Currently, the Strategic Mode in Airships is rather frantic and limited strategically. I think a turn/tile based Strategic Mode would create better strategic opportunities and allow people to plan better. Or maybe not. I hope this isn't too ambitious. Anyways...
Nations would no longer be comprised of just large cities, instead each starting nation would be given a "capitol" and a few villages and watchtowers surrounding it. Capitols will have a large procedurally generated (or within a non procedurally generated radius) blob of owned terrain around it, and villages and will have smaller amounts of owned terrain around them. Watchtowers don't give you any new territory, but can be used to spot enemy units. (see below)
Capturing capitols would still give you a technology bonus.
Defensive buildings could be build around villages as well as capitols.
Every forest tile and suspendium island tile (see below) that your territory encompasses will generate you money at the end of every day. (16 turns, see below)
New villages and watchtowers can be built for a sum of money.
NPC Nations would patrol their borders with fleets and landships regularly, as part of their AI.
Although the map could retain the same aesthetic (the tiles could be hidden unless your cursor is over it, or you want to move a fleet or construct something), functionally, it would be divided into tiles, with each tile representing a specific type of terrain.
If you move a fleet tile over a city, village, or bridge tile, it is considered "defended." Basically exactly how the game works now.
For a sum of money, you would be able to build bridges across rivers for your landships, and you would be able to defend them with airships/structures.
For a sum of money, you would be able to build a village or watchtower on a tile (thus gaining territory around it), and you would be able to defend them with airships/structures.
For aesthetic reasons, battles over village tiles could have houses in the background, and battles over capitols could have walled cities in the background.
At the end of every turn, the time would cycle between these phases twice (once for player movement, once for AI movement):
1: Dawn. 2: Day, Sun Rising. 3: Day, Afternoon. 4: Day Sun Setting. 5: Dusk. 6: Night, Moon Rising. 7: Night. 8: Night, Moon Setting.
Dawn means that if the attackers are attacking from the North, the sun will be visible in the background, because the camera is facing east. This would make everything silhouetted. Attacking in the opposite direction would make everything better lit than the current dawn/dusk, but still in red lighting.
"Sun Rising" means that if the attackers are attacking from the North, the sun will be visible in the background, because the camera is facing east. The sky would be lit like day.
"Afternoon" means that the sun will not be visible. The sky would be lit like day.
"Sun setting" means that if the attackers are attacking from the South, the sun will be visible in the background, because the camera is facing west. The sky would be lit like day.
Dusk means that if the attackers are attacking from the South, the sun will be visible in the background, because the camera is facing west. This would make everything silhouetted. Attacking in the opposite direction would make everything better lit than the current dawn/dusk, but still in red lighting.
"Moon Rising" means that if the attackers are attacking from the North, the moon will be visible in the background, because the camera is facing east. The sky would be lit like night.
Night means that the moon will not be visible. The sky would be lit like night.
"Moon Setting" means that if the attackers are attacking from the South, the moon will be visible in the background, because the camera is facing west. The sky would be lit like night.
As an aesthetic bonus, maybe the map could look lantern-lit during the night phases.
Constructing things would take a certain number of turns, rather than time.
Money would be collected at the end of every day.
The number of tiles an airship could move in a turn would depend on it's speed stat. If an enemy unit is within this range, it may be attacked if your fleet is placed on a tile next to them. If your fleet survives, it can no longer move for the rest of the turn. (So be careful attacking fleets with reinforcements close behind them! Your fleet will probably have to fight again on the enemy's turn!)
Opponent AI that sees an enemy fleet in range could try to attack the biggest threat that isn't stronger than them. If every fleet they can reach is stronger them, and they are quicker, they could try to retreat to the nearest defended city instead.
Rainstorms and snowstorms could appear as physical on the strategic map, sliding across the landscape until they dissipate.
A fleet of airships would move only as fast as it's slowest units. (so it might be strategic to have "cavalry" fleets of fast ships, and large ships in the bulky main fleet.)
If there are no spies in the capitol of a nation, enemy fleet movements will not be known to you unless they are within a certain number of tiles to one of your fleets, villages, capitols, or watchtowers. (more if one of the ships has a telescope module, less if it's night/snowing/raining, and less from the east or west if it's dusk or dawn.)
If airships and landships are together in a fleet, the entire fleet would be limited in movement by the landships. Because of their limited movement, landships would probably best be used for guarding your own borders, or ambushing at ruins and forests.
The compass will apply to the strategic mode. That means that if one fleet attacks another from the North or South, the "sunlight in the eyes" effects will not take place. So instead of being random, you'll want to try to use the sun to your advantage when attacking.
Whoa. Any thoughts on this? Is it outside the scope of this game?
Thinking this over, I'll add two thoughts:
most of this suggestion could probably work as a real time strategy instead of a turn based strategy, if airships on the strategic map were not locked into the tile grid (can move anywhere), and were given a command option to fly to a specific enemy fleet.
The fog of war could be optional, but that would make watchtowers a bit useless, except as a place for weak fleets to retreat to.
If this suggestion were implemented in it's entirety, the current strategic mode could be kept as an optional, more "busy" campaign mode.
Personally I agree that this should be implemented as a pause/play real time strategy, however I like the idea of the map being tile based as it would allow for more strategic opportunity and I'd imagine it would also make new features a heck of a lot easier to implement than on a map that works in constant space (Though admittedly I don't know the full details on how it is currently implemented). A couple of things I thought I might add:
* For implementing weather into the strategic map it would be nice to see weather move across the map based upon the wind, climate, etc. This would cause you to have to plan ahead.
* Instead of having a battlefield tile it might make more sense to have a "damage" value for each tile that will cause it to change appearance based upon the amount of carnage that has happened there (i.e. burning towns and forests, wrecks littering the ground, etc.) this could also affect things like tax from tiles that have sustained damage.
* Also I feel that you should be able to eventually turn towns into a city like the capitol because otherwise conquest is your only means of expansion which limits your options.
* Also in general entirely apart from this topic, I feel that airships needs more options in the path you take, this would mean the ability to have trade ships that can bring in additional revenue.
However I think this should be looked at after release, because by adding these features just the strategy mode alone will start to become a game in its own right and it doesn't make sense to endeavour to start another thing while the core of the game (i.e. The building and combat system) isn't even at 1.0 yet.
I may be an overly big fan of turn based in general, but I'm fairly sure the other ideas are still sound.
To expand a bit on what I meant by not having airships locked into a grid if it's a real time strategy, the terrain and whatnot would still be determined by what tile the airships are over, but they wouldn't be locked onto the grid.
It also occurred to me that as a real time strategy instead of a turn based strategy, fog of war would have to be implemented as a circle around airships, instead of a number of tiles around it.
Turning towns into cities sounds like a good idea to me. It could cost a large sum of money, sum of resources, or both to create. But afterwards, the advantages would be more taxes, and a bigger area of influence.
When two territories overlap, the middle could turn into a "disputed area," where both side only get half of the resources there. (a third of there's three nations claiming the same territory, yikes!)
Trading ships would go together well with things like alliances and diplomacy. Basically the Bread & Games Mod. (Maybe trading can only occur at cities, not towns, making things a bit simpler to manage and making the upgrading of towns worth more: an extra trade route!) But I think the militaristic and strategy aspects of the command mode should be improved before diplomacy is added.
Captain, Engineering Corps
Only thing that I would comment on is the thought of changing it to TBS. I personally think this is how is should be because it allows the player to see how they do under pressure and how well they can micromanage. If it were to be TBS it would take some of that aspect away.
I made some example pictures to show how a tile based map could be displayed as the current stylistic paper one.
Basically, you could move airship fleets anywhere on the map, (except where it would be blocked, like mountain peaks,) and if your fleet engages another in battle, whatever tile the two fleets connected over would determine the battlefield. However, the player would see the paper map, not the tiles.
Now, that sounds like an interesting idea. It would allow for patrols, defensive structures etc.
Also, it would be neat if the speed of the fleet was dependent on the speed of the slowest ship of the fleet. That way, fast ships have a good use as, say, scouts.
I'm really loving this idea, it would add so much to the game.
@Lukasmah: Yup, that was one of my ideas in the first post here. And landships would be blocked by rivers, (unless the landship in question is huge, then perhaps they could just ford it,) so bridges would become strategic points that can be attacked and defended just like cities in the game currently. (and when you capture one, you could build your own defenses there, or destroy it.)
Also, if a ship runs low on ammo during a battle, it could still have low ammo on the strategic screen until it restocked at a city/watchtower/etc. So it might be a good idea to have fleets of reinforcements.
And perhaps coal in the game could be redesigned in the same way, so instead of ships falling down by themselves during the middle of a battle, they instead have a limited range on the strategic map before needing to refuel. And if a ship runs out fuel and becomes stranded on the strategic map, another ship specifically designed to have lots of coal storage could be sent and used to transfer it's coal and get the first ship in the air again.
Any thoughts on that?
For me I think the game should say RTS, I'm not sure if that has already been agreed upon in the post I'm a little to lazy to read the entire thing :). However I think that the game could heavily improve with strategic points like bridges and/or towns. As to having the map be grid based, I don't think it fits with the style of the game.
I've considered RTS, and I think everything else I've mentioned works fine in a RTS system and would still benefit the game. I don't really mind either way. Turn-based is what the idea was originally built around, but the rest of the suggestion doesn't really hinge on that to work.
In fact, even the tile system is unnecessary, (cities could be placed anywhere, a battle would create a circle of ruined area around the spot where the battle took place, rather than reassigning the tile or giving it a damage value,) but it's an excellent way to simplify everything, and the game is already made up of bricks.
To quote myself:
"most of this suggestion could probably work as a real time strategy instead of a turn based strategy, if airships on the strategic map were not locked into the tile grid (can move anywhere), and were given a command option to fly to a specific enemy fleet."
"To expand a bit on what I meant by not having airships locked into a grid if it's a real time strategy, the terrain and whatnot would still be determined by what tile the airships are over, but they wouldn't be locked onto the grid.
It also occurred to me that as a real time strategy instead of a turn based strategy, fog of war would have to be implemented as a circle around airships, instead of a number of tiles around it."
And to preserve the aspect of taking advantage of sunrise/sunset - whatever direction your fleet was heading when it intercepted an enemy fleet, (90 degrees North, South, East or West,) determines whether there's a "sun in your eyes" bonus and from what direction.
This would be harder as a RTS because it's not so easy to circle your opponent if they're not stuck in place!
Attacking fleets that are now spent might consider flying towards the sun to get away.
I could probably make a revised version of the first post, but for now, some more thoughts on the subject:
Let's say you win a battle, both you and the enemy have reinforcements close by, and the fleet you just fought them with is in a weakened state.
Turn based: Let's say your vanguard can't move anymore because you were the one to initiate the battle on your turn. If your reinforcements are in range and haven't moved on that turn yet, they could combine with the vanguard fleet immediately. Otherwise, the enemy reinforcements will probably attack them on their turn. In that case, you could order them to flee on the battle screen, which will allow you to move that fleet back on the command screen, and get away because the enemy fleet has less of a range than you do. However, you can't flee at all if your fleet is slower than theirs, in which case you're out of luck. Not entirely though - once your vanguard if finished being stomped into the ground, the enemy fleet will be weakened for your reinforcements to deal with!
Real Time Based: Because ships aren't locked into a grid, whatever reinforcement fleet reached the weakened vanguard first would depend on how close they both are, and how fast each fleet is. If the enemy fleet got to them first and you were trying to run away, you probably wouldn't have the option of fleeing because that would mean your fleet is slower then theirs. The strategic stuff is preserved either way though, you could still stop the enemy once their weakened after engaging the leftovers of your vanguard.
Alternately, you could have the faster ships in your vanguard fleet split off and retreat, and leave the slower ones to their fate.
This complicates things way too much. The tiles are a good idea, and so are the stronghold points like bridges and towns, but the relative speeds would be all over the place. If you wanted to use a slow, heavy capital ship, there would be barely any point, as you could've sent in about two fleets of faster ships by the time it gets there. Also, fleeing from enemy ships wouldn't really be an option if even if you have a giant fleet, no matter how fast some of the ships are, they only need one durable ship that is faster than the slowest ship in your fleet, and they can constantly attack you again and again, destroying from your fastest ship to your slowest ship, meaning you would never get away unless the other ship got destroyed. Just a quick thought.:D
@Djbigboybugle: But a fleet would only be as fast as it's slowest ship, so it doesn't matter how many fast ships they have, it they have just 1 heavy slow ship, they can't catch you unless the fast ships ditch the slow one. And you could do the same thing to escape.
And as for heavy capital ships being useless, you could always attack other massive capital ship, or use it to demolish immobile city defenses and the like.