Howdy everyone! As was sorta mentioned in previous posts (from @scole, @Burly) - we’ve been working on changes for balance, but also back-end code changes to facilitate larger edits to ship and simulation behavior.
Well, I have some bad news, and some good news, I think. I’m going to cover what we were attempting to do, the results/issues - and then what we’re thinking will work going forward.
First - when looking at what the HW2 engine did with HW1 units that was most difficult to script-update, we found that the code-level distinction between ‘Squadrons’ and ‘Strike-groups’ was at the core of most issues. In the HW2 engine Squadrons can be forced to act (mostly) as a single object in terms of movement/pathing/engagement. A Squadron can be a single ship (most units, especially HW1), or a group (the more attack-oriented HW2 units). When placing Squadrons into Strike-groups the game would drive them as a unified whole only up until an engagement was reached - at which point they break off. This is normal for HW2 - but quite unlike HW1.
After much digging we settled on the approach of overlaying Strike-groups with a ‘virtual’ Squadron - since they coordinate as a group and can be configured to stick together. But… this really didn’t go well. The code and systems it defines are just much, much too layered to effectively do this (I banged my head against this wall for nearly 2 weeks). I can go into plenty of details about why - though people without access to the code won’t get much benefit from any additional information.
So, I think 2 weeks of effort with little to show can be termed ‘the bad news’.
This week we’ve been talking more about how to accomplish some of our goals (a more HW1-like experience for HW1 races, less problematic cross-race balancing, more effective AI use of races) - and one approach has been chosen for more investigation. And we think it’s ‘the good news’.
Squadrons in HW2 work pretty well. They act generally like HW1 ‘Formations’ when of the same units and physical layout (not exactly, no, but close). The trouble is that HW1 units are single-build, and HW2 units are group-build - and neither has the flexibility to modify their Squadron ‘affinity’. So what if, instead of hacking at Strike-groups, we made Squadrons more flexible? Here’s the plan:
- Remove Squadron heal (when you take 1 Ship into a docking and out comes X fully-healed units) - if X units go into a dock, X fully-healed units come out, no more, no less.
- Allow Ships to leave a Squadron. When selecting a Squadron and choose the ‘leave formation’ icon, the ships become single units.
- HW1 units gain HW2-like multi-ship builds by default: The same class of ship in HW2 that builds in multiples will build in HW1 as multiples. Since they can leave Squadrons, you can easily revert to the ‘old’ single-ship approach.
- Forming a Strike-group becomes content aware:
– A Strike-group will instead form a Squadron when possible.
– ‘Possible’ means ships of the same type, and a Formation that Squadron supports.
– If you form a Strike-group from many types of units, you get the HW2 Strike-group behavior (loosely coordinated single ships)
– If you form a Strike-group from Squadron-eligible units, you get a Squadron; with all of the ‘coordinated’ behavior that implies - more like HW1 acted.
– This allows for ‘mega Squadrons’ of things like Bombers, Interceptors, etc. 50+ units, all moving and working together, adjusting formation, etc.
- A Strike-group formed of Squadrons (including multi-ship types) would break them into single ships and use them more like HW1 layouts - aka a bunch of ‘delta’ multi-ship Squadrons with some other units placed into a wall Strike-group will form a wall - not a wall with deltas dangling off it. When that Strike-group is broken, you’d have to re-form your multi-ship Squadrons again.
– During development we may add an ‘auto break’ command that takes a mixed-use Strike-group and breaks it into a number of single-ship and multi-ship Squadrons as best is possible for you.
We very much want to hear what people think of these ideas - issues, benefits, related ideas, etc. Talk to us…