Ship Systems

So, what exactly is a ship system? The words themselves are overloaded, so for all you know from the title, I could be talking about the ship’s life support system. Or the system for refilling the bucket for the guy swabbing decks A1 though A4 on the ISS Unlikely to Survive. (Which seems like a waste of time – for obvious reasons – but I digress.)

In Starfarer a “ship system” is an active ability that a ship has. Each ship only has one of these (if at all), and it’s determined by the hull. It’s not something you can customize, but rather something to give each hull more flavor and uniqueness. Sure, the weapon slots available on each hull are important, but at the end of the day, those are just guns. A different active system goes much farther to make a ship play, well, differently – and feel more unique.

That’s not to say that every hull will have a unique system – some will, but lots of systems will be shared between hulls, often of a similar type. For example, you might expect the Enforcer, the Dominator, and the Onslaught – all ships in the same “bull right in and keep shooting until they drop” vein – to have a similar active system. Some examples of these  systems are:

Flare Launcher:  Fires off a number of flares to confuse the guidance systems of missiles.

Maneuvering Jets: Activates additional maneuvering thrusters on the ship and greatly improves its maneuverability for a time.

Burn Drive: Allows the temporary use of the travel drive unit in combat. The power required means the ship is unable to use shields, and the highly volatile state of the engines mean a risk of a flameout if the ship collides with anything sufficiently large to jar it.

Here’s a video of these three in action:

Modding
If you’ve done any modding – or played any mods - you might be wondering just how moddable ship systems are.

A critical part of each new system – and what’s taking most of the time as far as implementing them goes – is the AI. That’s not something mods have direct access to right now, so a radically new system is out of the question.

On the other hand, I’m building the current systems with a range of options and behaviors in mind. So, you could take a standard flare launcher, and change the number and type of flares, the cooldown, the chance for each flare to be effective, the range at which it’s effective, its behavior – to some extent – and so on. It’ll still be a flare launcher, but it can be one that looks, feels, and plays very differently than the stock one. The AI is built to be aware of at least some of these possibilities, so it should allow for a good range of new systems mods can add effectively.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 at 3:18 pm and is filed under Development, Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

101 Comments:

  1. YES!! I was hoping this was next. :D

    by icepick37
  2. Oh man, the Onslaught’s greatest weakness – its horrific speed – has now been put to rest! It was already my fav cap ship before and now… O_O

    by Dri
  3. Sorry for double post but I’m also really glad you’ve added new art to all the systems! I noticed the flares of course but also those mini-thrusters on the Eagle and then the GIANT flames coming out of the Onslaught’s engines! >8D

    by Dri
  4. Aaaaaaw, no combat teleport…

    Still, the idea that onslaughts can now out run you is damn scary.

    by Vandala
  5. oh man I am so overexcited!

    pleaaase tell us what the infernum injector does

    by Muritz
  6. @Dri: Thanks! Yeah, definitely need unique visuals for most systems. That’s actually another reason why completely new ones would be really hard to mod, since in some cases the visuals would have to go beyond alterations of existing elements.

    @Vandala: Now, now, let’s not be too hasty. No-one said no. Or yes.

    @Muritz: I could tell you, but where would the fun in that be?

    by Alex
  7. Hey how wil this be implmented into the game. will flares be automatic? what will auto piliot do with them? will they take up OP?

    by Farlarzia
  8. Hint or tell tell infernum injector please. Also I realised that you only have like 5 flar.I think you should eaither have a larger amount or a less reiliable but infinate amount with recharge laser flare thing. Jusy suggestions.
    War out
    Farlarzia

    by Farlarzia
  9. Just reaf though weapons codex and in reaper torpedos there is something called infurnium. It is the explosive compund in the torpedo. So im guesing that you will fire a fire bass at them or something. Yes im a nerd. Tell me alex am i close? Are infurnium and the infurnum injector related ALL WILL BE REVEALED! sorry fpr all the writing.

    by Farlarzia
  10. Sorry again but in the credits youve got a Matthew steele. He wouldnt by chance be related to Jason steele, the creator of charlie the unicorn would he?

    by Farlarzia
  11. What’s the infernium injector? I guess it gives all ship-mounted weapons more potency versus armor. Overall, this looks like a hipeful patch. That lasher gave me the image of an AC-130 ejecting falres:
    http://www.airforce-technology.com/features/feature_images/feature1631/7-ac130-angel-flare.jpg

    by The Soldier
  12. Cool update. Looks like it will add a lot of tactics and fun to the game. Fighting the new speedy Onslaughts should be interesting.

    by Paul
  13. @Farlarzia: The AI knows about using ship systems, as mentioned in the post. No idea if Matthew is related to the other guy.

    No hints re: infernium injector. It’s not done, actually, and may end up being replaced with something else entirely.

    @Paul: If by interesting you mean brief but painful, then yes :)

    by Alex
  14. So now we could actually transform the Onslaught in a high speed battering ram ? Now that’s shining in my eyes. And more gameplay uniqueness per ship / shiptype is totally welcome, even more with added visuals.

    by Troll
  15. Hound isn’t going to get flares is it? That would make it such a huge pain in the ass in the early game.

    by Scroll
  16. are there going to be more ship systms than the ones you mentioned, and are you going to add any new ships?

    by Alsmonty
  17. Scroll makes a point actually, shipsystems in early game, or simply at the start, may render the fights really really hard.

    by Troll
  18. To right brother!

    by Farlarzia
  19. @Scroll

    I’ve never managed to hit a Hound with a missile. I don’t see how flares would change it much.

    by Minno
  20. I think that’s a Lasher.. and the ability to throw out flares can give it a steaming load of extra utility as an escort frigate. The AI would probably be pretty liberal about throwing them out, and each flare-burst can protect every friendly ship in the space neighborhood from a missile volley or two.

    by Pants
  21. For once I dont really have questions about this blog post, just a sheer that was really cool. I look froward to trying it out.

    Need stuff like this to freshen up the game since I`ve played the heck out of the basic combat I need big changes like this and teh eventual world objectives for new playthroughs to change the way I play the game.

    by Cryten
  22. 1) There is already a huge variety (with quite decent effectivness) of anti-rocket weapons in the game
    2) Adding of flares (as a ship system) would make the missile weapons completly useless

    So:

    3) My proposal is to give those weapons (missle weapons) some boosts first (like MUCH more speed and range. Then:

    4) Guess it would be a good idea to make more ammo for additional cost of ordnance cost (not as a hull mod) -> the size of particular weapons would only determine the type of weapon and how fast the weapon would spit rockets/missles

    by FaaipDeOiad
  23. O_o that onslaught booster ability seems like the worst kind of hell, im hoping that there may be some sort of counter to that, maybe some sort of quick venting for the paragon?

    by Spyke
  24. @Scroll: Not sure yet what the Hound will get.

    @Alsmonty: Yes and yes (though for the second yes, it may – or may not – be in the next release)

    @Troll: I’m not sure why they’d make the fights harder, since both sides have ship systems available. They’ll be more involved, and probably more difficulty to figure out, but harder once you do. Though, I suppose they’ll be harder as you’re learning – but there’s really no way around that.

    @FaaipDeOiad: I don’t think that adding one new countermeasure to the mix of what you point out is already a variety of effective ones isn’t going to make missiles “useless”.

    Just the same, it will affect balance – especially since there’ll likely be more than one new countermeasure. There’s already one new way to improve missile performance in the dev version, but I don’t see improving base missile stats across the board. They’re already very good, but situational – which is exactly the design goal.

    @Spyke: Well, it *is* the Onslaught :) We’ll have to see how it works out, though – haven’t spent a lot of time playtesting yet, still in the process of adding new systems and such.

    by Alex
  25. I’m soooo looking forward to this! Starfarer is already an awesome game, and you just keep making it more awesome and interesting. Keep up the awesome work man; I’ll be waiting patiently for the next release ;)

    by ZeroKnight
  26. Love what you’ve done so far. I’m not a big fan of micro-managing huge fleets – I’d rather have a single ship to run around and be all “Elite”-like in, but looks like it’ll be plenty of fun. Would love a way to automatically be notified of new builds and be able to auto-update the game as it comes along.

    by Pär Larsson
  27. @Alex: I was thinking that subsystems for fights at the very beginning would increase difficulty when going 1vs2 or worse. Right now 2/3 ships at the same time is doable with good piloting skills and correct use of ammo / missile, but in the flare case, missiles would be rendered quite ineffective and thus reduce combat efficiency.
    But as you say both sides have subsystems along with the new features so I guess I’ll wait and see what new tactics emerge.

    by Troll
  28. Alex, i am simply infatuated with you. Don’t worry about updating the blog for a month or so, and Keep up the good work !

    by Dimitar
  29. Why you remove my comment pointing ou flaws in hat gusy comment

    by Farlarzia
  30. @Farlarzia: It was pretty inflammatory – feel free to repost the gist of it in a polite manner.

    by Alex
  31. Na im to lazy. SOrry.

    by Farlarzia
  32. Where is mah Hegemony super carrier!? =(

    by ValkyriaL
  33. When will the ability to lvl up and increase the number of ships you can have come? because its very limited to only have 100 fleet points. while the hegemony fleets doesn’t have any limiters. they can capture more ships and wont get any accidents. =( i am jelly of them.

    by ValkyriaL
  34. @ValkyriaL

    Alex said that 100 will probably be the max at max level, and the limit will be lower for most of the game. The Hegemony fleets will be seriously nerfed once the real campaign goes in.

    by Minno
  35. Really? I thought I heard you’d start lower than 100 but through character perks you’d get it to 100 AND above.

    100 is pretty limited if you want to have a balanced fleet that contains a few ships from each hull size.

    by Dri
  36. Maybe, especially considering we may need a tanker and cargo ship in the fleet for travels.

    by Troll
  37. What is the Phase charge launcher used for? will there be ghost ships!? since its anti phase ship.

    by ValkyriaL
  38. Dont know. But i dont like the fact they cost like 15 op points. its just a mine as far as i can see. It ca creat croke poind force enemmies to go a certain way or slow dow. It good. is there any PURE missle shi out htree? if not could you add one? id have one with like 5 swarmers on it it and then go KICK SOME BOOTY. To mayby it make it look like one ine but it would be like a hundred! evil plans. mu ha ha ha ha

    by Farlarzia
  39. by Minno
  40. i got google crome but im jst to lazy. normaly im eter but ive had work experiance all week and an exam today so yeah leave me alone.

    by Farlarzia
  41. That made you rage?

    by Farlarzia
  42. Alex, you know the Hardened shields thingy? I think you should add an armor hardener like that as well, like 20-25% less armor damage from all weapons. i would love you eternally for that! .^ BTW where is my Hegemony Super Carrier? =(

    by ValkyriaL
  43. And why didn’t my entire post appear in the one above? Makes me sad.

    by ValkyriaL
  44. Hegemony wins by the muscle of its artilleries, not by swarms of flies :p

    by Troll
  45. They dont :P fighters will always win because they can resupply and rebuild themselves with carriers. Battleships only work to the point they run out of ammo.

    by ValkyriaL
  46. That is if the complete fighter wing hasn’t been reduced to molten balls in space after a bad encouter with flaks.
    Usually I keep my fighters as simple anti fighter and do the chopping with heavy ships, sometimes bomber for the fun.
    I wonder how subsystems will work against fighters. Will they have some kind too ?

    by Troll
  47. When will we get female captains? >.^

    by ValkyriaL
  48. Nah there all in the house hold room were certain edible materials are making a meal often associated with bread.

    by Farlarzia
  49. Bread and butter pudding in the food storage cupboard silly!

    by Farlarzia
  50. There already are female captains, not in equal number to the male ones but eh, give it time.

    by Vandala
  51. I know there are female ones =/ but i want to play as one and not some guy clad in white with a pizza face.

    by ValkyriaL
  52. You can click on the picture to change it when you are creating your character.

    by Zakalwe
  53. This thing about taking damage when you run is bullshit, if you retreat, all your ships die or get sabotaged, so whats the point of even having that option? =I

    by ValkyriaL
  54. How about having AI fleets merge in travel mode? like if one is very damaged and have like 2 ships left another fleet can merge with it, tho that could cause problems with the first hegemony fleet as the other that spawns would merge and give it 6 onslaughts. :P

    by ValkyriaL
  55. How do i get my acdavation code back i delited it by accsadent

    by mineplanet
  56. Send me an email from the address you used to preorder and I’ll look it up for you.

    by Alex
  57. Hey Alex when (roughly) will the next update be out? And also i feel that the paragon feels to weak from the last update.Can you please buff it. Now I cannot kill a onslaught without great difficulty. And since you only ever face it with other enemies it REALLY HARD. Never Mind 2 of them.

    by Farlarzia
  58. Then you are just really bad Farl, the Onslaught is’t easy to kill, neither is the paragon, they are both really powerful, 1 battleship can take out an entire fleet on its own. they dont need to be buffed nor nerfed.

    by ValkyriaL
  59. And you cant go head on against an Onslaught, most of its firepower is concentrated forward, obviously it will win. flank it and its dead. same goes for the paragon, 2-3 piranha strikes and its done for.

    by ValkyriaL
  60. I know its still great but is worse than it was. It if was as good as it used to be id be very happy. Also it very easy to farm the pirates. But yes they are VERY POWERFUl. And you cant get behind a an onslaught most of the time with a paragon.I hope the ability for it will e flux based as it can get high very fast

    by Farlarzia
  61. Well i found an easy way to kill an onslaught, i even works head on.
    diable all your weapons. and put shield up, the onslaught will have shields up to and start shooting till it caps its flux. lower your shield and put all weps on auto and baibai onslaught =)

    by ValkyriaL
  62. @Farlarzia You, sir, are the most annoying and moronic shit ever. You are quite frankly giving the internet a bad reputation here.@ValkyriaL If you choose to retreat, you have a small chance of successfully retreating with no casulties. If you fail, your ships will be forced into a fight like normal.

    by Trigger
  63. Well enough bout that, But if you are going to add munitions ships Alex, you would have to greatly increase battle map sizes and increase max fleet points to way above 100, as everything would be dead before anything needs to reload. And how about having battles where both fleets can deploy all their ships at once, like in early campaign?

    by ValkyriaL
  64. And another thing, if Industry doesn’t come true, could you at least make an *Order* system? since some ships are extremely rare in the orbital stations, You should be able to order a ship hull that arrives on the next supply convoy.

    by ValkyriaL
  65. I know Trigger :P but my ships seem to die every time i run into a fleet larger than mine, kinda give me a sad face, its expensive and irritating losing rare ships that you rarely see in the stations. :P

    by ValkyriaL
  66. You you be mean Trigger? and me giving a bad rep. Your the one swearing ata guy over the internet for not apparent reason. If i had emotions I would laugh. Serously.

    by Farlarzia
  67. *If i had emotions* ??? Now your just being weird on a whole new level.

    by ValkyriaL
  68. It was joke. I have emotions (ROBOTIC LAUGH)

    by Farlarzia
  69. Tik tak Alex, two weeks to go =) <3

    by Dimitar
  70. @Dimitar: Two weeks to go til what? Until June 24th? Until it’s two weeks from now? :)

    by Alex
  71. 2 weeks until someone complains there has been no update for 2 weeks I guess.

    by Troll
  72. Ohh, good one. Touche.

    by Alex
  73. That was very funny! HA HA HA HA

    by Farlarzia
  74. I hope that ship limit will be possible to modify in future. I mean… If someone have an idea to total conversion mod that will change all balance/game-style, then It would be great to have edit possibilities on each part of game :)

    by Zguba
  75. @Zguba: Yeah, it’s very likely. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, really.

    by Alex
  76. And i hope the munitions ships will be added very soon. :P i literaly just had an 1 hour battle against a H def fleet with 1000 FP or something worth of captured ships. i ran out of ammo on what little i had left at the end to finish him off, made me sad to retreat while there were still live targets floating. =(

    by ValkyriaL
  77. I wouldn’t assume anything at all about munitions ships. Some graphics in a resource folder doesn’t make it a planned feature :)

    by Alex
  78. Alex, a question:
    Will these shp systems be optional, or will they always be a part of the hull?

    i.e. if I’m desperately scratching for another 5/10 OP on my lasher, will I have the option to remove the flare launcher?

    Ooh.. Also, What about the idea of ship systems as research/rare resource/upgrade items?
    ..does that even fit the model of the game you have in mind..??

    by chevbob
  79. Perhaps a Hull mod “Remove -5 OP”

    by codefeenix
  80. @chevbob: They’re all part of the hull. The goal is to provide more distinctness to each hull, as opposed to more customization. I’m not sure about having those be unlockable – I’d just as soon have the ship be fully functional when you get it. But, we’ll see.

    by Alex
  81. Initially, I wasn’t going to pre-order this because I thought the updates came too infrequently, but seeing you so involved with feedback in the comments changed my mind.

    Also, if you don’t mind some criticism, I think the game’s combat system is already very well developed and I’d much rather see some progress in the campaign mode, e.g. increased procedural generation (in the location and number of planets, stations, fleets, etc.) to make the game more replayable, involvement in faction politics, hidden goodies, that sort of thing. I mean, ship systems is cool and all, but it’s not exactly one of the things I was eagerly awaiting.

    by scionreaver
  82. Thanks for your support!

    Yeah, I hear you – I just want to get combat more wrapped up, and this seemed to be a good time for it. Just to be clear – ship systems were something that was planned from the very beginning, so it’s not an unplanned detour – but rather something that had to get done at some point, anyway.

    About the frequency of updates: it’s something that could go either way, I think. On the one hand, it’s fun to get your hands on new stuff more frequently. On the other hand, that adds a bunch of dev overhead, and that adds up in the long run. There’s also something to be said for beefier updates – there’s more to mess around with, making it worth coming back to… and, bigger features take longer to get right, too. It’s not like I could release ship systems one or two at a time, you know? They’ve got to be developed, balanced, and play-tested as a whole.

    So, personally, I like the longer cycle between major updates, and a “hotfix” style patch in a week or two after each one. I think that results in a better product in the end. Of course, a different approach may work better for another developer.

    by Alex
  83. Yeah, I know what you mean. Aside from plain old impatience on my part, big updates with game-changing features are generally what drag me back to a game. I’m just really excited to operate on a macro-scale with factional politics and whatnot (I’m an old veteran of both X3 and Mount&Blade so when I play this game, all I want to do is subjugate the entire Hegemony, or become king pirate ninja or something).

    by scionreaver
  84. Those updates are exactly what makes me come back for some new play sessions every time.
    Being also a veteran of X3 I understand wanting to own the universe and building my empire, but I like the way the game comes by big chunks once in a while. It also allows us to test pieces by pieces the new stuff and give feedback when necessary.

    by Troll
  85. I too will replicate the point of the above few comments. Alex’s attitude towards the community made me open my wallet. So, bitch as i may once a month, i’d honestly wait for as long as it takes. No pressure. Except in less than two weeks. But that’ll be for a blog post so yeah…

    by Dimitar
  86. Hey Ales. Please can you make so on the fleet management screen you can select certain ships not to auto fight in auto resolving battles. Its really annoying

    by Farlarzia
  87. I’m really happy with the progress you’ve been making for this game Alex!
    I have a few questions, will fighters have ship systems of there own and will they regain the ship system ability after getting repaired(assuming their ship system has limited use like the Flare Launcher)?
    Keep up the good work!

    by misterjscape
  88. @misterjscape

    They’ll probably replenish ammo after the battle, just like missiles and projectile weapons.

    by Minno
  89. I know this is mostly already in the game with escorts and waypoints but im really hoping for a battlegroup kind of thing to be added. By that i mean have the abilty to tick a few boxes or something that makes specific ships in your fleet act in a more directed way in response to fleetwide orders. For instance if i give the order to capture 2 objectives, assult a objective and start a bombing run. Currently the ships will auto assign which ships go where in a really smart way, which is great. Normally id want my ships to react exactly how the ai reacts. But occasionally i want the forces currently in position at the waypoint i gave the assult order not to go flying off to recapture those two capture points and let some ships that are further away handle it. or id like a set of fighters to automatically escort that bombing run without having to spend a whole lot of command points getting them to do it. im probably coming off as a whiner or something, not my intention, just hoping for the “option” to tweek the priorities of the fleet on a ship by ship basis. If not possible then ill happily live with it.

    by N1ghteyes
  90. @misterjscape: Fighters can have systems, but at the moment none do. And yeah, if it was a limited-use system, it’d get reloaded just like weapons do.

    @N1ighteyes: To be honest, that’s not likely to happen. That’s really the point – that if you’re trying to do something unusual, it’ll cost some CPs. But, how many CPs you get from skills is still up in the air (as are skills specifics), and the command UI is quite likely to see some improvements. My apologies for the lack of details :)

    by Alex
  91. True that sometimes it is a bit depressing to see a Xyphos wing 3 times the distance from a point than a wasp one want to do the capturing, or sometimes the weakest of two fighters accepting the attack order while the other goes to capture a point.
    It’s not that rare, but not that bad though.

    by Troll
  92. Thanks alex :) its really good how you let people share their idea’s like this

    by N1ghteyes
  93. From reading N1ghteyes post and your response a though occurs, would it be possible to have a default fleet formation? Possibly at slightly reduced CPs or something.
    i.e at the start of a battle this frigate already has a fighter escort, a cruiser already has a point defence frigate etc.

    by Mad Twit
  94. alex can you respond to my previous comment?it was:Please can you make so on the fleet management screen you can select certain ships not to auto fight in auto resolving battles. Its really annoying

    by Farlarzia
  95. @Mad Twit: Hmm. This comes up pretty often, actually. My question to you is, is that something that’d be worth your effort to use? The initial formation dissolves quickly once the initial orders are given out, and in my experience, it doesn’t matter all that much. Balance that with needing an entirely new UI to manage this – a significant dev effort, and more work for the player to do.

    @Farlarzia: It’s something I mean to take a look at. Autoresolve definitely has some issues, and this is one of them. Personally, I think it should just automatically exclude weaker ships from fights you’re sure to win anyway. I don’t think making it configurable would be a good idea – too much UI fiddling for the player, for dubious gain (compared to the automated option – not compared to what it is *now*).

    by Alex
  96. Would it not be simple just too on the pause repairs bit to have a box to click on and then you can click the ships you want to exclude, and then press the button again. don’t know. also as well as crew levels will ships them selves ever gain levels? if so i have some names that could be plausible

    by Farlarzia
  97. The conquest battlecruiser is terrible when bieng controled by the AI It does not use its strong broad sides and fights ships head on where it only has two weapons

    by darkcam17
  98. @darkcam17: Do you have the latest version of the game? I’m not going to say it uses broadsides as well as a player, but it *certainly* uses them.

    by Alex
  99. I have .51a Is it do to the fact that I only have 2 of the 4 mjolnir cannons on the varient?
    Thanks for the quick response

    by darkcam17
  100. It’s due to the fact that 0.52a is when the AI became aware of using broadsides :)

    by Alex
  101. Oh nvm then thanks for the help!

    by darkcam17