Some thoughts about damage and repair

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Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby carlisle » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:52 am

Hi all, I've been following the development for a while and have taken enough of an interest to put a few thoughts in regarding damage and repair. Apologies if this goes over stuff that's already been discussed. I've read through the 'commonly suggested' thread, and recent threads, and run searches of the forum, but I haven't read every single thread.

I know damage has had a lot said about it. I think it's great that we'll be able to target, damage and disable subsystems in the game. I had a few thoughts about repair too, and that doesn't seem to have been discussed so much.

My idea is that when a system, or your hull is damaged, there are a few ways to go about repairing it.

1) You perform a quick-and-dirty repair on the fly (might be dependent on your own repair skill if such a RPG like skill-tree is to be part of the game). This can get a malfunctioning component functioning again, but with a considerable reduction in maximum hit-points. If anyone remembers the original Diablo, the same thing happened if you tried to repair your equipment yourself. Over time a piece of equipment that has been constantly repaired in this way will be rendered unusable, so low will it's maximum hit-points be.

2) You wait till you're in a station or planetside and then repair it yourself, you still reduce the maximum-hit-points but not nearly as much.

3) You go to a cheap and unlicenced repair-shop. In more lawless systems this will usually be the only kind. It costs money but won't reduce the maximum hit-points by as much as doing it yourself (even in station) However the exact efficiency of the repairers will vary and being unlicenced, unless you're in good with the pirate clan running that location they may have a tendency to strip valuable components out of your ship and replace them with defective knock-offs. This could promote strategies of seeking out and asking around to find the best back-street repair-shop, or having to travel into controlled space despite the fact the police there are looking for you, just to find a good repair-shop.

4) You go to a licenced repair-shop. These places have standards, won't rip you off and you can see how good they are before you go in. They are more expensive but the best ones can repair a component at no reduction to maximum hit-points and the very best ones can restore a component to it's original maximum hit-points (very expensive, but if a component has rare qualities and can't be easily replaced it might be worth it).
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Hardenberg » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:05 pm

1) You perform a quick-and-dirty repair on the fly (might be dependent on your own repair skill if such a RPG like skill-tree is to be part of the game). This can get a malfunctioning component functioning again, but with a considerable reduction in maximum hit-points. If anyone remembers the original Diablo, the same thing happened if you tried to repair your equipment yourself. Over time a piece of equipment that has been constantly repaired in this way will be rendered unusable, so low will it's maximum hit-points be.


Yeah, like anybody ever did that back in D1. Face it, players fricking *hate* it with the intensity of a burning star when you break their toys. I'm no exception here. This concept only makes sense if you intend to have "consumable" ships which wear out after a certain time. Also, RPG elements are pretty much ruled out at this point of development already.

2) You wait till you're in a station or planetside and then repair it yourself, you still reduce the maximum-hit-points but not nearly as much.


I hate option A with said passion of a fiery sun. It screws the player. So does this one. Stuff gets further complicated due to the fact that the grand vision of the game incorporates dozens of AI entities with their ships being simulated. Problems will arise if you pull into your station with 12 dozen ships in various states of battle damage and having to give each of them the once-over treatment.


3) You go to a cheap and unlicenced repair-shop. In more lawless systems this will usually be the only kind. It costs money but won't reduce the maximum hit-points by as much as doing it yourself (even in station) However the exact efficiency of the repairers will vary and being unlicenced, unless you're in good with the pirate clan running that location they may have a tendency to strip valuable components out of your ship and replace them with defective knock-offs. This could promote strategies of seeking out and asking around to find the best back-street repair-shop, or having to travel into controlled space despite the fact the police there are looking for you, just to find a good repair-shop.


You really do like screwing players sideways, don't you? What would this here accomplish, besides screwing players out of hard earned items with little to no return? Are we in desperate need of item/money sinks? Why the hell would a player even risk losing his prize possessions in such a fool's gamble?

4) You go to a licenced repair-shop. These places have standards, won't rip you off and you can see how good they are before you go in. They are more expensive but the best ones can repair a component at no reduction to maximum hit-points and the very best ones can restore a component to it's original maximum hit-points (very expensive, but if a component has rare qualities and can't be easily replaced it might be worth it).


I get the feeling you have a pathological hatred against components with full structure ratings.


Counter suggestion:
We adopt EVE's system. Blown up ships are gone for good and need to be replaced. Repairs can be done by either mounting self-repair modules (which are slow, consume energy and need to be there in the first place) or by docking at a suitable station and paying for repairs. Good standing with the owners of said station will net a discount, same if you are actually the owner.

Remember that we're gunning for players commanding fleets of various sizes here, including stuff like fighter wings and escorts which have a tendency to get damaged or blown up on a semiregular basis. No need for dick moves on top of the usual attrition here, IMHO.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby carlisle » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:34 pm

Well thank you for your polite and calmly stated response. If everyone else here is as pleasant as you are then I think I'll probably call time on posting here and just wait and see what the game is like when it comes out.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Revoke » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:59 pm

Um. Gosh. Yes, that may have been a bit too emphatic a reaction, Hardenburg.

Carlisle, I'd put it down to anomaly...usually things are pretty friendly around here. I guess things can get a little heated when it comes to potential game mechanics?

Anyway, regarding the actual topic; I don't think the idea of imperfect repairs in certain situations is bad. It could be pretty interesting! I don't think permanent hp reduction is a tenable implementation though. Firstly, I expect particular 'brands' of component will be faction, and therefore location specific, which could make re-acquisition a chore. Secondly, in LT you can command a fleet; handling that sort of nitty gritty details for many ships would be problematic.

As I said, I think the basic notion has value (that is, that repairs are less effective, based on your location). You might implement a system that requires a certain portion of damage taken (by components, or your ships hull) to be repaired in drydock rather than in space. Damage control while in flight can only handle so much! For example, maybe the first 25% of the damage you take can be repaired in flight, but after that, half the damage taken can only be repaired in drydock (these numbers are just example).

This could add an extra level of danger, and tenseness to combat, when you are, for instance, deep behind enemy lines, or exploring far from civilization.
Last edited by Revoke on Sun Sep 22, 2013 5:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Quantimo » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:08 pm

Hardenberg's a real softy when you get to know him. I mean look at how trusty his avatar is!
He criticises because he cares about the game and (should) only mock your ideas and not you.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby DWMagus » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:40 pm

First, let's stay on topic, and get away from any sort of personal attacks.

Second, and on-topic;

I like the ideas. I *really* like the ideas. They make quite a bit of sense from a single-player perspective. The majority of my time in the game will be from a single-player perspective and not from a fleet, and always having more to do, always feels fun. RPG elements, and things with structural integrity I have argued in favor for as well.

Unfortunately, and this is something Gazz almost always points out; is that this becomes nothing more than tedious work when analyzed from the perspective of owning a fleet of thousands of ships.

Carlisle, some of us have the limit theory prototype, even though it's a prototype with few capabilities, it starts to show how badly some things scale, from a simple click-through window to purchasing weapons. As much as I'd like to see many of things kept and an option for 'single ship' mode, this adds far too much overhead in coding. Not to mention Josh usually prefers to go abstract, and making two separate models/interfaces goes against the grain for him.

We almost need something akin to Dwarf Fortress's adventure mode for things like that.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Gazz » Sat Sep 21, 2013 4:31 am

As DW said that I said: it has to scale. At least in principle!
Fiddling with single modules on single ships stops working when you have 2 dozen ships, or one hundred, or one thousand.


carlisle wrote:1) You perform a quick-and-dirty repair on the fly (might be dependent on your own repair skill if such a RPG like skill-tree is to be part of the game). This can get a malfunctioning component functioning again, but with a considerable reduction in maximum hit-points. If anyone remembers the original Diablo, the same thing happened if you tried to repair your equipment yourself. Over time a piece of equipment that has been constantly repaired in this way will be rendered unusable, so low will it's maximum hit-points be.

What Hardenberg said. =P

No, seriously. Permanent degradation of performance means you'll have to replace the broken item. It's pure punishment without tempering it with an added benefit.

Instead, there could be a system of safe energy level.
A well-manufactured item (like a LAZOR) can be run at 150% power, gaining the benefits of the added power, without breaking.
If you use cheap components with a max load of 120%, they work well under the ship's nominal load levels - but you run the risk of damaging them if you route more power to them.
It's not a great suggestion, mind you, because it's all vertical (higher max load is good, period) while production costs have a tendency to become trivial eventually, resulting in a system you can't balance.

It would be a start, though, because you're balancing power and risk. Destroyed components can be refitted in a generic way.
For instance, these cheap products could be literally lighter, requiring less mass or points to install.



Options 2) through 4) are a long-winded way of asking for repair shops with varying max repair %.
Condensed like that, you might actually have a feature there!

If the player can install repair modules and/or have dedicated repair ships, they may have such a rating.
Some repairs require massive equipment (it's a yard job capt'n!) and you will be hard-pressed to install such modules on regular ships. On stations, where mass is basically irrelevant, these are easy to fit in.
So you could be limited to 70% or 80% repairs "in the field", while a complete overhaul will only be possible at a station.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Hardenberg » Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:45 am

Oh well. I usually don't bite, but I do like to roar.

Handling of repairs is a crucial (and touchy) issue, especially on the scale we're expecting to see in the game. As such, my reaction might have been a bit overzealous. Then again, after suggesting imperfect repair 3 times in a row, my blood is indeed boiling.

I'm not the one to indulge into massive fleet activities and empire building on a scale that brings modern hardware to a sputtering halt. But I do like to bring some friends along when I raise the black flag and operate as a "freelance wealth redistribution expert™". As such, I'm no stranger to managing a wing of fighters or two, or an escort or five.
As such, the idea of having each bloody thrice-cursed ship in my in a different state of disrepair and semi-uselessness for an extended period of time due to the mechanics of the game making it exceedingly difficult to keep even a small fleet in what amounts to a state of battle-readiness is appalling. No, seriously, this is actually getting punished for playing combat-centric career.

Another nasty side effect would be an overemphasis on shields (since shield damage doesn't involve tracking across 25 systems to find a mechanic who can a) fix your ship and b) doesn't literally rob you blind in the process by replacing the sensor bank on your flagship with a cheap xenargian knock-off straight out of some 3rd galaxy sweatshop) and invite frequent reloads when something important gets merely damaged (as opposed to getting blown to smithereens, which I could understand).

There's no way of getting around field repairs - in order to not frustrate the living daylights out of the players, there needs to be a way of getting a damaged-yet-victorious ship back into a semblance of working order. In space, no one can hear you call for a tow service, after all.

I do like Gazz' idea of varying grades of field repair systems - ranging from the high-tech equivalent of a box of duct tape to that of an inflatable scottish engineer crew which can fix your ship in 15 minutes flat (or so they claim, and are actually done after seven). Moving complete overhauls and retrofits to stations is fine with me - but in return, give me a quick and reliable of getting my ships repaired which is NOT based on a random generator or trial-and-error or involving a backtrack across half the universe.

And to reiterate Gazz: Fiddling with single modules ceases to be fun roughly after the third ship. You'll want a quicker and more robust way of getting a small fleet outfitted, repaired and manned.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Gazz » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:30 am

Hardenberg wrote:I do like Gazz' idea of varying grades of field repair systems - ranging from the high-tech equivalent of a box of duct tape to that of an inflatable scottish engineer crew which can fix your ship in 15 minutes flat (or so they claim, and are actually done after seven). Moving complete overhauls and retrofits to stations is fine with me - but in return, give me a quick and reliable of getting my ships repaired which is NOT based on a random generator or trial-and-error or involving a backtrack across half the universe.

X3 - which is pretty much the only game with both the scale and the level of detail to matter here - does a very bad job of this.
Equipment can get destroyed but there is no way to find out without manually inspecting every single ship and comparing to the equipment they all should have.
Then you send them across half the known galaxy to get to one of the few stations that sells this special part. And you can't bring a spare because a ship can only carry one of each "special" item at a time.
Design-wise this is a cluster****. It did work just fine back when you could only own one ship.

An item that gets "destroyed" in a fight doesn't need to be gone. It is just marked as destroyed so it can only be repaired in a station or a specialised repair ship. Repair - yes. Micromanagement - no.


And to reiterate Gazz: Fiddling with single modules ceases to be fun roughly after the third ship. You'll want a quicker and more robust way of getting a small fleet outfitted, repaired and manned.

Oh, I trust that there will be loud noises on the forum when the time for beta comes around. =)
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby JoshParnell » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:10 am

Hi carlisle, welcome to the forums and thanks for the suggestions. We don't usually welcome someone with such....zeal :shock: Stow the pirate flag until he's on post 10, Hardenberg. Then you can fire the cannons. ;)

There's a feature here. DW has already pointed out that the real feature is "variable max repair." Let me expand it a little bit and explain how I think it fits very naturally into the logical framework of "existing" gameplay:

Every piece of equipment has some notion of "size" or "tech level" or...maybe just "level." Whatever you want to call it, some equipment is more advanced than others. This is reflected in a few ways: first, the equipment can only be mounted to a hardpoint of equal or greater "level." Second, one requires the appropriate level of construction machinery to build the equipment. Building an Ubercannon Mk IV requires a bigger construction module than Gnatswatter Pro. So where does repair come in? Well, it makes perfect sense that the same principle applies to repair. In order to repair a piece of equipment, following the same patterns as above, one requires a repair module of equal or greater level.

From my perspective, what carlisle is suggesting is a "fuzzy" cutoff on this type of constraint, rather than a hard one. We can actually examine the ramifications across the board, not just with respect to repair. For fitting: suppose that we can fit a higher-level piece of equipment to a lower-level hardpoint, but at the cost of exponentially-decaying performance (perhaps even the risk of equipment breakage). For construction: suppose that we can build a higher-level piece of equipment with a lower-level construction module, but perhaps at the cost of an exponential time penalty, perhaps even a higher resource cost or a chance of producing broken or defective equipment. Finally, for repair, suppose that we can repair a higher-level piece of equipment with a lower-level repair module, but with the restriction that we cannot repair to 100%.

IMO it makes perfect sense. Whether or not a "fuzzy cutoff" is the right choice for each of these restrictions is up for debate. But I think you can see that the base idea is a very general a logical one. I would contend that it probably makes things more interesting. It gives you that "well, you can try it if you really want to" feeling rather than the "sorry, the arbitrary numbers just don't align" feeling.

Now, I want to point out that the way I have framed it above means that we are never penalizing the player. In fact, we're offering an advantage. In the hard-cutoff formulation of the game, you will not be repairing your equipment if you don't have the proper repair equipment. So think of this idea as "relaxing" that constraint, not as imposing extra constraints!

So, it's really a very simple system. If a shop is offering repairs, presumably it's because the shop owns some repair equipment. That equipment has a certain level, and that level will determine to what extent you can repair various pieces of equipment there. That low-population areas would generally have less ability to repair fancy equipment is nothing more than a natural consequence of wealth distribution (higher-level repair equipment costs more), so it's not even really part of the idea.

The main contention here is the concern of micromanagement. But let me remind everyone: we will combat micromanagement by providing powerful tools, not by removing detail. Please don't draw comparisons with LTP, as there were literally no automation facilities, so naturally everything was micromanagement! In LT there will be powerful automation. As your concerns grow in size and value, you will replace your previous concerns with automation. As a one-man ship, it can be fun to deal with your equipment individually. As a hundred-man fleet, you will never even be thinking about it. Will you need to keep in mind the fact that a high-tech fleet might not be able to refit fully in a low-tech system? Yes, of course. But that's a broad concern, not micromanagement :)

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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Gazz » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:03 pm

JoshParnell wrote: We can actually examine the ramifications across the board, not just with respect to repair. For fitting: suppose that we can fit a higher-level piece of equipment to a lower-level hardpoint, but at the cost of exponentially-decaying performance (perhaps even the risk of equipment breakage). For construction: suppose that we can build a higher-level piece of equipment with a lower-level construction module, but perhaps at the cost of an exponential time penalty, perhaps even a higher resource cost or a chance of producing broken or defective equipment. Finally, for repair, suppose that we can repair a higher-level piece of equipment with a lower-level repair module, but with the restriction that we cannot repair to 100%.

So tech level is a factor when installing modules.
What about size / mass?

This could be a bonus to low tech but Very Heavy (usually station) equipment.
Your fleet tender only has a tech 12 repair module but it's a gigantic ship and the repair module is size 19.
The size of the module always adds a flat % to the "max repair %".

That way even a so-so tech station can repair your ship even if it's too-high-tech by the numbers.
Normally I'd imagine mass to be a limitation but in some cases it can be a bonus.
It won't be an advantage in general or in fighting, but for some maintenance tasks it could be used.



...and I really don't like the direction I'm going with this. (yes, this is another Gazz)
One item level should be sufficient. Mass or structure points should only be used in the construction of hardpoints.
Making the hardpoint high-tech-capable, increasing traversing speed and angle. The cooler you build it, the fewer of it you'll have on your ship.
In "everyday play", item handling is greatly simplified because one number is all you need to fiddle with.

So... with a little arm twisting we can still get the same overall effect.
The mass of the hardpoint could provide a bonus to repair modules.
Or it's max tech level - in translation.
To put the aforementioned level 19 hardpoint on your fleet tender, you had to make it a "fixed gun" (assuming it's not an entirely different thing) and pass on frills like improved production (repair) time, a speed loader, or improved accuracy of the repair beam.
It's just iron sights... but you can repair advanced equipment with the level 12 repair module that you have. (slowly, because level 12, but you can)
Any legal or research limitations would only be placed on the equipment itself.

Actually, yes. Repair modules should be guns. That makes them eligible for a lot of interesting restrictions and lets a repair ship repair a capital ship.
It also means giving up a gun hardpoint. Which the player won't like on his super ship.
That such a repair module can also repair it's own ship or anything that's docked in/with it, is a free bonus.



What if... the max repair level would be lower than the item level?
To repair level 12 things perfectly and in the field, you need a level 18 repair module... or a massive "shop" (aka hardpoint) to do the work in.
With a "normal" tech level repair module on your ship, you can repair some damage - depending on the tech levels.
Repairing all the way to 100% would then require an overkill of tech level... or a hardpoint of such dimensions that it doesn't fit on a combat ship.
All that really matters is that the player can't build the One Ship To Rule Them All.
The player doesn't want to keep specialised ships around for everything so we need to make him want it. =)
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Gazz » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:32 pm

Gazz wrote:Any legal or research limitations would only be placed on the equipment itself.

How could this work?

Why would the player not use a level 19 repair module in that level 19 hardpoint?
Why would this feature have a point?

  • Does the player need to "know" a tech level in order to be able to use it? Need to research it in some general way?
    If it can simply be bought it's no different mechanic from buying the equipment itself. That would be pointless.

  • Do factions require you to have a license to use items above level x in their space?
    That would quickly make a careless player enemy #1 with a whole lot of people. May be realistic but is that fun?

  • Is it an energy issue?
    Requiring a massive generator wouldn't really be a problem for the GCV Übership, my battleship that does everything and mostly fields energy weapons.
    That the repair module is shutdown during combat, leaving all that energy to boost the other weapons, wouldn't be a deal-breaker.

  • Is it the cargo size?
    In LPT, cargo size was largely irrelevant once items were installed.
    In X3, an item (installed or not) requires cargo space.

    I really like the simplicity of the system in LPT.
    You used all your construction points to build a ship with massive hardpoints. As a result, it's not much of a trader because it's cargo hold is tiny.
    You can only uninstall your massive guns when docked at a station and swapping things with one of your transports. Even one of the items doesn't fit into your hold.
    I really like cargo space not being a "fighting stat".

    This could then be played straight.
    If you absolutely must carry cargo, you can install external cargo pods on weapon hardpoints.
    Like combat jets carry fuel pods on their weapon hardpoints for ferry flights.

  • Should this feature even have a point?

    The "overkill tech level" alone would mean you need a pretty specialised ship to take care of your equipment and that you're giving up a lot to have this level 19 module on your ship.
    If such an item even exists.

    Repair speed and max % could then simply be a function of repaired item level and repair module level. KISS.

    On a station, the hardpoint size is more of a "who cares" issue. It's more costly but it's good business when everyone needs repairs.
    Excess hardpoint level as a bonus to "max repair %" would let you repair your own ships in your station with the tech you have available.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Flatfingers » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:40 pm

If there will be system and ship damage, and systems and ship hulls have a technology level (TL), what about the idea of keying repair capability to the tech level of the world where the repairs are done?

This provides gameplay benefits (thinking about where to go for repairs becomes a more interesting choice) and creates another useful reason to track the technology level of worlds beyond the science fiction world-setting virtue.

If you wanted, you could have some special-purpose rules, such as (and these are just for purposes of discussion):

  • When world TL > system TL, you get some bonus. Maybe the system temporarily works a little better, or it's just a repair cost reduction.
  • When world TL == system TL, it's a straight cost to repair.
  • When world TL == system TL - 1, the system can be repaired, but it costs a lot more.
  • When world TL < system TL - 1, they can't repair that system (because they don't know how and can't get the necessary parts).
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Gazz » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:47 pm

@ Flatfingers

Repair time could also be a factor.
In LTP it was instant but it wasn't much of a "game" to begin with.

While repairs on your personal ship are in progress, you could browse the job board or do other managerial things.
Since repair time will be a balancing factor for ship-based systems, it could easily be extended to stationary ones.
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Re: Some thoughts about damage and repair

Postby Zero Gravitas » Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:49 pm

Gazz wrote:Since repair time will be a balancing factor for ship-based systems, it could easily be extended to stationary ones.

Perhaps repair capability could function as a logarithmic scale. You can repair your ship to 100% health with the Acme Puncture Repair kit that you keep onboard your ship, but if you fly to the nearest shipyard, they can use to Repair-o-tron 9000 and get the job done twice as quick.

Let's say the nearest shipyard is several systems away from your present position. The nice thing about doing it with a logarithmic scale is that you won't feel burned by the game if you choose to use your onboard repair facilities – you can get your damage 50% repaired almost as quickly as a shipyard could do it and be back on your merry way, or back in the fight. :angel: It would however be painfully slow to attempt a 100% repair job with lightweight/underpowered/substandard facilities.
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