fatmop wrote:Question for everyone: what kind of strategic goals might exist for npcs to organize fleets around?
I like the question... but I would say that most (though not all) of the suggestions made so far fall into the Operational or Tactical area of activity. That doesn't make any of them "bad" or not worth doing; it's just that the question was specifically about strategic goals.
As a quick explanation, here's one way to describe the different levels of organized action:
- Tactics: short-term, small-unit actions in which the local environment can affect the outcome (engagements)
- Operations: medium-term engagements coordinated to achieve a regional objective (battles)
- Strategy: operations logistically supported to achieve long-term dominance across a broad front (campaigns)
- Grand Strategy: very-long-term multi-modal actions intended to achieve complete superiority (wars)
(I've written in more detail about these levels here
, and here
As quick examples of these in a military context: tactics is about using the local environment to win an immediate fight; operations is about controlling a region by picking the right fights in the right places; strategy is about setting plans to obtain, protect, and exploit resources to support combined-arms operations over a large portion of the contested territory; and grand strategy is the use of multiple forms of coercive power (military force and diplomatic persuasion) to insure the survival and expansion of an entire culture.
To put it another way: Han Solo used clever environmental tactics (pretending to be garbage, entering an asteroid field) to avoid immediate capture by an Imperial fleet; Lando Calrissian used operations to manage mining activity on Bespin (before having to use those operations to get out of a bad deal); Yoda used strategy to direct the clone troops on multiple fronts spanning many star systems against General Grievous's droid army (until Order 66 was invoked); and Senator Palpatine skillfully used grand strategy to join together military, political and diplomatic strategies (as well as the Dark Side of the Force) to make it inevitable that he become Chancellor and, ultimately, Emperor.
And to put it yet one more way: tactics in LT is about acting personally and immediately within one star system; operations is about acting over the near term as an organization (through a fleet of a few NPCs) within one sector; and strategy is about acting over the long term as a civilization (through many NPCs and a deep chain of command) across multiple sectors. (Grand strategy is what you decide do as the player to control anything and everything in the game world!
So, with all those broad definitions of the different levels in mind, here's how I would revise and extend the gameplay actions we might be able to enjoy in LT:
- TACTICAL (ship)
- Individual ship destruction contracts (your personal ship shooting other ships)
- Individual ship raid actions to support a faction's operational goals
- Starbase conquest
- Escort actions
- Recon of hostile space, defense, fleets
- Shut down hostile recon
- Extort or ransom NPCs and businesses
- Immediate direction of one small fleet to dominate a star system
- Start a production line
- Perform a basic planetary survey
- Negotiate a delivery of cargo or a speculative trade
- Research a new base technology
- OPERATIONAL (fleet)
- Camp trade and supply lanes
- Secure space / patrolling for hostiles
- Planetary conquest (for the first planet)
- Direct one large or several small fleets to dominate a sector
- Perceive patterns of action by local competitors
- Take over businesses or other NPC assets
- Manage several different kinds of production lines across several star systems
- Survey physical and social aspects of planets in multiple systems in a sector
- Define a plan for researching particular base techs and modifier techs
- Create a trading sequence to maximize speculative profit across multiple systems
- Negotiate temporary agreements on behalf of large organizations
- STRATEGIC (civilization)
- Planetary conquest (for multiple planets)
- Careful direction of multiple large fleets across several multi-sector fronts
- Perceive large-scale patterns of force over space and time by other civilizations
- Manage a megacorporation with multiple production modes spanning several sectors
- Combine research and production organizations to optimize fleet power
- Build a detailed map showing resource change patterns across multiple sectors
- Negotiate long-term diplomatic agreements with other civilizations
If some of these ideas are used, then in practice it's unlikely that there will be hard-and-fast divisions between these levels of play. You won't be doing only tactical stuff one day and then boom, the next day it's all operational gameplay -- there'll be a mix as you increase in power and understanding, and you should be free to choose whether you enjoy the gameplay at the higher level of complexity or if you'd rather focus on improving how you're doing at your current level of organization.
I hope this suggested structure is helpful for thinking about the different gameplay possibilities as a player's strength and understanding increase. Any other ideas for what players might enjoy doing that fits Josh's vision for a Freelancer-like game with RPG elements, sorted by the level of organization required?