Gazz, like your explanations as usual, and as usual I'm tossing in my $0.02.
When it comes to behaviour of the convoy when escorting, I liked the ideas of Gambits (stolen from FF12).
A quick run-down for those who do not know of FF12's gambit system;
You only control one character, and other characters act according to their instructions. The gambits are arranged in a list, and they process down that list until the first 'match' they have is taken. So, you can build a character's commands with gambits like
- Ally:Any - Pheonix Down
- Ally:HP < 50% - Cure
- Foe:Party Target's Leader - Attack
What this means is that first, the character will see if anyone needs to be raised, and will use a pheonix down accordingly. Next, they will check to see if anyone is less than 50% hp and heal them. Last, if none of the above are needed, then they will attack whoever the party is attacking. These aren't processed in order, and once an action is taken, it starts over back at the top. In other words, if you put the last command first, all they would ever do is attack and then restart (as long as there is an enemy). This is very
rough overview though. It is also similar to how GPP works if you're a sysadmin for a server 2008 r2 or 2012 box.
Now, how this applies;
When it comes to behaviours from formations to convoys, gambits can be utilized the same way. For example;
- Convoy Distance: > 2000m - Wait for escort
- Convoy Distance: > 1000m - Slow to 50% of speed
This way if you get further than 2km from the convoy, they stop, and if you're between 2km and 1km, they slow down. This can be adapted for other variables as well. Just process them like once every 10-15 seconds so that the CPU isn't hogged constantly checking the system. To also prevent problems with large convoys, allow the entire convoy to be treated as a single entity.
Then, let players create
these and modify them (max out like at 4-6 so that it doesn't get too complicated for the engine to handle). That way, maybe players want the convoy to stay closer, so they want different numbers. Maybe they want the convoy to change formation if they get attacked, and then change back when the 'All Clear' is sounded. Maybe they want the ships to slow down or speed up when an enemy is engaged to clear them from the battlefield or allow you to lure them away from the ships. Etc.
This can also be adapted to wingman if you're flying with an AI ship. Maybe you're with 6 ships, and you want to make sure that when engaging an enemy, you always have someone watching your tail, or if there are few enemies (Foe Enemy Count < Ally Enemy Count | Foe Enemy Type : Fighters ) to completely break formation and let it be a free-for-all.
Now, for formations.
I'm of the opinion that formations should be entirely customizeable. Have a subscreen you can enter where you can basically drag-and-drop ships into formation and then 'save' it for use later. Have some generic formations as well. Wedge, line, etc. Then, when you get into a convoy, you can either select a pre-made one (line) or you can use one you already made (fighter surround), or you can even enter into the subscreen (pause the game in the meantime) and tailor a formation very specific to the exact ships you have. Maybe even have an 'export' button to save to a file, or just automatically keep updating a 'formation' file of the different types.
However, I know some people will not want to re-create their formations each time they have new wingman. Simply make it so when you create a formation, it is a generalized one. I.E. Designate an area for fighters to be in front of and behind the convoy if it is a line, and set a split 80/20 for percentage of fighter escort to be in front/behind the line. This way, if you have a scout or two in your convoy, you can set the scout to patrol at a decent spot ahead to be able to radio in case of trouble.
Combine the two, and you can easily set behaviours for whether your allies break formation to attack, or when they should (if they do at all). As well, add in all the variables from Gazz's notes, and there you go.
I'm the type that will pre-plan these things and would like to go into battle or a mission holding as many cards as possible. I don't like surprises, but I don't like not being prepared for them more.
Early Spring - 1055:
Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.