something that could be fleshed out to reward more thoughtful fleet creation. Here are some ideas:
The type of ship determines the order in which the enemy can target them:
This way, players can assemble fleets with additional strategy behind them.
I know a lot of people want tactical combat but let me, for instance, show you my current game:
This isn’t even the largest map size. Not even close. I have a dozen battles each turn and I can barely keep track of one fleet versus another in terms of what it’s good at or not let alone have any desire to micro manage a battle or even set up a battle at the start of the battle. And I am not interested in having an AI choose (badly) for me.
But I am definitely open to the idea of the assembling of a fleet mattering more as well as the design of the ship. I.e. rewarding the logistics of war versus the tactics of war.
What are your thoughts?
GalCiv IV Journals
Cheers, glad to give Beta 2 a play. Game's coming along great guys.
love the graphics of the battle viewer!! this is def a great addition. quick though on how it works though...
it is kinda hard to see what's going on in the battle with how much the battle viewer zooms in all the time. maybe if it just zoomed in right at the beginning and again at the end it would make it easier to see what's going on during the battle. maybe also zoom in once or twice for a couple secs in the middle of longer battles but put in a wide enough view most of the time so that players can actually tell what's going on.
I'm loving the battle viewer. I have one small suggestion for the viewer, and a bunch of suggestions for combat.
For the viewer, it would be nice if tit remembered the camera view I used last time, rather than me having to set my favorite view every time.
For combat, I'd first like to second Taslios on dumping the current ship types, which I also can't remember, in favor of some sort of menu for choosing ship behavior. It feels like a few sliders might capture most of what you would want:
No matter what these settings, the ships should also prefer targets with a higher ratio of attack to remaining defense over targets the other way around.
If you stick with ship types, it would also be good to get rid of the AI using the declared ship type when deciding which ships to attack. It shouldn't be possible to paint a big E on a defensive tank ship by declaring it to be an Escort, and have the AI throw everything at it, while ignoring all your lightly defended offensive ships that you declared to be Capital. If the ship types stay, then the AI should target your ships based on the type it suggested during ship design, not the type you declared. The type you declare would only affect your ships' behavior, not the AI's.
I also agree with the suggestions to make weapons more differentiated. Some possibilities in that direction:
Missiles could be long range, but easier to counter. For example, anti-missile technology could be cheaper, or work better. For example, it could recharge at a faster rate during a battle. This could make missiles good against small ships, which don't have much room for anti-missile protection, but not so good against larger ships.
On the opposite end, kinetic could be short range, but harder to counter. In particular, it should expensive to get a high protection rating on large ships. (Since they are bigger, it just takes more armor to give them the same amount of protection.) Also, kinetic protection wouldn't recharge at all during a battle.
Beam could be in the middle.
Also, it might be interesting if larger ships could have longer range on any of their weapons. Perhaps there could be an enhancement that increases range by 10% or so, and that you can put on as many times as you like. A big ship could get longer range, at the cost of fewer slots left for other purposes.
Finally, on ship balance, it feels like given a battle between two fleets of equal cost and equal technology, but one constructed out of hulls that are one size larger, the fleet with the larger size hulls should win (because large hulls are more efficient at generating damage.) But if the fleet with larger hulls has hulls that are two or three sizes larger, then is should lose (because fewer larger hulls are not as good at targeting multiple enemies.) That principle will encourage a variety of ship sizes in a fleet.
Targeting N ships could be a solution. The only problem I can see is that it may be a lot more difficult to balance and code into the game. When you add a feature like that there can be unintended consequences that shift the power dynamic. Because it would be much more difficult to balance I'd go with damage reduction where you can adjust a few numbers to reach a more fair fight.
When you say, "give bigger ships better defenses" are you proposing to give each hull size a flat defense bonus for shields, point defenses, and armor. If that is what you mean then the problem with that idea is that it would need to scale according to the technology you've researched, or it wouldn't work because of how weapons currently work. For example if I have a 8 fighter swarm that can do 100 beam damage and a 8 point logistic huge hulled battle ship that has 200 shield points, in 3 to 4 volleys, I lose my battle ship and they only lose 3 to 4 fighters. The amount of base defenses you'd need for the largest hulls would be astronomical. Balancing is also much more difficult in this case. The Derek stated in the Gal Civ discord one of the reasons GC4 weapons all have the same range currently is because it was confusing to casual players.
I think the best way to fix this is to reduce damage done by smaller ships to larger ships. This will also draw battles out so that they can last more than one turn. This feature is in the game, but I haven't seen happen yet. Battles occurring over the course of several turns could make for some exciting gameplay.
I do like the dodge mechanic as long as it doesn't make small ships over powered.
If the huge ship also has armor that reduces the total incoming dmg once shields are down, then it would take a few more turns to take down as the smaller ships fleet gets smaller and smaller. and if it's something like 12 small fighters vs a huge ship with a few tiny/small ships, and they're all targeting the huge ship first, then the well armored huge ship with the small backup might be able to take down the swarm before it can take out the huge ship. maybe more research into defenses could give higher starting bonuses in that defense too.
12 dmg for a 1 logistics ship does sound a little high. small and tiny ships having that amount of firepower in the game might just be broken too. all those base +1 bonuses def work better for small ships than large ones. maybe if the bonuses were more % based and less "base dmg" based then it would even things out a lot more.
and i dont think dodge would make them too overpowered as long as they couldnt do as much total dmg to larger hull sizes, which makes a lot of sense considering whenever u see smaller ships in the movies and shows they're always a lot better at dodging attacks and targeting accurately than bigger ships but not nearly as powerful or tough. should be harder to bullseye a whomprat with a star destroyer than with an x-wing
with equal weapon and defense techs researched, a huge ship should be able to beat an equal logistics value simple fleet of smaller ships that have no support. considering the time it takes to research the upgraded hulls they should by default be a little better by themselves, but all work best when grouped up and mixed together in different ways.
"12 dmg for a 1 logistics ship does sound a little high"
Not in GC3. That is an easy target.
"maybe if the bonuses were more % based and less "base dmg" based then it would even things out a lot more"
Very similar to what I'm advocating for, just focusing on defenses rather than hit points, or damage. I think we're on the same page. It's really a question of how to balance large and small ships. That's more up to the developers because they know the code and what would be the best option for them to reach this point.
"a huge ship should be able to beat an equal logistics value simple fleet of smaller ships that have no support. considering the time it takes to research the upgraded hulls they should by default be a little better by themselves"
If huge ships are balanced against swarms, they will actually already be better because if the huge ships (lets say 12 logistic points) survives a battle you still have all 12 logistic points vs in the same battle with 12 tiny fighters, you might lose 6 or more fighters bringing you down to only 12 logistic points.
I'm hoping to play multiplayer with someone to really get a sense of what's going on in combat. The goal rather than actually playing will be to build fleets and try and lay a ground work for how balanced ship types in the game actually are. I have a sense from playing GC III, but I think actual numbers will be far more convincing and useful to share with the developers.
The biggest issue with balancing the targeting computer is that there isn't a number you can change until it roughly balances out. It either works or it doesn't. You could add a debuff to ships using the targeting computer assuming that with that modification huge ships can easily overwhelm smaller ships. That is a number you can balance.
Based on some of the comments made by Stardock personnel a lot of people actually just use premade ships. More ship ship components also complicates either the prebuilt ship maker and the A.I. behind building ships. Although I think the A.I. building ships could use some help.
yeah i agree a lot with both of you. and larger ships being able to target multiple smaller ships would be great, but prob hard to actually do.
i think the balance with swarms should be to make it so that the swarms by themselves shouldn't be able to take down a large or huge hull of equal logistics pts, but if they have a support ship or 2 in the back that's not being targeted then the swarm should be able to take down a bigger ship while losing a few swarm ships. right now they're so good by themselves they dont need support ships, but if dmg was better balanced and support ships were really vital to swarms then it would encourage more mixes of different types of ships. people could have simpler fleets with all med ships or something, but for swarms mixing different types and roles of ships would be the way to go so they dont become op.
and yeah, i really think stardock should have a contest later and add people's fav ship and fleet designs into the premade lists, and make the AI based off them, with better fleets for higher difficulty settings. that way everyone can be exposed to people's fav stuff.
Can't swarms be balanced by having escort ships work well? The escorts would be modest sized hulls that would attack the swarm ships before they reach the big ships, and cut them down to size. That encourages a balanced fleet, with various ship sizes, which is how it is real naval fleets. For this to work, an escort has to outmatch an equivalent cost bunch of swarm ships. It should probably be about one size larger hull than the swarm ships.
That said, maybe there could be a "swiveling turret" module that you can put on a ship to let it attack two targets at once. You could add more turrets for more attacks, at the cost of using up slots.
yeah, i think that should be a good way to counter swarm ships that have support ships, and yeah, a good way to quickly blast through swarms without support. i think trying to figure out good reasons to have a mix of ship sizes in a fleet is def the way to go. and swarms could try to counter escorts with more support ships or maybe a few med ships to target the escorts too, and have your swarm fleet set to try to attack escorts first if you see that there's a lot in your opponent's fleet. lots of reasons to mix up ship roles and targeting tactics.
Good suggestions here.
I am not a fan of getting tactical combat in the greater scope of the way Gal Civ is built, but like mentioned earlier I do miss the validity of making cool ship designs in the extensive ship editor translated to the way battles work in the game.
With so much detail available to us creating the ships themselves I feel the combat system should be upgraded from a rock paper scissors system to a more detailed system.
Improve on the choices players have building their fleets on an overal level. And zooming in on how weapons, systems and ship roles work in conjuction helps with improving the overal strategic choices.
The reference to the Dominions games I like as well. That game goes overboard with little details and stacking effects from weapons and magic while still keeping the battles automated, but scripted by the player. A system like this, coupled with my afforementioned increased detail in what matters in combat and what effects the ship designs have in combat will provide for a much more interesting battle system.
Another game that, I find, does combat very well is Sword of the Stars. I know its a real time tactical battle format, but I am focusing on the way they make weapons and systems work together coupled to ship configuration and types/roles.
Perhaps a good analogy is less board game and more (light) simulation.
Ideas to help make every ship role useful:
Ideas to help make every ship role useful » Forum Post by Basilisk83 (galciv4.com)
I haven't played the beta. I played GalCiv 3, but didn't like it much. I played GalCiv 2 a lot. So with my lack of cred in mind:
"Realism" is overrated in games, but it does help make systems intuitive. In this case, why not make the weapons / defenses "realistic" and then balance tweak based on the results?
Point defenses should be very effective against missiles, but expensive and fairly advanced technology, just like they are in real life. They shouldn't really work against beams or guns at all. Missiles should have lots of range, but cost a lot of resources to make. They take less tech to make than point defenses.
Armor is pretty low tech, but it should affect the performance of your ship because it's heavy. Making and repairing it consumes a lot of resources. It should be somewhat effective against all weapons, but most effective against guns. Guns should be cheap, short range, low-tech weapons that have trouble penetrating the armor on larger targets.
Shields should be high-tech, expensive, and effective against everything. They should also be failure prone and energy-intensive, just like in Star Trek. Maybe they don't work in nebulas, and they suddenly run out of batteries after a certain amount of damage is absorbed. Maybe only bigger ships have enough reactor power to run a shield generator. Beams should also be high-tech, expensive weapons. They bounce off shields until the shields wear out, they cut through everything else, but their effectiveness depends being able to field ships with powerful reactors to shoot strong beams.
The question is what the developers should be spending their time on. There are the combat aspects and then there is this whole other game that is about building an actual functioning empire. Let's just say I'm not convinced that side of the house is in order either (link 1, link 2). IMHO it is more important to get all that sorted out so that early game domination isn't the only viable way to win. If the answer is to work on both then we're going to be in Beta for a long time. I think it would be more prudent to leave the combat stuff more or less alone for now and to focus on the rest of the game. Advanced combat can always be addressed in an expansion.
I disagree. Its pretty important to have GC4 ship out as a great initial product with all main game features already in.
GC3 showed that simple combat and a pretty obsolete ship editor with regards to combat dynamics is something people fall over.
I’d rather spend another year in beta to release as a wholesome game than pushing to release with lackluster combat, but a functioning strategic overall game. Just my opinion of course.
Apologies if this is a language barrier thing. I interpret "fall over" as positive, but my perception is that GC3 did not do much of anything well and flopped as a result.
Gaming media outlets are already reporting that the game will release this year.
Hehe its probably an englishification of something from my language.
Fall over was meant as ‘have a problem with’.
Still, I think it’ll be a mistake to release without meaningful combat. I do agree that detail might be improved upon with patches / expansions in the form of more options for tactics, but the fundament should stand on release.
Stardock probably doesn't have the money for an entire system rework right now. It there is enough interest they might add an expansion that reworks combat entirely.
If they can balance the ship sizes I'll be ecstatic. That being said I actually expect there to be some imbalance in the game. Onyx get double hit points and can't repair without promethium. Obviously they'll win more fights when they're at full strength.
I do think that the promethium repair ability needs to have the amount of promethium used adjusted based on the HP to be restored.
I don't think balance must be the focus here. Balance in singleplayer games is not a priority. I'd even go as far as saying certain imbalance provides even more fun.
And if we do want to take multiplayer into consideration there is always the option to houserule out certain imbalances.
The Dominions 5 comparison flies well again here.
This entire discussion embodies a question I asked in the first Q and A, although I didn't word it in the way I meant - the way I asked the question was basically "How do the devs decide where to devote their time and resources?" when actually what I was getting at was "How do the devs decide to prioritise things that aren't - if you're going to be strict about it - actually 4X ideas, but are more RPG/RTS/FPS mechanics/ideas?"
It's probably simplest to create a Galactic Civilizations that is a very, very, long and very, very complicated bunch of questions that it asks the Player:
Ask Question 1: Pick 1 of 3 options.
Ask Question 2, based on the option picked on Question 1: Pick 1 of 3 options.
Ask Question 3, based on the options picked in Questions 1 and 2: Pick 1 of 3 options.
And on and on ad infenitum....
But it wouldn't make the cash registers ring, now, would it? Hence, graphics and sound and cutscenes and designers etc...
After spending tons of time in both GC2 and GC3, and now starting in GC4, I'd have a couple of thoughts on the combat system:
1. Yes, ship roles. But, as pointed out by @tid242, they need to be descriptive, not one-worders. And it would be VERY nice to be able to set them at combat time, NOT be forced to pick one for a ship for all time.
2. Consider varying ranges on weapons by weapon SIZE, not TYPE. That is, weapons that require a lot more size can reach much further. This only makes sense: a PDC doesn't have the range of a railgun, and a larger missile should mean both more room for damage AND more for range (fuel).
That means, you essentially end up with weapons classed for small ship, and those classed for large ships. You're not going to find a Wave Motion Gun on a fighter or even corvette. Ion cannons belong on mid-sized frigates (taking up most of the space) or destroyers (with a small array of them). Laser cannons are for Fighters, as while they might do decent damage, they absolutely shouldn't have even a fraction of the range of either the WMG or Ion Cannons.
So, every weapon should come with four stats: (1) size (2) damage (3) range (4) rate of fire/recharge time.
It should be entirely possible to have both a Large Kinetic Railgun and a Wave Motion Gun with the same range, though their size/damage/rof might be different. Just like it might be possible to have a Small Railgun and a Disruptor Bank with the same range but much shorter than the WMG.
Small ship should simply NEVER be capable of mounting large weapons, and small weapons do poor damage relative to their space requirements. E.g. a typical small weapon might do 3 damage and have a 1000 range for 7 spaces, while a large weapon might do 15 damage with a 2000 range but require 30 spaces. Where a small ship can't ever exceed 20 spaces, and a large can have 100.
Basically, there needs to be a distinction between CAPITAL SHIP weapons (with much larger damage and range and huge space needs) and FIGHTER weapons (small damage, small range, small(er) space). In general, I vote that the former have much longer range and damage and higher damage/space ratio, but have a significantly poorer ROF than the latter.
3. Defense types also need variety. Particularly the recognition that individual defense methods can be useful (to different degrees) against more than one attack type.
My take on this is that a particular defense technology can have Strong against a type (1 x Rating) or Weak against a type (sqrt Rating).
Shields protect STRONG against beam, and WEAK against Kinetic, and not at all against Missile
Armor protects STRONG against Kinetic and WEAK against Missiles, and not at all against Beam
Ablative Armor protects STRONG against Kinetic, and WEAK against Missiles and Beam
Chaff protects STRONG against missiles and WEAK against Beam, but not at all against Kinetic.
PDC protects STRONG against Missiles, and not at all against Beam or Kinetic, BUT it might have a low (short range, low damage) OFFENSIVE capability.
And so forth.
Also, I want to get away from the GC3 idea that defenses are used up linearly - that is, if you have a defense of 5 and take 2 damage in a salvo, you only have 3 left. I don't want to go to the GC2 method where defenses regenerate completely every time. Rather, I'd like to use a middle ground: at set time periods during combat, a defense gets 1 point back (that's 1 PER defense thing, so if you have 2 armor placements, each gets 1 back at the set time). That is, all defenses regenerate not-too-slowly over time. This gives a LOT of incentive to put defenses on ships, whereas in both GC2 and GC3, the primary "Best Strategy" was to solely load up on weapons and ignore defenses. This means it gets hard
And yes, larger ships need the ability to target multiple different ships per salvo. I like the idea of a "battle computer" that increases the number of ships which can be targeted per X seconds.
More or less, the expectation is this (per ship size):
TINY ships mount 1 or 2 small weapon systems and very small defenses
SMALL ships mount 3 to 4 small weapons systems and/or a small defense, potentially against more than 1 attack type.
MEDIUM ships should mount 1 capital weapon and 2-3 small weapons and a medium defense against most attack
LARGE ships should mount 3-5 capital weapons and 4-6 small weapons and a medium defense against all attacks or strong defense against one.
HUGE ships should mount 5-10 capital weapons, 5ish small ones, and a strong defense against all attack types.
The penalty should be that the larger the ship type, the slower (tactically) you can possibly go. Bees vs whales and all.
The jist is that we want out of the straightforward Rock-Paper-Scissors stuff, so that combat is MUCH less obvious as to the winner, making it more of a gamble (and thus, the Ship Roles being more important).
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