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Reverse the SE Design Process

 
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Reverse the SE Design Process - 11/25/2020 8:10:00 PM   
mroyer

 

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I've been meaning to comment on the design process in SE in general.

As cool as it is to design your own equipment in SE (as an engineer, I really enjoy that aspect of the game), I think the basic design-flow in SE is backwards. In real life, no politician would ever sit down and specify 25mm armor, a dual-diesel engine, and so on. They don't really care about those technical details. They care about production and maintenance costs vs mission performance.

So, instead of players blindly selecting technical details and hoping for a good result, as national leaders players should be defining mission-critical parameters: we want a tank that can withstand an 88mm hit, has good cross-country performance, requires under 250 metal to produce, uses less than 10 fuel per hex, and whatever, etc, etc...

Then our research director and his engineering staff (via some director technical-capability die roll) try to achieve, or come close to achieving, to those goals, limited by their capability and physical reality. The politician (i.e., the player) gets to accept or reject a prototype, when it's available, based on its performance. The politician might even have a "try again" option where the engineering staff can attempt improve on their first design and come up with a second prototype. The director/engineering staff might respond that the politician is asking for the impossible - we done the best possible. Maybe they have, maybe they haven't - the politician has gotta' guess.

Anyhow, IMO, a system along those lines would better model the design process from the perspective of national leaders.

-Mark R.


Re-posted at the suggestion of Destragon from here.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Destragon

I think that's a great thought. Would fit perfectly into the theme of the game. It could be downright funny when you specify some outlandish stats for your desired vehicle and then next turn the model design director comes to you, begging for you to reconsider your demands.

Here is the obligatory link to the Bradley design scene from Pentagon Wars:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXQ2lO3ieBA

I think someone should make a separate thread about this in the suggestions forum though, because this is still mainly a thread about trying to figure out how the hell aircrafts work.




< Message edited by mroyer -- 11/26/2020 5:04:53 AM >
Post #: 1
RE: Reverse the SE Design Process - 11/26/2020 4:58:41 AM   
Daza99

 

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I like your suggestion. And yeah i was thinking of that Pentagon Wars movie too when reading that. Of course the player won't be wanting something cheap and of poor quality for their army.

I wonder if a design is pretty close to what you want and you accept, so you will have to decide if you will compromise with what they come up with or tell them to go back to the drawing board which takes more time. And upon accepting a design later on when improving it could become closer to what you want. Whether the player is asked which area to focus on with the improved version? eg prefer more armor or better firepower or fuel efficiency and the engineer will tweak the design in that direction- would be nice if the engineer will give some guesstimate parameters of what each choice may change- which might be more or less accurate educated guess based on on their skill level.

Perhaps there could be engineers specific to aircraft only and ground vehicles and i suppose when navies come ships, these could be stratagem cards just as you can hire a merc. Which will get you closer to what you want the first time or/and better improvements? if espionage opens up even more these could be value targets to assassins or if unhappy or are corrupt might be bribed to sell tech to the enemy.

(in reply to mroyer)
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RE: Reverse the SE Design Process - 11/26/2020 9:56:50 AM   
Destragon

 

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You could even keep the current design process in the game, for the people who want more direct control, but make it cost PP as compensation.

I picture the overall implementation something like this:
When the model design council comes to you, saying that they are free to design a new unit, they could give you a choice between two options: One is the old way of doing it, manually clicking on components and designing it yourself, for a PP cost. The other would be this new, indirect design option.

When selection the indirect design option, you would enter some parameters. I think one way to handle it would be with a screen where you can assign priorities to the different vehicle stats.
So for example for a tank it could look like:
Speed: Highest priority
Cost: Low priority
Weapon power and type: Low priority, Howitzer
Armor: No priority
You could enter "high priority" in all the fields, but that would make the director very likely fail to bring you a design, when he comes back to you next turn.

After you've done that, you have to wait until the next turn. Then the model design director comes to you giving you some potential designs to choose from or begging for you to lower your expectations and giving you a chance to change your disired parameters.

One small thing that I would really like is that when the director comes to you with potential model designs, that it would display the name of the model there and let us actually change it right there, cause I always forget to change model names with the current design process.

Also, if you have a corporation in your nation and you have good relations to them, then maybe the game could give you a third option with designing a new model. It would make you ask the corporation for help and cost credits, but would more likely give you a good result.

< Message edited by Destragon -- 11/26/2020 10:02:44 AM >

(in reply to Daza99)
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RE: Reverse the SE Design Process - 11/26/2020 6:18:12 PM   
fuke

 

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You raise some good points, but "Pentagon Wars" is about a functioning democratic republic, where there is no dictator who can make unilateral decisions. Bradley-era USA is a country with relatively strong civil institutions and checks and balances on executive power, in a relatively peaceful world, and a relatively healthy private sector with bidding processes for production of components.

In contrast, Shadow Empire tends to take place in hellish worlds with despotic states during periods of global warfare, with very strong state sectors that will be managing the entire production process of the vehicle they are designing, so an overbearing executive role on design teams makes sense IMHO.

Totalitarian rulers like Stalin and Hitler did micromanage their design teams, and sometimes obsessed over small details in weapons systems and munitions (often to the detriment of their militaries' fighting capability). Also, plenty of Cold War-era dictators in developing countries took a personal interest in weapon design, e.g. Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il, although their production capacities were limited.

I personally like the design system a lot in Shadow Empire because it is more abstract than other games. Other 4X games practically make you grab a wrench and climb under the tank to build it yourself, component by component. SE's design decisions, while perhaps a bit low-level for a politician to be making in general, are much more high-level, feeling more realistic.

I think Destragon's idea is a good compromise, keep the current system but offer an even more high-level option with the parameters. Even though I like the current system I could see myself using this just to have greater parity with the AI (since vehicle design is one way that human players typically outperform AI).

Also while I think the current system is fine as is, it could be a tiny bit more flexible and intuitive. I want a final "All done?" query before starting a design, because sometimes I forget that choosing the engine starts the design project, and then I and can't go back without reloading the turn. Also, it would be nice if more info were available up-front, e.g. movement penalty and an estimate range of armor/attack stats (for comparison to previous models), it can be tedious to keep opening the design logs to compare

< Message edited by fuke -- 11/26/2020 6:25:59 PM >

(in reply to Destragon)
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RE: Reverse the SE Design Process - 11/27/2020 12:47:57 PM   
mroyer

 

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I can't speak to Pentagon Wars, I never heard of it until Destragon posted his link.

Regarding despots and design, you make a good point - and probably one that is not limited to them. I'm sure it happens in all sorts of political structures. Top leaders who are spending substantial portions of their budget on some new-fangled piece of equipment will surely assume a more involved and interested role. Depending on their individual personalities and limits of power that certainly can turn into pure meddling.

However, I expect these are the extraordinary cases related to high-profile weapons systems and not the normal, day-to-day progress of equipment design, even in the most despotic political arrangement. In history, we hear about those meddling cases precisely because they are unusual and interesting. I doubt the Hitlers and Husseins of history were sitting down at the drawing board, slide rule or calculator in hand, working through engineering equations and tables to formulate design parameter details. Indeed, I think it could be argued their meddling actually fits better with the reverse-design flow I proposed, except perhaps with more details on exactly what features they require and demand.

Destragon's hybrid proposal could be very good.

Interesting discussion - thanks for the responses.
-Mark R.

(in reply to fuke)
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RE: Reverse the SE Design Process - 12/2/2020 12:51:53 AM   
zgrssd

 

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Indeed in the real world, you usually start with teh specifications. From the Boeing B-17 Bombers Wikipedia page:
"On 8 August 1934, the USAAC tendered a proposal for a multiengine bomber to replace the Martin B-10. The Air Corps was looking for a bomber capable of reinforcing the air forces in Hawaii, Panama, and Alaska. Requirements were for it to carry a "useful bombload" at an altitude of 10,000 ft (3,000 m) for 10 hours with a top speed of at least 200 mph (320 km/h).

They also desired, but did not require, a range of 2,000 mi (3,200 km) and a speed of 250 mph (400 km/h). The competition for the air corps contract was to be decided by a "fly-off" between Boeing's design, the Douglas DB-1, and the Martin Model 146 at Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. "

The problem is: it does not really work that well in computer games.

The designers are what is called a "General Intelligence". Unfortunately in a computer game, you are the only General Intelligence.
Having you define all the gear and them making rolls on the various substats is propably the best way to implement this kind of unit designer (with variable output).

quote:

In real life, no politician would ever sit down and specify 25mm armor, a dual-diesel engine, and so on. They don't really care about those technical details. They care about production and maintenance costs vs mission performance.

Actually, that happened at least for tanks. Usually the gun it has to mount is defined:
"Must be able to have a turret mounted 75mm gun" or "Must be able to mount a 8.8cm Flak/Pak" for example.

(in reply to mroyer)
Post #: 6
RE: Reverse the SE Design Process - 1/15/2021 6:48:47 PM   
AKicebear

 

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quote:

The designers are what is called a "General Intelligence". Unfortunately in a computer game, you are the only General Intelligence.
Having you define all the gear and them making rolls on the various substats is propably the best way to implement this kind of unit designer (with variable output).


I think the solution is a consolidated single page of all design choices as columns or rows, where a constraint can be imposed feature by feature (e.g. firepower >x, cost < y, etc), which slowly narrows down what choices you can select for each category.

(in reply to zgrssd)
Post #: 7
RE: Reverse the SE Design Process - 1/15/2021 8:47:25 PM   
newageofpower


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mroyer
In real life, no politician would ever sit down and specify 25mm armor, a dual-diesel engine, and so on. They don't really care about those technical details. They care about production and maintenance costs vs mission performance.

Actually, IRL both Napoleon and Hitler were famous for micromanaging technical specifications. IIRC Napoleon specified the desired dimensions of his logistics wagons down to the millimeter, etc.

That being said, neither of them ended well, so....

(in reply to mroyer)
Post #: 8
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