Missed opportunity - emergent gameplay from tactical maneuvering

Published on Sunday, August 27, 2023 By captainkoloth In Sins II Feedback

Hello everyone:

I've been playing this since the initial tech preview last year. Overall it's definitely going in a great direction, but I can't help but think that the game is completely missing out on an enormous opportunity- the additional tactical depth and emergent gameplay that would come from greater use of tactical maneuvering.

Specifically, I'm referring to the feature that Sins II has in which individual turrets, missiles, etc. are tracked. This is a great idea in theory, but I feel like in practice it's primarily of graphical rather than gameplay value. 

In pre-WW2 naval warfare, the victor was primarily determined by who was able to maneuver their fleets into a position from which they had an advantage. For example, one such maneuver called "crossing the T" involved aligning all of your ships such that they were in a line with broadsides (where the guns were) facing the enemy, while the enemy was perpendicular to your line (hence the "T") and therefore unable to fire back. This maneuver proved decisive at the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of Tsushima, among others. During the decisive Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, victory went to the British in part because they were able to cut the Franco-Spanish battle line through superior maneuver. 

Opportunities for this to enhance gameplay seem boundless. Where is the button to arrange your capital ships and titans to take missiles to their broadside and defend the rest of the fleet? Where the option to orient my ships such that lasers, or point turrets, are brought to bear against the enemy in one direction, perhaps leaving another open to attack? Why can't I order my cruisers to go out of plane in the z direction so that I can fire my lasers past the line of heavily shielded vessels the enemy has lined up in front?

It would seem that, for example, a simple set of buttons could enhance the tactical options greatly. Just as for example in Sins I there were buttons for tight and loose fleet formations, you could imagine buttons ordering ships to turn turrets in a certain direction, to line themselves up in linear formations in 2 or 3 dimensions, line up capital ships in front, hide them in the rear, etc.

The possibilities for emergent gameplay are boundless. Rather than being based primarily on who can arrange the largest deathball, battles would be far more tactical in nature, where an extra element of strategy has to be brought to bear in order to win. Slipped that destroyer between the enemy's capital ships? Now they can't easily fire at for fear of hitting other friendlies (My Conquest is the Sea of Stars is a good piece of science fiction that shows this exact situation and how difficult it is for the enemy to combat the tactic even in a three-dimensional battle). "I was going to lose that Titan but was able to send my flak ships in a line in front of it, soaking up the missiles and giving the Titan a chance to use its ability to and turn the tide of battle". The enemy has a formidable fleet of battleships? Good luck attacking your cruisers as they arch over them in the Z dimensions and they have to make big lumbering turns to bring their weapons to bear.

I love the direction the game is going but the lack of this emergent gameplay, this just feels like a huge missed opportunity to me, especially since the underlying plumbing has already been done in the game engine. I think something as simple as adding a few tactical options such as buttons and tweaking the directions in which certain weapons could fire would a lot in this respect. Much as the simple two-dimensional movement of planets and moons in the solar system add a lot of strategic depth, fleet positioning and maneuvers relative to the turret and missile direction should do so as well and, again, the hard part is done since that movement is already coded into the game. It just needs a few more linkages between the UI and the underlying math/simulation going on for the player to be able to enjoy it and bring a whole new level of tactical gameplay into the picture.