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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Joining the dots - Linking models, stats and ship design

So many will know already that I upgradede the Excel Custom ship Creator for Firestorm Armada, and ship design has always been an interest for me since I first picked up Megatraveller way back in the 1980s. Creating a ship that's useful without being overpowered in FSA is pretty easy, but the rules are rather simplistic and very open to abuse, and there's little in them for a designer to balance in terms of weapons, speed, power etc.

Now the standard ship creation rules are fine for what they do, but I also like my sci-fi to have a relatively high "suspension of belief" factor for me. So, whilst I can fully accept things like warp drive, fold-space drive etc (which are all based on extrapolations of our current understanding of physics), I don't like lazy SF devices like "the alien ship was almost indestructible because it's hull was made of a new element - impervium". That's just daft, and is the sort of pulp sci-fi engine that comes straight out of the '50s.

Now one of the best things about SGs FSA are the excellent models - chunky things with lots of detail. What sometimes irks me about SG though, is the seeming lack of connection between the model sculpt and the game stats, and there are MANY examples of this in the game. Just a couple of examples - the retro MAR for the Directorate is reinforced fore (which applies to all Large/Medium models), yet the Tormentor R&D cruisers fore looks pretty unprotected and vulnerable. The Ba'kash ships all have arms and can be open or closed - this has no effect on their stats, and their best arcs are port/starboard, despite the arms being here and the cetral section revelaed appears to have a weapon...

Again, people who follow my blog and/or posts on the SG community will know I'm a statistics/Excel/analysis nutter, and things like this both bug me and seem to cry out for a solution. As the models are quite clear on their detail, it's pretty easy to pick out details like weapons (or apparent weapons). Take the Terran ships as an example of what I'm menaing - the Fixed Fore weapons on th Razorthorn, Apollo, Titan, Pilgrim, Sentinel etc are all very clear - the Razorthorn & Apollo have 2, the Titan 3 etc. Looking at their stats you can then work out the apparent weapon strength per weapon, and so class them together - so an Apollo, Razorthorn and Titan all use the same main large Fixed fore mass drivers, jus the Titan links together three rather than two. It's thus possible to have a set of base stats for a Large Terran Mass driver to use in other designs - you see where I'm going with this?

With a suite of common weapons, then drives, PD systems, hulls etc, it would be a much richer and more interesting design system, and can be tailored for different races strengths. I've started this process, and it works well for some, not so well for others. It will involve some compromises and stat changes, but I'm not averse to that to produce a deeper, more immersive and more tied-in system. I'll post some specifics and updates as I go along.

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