Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Thu Jul 02, 2015 4:00 pm

i'd personally prefer "instant" communications as a possibility, and delayed comms only as fallback.

as in "as long as we are in radio range it goes instant, further than that we have to have couriers".

maybe with the control fidelity modified by the distance of the instant comms connection.

short range -> direct remote control possible (same system or maybe even shorter)

medium range -> classic RTS controls

long range -> somewhat like grand strategy games, "this fleet moves there, this fleet attacks this area" etc...

opinions? :think:
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Flatfingers » Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:08 pm

Cornflakes_91 wrote:maybe with the control fidelity modified by the distance of the instant comms connection.

short range -> direct remote control possible (same system or maybe even shorter)

medium range -> classic RTS controls

long range -> somewhat like grand strategy games, "this fleet moves there, this fleet attacks this area" etc...

I'm with you in theory. Some thoughts:

1. What in your opinion is the functional difference between "direct remote control" and "classic RTS controls"?

To me, RTS controls == direct remote control of an individual unit. Most RTSs give you a way to group units together, but you're still basically giving atomic-level instructions to individual units: mine the resource at location X, attack enemy unit Y, defend location Z.

I wouldn't have any problem with merging those and letting them be instantaneous within the same star system.

2. Between star systems, non-instantaneous communication basically means transmitting information -- data in, orders out -- via couriers of some kind. Options there would be:

  • You do it personally in your own ship.
  • Data and orders are moved via NPC ships, which have the ability to semi-intelligently protect the information they're carrying.
  • Data and orders are moved via drones, which can't do anything if they are interfered with.
The effect of this would be to give value to the creation of information transmission webs in every star system in which you want to operate.

The optimal solution might be to station courier NPC ships around every wormhole terminus. As new information arrives at one wormhole point, it's transmitted instantly to all the NPC ships of that faction, and one ship at each of all the other wormhole points then travels through that wormhole to ferry that information to the neighboring star system. You could get more sophisticated with this, defining a certain amount of information that has to be collected before a courier departs, or selecting one NPC to be the local information broker for that star system (with the ability to do more intelligent routing of information), but that's the basic idea.

And for the skeptics who don't want to have to do this, there's no reason why NPCs in the game wouldn't create their own courier factions, which you could hire to move your information around for you. ;)

And as a side benefit, this would actually be pretty resistant to enemy incursions since it's a dynamic web of information movement -- you could lose a star system and your information web would just route around it, not unlike today's packet-switching networks.

You'd want some form of this communication web in place to support strategic play. Since you wouldn't be able to instantly command a distant fleet or colony, or know what's happening to it the moment that it happens, you'd want to build or hire a good information network to minimize the delay between order and execution and between an occurrence of an event and awareness of that event.

Also note that this applies equally to combat and commercial operations. Strategically speaking, whoever has the best information network would have a significant advantage in any enterprise.

Still, at a high enough (multi-star system) level, there would always be some delay. That's both good and bad, depending on how you like to play games. If your preferred kind of fun is exciting action, then you probably still want instantaneous communication across the whole game universe to minimize the boring moments when nothing is happening. You can attack anywhere at any time, and so can any NPC gang. The game basically becomes an RTS -- tactical play with some light resource collection.

On the other hand, a delay between star systems has the advantage of enabling more strategic play: when something big starts to happen, you have the opportunity to detect those large-scale changes in patterns of force and make good logistical decisions to counter them before you're defeated. (And again, that applies to both fighting and economic play.) In a game with a communication delay between systems, you basically have three games: a tactical/operational game within each star system, an operational game within a sector, and a strategic game across multiple star sectors.

I don't know that LT has to be that latter kind of game. I think I might like that, and I suspect a few others would as well, but it wouldn't be for everyone.

So... a slider option, then? ;)
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Fri Jul 03, 2015 12:10 am

Flatfingers wrote:I'm with you in theory. Some thoughts:

1. What in your opinion is the functional difference between "direct remote control" and "classic RTS controls"?



Direct remote control = fly it like a RC plane.
If you are close enough, you can "switch" to the other ship control wise.
Would at least be an interesting option.

Flatfingers wrote:You'd want some form of this communication web in place to support strategic play.

[…]

The game basically becomes an RTS -- tactical play with some light resource collection.



i disagree, by that definition the real world would be losing its "strategy-ness" with every improved communications standard.
Also chess would be wholly unstrategical by that definition, no comms delay, no intelligence to gather ;)

Strategic play doesnt emerge from the inability to give orders, but from the delay between thought and effect.
With delayed comms but fast long range jumping of units it would still be a tactical game, as the second something happens thats observable to somebody else, its already over.

Long travel time / slow interstellar movement speed gives strategic play, as there is time to gather the information and detect patterns at all, and not everything is over already by the time you have the data.

Imo instant communication would give more opportunities for strategic play.
Than with interstellar coms with delays in the same ballpark as action times.

Large systems, big number of jumps between points of interest give strategic play, delay between arrival of an order and end of the execution of an order gives trategic play, not comms delay.

If the enemy fleets take only 2 minutes to travel from one end of the theatre of war to the other end, strategy goes out the window, regardless of comms delay, but if they take hours to go the same distance placement, coordination and pattern detection matters.

i want the decision itself to matter, and not force them to matter because the postal service cant change my orders in time.

thats why i'd support instant communications over delayed comms, in addition to implementation technical headaches.

With instant comms in "developed" areas, with communications arrays permeated through space providing instant comms, couriers providing large scale information transfer through "wild" areas.
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Flatfingers » Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:58 pm

If I may paraphrase you, it sounds like what you're saying is this:

  1. Ships will require meaningful amounts of time to move between different star systems.
  2. This physical movement time for ships creates a delay between decision and execution.
  3. This kind of delay between decision and action is necessary and sufficient to produce a strategic game.
  4. Therefore also imposing a delay in communicating between different star systems is unnecessary.
Is that a fair representation of your view?

If so... we're close, but not quite in agreement. ;)

I'm with you on points 1 and 2. But we differ at point 3, which is why I don't accept the conclusion at point 4.

I agree that a delay between decision and action is necessary for play to be strategic. That's what makes creative planning a strategic competence -- you have to be able to imagine an organization and sequencing of actions that will, over time, alter the patterns of force in a wide area to your advantage.

But I don't agree that this delay between giving orders and having them carried out is sufficient to produce strategic play. And that's because this kind of delay by itself doesn't take into account the other direction in which information travels: new information that is created when an event occurs also needs to reach the appropriate decision-maker(s).

This is why I talk not just about creativity but also about perception when I'm yapping about strategic play. Being able to exclude irrelevant information and form into a meaningful pattern the relevant information is important at multiple levels of play; being able to do that when you don't have instant access to all information is what makes this kind of perceptiveness a strategic gift. This ability to recognize what really matters through the "fog of war" is one of the features that distinguishes the great strategists from the merely competent ones.

So: it's because I believe that there also needs to be a delay in information getting back to decision-makers, as well as the delay between a decision-maker giving orders and ships carrying out those orders, that I favor information transfer not being instantaneous throughout the LT universe.

That said, I also realize that this doesn't sound like fun to everyone. So I'd be cool with an "Omniscient" option. But as someone who sees great potential for strategic play in LT, I'd be happiest if that were an option and not the only way to play.
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby BFett » Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:01 pm

Flatfingers wrote:If I may paraphrase you, it sounds like what you're saying is this:

  1. Ships will require meaningful amounts of time to move between different star systems.
  2. This physical movement time for ships creates a delay between decision and execution.
  3. This kind of delay between decision and action is necessary and sufficient to produce a strategic game.
  4. Therefore also imposing a delay in communicating between different star systems is unnecessary.
Is that a fair representation of your view?

If so... we're close, but not quite in agreement. ;)

I'm with you on points 1 and 2. But we differ at point 3, which is why I don't accept the conclusion at point 4.

I agree that a delay between decision and action is necessary for play to be strategic. That's what makes creative planning a strategic competence -- you have to be able to imagine an organization and sequencing of actions that will, over time, alter the patterns of force in a wide area to your advantage.

But I don't agree that this delay between giving orders and having them carried out is sufficient to produce strategic play. And that's because this kind of delay by itself doesn't take into account the other direction in which information travels: new information that is created when an event occurs also needs to reach the appropriate decision-maker(s).

This is why I talk not just about creativity but also about perception when I'm yapping about strategic play. Being able to exclude irrelevant information and form into a meaningful pattern the relevant information is important at multiple levels of play; being able to do that when you don't have instant access to all information is what makes this kind of perceptiveness a strategic gift. This ability to recognize what really matters through the "fog of war" is one of the features that distinguishes the great strategists from the merely competent ones.

So: it's because I believe that there also needs to be a delay in information getting back to decision-makers, as well as the delay between a decision-maker giving orders and ships carrying out those orders, that I favor information transfer not being instantaneous throughout the LT universe.

That said, I also realize that this doesn't sound like fun to everyone. So I'd be cool with an "Omniscient" option. But as someone who sees great potential for strategic play in LT, I'd be happiest if that were an option and not the only way to play.

I'm trying to think up a system that would please both parties. But first I need some clarification.

I like the list at the beginning of your post, but I also see how a delay could be interesting. If a delay were in place, what if anything would occur during the time after the orders had been received? If I follow correctly, when a general sends orders to his ships in a different system, a scout ship, or some other ship specialized for the task is sent out. If the ship is destroyed the orders are lost and must be resent for an action to take place. My question is when do you think the General should see the actions of his fleet and how does he receive this data?

You also suggested that there may be a ship on either side of a wormhole that quickly goes through then returns when data of importance comes through. Do you assume that this data then must be transported to the battle-fleet or is it simply just transmitted through the entire system instantly?
If it's instantly, I'd like to suggest putting into place a transmission station or other facility which can be attacked or tampered with.
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:16 am

Flatfingers wrote:This is why I talk not just about creativity but also about perception when I'm yapping about strategic play. Being able to exclude irrelevant information and form into a meaningful pattern the relevant information is important at multiple levels of play; being able to do that when you don't have instant access to all information is what makes this kind of perceptiveness a strategic gift. This ability to recognize what really matters through the "fog of war" is one of the features that distinguishes the great strategists from the merely competent ones.


I agree in principle with your points, but why would that necessiate forced snail mail comms?

Couldnt the same be archieved with fidelity reduced lon-range interstellar comms?

"Fleet a was attacked by this enemy with a [small/large] fleet".

You dont have instant access to all the information that exists in your fleet, but without forcing everything into snail-mail.

Another thing we could do would be to make snailmail the preferred solution, for example by making ships using interstellar comms visible over similar ranges.
"Someone in that system is using long range coms, lets see who that is"
fleets that are close to enemy territory would want to use snail mail to avoid detection.

This would also remove the burden of a game system made for strategic players from lone wolf players as it doesnt matter for them.
(It would also make a nice SETI system for exploration players :mrgreen: )


BFett wrote:I like the list at the beginning of your post, but I also see how a delay could be interesting. If a delay were in place, what if anything would occur during the time after the orders had been received? If I follow correctly, when a general sends orders to his ships in a different system, a scout ship, or some other ship specialized for the task is sent out. If the ship is destroyed the orders are lost and must be resent for an action to take place. My question is when do you think the General should see the actions of his fleet and how does he receive this data?


Data would only flow throug courier ships, if no courier reaches the fleet or you with the info, the info isnt there.
If your orders dont arrive, they dont arrive.
If the courier with feedback doesnt make it you dont have the feedback.

BFett wrote: You also suggested that there may be a ship on either side of a wormhole that quickly goes through then returns when data of importance comes through. Do you assume that this data then must be transported to the battle-fleet or is it simply just transmitted through the entire system instantly?
If it's instantly, I'd like to suggest putting into place a transmission station or other facility which can be attacked or tampered with.


The ships are already there to be tampered with, in front of every wormhole one.
Why introduce another thing that does nothing extra?
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby DWMagus » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:32 pm

I'm suddenly reminded of something.

First off, "Pause as a gameplay mechanic". Originally put forth because if you have a massive fleet, you'd be fighting the UI to try and compete at the same speed as the AI. Now, there have been suggested solutions from the AI not moving at lightspeed (best suggestion IMO) or slowing down gameplay (not that good, because unless you slow it down more as your fleet grows, you could end up in a situation where the AI is still faster than you).

So regardless of whether we do slow-down or pause: information as a commodity. If we treat something like information as a commodity, the player suddenly breaks the 4th wall in regards to immersion because the player (3rd person perspective to the game) "knows" stuff when in other instances he wouldn't if he can just zip back and forth. That's something the AI wouldn't have, and if it did, we'd consider it cheating.
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby BFett » Sat Jul 04, 2015 5:44 pm

Why not limit information to what is being detected by the ships in the fleet. The player isn't cheating if the data received is the data gathered by the real ships. Executive NPCs should have the exact same vision when operating their fleets.
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Flatfingers » Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:23 am

Just a quick addendum: I proposed "instant communications within a star system." So the courier system would consist of multiple courier ships posted at every known wormhole opening in a star system.

Let's consider an example. There are three star systems: System A is connected to System B by one wormhole, and System B is connected to System C by a different wormhole. You are in System A, and you want one of your ships in System C to do something important.

So you transmit a coded message to your courier network (or one that you've hired if you can't yet afford to build your own network). The network determines that the fastest route to System C is through System B. One of the courier ships stationed in System A at the opening of the wormhole between System A and System B enters that wormhole.

As soon as that ship exits the wormhole in System B, it transmits the coded message. Because messages (we're assuming) move instantly within a star system, the network can route the message to the courier ships already stationed at the wormhole between System B and System C. One of those ships travels to System C.

When it exits into System C, it immediately transfers the message to the target ship(s).

That's the basic concept. There are a lot of ways it might be modified for entertainment purposes. :)

For example, we might say that the only way to send a message instantly is to broadcast it. If you want it to be secure, you have to send it through a courier. This extends the idea of a courier network into two forms: the version that uses instantaneously broadcast messages for non-secure traffic, and a version that relies on fast ships actually ferrying secure information from source to target.

This starts to look more interesting and less like an unnecessary complication if you factor in espionage and hacking. If anybody can pick up a broadcast message, there might be competitively useful information in it. (You could of course code each message before broadcasting it, but that might really be complicating LT too much.) So being able to send a message without anyone else knowing its contents -- such as "attack Planet 5 in System C" -- might be worth the price of taking longer to go from source to target because you have to use a courier ship that must actually, physically fly from the source's location to the target's location.

Again, though, I understand that this won't feel like fun to everyone. There's no way I'd argue in favor of imposing this on all LT players; I'd want an Omniscient option in which all communication everywhere is instantaneous.

But I sure would like it to be an option, and for another option in which orders take time to go from source to target, and consequences also take time to be reflected back from the target to the source.

I know, I know... "You like it that much, Flatfingers, you write it as a mod and see if anyone is as nutty as you are." :D
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Sun Jul 05, 2015 3:33 am

Flatfingers wrote:I know, I know... "You like it that much, Flatfingers, you write it as a mod and see if anyone is as nutty as you are."


I just want snail mail not to be the only option for interstellar communications.

As the absolute fallback option, when nothing else works.

Or for situations when subspace radio would be possible but not the ideal option.
For example with fleets that dont want to activate their long-range detectable radios or for confidental data which would be unsuited for the potentially compromised radio.


DWMagus wrote:I'm suddenly reminded of something.

First off, "Pause as a gameplay mechanic". Originally put forth because if you have a massive fleet, you'd be fighting the UI to try and compete at the same speed as the AI. Now, there have been suggested solutions from the AI not moving at lightspeed (best suggestion IMO) or slowing down gameplay (not that good, because unless you slow it down more as your fleet grows, you could end up in a situation where the AI is still faster than you).

So regardless of whether we do slow-down or pause: information as a commodity. If we treat something like information as a commodity, the player suddenly breaks the 4th wall in regards to immersion because the player (3rd person perspective to the game) "knows" stuff when in other instances he wouldn't if he can just zip back and forth. That's something the AI wouldn't have, and if it did, we'd consider it cheating.


I dont understand how the player could know more than the would if he werent the player?

How could he "zip back and forth"?
in which context?
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Safe-r » Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:56 am

I think snail mail should work mainly as the means of getting data feedback (espionage), but what about making snail mail the only way to communicate with your fleet IF the enemy is capable of jamming your signal? Or reduce the number of commands for the fleet to very basic ones (like "retreat", causing the fleet to make a breakthrough maneuver towards the closest friendly space station/fleet/border)?
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Sun Jul 05, 2015 8:14 am

Yeah, thats what im thinking about.

With a bit more "real" stuff in there.

for example communications bandwith being range dependent, and the capability to command is bandwith dependent.

And jamming would reduce the available bandwith, and thus your ability to control.

Snailmail would not be able to be jammed in the same way, and could deliver arbitarily detailed orders, but would have considerable delay
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:06 pm

Something interesting i found concerning communications.

http://www.projectrho.com/game/fifthfrontierwar.html

Basically: data isnt delayed at all, but orders take a while to be executed.
So your fleet gets your orders (for example) five minutes after you give them.

Removes the pains of simulating delayed information transmission while preserving most of the interesting aspects of delayed communications
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby Flatfingers » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:49 pm

Cornflakes_91 wrote:Something interesting i found concerning communications.

http://www.projectrho.com/game/fifthfrontierwar.html

Basically: data isnt delayed at all, but orders take a while to be executed.
So your fleet gets your orders (for example) five minutes after you give them.

Heh. Designed by Marc Miller who created Traveller. (The Fifth Frontier War is an event from Traveller history.)

And Traveller's treatment of information delay is one of the reasons why I like the idea of fleet communications taking some time in LT. It creates a requirement for good strategic planning, which makes that level of gameplay more interesting/fun.

So, five minutes to process orders beyond the current star system? I'm in. :)

Question: should it be five minutes for orders to reach all non-local fleets, regardless of distance? Or an additional five minutes for each "hop?"
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Re: Communications Gameplay in Limit Theory

Postby BFett » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:54 am

Maybe 5 minutes for the first hop and then an additional 2 to 3 minutes for each jump after that. I imagine that the relays are processing, checking locations, and then continuing to send the movement data through each additional relay until it reaches the destination relay which quickly forwards the data to the fleet.
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