Ravensburg wrote:Nice post, very interesting. Many tests has been made during development in order to include the formation system, some of them was very close to your proposition. Finally we decided to remove formations because it made the game over complicated for not a great tactical enhancement.
We know that this is an important feature of the TTG and I would love to see it in the game. But it must be ergonomic/tactical/balanced/understandable, So maybe later...
Thanks for your response. While I understand the complexity of my entire
proposed formation system, it's really just a pie-in-the-sky proposal for an ideal world. I do not, however, believe any part of it is overly complicated - if anything, the current lack of group movement orders is making the game more complicated than it would be otherwise, and favouring the use of mass brawling and using skillshot bombs rather than being a matter of tactics and thought. It's not a -terrible- game as-is, but it's currently a very different kind of game to the TTG, and not for the better. The focus seems largely on bombs and special abilities rather than guns and torpedoes. Boarding and teleport attacks were part of the tabletop game, for sure, but they were never the main focus.
As for balance issues, I don't see any myself except with the current system: at the moment, the favoured strategy is picking tons of ships that are very good at brawling and then everything fights in a big messy melee of circling vessels and ramming. This naturally benefits ships and factions that excel at close range brawling, and limits player choice significantly, after all, when it's both easier and more effective to just have a big clump of ships with powerful short range guns and then send them to attack the enemy, launching many bombs and skillshots, why would players try to use tactics? In terms of interface clutter, too - ergonomics - a pop-up/dropdown menu could be used for selecting formations, so that there isn't any additional interface clutter for people who don't wish to use formations, and to preserve screen real estate.
I believe some simple formations and group control mechanics - like being able to assign ships or groups of ships to number keys for selection - are essential for the future life of this game, and would actually make things significantly less complicated and more easy to understand. After all, there's much less to keep track of if your ships are moving together and can be ordered together, rather than effectively having to control all ships individually. Multiple selected ships assigned to a group should also all be given special orders at once - so if you want all three of your escorts to use Lock On, for example, it would only take one button press, rather than selecting each ship individually and ordering them as it is currently. This would allow for formation maneuvering without any major code changes or additions - if I have a control group selected and order a high energy turn, all the ships in the control group will make the turn if they are able.
So, in conclusion, I disagree strongly with the idea that it "was not a great enhancement" - on the contrary, it would be a huge increase in the depth and options of the game, and allow different playstyles to compete with one another and flourish, rather than merely favouring a 'bring lots of guns and special abilities' brawling style.
In order of necessity and importance, I would rate my proposal in the following way, from most to least important:
#1: Control groups assignable to number keys; ships in control group all move at the speed of the slowest ship when control group is selected. Similarly, all ships in a control group would follow the same orders when possible - so they could all brace or lock on with one click, or all go All Ahead Full or high-energy turn at once. Don't think I need to explain why this is hugely important and would be a massive improvement on its own.
#2: Line Astern formation, with ships following one another in a line. Given the broadside focus of many ships in the game, the fact that we can use only Line Abreast and waste most of our firepower is a big problem. Even if absolutely no other formations are ever added to the game, a 'move in line astern' interface toggle for groups is essential and would go a long way to fixing the problem - since with this added, we'd actually be able to do something other than brawling/circling attacks, and have our ships work together. I would basically be happy if just this and control groups were added, letting us choose between our ships moving into line abreast and into line astern.
#3: 'Guard Mode' order. Not quite a formation, but giving a ship an order to guard another ship and automatically attack any enemy ship that attacks it. Most RTS games have this, I don't see why BFG:A should not, especially for larger battles where there may be a lot of escorts to micromanage. And the clue's in the name, they're escorts; this is their job! Would let us focus on our battleships and cruisers while the escorts fight it out themselves, as they should, if we want.
#4: Other formations and formation maneuvers. I'd like my proposal to be implemented in the game, but I'm aware it's ambitious. An easy way to implement it would be a 'lock formation' button, where ships will maintain relative position and speed to one another when ordered in their control group. This way, players could create any formations they desired, though it'd be very hard to rearrange them in the middle of battle - though this in itself could be a 'balancing' element!
Thanks again. I hope it will be considered, because I do believe that it's essential both to recreating the TTG and for the long-term survival and strength of this game. And simply because it's fun.