0111narwhalz wrote: ↑Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:42 pmIt's also difficult to credibly "blockade" space, in no small part because you have to block an entire extra degree of freedom. How do you protect the borders of your empire from incursion? Patrol routes would have to cover an entire surface of obscene area, since your empire presumably extends over multiple star systems, and they would have to cover it densely enough to repel invaders from any part of the surface. Otherwise every system in your empire would be a frontier system, and it would have no "heart" of safe systems. Graph-based space resolves problems like this by reducing the area you need to patrol to just the link endpoints, and only those on the topological border of your empire.
I anticipated this objection.
Note that it's actually not necessary to defend an entire volume of space around multiple star systems. You could never build that many ships, but you don't need to -- empty space is empty space. At the level of multiple star systems, defense must be strategic: you want a fleet doctrine that's capable of deterring advances against your most strategic resource locations. Those are the high-population colonies and rich-resource zones located relatively very close to individual stars, not way out in the boondocks between stars.
The basic multi-system defense doctrine, then, depends on three keys: building enough good ships, mobility, and intel.
Building lots of ships is a necessity no matter what. You have to do that regardless of whether space is continuous or systems are connected by wormholes. Mobility is also necessary regardless of how space is structured -- ships need good, fast engines in order to travel quickly to hotspots.
So, since everybody has to build mobile ships for defense anyway, the real question is knowing when you're about to be attacked and the intensity of that danger. That's addressed by intel: knowing the location, number, and (if possible) composition of potentially hostile fleets.
Making long-range sensors strong in LT addresses this need. For example, we could say that ships -- unless they spend prodigiously on cloaking research and low-visibility construction -- give off a lot of radiation, and good sensors (which will cost a lot less than an invasion fleet) are good enough to see that radiation from a long way away.
If they've built enough ships and can move them quickly to threatened resource locations, designing LT so that long-range sensors are effective is what enables factions to capably defend themselves in a continuous universe.
(Note: an interesting alternative to this might be to say that long-range sensors are actually not all that good -- if you want to know whether your neighbor is building a fleet to attack you, then you need to build cloaked scout ships to try to locate and spy on your neighbor's fleet construction facilities. But of course they'll be looking for cloaked spy ships....)
I don't want to sound blithe in my comments. I'm sure there are some problems I haven't thought of regarding fun gameplay in a continuous universe. At the same time, while I'm not dismissing concerns outright, I'd like to hope folks here will also agree that there's nothing magically perfect about a nodes-and-vertices universe, either; it has game design consequences that need to be figured out, too.