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"Fighting Space Battles in 3D" Topic


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1,270 hits since 26 Apr 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Queen Catherine27 Apr 2017 12:55 p.m. PST

I've been working on some concepts, and I like how it looks so far: link

The below is pretty cool, but I'd like something clearer:

picture

Anyone have a lead on clear plastic cubes about 12" on a side, open on 1-2 sides? Something at the dollar store would be ideal, I'm still not rich!

SBminisguy27 Apr 2017 1:25 p.m. PST

since the ships all use some kind of simple flight stand, why not instead go the Wings of Glory route using clear plastic rods and connecting pieces?

That way you could just about use all your existing bases, maybe you'd have to weight the bases on larger ships, and have an easy way to portray relative "altitude" in space…as long as you just have "up" that is, since you could have ships below the ecliptic/plane of combat and that gets hard to show without using a complicated custom flight stick.

Here's how the Wings of Glory game does it, and it counts altitude separation as another distance factor.

Here's what some very large figures look like using thicker plastic rods:

Personal logo John Treadaway Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2017 1:40 p.m. PST

Sure

Balls

picture

picture

picture

link

I used clear, two part Christmas tree decoration balls in the latest iteration. Various sizes are available.

They are much clearer than these old balls – crystal clear, in fact.

John T

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Apr 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

I found some 1" diameter bead boxes that were round and could screw together to form taller columns at Michael's in the bead storage aisle.

Allen5727 Apr 2017 3:47 p.m. PST

You would need awfully large ornament balls for the ships in Catherines post. Clear plastic cubes can be made by cutting plexiglass available from DIY stores and glueing the panels together. There is a special cement for this.

I really like the idea of different elevations and orientations of ships to one and other. I recall a scene in one of the Star trek TV shows in which a ship which Jean Luc Picard was either commanding or a passenger was under attack by several Klingon ships. The old Enterprise commanded by Will Reichert came out of warp at right angles to the Klngons flew through their formation and blew them away. It was nice to see the 3 dimensional view.

Johm T, What did you use for bases for the clear balls?

MacrossMartin Inactive Member27 Apr 2017 6:10 p.m. PST

Allen, if I recall John's article on how he mad those, from many years past, the supports for the balls are the tops of cola bottles, turned upside-down!

Having tried to simulate 3D in various ways for space combat, I'm inclined to ask – what is your motive for attempting to reproduce the third dimension? The more I have examined this aspect of space gaming, the more I've concluded it is much more work to simulate than it rewards in the gaming experience.

Unless the tactics and style of warfare require ships to stack up upon each other, does it really do much harm to abstract space into two dimensions? And if you do stack 'em up, how high do you go? Given the infinite nature of space, you could, arguably, get pretty tall stacks… maybe dangerously tall, in terms of preserving one's miniatures!

I'm inclined to prefer to keep my minis low on the table, and, if 'altitude' is represented, let it be done with counters or dials. These allow potentially infinite variation, without precariously tall stands, or piles of boxes.

Having said that, I must confess to experimenting with at least one 'stackable' system for starship combat, because, in the source material, the ships do actually form 'walls' rather than 'lines' of battle:

picture

Yep, Legend of Galactic Heroes. This is a universe that presents a very different style of starship warfare, tactically-speaking, with each ship's firepower concentrated forward, and forming lofty walls of squadrons – thousands of them!

My solution (for what it is) is to use plastic domino-like counters, stood on their edge, and thick enough for two or three additional counters to be stacked on top. But, this is still a potentially risky formation; one good sneeze or a slamming door can bring a fleet toppling down!

I'm considering magnetising the counters, or perhaps, adapting Lego bricks to the task… but really, until we develop antigravium paint, I suspect enjoyably playable 3D combat will remain the windmill all starship commanders tilt at.

Daricles27 Apr 2017 6:39 p.m. PST

I agree with MacrossMartin. In my opinion, 3D gaming belongs in computer simulations and not in tabletop gaming.

If you have to have a 3D game, then have the tabletop represent an arbitrary neutral plane indicating each ship's x and y axis position and track the z axis with counters or dials and come up with play aids to quickly calculate ship to ship ranges.

That's probably a pretty good representation of what a ship's targeting displays would look like.

If you are going to bother with three dimensions then you should take the extra step of tracking ship attitudes (pitch and yaw) like John's system does. Otherwise, if you are abstracting that out you may as well just abstract all the way down to 2D.

emckinney27 Apr 2017 7:46 p.m. PST

John, I'm very impressed by how clean a cut you were able to get on those soda bottles. Is the tutorial up somewhere? If not, can you offer tips? What's the base that they're attached to?

Mako11 Inactive Member27 Apr 2017 8:47 p.m. PST

The Topgun Dogfight Flight Stands will work, and are far less obtrusive than plastic balls, or cubes, in my personal opinion:


They telescope from 7" 22" in height, have swiveling magnetic heads, and can hold even the Titanium diecast metal spaceships and spacefighters from the Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica ranges. 4" and 5" clear, hex bases are available for sale.

Obviously, they work very well with aircraft, grav tanks and VTOLs, dropships, dragons, and many other flying things too. They're also good for supporting clouds, for 3-D aerial "terrain" as well, if desired.

E-mail me at:

topgungrav AT yahoo {d0t) c o m

if you want more info, and details.


picture

Lion in the Stars28 Apr 2017 12:33 a.m. PST

If you have to have a 3D game, then have the tabletop represent an arbitrary neutral plane indicating each ship's x and y axis position and track the z axis with counters or dials and come up with play aids to quickly calculate ship to ship ranges.

That's probably a pretty good representation of what a ship's targeting displays would look like.

If you are going to bother with three dimensions then you should take the extra step of tracking ship attitudes (pitch and yaw) like John's system does. Otherwise, if you are abstracting that out you may as well just abstract all the way down to 2D.


That's what Attack Vector Tactical and Squadron Strike do.

AV:T is basically a single-ship dueling game, Squadron Strike seems to max out at about 12 ships. I think you're high if you want to run more ships than that in 3d without computer support!

While AV:T doesn't support custom ship design (the design mechanics there actually require calculus), Squadron Strike has an Excel spreadsheet to handle ship design and control-sheet creation.

I honestly expect that the real-world starship tactical display will look a lot like the AVID, the game assistant that shows where another ship is relative to your own ship.

Personal logo John Treadaway Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2017 12:46 a.m. PST

@ emckinney

Those ones are actually pre manufactured domes but quite expensive ones from EMA ( ema-models.co.uk )

The coke bottle trick no longer works: back in the Jurassic period when I built the original balls from coke bottles, 1.5 litre plastic bottles like that came with a round base end and a coloured 'cup' which was hot glued into it so that they would stand upright on the shelf in the store. I used to pop that off, clean up the glue and voila.

Nowadays, all soft drink bottles have 'knuckles' moulded onto the end (an easier manufacturing option, I would guess) which stops this trick working.

So I moved over to ABS balls which were neither very clear (just because they were quite thick) nor very cost effective.

I replaced them with clear balls from another company about ten years ago when I did the same rules ide (mentioned here link though I can see that the ship sheets no longer load) for my Babylon 5 game (I haven't got any pictures of those to hand, though).

The balls from this new source come from a couple of inches across right up to about 8 inches in diameter. They come in two parts which snap together and a 'hanging tab' which can be removed easily with some snips.

link

If I go this route again, this is what I'll use though – as others have said – my brain's getting a little too old for full, 3D space games!

John T

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2017 3:56 a.m. PST

I personally fear the discussion on the complexity of 3D has really gone OT. This has been discussed and discussed.

Now, I've tried Ad Astra games, and plenty of players love 'em. I've used the AVID, I was told successfully, and find it uninspiring.

I'm assuming rules at least as simple as SSB and it's square grid. Now, think of a cube grid.

Instead of worrying about boxes, consider gridding 3D space.

Take some rectangular (don't have to be square) frames, you might be surprised what 'trash' wood, metal, or plastic you can find, and string a square grid for each. Then you stack, with spacers, until your square grids form a cubic grid.

The result doesn't have to have as many levels as there are squares in the grids (DOESN'T HAVE TO BE SQUARE) but enough to feel right.

When I say string, that's the verb. Fishing mono seemed to be strong enough, taught enough, and had the added advantage of coming in 'florescent' if you were considering black light in your box… *tuneless whistling*

Tricky bits is putting 'stands' on the ships (or squadrons, as that seems where you're headed), and the fact that you usually have to lift each stand out of the box to move.

The light-weight, cheap plastic ships I used I just melted bent pins into, hooked the ships on string intersections, and I was able to use two rods, or one rod 'at an angle', to move the ships straight across some times.

Not elegant, but for the very simple 'Battle Pass' rules I worked up, worked for some solitaire games I did, back when I actually finished things, occasionally.

Doug

Edit: John, I well remember those bottles; I had a mad scheme to save up enough to make a raft with the bottoms pointed upward. I thought it would look like a sheet of bubbles. Broke my heart when they changed designs before I'd collected enough.

Tim White28 Apr 2017 8:09 a.m. PST

If I'm going to play 3d I'm going to use Squadron Strike. The box minis, tilt blocks and altitude markers are great. Never managed to pull this off with minis – got close but going totally inverted is a problem.

The bigger problem is convincing my group to play with 3d – and then if the agree in a moment of weakness, remembering how to play well enough to teach them…

and thus back to 2d with Starmada…

Queen Catherine28 Apr 2017 9:11 a.m. PST

This is the OP:
"Anyone have a lead on clear plastic cubes about 12" on a side, open on 1-2 sides? Something at the dollar store would be ideal, I'm still not rich!"

So I've solved my concept, I'm looking to implement. I've a call in on an estimate from local plastic manufacturor, but they haven't gotten back to me yet.

As to why – it adds another dimension from which to be attacked, the maneuvering will be interesting, and it won't be complicated at all. I'm simply allowing three levels of height – the plane on which the defending fleet is moving, and therefore must be attacked, and one level up and one level down, P+1 and P-1 respectively. Also, these are big ships, and stacking the boxes will literally provide "stacking", otherwise the ships will be all smooshed up on a square of the grid.

Plus, it looks cool, and that's what miniatures gaming has that differentiates it from boardgaming.

Tim White28 Apr 2017 12:22 p.m. PST

Okay, sounds cool. Its the pitching and yawing that cause most of the headaches anyways!

-Tim

(Phil Dutre)28 Apr 2017 1:18 p.m. PST

It's all bogus anyway.

If you would conduct space combat in full 3d without gravity or aerodynamics, then why would you have spaceships that take their design from naval battleships?

Spherical spaceships are the way to go orientation independent.

Zephyr128 Apr 2017 1:41 p.m. PST

There are clear plastic boxes for displaying dolls & other stuff. The ones you might be looking for are thin flexible plastic that you can cut with scissors (not the thicker $$$ acrylic.) They are also available in different sizes.

Lion in the Stars28 Apr 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

Forgot to mention what Zephyr did in my last post: Display boxes may be cheaper than custom work.

Queen Catherine28 Apr 2017 5:18 p.m. PST

Zephyr, that sounds very promising any ideas on specific sights or search terms? You're right in that the ships don't weigh a lot, probably don't need sturdy if I can get cheap.

Thanks, I'll give it a go.

@Phil – someone posted on that a while ago, it was an interesting thread. Basically, long lengthy ships with thrusters at the ends of booms / pods whatever have more leverage to turn. That may make them more vulnerable to damage, also, however.

Depends on your attack / defense ratio in the fictional 'verse.

But that was my thinking – a sphere would be the perfect spaceship. It may be wrong, but it is very tech dependent in design.

(Phil Dutre)29 Apr 2017 3:43 a.m. PST

We have usded transparant round lego bricks to make flightstands. Works only for smaller models, though.

More pics: link

picture

Allen5729 Apr 2017 6:07 a.m. PST

I am not a fan of 3D combat games (aircraft, spaceship, frogmen, or submarines) but do like the visual effect of different elevation/depth when all models are not on the same plane. The biggest problem with clear balls/boxes/telescoping rods is that they are very distracting. In my starship and air combat games I use a variety of different height flight stands (rods of different lengths) to break up the flat earth look. Submarines and frogmen seem to need a bit more depth variation but even then you can get away without 3D.

(Phil Dutre)29 Apr 2017 8:06 a.m. PST

The problem will solve itelf when drones are small and cheap enough such that they can serve as wargaming models.

RudyNelson29 Apr 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

I agree with the opinion that flight stand indicating three or four levels may be the easiest to gain popular support. We used it with our space race concept. Maps may be another issue. I have seen big hexes, squares and none gridded maps tried.

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2017 11:48 a.m. PST

Ohh, Phil, they are!

However, not so stable as to be proof against some LARPer or Cosplayer walking by and flicking turbulence with their capes. ;->=

Doug

Ottoathome29 Apr 2017 3:00 p.m. PST

This is really a non-problem when you think about it. While there ARE no space battles in reality to recreate there are plenty to hypothesize, however regardless it always will be a two dimensional game and no need be taken of three dimensions. Because of the essential mechanisms of the game, either moving or firing, are always two dimensions. 1) Where the ship that wishes to move is, and where it wants to be and 2) Where the ship that wishes to fire and where its target is" are always straight line of sight. It doesn't matter what the angle from us, star ships will likely have all around fire or can change their attitude ridiculously easily so that all you are concerned with is simple old distance.

This can easily be determined by a simple 100 or so lines of computer code to plot an imaginary Cartesian plane from a central point, 0,0,0, and the distance moved or fire calculated almost instantaneously through the computer to render a solution of the range or move (regardless of where it actually is in the imaginary Cartesian plane, and the starting and ending locations. This will yield a distance, and intervening points or blockages such as worlds or large asteroids can be within that plane.

So there is no real need to try and reproduce a three dimensional plane as we would be within the star-ships themselves, and would not see it as standing outside of the game. You can put the actual models on stands or telescoping pointers or whatever you wish, but the essential calculations can all be done in the computer to tell you you hit with at that range a 5 or a 6 or whatever.

This may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a grand display but it's considerably easier, and probably more realistic. You might as well just line up the ships on their damage cards.

As for scale, our models and the distances on the table top are so out of proportion to what they would be like in real space as to make our mini games seem to be in scale to a few microns.

Queen Catherine29 Apr 2017 3:30 p.m. PST

Incorrect, Otto.

If ships have armor distributed along certain sides more than others, then the ability to attack from additional angles is a help.

Also, the model size and stacking issue was glossed over – my system allows models to be on top of one another.

Plus, if it is 2D on a flat surface, well, it may as well be wet navy.

Interesting that a lot of people think that airplanes need 3D, but the ultimate 3D – space – is seen as a non-issue.

Of course, few have put forward any answer to the original post query, RE: clear plastic boxes…

Ottoathome29 Apr 2017 4:54 p.m. PST

Looks awful

Lion in the Stars29 Apr 2017 10:45 p.m. PST

I am not a fan of 3D combat games (aircraft, spaceship, frogmen, or submarines) but do like the visual effect of different elevation/depth when all models are not on the same plane. The biggest problem with clear balls/boxes/telescoping rods is that they are very distracting. In my starship and air combat games I use a variety of different height flight stands (rods of different lengths) to break up the flat earth look. Submarines and frogmen seem to need a bit more depth variation but even then you can get away without 3D.


Begging your pardon, but submarine games do need 3d, even though the 3rd dimension is very skinny (maybe 4x the length of the biggest subs in use, and I'd do depth as model scale). Performance changes with depth (gotta go deep to go fast and stay quiet), and you can have environmental effects that change with depth (thermocline layers). But that can be defined as fairly limited and generic depth bands.

This is really a non-problem when you think about it. While there ARE no space battles in reality to recreate there are plenty to hypothesize, however regardless it always will be a two dimensional game and no need be taken of three dimensions. Because of the essential mechanisms of the game, either moving or firing, are always two dimensions. 1) Where the ship that wishes to move is, and where it wants to be and 2) Where the ship that wishes to fire and where its target is" are always straight line of sight. It doesn't matter what the angle from us, star ships will likely have all around fire or can change their attitude ridiculously easily so that all you are concerned with is simple old distance.

Might be able to change attitude easily and point guns in nearly any direction, but your thrust only goes one direction. So you may well need to point your stern at the ship you're trying to shoot at, if you're also trying to run away from them. Or point your broadside at your target, if you're trying to make a 90deg vector change.

I think you can download the Squadron Strike intro rules for free, which show just how… interesting maneuvering in 3d can end up. Pretty cool, I recommend trying it once. Buy yourself a snack bag of Skittles or M&Ms, you get to eat some munchies as the ship moves.

Queen Catherine30 Apr 2017 4:15 p.m. PST

Say, anyone know where I can get some 12" or so 5-sided cubes in a clear sort of plastic?

Thanks!

chironex02 May 2017 3:13 p.m. PST

No, we do not. You're going to have to come up with another plan. One-foot cubes are not commonly manufactured anywhere. If you pay a plastic sheet supplier, they may cut square sheets for you that can fit together with tabs to make a cube. Otherwise you will have to search for other shapes in the field of plastic display cases for models and collectables. Or perhaps a shelf-set arrangement with clear shelves as big as the play area.

wminsing Inactive Member03 May 2017 4:54 a.m. PST

Because of the essential mechanisms of the game, either moving or firing, are always two dimensions. 1) Where the ship that wishes to move is, and where it wants to be and 2) Where the ship that wishes to fire and where its target is" are always straight line of sight. It doesn't matter what the angle from us, star ships will likely have all around fire or can change their attitude ridiculously easily so that all you are concerned with is simple old distance.

Neither of these are true. The first because your ship isn't a point; it's a vector in 3D space. The second because you are ignoring that weapons have limited arcs and ships will have different defenses in different directions.

-Will

Queen Catherine03 May 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

well, ship design may not have different defenses in different directions.

The most efficient plan of a weapon system would be a turret that can fire off the plane of a ship, so at the most you'd need 2 weapons, one top one bottom, each able to fire at a single target to the "side". I think this would like like a WWII battleship waterline model with the same ship on the "bottom". Optimally you'd be able to fire all weapons at a given target with only a blind spot of about 60 degrees on the "top and bottom" where the one side can't shoot THROUGH the ship itself.

Now…

Movie makers often don't run with that b/c they either have other tech or just want things to look cool.

So…

your point may certainly be valid if the genre supports limited arcs and different defenses.

Queen Catherine03 May 2017 12:49 p.m. PST

@Chironex
Yeah, I was thinking that clear plastic sheets to use as sabots might be needed instead. I could build "legs" so that the platforms were stackable, exactly like little tables.

Lion in the Stars06 May 2017 1:06 a.m. PST

Litko makes "Fleet Movement Stands" (but they're only 3" across the flats): link You could probably special-order a larger version of those, however.

As far as spaceship design goes, I expect them to look something like WW2 bombers, turrets sticking out all over the place. At least dorsal and ventral turrets, and I'd probably go for flank turrets, too, if the guns had elevation/depression issues.

Queen Catherine10 May 2017 4:13 a.m. PST

yeah, but without the big wings. If you stick to the fuselage concept, you end up with only small rotations able to field nearly all your guns at any given target.

Now, who makes miniatures like those?

I think the closest would be the Star Blazers line.

Marc the plastics fan Inactive Member16 May 2017 10:55 p.m. PST

Aircraft benefit from 3D – climbing, diving and performance at varying altitudes are all factors. Not sure if space needs any of that.

Far more interesting to play vector movement rather than cinematic

Zephyr117 May 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

Ball turrets on pylons have quite a large field of fire… ;-)

From above, for net search terms, look for "plastic folding display cases" (it should bring up some, but ignore the high markup prices. Look at the dif sizes for what you need, then try to find the manufacturer or brand they bought from in bulk.)

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