Ship Systems, Part 2

The previous post was an introduction to ship systems. In this one, I’d like to talk about the thought process and decision making that went into the design. There are many ways to do things, and I’m not claiming that the way I ended up going about it is the best. Nonetheless, looking at the dev build so far – the results seem promising, and I hope you’ll find the process interesting. Besides, it’ll help me to put this down in writing, and then go through the ship systems again, with hopefully greater clarity of thought – so, you’re stuck with this being the subject of the blog entry. Might as well grab a beverage of choice and settle down for a long read.

A brief reminder: a ship system is an active ability, something a ship can do – teleport, engage afterburners, use flares, etc. A system is specific to a hull, and can’t be customized the way weapons and hull mods can – the goal is to make each ship have more uniqueness and flavor, as well as play differently.

The EMP Emitter is one of the more esoteric ship systems

What makes a good system?
Using a ship system is an action you decide to take, and it’s important for that decision to be interesting. What “interesting” means is subjective, but I think it’s reasonable to say that if it’s obvious (also subjective – what fun!) when to use a system, then the decision-making process is too simple. For example: if you had a system that instantly got rid of all of the ship’s flux, and could be used on a short cooldown – but otherwise freely – you’d want to use it every time your flux is right around maxed out.

It becomes a task the player is doing that you could easily automate, and that’s usually not a good sign (Incidentally: this means the more interesting the decision-making, the harder it is to write the AI for it. Argh!)

So, what could we do with a system like that to make the decision process more interesting?

The system could have a longer cooldown – if you use it now, you might not be able to use it a little later, when you really need it. I don’t like long cooldowns, though. In practice, the player will use the ability much less often, waiting for the perfect moment – or holding it in reserve against a bad situation that, if they play well enough, might not happen at all. And really, if I’m going to spend time developing ship systems, I’d like them to see more use, not less.

The system could have a limited number of uses. Even if it’s not so low as to require hoarding until the perfect moment, that’s still not much better. We start off with it being formulaic (enough uses not to worry about running out – use at “obvious” moment) and progress to hoarding when the number of uses goes down. Going from one type of bad to another – but still, it’s more interesting during the transition.

What about something completely different? Let’s say that using the system disables your shields and makes your ship take extra damage during the next few seconds. Now we’re talking! All of a sudden, you have to look at the tactical situation to see if using the system is a good idea – and, better yet, using it will influence your actions in the near future. You’ll want to keep out of trouble, but at the same time, since you’ve got all this flux to burn on weapons, you want to engage any particularly vulnerable targets.

This system was purely hypothetical, but I think we can draw a reasonable generalization from examining it: Downsides to taking an action are more interesting than limitations on being able to take an action. (You could say that the downside of a cooldown is not being able to use the system for a time – technically, that’s correct, but let’s not go there. Before long, we’d start arguing about the meaning of “is”.) The point here is that a downside opens up a new dimension of gameplay, where a limitation closes down an existing one. Unless the limitation is something that comes from within the gameplay (“you have to be behind someone to backstab”) vs outside it (“backstab is on cooldown, sorry”).

Does that mean that cooldowns, limited uses, and all such shouldn’t be used? They’re still useful balancing tools, and can meaningfully play into the decision-making process – but we shouldn’t rely on them to make mechanics more interesting. It’s ok to have a short cooldown to balance out a perfectly good skill that becomes game-breaking if it could be used every frame, for example. I’d be worried about abilities that rely on lengthy cooldowns to counterbalance their effectiveness, though.

Another aspect of a good ship system is that it’s satisfying to use (once again, subjective). I think this comes down to lots of playtesting, tweaking, and some more playtesting. The impact the skill has in the game, the graphics, the sound effects – all of these play into it. Actually having unique visual and sound effects is critical – the player has taken the trouble to make a decision and press a button, after all, so they should see something happening on the screen. It’s also important to be able to tell what enemy (and allied) ships are doing. I don’t have much more to say about this, though it seemed worth mentioning because it’s such an important aspect – but in the end,  it just takes time and iterations until it feels right.

PD drones in orbit around the Gemini. Incoming debris was formerly incoming long-range missiles.

What ship gets what?
Each ship only gets one system, and they can’t be customized by the player (which is the point of systems, after all – flavor/uniqueness over customization), so what system a ship gets is a important decision.

Do you add a system that shores up a weakness? Emphasizes a strength? Makes the ship more specialized in its role, or opens up new roles in which it can be used? Ultimately, all of these are valid ways to go, and there are a few overarching concerns that I think are more important.

First of all, how strong of a system should a given ship get? A flare launcher, while handy, isn’t on the level of a teleporter in terms of tactical utility. So, that’s something to always consider – adding (and subsequently, shuffling around) ship systems will be a useful tool for balancing ship hulls against each other.

Second, does the system fit a ship thematically? A good example of this are the battlecruisers – ships built around the concept of speed and firepower at the expense of defensive capabilities. A defensive system would be out of place here – while mobility and firepower enhancers contribute to the ship filling its intended role. Other ships don’t have such strongly defined roles, and there’s more leeway in selecting their systems.

Third, systems can be used to more strongly tie ships together. For example, the Enforcer, the Dominator, and the Onslaught are all low-tech ships, and share a visual style – but there are many other low-tech ships, too. These three all get the Burn Drive system, though – emphasizing that they share the same design philosophy in terms of their approach to battle (“damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”).

A look at some systems
Now that I’ve spent all this time pontificating about how ship systems should and shouldn’t work, let’s take a look at some actual examples.

Burn Drive
This one increases the top speed of a ship – by a lot. It can’t turn or use shields, though (downsides!). The cooldown is 10 seconds – nothing huge, but enough so that you can’t zip around *all the time*, which would just be broken. The ships that get this system have high armor, lots of firepower, and thrive on slugging matches – so it’s great for getting them nice and close to ships that would rather stay away.

But, it’s not so simple as “too far? engage burn drive and close in”. Since you can’t turn, you have to line up a good vector – to end up in a strong position about 5 seconds from when you use it, when the drive finishes firing. That by itself can be a challenging task. You’ve also got to be careful about taking too much damage – since your shields are down, closing in directly on a ship with, say, Anti-matter Blasters can be very painful. Burn Drive has another quirk – if you collide with another ship that’s the same size as yours, or bigger, you risk a full flameout of the engines – leaving your ship stranded. So, while it’s great for getting close, you want to be careful about ramming another ship. To top it off, Burn Drive can be used to get around the map quickly.

Fittingly, the AI for it is sizeable to say the least.

All in all, I’m really happy with this one. The downsides were really critical in making it feel right – the initial version didn’t have any, and while it was good for a few laughs (an Onslaught battleship chasing down frigates and other such nonsense), it was ultimately boring. Note that I didn’t say overpowered, though it certainly was that too. You could make it balanced by turning down the speed boost – but without the downsides, it would still be boring. You’d just turn it on any time you need to get close to a target or get away, with the only limitation being the cooldown.

Getting in front of that is a really, really, really bad idea

Fast Missile Racks
And on the other end of the spectrum, in terms of complexity – this system reloads all missile weapons immediately  so they’re ready for another volley. It could be used to fill space with more long range missiles, or to double the power of a missile or torpedo strike on a vulnerable enemy ship – fire one volley, activate the system, fire another volley.

And that’s about all there is to it. The decision to use the system is straightforward – you have to assess whether a target is vulnerable, whether the missiles have a good chance to get to it, and whether you have the time to fire off both volleys.

According to everything I’ve written in the first couple of sections, that should make it an uninteresting system – and yet, it seems to play just fine. Why is that?

I think there’s another aspect to this that the above doesn’t talk about – the complexity of the decision should be in line with the magnitude of the system’s effect. Or, at least, a fairly minor system shouldn’t require complicated decision-making – if it did, it wouldn’t be worth your time, with everything else going on that demands it. Fast Missile Racks give your ship a solid additional tactical capability – without being an undue burden on your time.

Overall, it’s certainly a less involved system. This makes me wonder – are there reasonable downsides or trade-offs that could be added to it to make it more interesting? Something to be careful of is that it’s already not an exceptionally powerful system – so it couldn’t handle as many downsides as Burn Drive did. Perhaps a simple flux cost to using it might be in order – or, a boost in power combined with more severe downsides.

Or, perhaps, it’s simply OK for some systems to be less exciting than others. You still have to get into a good position to use it well, it affects how you play a given ship, and it’s not automatic whether you should use it or not – it’s just not as game-changing as Burn Drive is for the Onslaught.

 

Over time, I’m going to revisit ship systems, tweak them as much as they need it, and probably move some around to different ships. I’m curious to see how my thoughts here hold up against the reality which will be uncovered by more playtesting, and ever-important player feedback. As always, I’d love to hear what you guys think!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2012 at 9:28 pm and is filed under Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

75 Comments:

  1. Looking forward to this, especially to see how the AI makes use of them.

    by Psycho Society
  2. Hmm I really like the downsides idea from a game design perspective.

    Some electronics warfare style systems would be interesting, for example messing with turret tracking/range, also support variants in the same vein that help own ships could work.

    Another thing we really need is an old-line carrier first/(battleship 2nd) type capital ship, with flak cloud… You know, THAT ship.

    by asdfg
  3. Great post! Thanks for putting interesting decisions in the game and not relying on dumb cool downs like WoW and Diablo 3.

    by Rob
  4. I can tell this is a big deal to ya and it does seem quite the addition! I fully agree that it will add a lot more flavor to the ships and a big plus is that you’ll be able to dream up all sorts of systems as you get good ideas.

    Seems quite flexible and I’m not worried about balancing becoming a nightmare – you can just tweak them or swap’em around till you find the right fit.

    by Dri
  5. As nice as the update is I am a little disappointed that we have to wait another mouth or 2 to try these out, not to sound impatient I’m sure that the coding you must be doing is immense and I really have not right to complain.

    Also if possible i think an ability like a missile, beam or pulse that inverted controls and messed with weapon groupings could be interesting

    by Bretth
  6. Hi Alex,

    thanks for the info :) It’s great to see that you are putting some deep thought into this (already) great game!

    Best regards :)

    by Projekt2501
  7. Looking forward to playing with these and seeing how they feel.
    Could a possible downside to the Fast Missile racks be that the missiles fire automatically a short while after the system key is pressed and have a slightly larger spread. You’d think if something was loaded and fired faster it would sacrifice more precise targeting.

    by Josef
  8. Thank you Alex, beverage of choice was cola light (need the caffeine), the read was good !

    by Dimitar
  9. Love the idea, it’s great to get an update on your thoughts. Balancing might be an issue, but testplaying and playerfeedback should take care of that :) Keep up the good work, looking forward to the next update!

    by Oliver
  10. Looks like we’ll be able to enjoy even more our battlefields. Gotta love the 225 speed on the afterburning Onslaught, a true battering ram.

    PDs oe similar systems for unshielded / non-fighter ships is a really good idea to increase their low survivability.

    by Troll
  11. okay I wrote less than half the words.
    I meant PD drones or similar systems.

    by Troll
  12. Seems like a flux cost would make sense for the fast missile rack, as an increased rate of fire would result in increased heat generation. Not sure if flux = heat, but it feels sensible to me.

    by Jabberwok
  13. Fast Missile Racks having a flux cost would be pretty interesting, given one of the main advantages of missiles is their low flux and one of their main disadvantages is their low ROF. FMR would tradeoff one for the other, so it wouldn’t be a no-brainer to mash the FMR button for your harpoons when your target’s shields go down as it could very well overload you, and your cruisers would have a clear disadvantage to FMRing a million Pilums as soon as they arrive on the map, as that’d remove their zero-flux speed bonus- it wouldn’t always be worth driving off the first wave of frigates/destroyers from the points if it’d mean you’d arrive after the enemy backup.

    by Toaster
  14. Oh god onslaughts that can chase stuff down >:)

    by darkcam17
  15. Beverage of choice: Mandarin Rose Petal Tea.

    Finished reading: Drink left untouched.

    As a budding game designer/programmer this was very interesting. My design process is mainly similar so that is a good sign.

    About the reload missile racks system, you could do something like this: the system speeds up (considerably) the reload time of missile racks and remains active for a few seconds (this allows for more than one extra volley, making the system more powerful) but on the off hand the missiles fired generate more flux and have a chance of exploding temporarily disabling that rack (badly loaded missiles detonates early).

    Also a question, will you have multiple variations of the same looking hull with different systems? Such as a hammerhead hull with say a ramming shield, and another with PD drones?

    To clarify this wouldn’t be in control of the player but different hulls with the same (or near the same) graphics. Sort of a cheap way of having more ships without much more work.

    Anyway good work, love this game. Looking forward to the next build.

    by Munchkin9
  16. Onslaught jousting!

    by blamatron
  17. looks nice BUT when you teleport will this system be in 1sec or more time to activate & what will happen if ship will teleport in another ship position ?

    by theSONY
  18. Judging by the fact you have a omen in the clips im guessing you can now get the omen

    by Farlarzia
  19. omen is a fun craft dont use any weapons max on capacity take all shield enhancing modifications and elite crew and you got yourself a battering ram

    by Vzq
  20. I just want to say, the Hyperion is already broken enough, I can take on capital ships and win using only it. I like the idea of the teleporter, but I think the ship needs some kind of nerf, possibly changing the medium energy mounts to small or something, because if you unmount the missiles, put on 2 tac lasers and 2 pulse lasers, get all the shield mods (extended, accelerated, Stabilized and hardened), and throw the rest of the points into vents then capacitors, you get a godly frigate. Flux can be vented from full in around 3 seconds, the tac lasters can take down most fighter resistance, and the pulse lasers do good damage for their size. The onslaught can’t even take this thing down if it’s piloted properly.

    Though this may just be due to my playstyle (I like using 1 or 2 ships with fighter support and nothing else), because every time I put the Hyperion in the hands of the AI they just get killed.

    by Xangi
  21. I really, really like your thought process in determining what is interesting and therefore probably fun. You sound like a pretty smart guy!

    That EW Frigate just revealed in the screenshot – speed of 180, omni shields, two tiny lasers and a missile. I can guess what an EMP emitter does. That thing looks like it will be incredibly annoying to go up against.

    Thinking about a missile fast-reload system put me in mind of launching an arranged display of fireworks. Once you light the fuse, they keep coming fast and exploding gloriously somewhere up there, but there’s no stopping them and you probably oughta step back. Might be fun, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for guided space missiles, and that “blow your load” style doesn’t fit in too well with the rest of the game as it is.

    Delighted to see the Onslaught going from ‘heavily armored giant space coffin’ whenever it’s up against superior tri-tach ships to something potentially terrifying.

    There is a troop transport hull already in the game, currently just about useless. Can we look forward to some kind of forcible docking procedures/boarding pods, or will it only have strategic value as extra capacity for spacemans?

    by Pants
  22. I have an idea to make cooldown more interesting thing. How about insted of “hard cooldown” (where You simply may not use the ship system) give “soft cooldown” which allows You to use ship system again ignoring the cooldown, but taking also a big risk of something bad happening. Simple example:
    Onlauth is using Burn Drive. Than the player wants to use it quickly again for some reason. Cooldown is 10 seconds, but he waited only 4 before activating it again. And now we are going to a simple math. 10 sec = 100%. 4 sec is 40% from 10 sec. So the propability that Burn Drive will work and nothing bad will happen is exacly 40%. If player is lucky he will be able to use ship system again really quickly. But what if not? Maybe big engine explosion and full flameout. If player will wait for 7 sec before trying he will have 70% chances of succes.
    Also this “soft cooldown” may be mixed with “hard cooldown”. For example – You have to wait for 5 sec, before trying again, and afther You must wait another 5 second for being absolutly sure that nothing bad will happen (100% chanse of succes).

    I do not know it my idea would work interesting in a game. I simply thing that as an idea it sounds interesting. I realise that certian things looks good in paper but in life they are simply not working as supposed. Also I would like to point out that what is important in my comment is an idea, not numbers providet in example.

    by Modest
  23. And Xangi the ship at the op of the screen and the Hyperion are tottaly different. And also there is mission for that where you have to take a down an onslaught with it. It mean to be like that

    by Farlarzia
  24. - A harvester system where the ship can absorb energy and matter from the heat and material remaining from a destroyed ship’s hulk.

    -

    by Enemjay
  25. i must say 225 SPEED ON AN ONSLAUGHT!!! i am going to hide in a corner now lol

    by sdmike1
  26. I think a Heat cost would be better for Fast Missiles. By heat i mean the same heat that is generated from explosions or impacts that make your ship glow red. And i think a no-cooldown would be better because firing missiles more than twice would simply overheat your ship and disable pretty much your whole ship. Engines would flame out, guns damaged and cant fire, not to mention armor starts to melt. So I could effectively launch all missiles at once in a huge salvo and watch my own ship melt with hull hit points going down xD

    by frag971
  27. I love the whole systems idea, IT is so cool. But maybe having variety in possible ship systems given to smaller hulls would be more interesting.
    For example having 3 types of ability available to a certain frigate hull and applying one at random to any given ship with that hull. I think it would make the smaller ships more interesting to play with.

    by Truegreen
  28. @Farlarzia
    I made no mention to the screenshot. I said that giving an already extremely fast and frankly overpowered ship a short range teleportation ability would break the balance horribly.

    by Xangi
  29. Well in campaign it is not super overpowered a it is the most expensive ship apart from capitals and the other class. Sorry I though you got them confused. But if you lose it you can never get another, and yes its very powerful, and also has little weapons slots. Also vs lots of other faster sips it can br taken out . Like I said before. Its a with great power comes great responsibly king of ship. Powerful, weak hull and not replaceable.

    by Farlarzia
  30. Why do i feel like alex pays less attention than he used to? he used to respond quickly and answer more messages more thoroughly. this may just be my personal option though.

    by Farlarzia
  31. Pretty sure he is either, a) Busy with development, or b) Busy with his personal life. This was posted only two days ago in the US.

    by misterjscape
  32. Ahhhh @blamatron…
    Right there is reason enough for multiplayer :-D :-D

    by chevbob
  33. i know! Its fine but never mind

    by Farlarzia
  34. Thank you guys! I appreciate all your feedback and ideas. About Fast Missile Racks: I’m almost sold on adjusting the cooldown and adding a hefty flux cost. Perhaps giving it 3 “charges” (conceptually, pre-loaded missile racks) that slowly regenerate, with each costing, some percentage of the ship’s base flux capacity to use. Then you could still choose between firing off a big burst or a smaller one, without it being too out-of-control, and without being limited entirely by cooldown.

    @asdfg: Interesting – in general, I’m wary of systems doing stuff to enemy ships directly. Keep in mind that anything a system does could also be done to *your* ship. And yeah, a large low-tech carrier is a ship I’d like to see at some point, too.

    @Rob: Thanks! I don’t know if I’d knock Diablo 3, though, easy of a target as it is :) Disclaimer: I haven’t actually played it (due to it not having single-player) but from what I’ve read, the skill design seems outstanding.

    @Josef: Adding more spread to get a faster rate of fire is not a bad idea, but wouldn’t work so well with guided missiles – and most missiles are guided.

    @Troll: Yeah… that goes back to the “address weakness vs enhance strength” question.

    @Munchkin: I don’t think we’ll have variations of the same hull with different systems. Not 100% set on this, but would rather go for different hulls altogether – as you say, it’s a bit of a “cheap” way to do it, with all the upsides and downsides :)

    @theSONY: Teleport has about a 5 second cooldown right now, and activates instantly, with the animation taking about a second, and the ship being in the new location in about half that time. Right now, stuff passes through it while it’s teleporting, but that’s subject to change.

    You can’t teleport into anything solid – will end up in a nearby empty spot instead. You can teleport on top of enemy missiles, though. Not that you’d want to.

    @Farlarzia: Yeah, you’ll be abke to get the Omen in the campaign now. The TT station will stock some.

    @Xangi: Well, if you can already beat an Onslaught, how much worse is it, really? :) It was always intended as a super-high-tech ship, and the teleport system fits in with that theme. And, as frigates are fairly good vs capital ships (which need escort to defend themselves vs such), it makes sense that a really good frigate would excel here. Anyway, I do see your point. I think ultimately it’ll be balanced out by an possible increase in FP cost, maintenance costs, and, the (un)availability of lone Onslaughts to exploit. Will just have to see – not enough of the campaign is in place to balance it in a sensible way.

    It’s also easy enough to add some downsides to the teleport system. Btw – with the Teleport system, the Hyperion is miles more survivable in the hands of the AI, and requires more skill to use well by the player – both good things, imo.
    @Pants: About the Valkyrie – honestly, I don’t see an enhanced combat role for it in the future. Not to say it 100% won’t happen, but I just don’t see it right now.

    @Modest: A mix of cooldowns is an interesting idea. I don’t know if having a random chance to not work would be good, though – I think it’ll probably be more rage-inducing, and shift combat outcomes to be more luck-driven. What might work better is if the magnitude of the effect was affected instead. For example, the top speed (and burn duration) or Burn Drive, the range of the Teleport, etc. The more I think about this, the more I like it!

    @frag971: Doing damage to your own ship… that’s just crazy enough to… well, either work or not get used by the player. I don’t know. I tried something similar as a deterrent for having high flux levels (random secondary explosions, etc), and it just didn’t work out so well. Not to say that directly applies to your idea, though.

    @Truegreen: Having one of a pool of a few random systems on a frigate might be problematic in terms of balance, I think. You might have to adjust FP costs based on what system a ship has (not something I’d want to get into), and in addition, you’d then could no longer tell just what to expect when you see a ship. That’s actually a very big deal – weapons are customizable, and you can see them right on the ships. Systems aren’t, but they’d have to be visible if they weren’t set per-hull.

    @Farlarzia (again :) ): I’m actually out of town right now – was traveling all day yesterday.
    In general, though, I think I tend to almost entirely absorbed in the work while implementing larger features (such as ship systems). There’s also a lot of forum activity (which I like to keep up with – at least in terms of reading, if not responding to everything there – wish I could, but it’s simply not possible!). Sometimes, responding to comments on the blog falls behind a bit, especially if the blog post had been out for a while – for that, I apologize.

    by Alex
  35. Sorry for the hate its fine. Any idea when i will,be out?

    by Farlarzia
  36. Also what will be the range of the teleport? Would it be a good idea for a longer teleportation time but you can teleport to anyteam mates of the control screen for a command point? IMO that woulld be balanced but its up o you.

    by Farlarzia
  37. Since the “fast missiles” thing seems to be about getting as much ordnance on target as possible, how about making it a one-shot deal where you basically empty your missile racks in a single Macross Missile Massacre moment? Might get a bit ridiculous when you have missile racks with 50 or so missiles on them, but it would sure as heck be fun to use!

    by factotum
  38. maybe teleporting ship generates EMP when its jump, so all ship around gain sonme flux

    & maybe u add some minimal jump range so u can’t teleport 2cm from curret position

    by theSONY
  39. Well, I am positivly surprised that You answered our comments (and mine of course). That was very nice of You Alex :) I am also glad to see that You completly understand my idea of “soft cooldown” – not hard unallowing to do something but some other, indirect influence. I proposed something bad happening, You see it better with having weaker effect that You would achived by waiting until cooldown time will pas. Telling the true, I thing that this way gives more options and possibilities. Also afther a lot of thinking about this, I came to conclusion that loosing a lot of armor in the BACK of my Onslaut (ble! tfu! I love Paragons! ;P) and propably some hull points only because I used Burn Drive a second before cooldown and was very, very unlucky would be not fair and sometimes could be even game breaking element. So I think You are right :)

    by Modest
  40. I was thinking it might be cool to see a self destruct or ramming system.

    The self destruct could give the ship an electric field to penetrate shields and magnetically grip ships it collides with. While this is active, its flux slowly rises and it blows when it reaches max, dealing 1.5 the hull’s max damage to nearby enemies.

    The ram could work by giving it a speed boost and the same type of shield penetration as the self destruct. When it collides, it does damage proportionate to its speed to the target, but its functions (including thrusters) randomly fail. Just putting some ideas out there.

    by Shaggy
  41. I see lots of suggestions for balancing ship systems with random events like engines having a chance to fail or missiles not loading properly. I strongly feel adding random elements in any game reduces the amount of skill required to be successful. Mario Kart, for example, is intentionally not a very skillful game because of random items such as Lightning Bolts, Bullet Bills, and the dreaded Blue Shells that can completely ruin a skillful driver’s lead and boost a lucky noob into first place.

    by Jumiri
  42. If it’s random elements within an precise setting – for example left engine possible fail while overdriving them when you reach a minimum of 250 speed with 2/3r total flux – then it becomes a previxible elemnts and a skillful player will oversse the situation so that it doesn’t reach this critical point.

    by Troll
  43. I understand, just some of the suggestions such as the missiles being loaded incorrectly and completely failing seemed too extreme of a random consequence.

    by Jumiri
  44. I am sorry shaggy but really? Having ships just to blow up? And battering ram? Do you see that in the game? How would that fit in. Also having potentially disastrous consequent that the player cant control seems stupid. It is a skill driven game, not a luck driven game. There would be no skill in blowing your self up or just driving into them. If i wanted o that i would just rive into them or crash into asteroids. Be sensible please

    by Farlarzia
  45. If there’s a self destruct move anywhere in the game, I think it’d make sense for the fuel tanker class ships to have a “blaze of glory” button, that carries with it a strategic penalty in loss of spacefuel. Hit the switch, start the fuse, watch a couple escape capsules fly away, and a few seconds later anything nearby gets incinerated. And it might make assaulting a large, poorly defended refueling convoy just a bit more interesting.

    I also would very much prefer as little randomization as possible. No %tofail, no re-rolling ships to get an ideal randomly-assigned bonus, that way lies incredible frustration and save-scumming. The only random element so far is bullet spread on some automatic/flak weapons, and those shoot fast enough so that it’s really more of a distribution over an area than a hit/miss situation.

    by Pants
  46. @farlarzia I don’t know. I was just trying to add ideas. I thought it might be interesting as a last resort, if you’re completely overwhelmed and aren’t fast enough to retreat.

    by Shaggy
  47. “@asdfg: Interesting – in general, I’m wary of systems doing stuff to enemy ships directly. Keep in mind that anything a system does could also be done to *your* ship. [...]”

    I think what a lot of players find the most annoying on the receiving end is straight stunlocks, also ECM in EVE. However this is alredy sort of covered by the flux overload mechanics in a really good way (it feels more like ones own fault when it happens). Of course, there are some good options for abilities that tie in with flux in different ways.

    I was thinking more in the way of buffs/debuffs. The reasoning is to have a true support or “force multiplier” type roles that opens up more complex and interesting tactics/strategies. For example a speed debuff ability on say a frigate could be used to hold a target in place for a long range glass cannon type ship. Things that are more or less useless in itself but effective when combined with other stuff.

    I think the best candidates for variables to play with in Starfarer is specifically ship speed, maneuvarability, flux, weapon range, turret rotation speed, accuracy, projectile speed.

    An aoe debuff might generally be more convenient from a UI point of view since the player does not need to target a specific ship. Also opens the option of a “effects own ships” type drawback.

    Inertial Dampener, slows speed/maneuvarability of all ships within 500 by 50%. Projectiles/missiles too maybe, not sure? Tackle frigate.

    Targeting Relay nexus- Increase weapon range of nearby friendly ships by 25%, but becomes immobile. Some kind of AWACs/command ship.

    Some ideas:

    Targeting Jammer, Reduce enemy weapons range by 50% and make turrets track 50% slower within 1000. Drawback: maybe lower shields? Electronics warfare ship, maybe a cruiser or destroyer?

    Flux aggravator: All ships within 800 range use double flux to fire weapons, maybe cause overload from weapons if going above the limit. Drawback: generates equal extra flux on this ship as well.

    by asdfg
  48. @Farlarzia: No eta, sorry! As to the teleport range: it’s about a screen or two.

    @factorum: Ahh, yes. Firing the entire Pilum magazine would certainly be fun the first couple of times :)

    @Jumiri, @Troll, @Pants: A one-off random chance of something very bad happening seems a potential trouble spot. Random can be ok, though – but there’s got to be enough of it that it comes down to skill once again. I.E., if you’re taking one gamble and lose/win it, that’s luck. If you’re making 100 gambles and need 51 of them to pan out to win, that’s skill (assuming that skill can be used to affect the odds in the first place, of course). Ultimately I think one just has to be careful with it, so it doesn’t become luck-based.

    @asdfg: Right – I see what you’re saying. I think those are good ideas for system – so, let me explain why not very many systems like that are in the game (in fact, the only one I can think of is the ECM Emitter on the Omen – which, lightning-based as it is, is functionally a field around the ship where stuff (missiles, fighters, ship weapons/engines) gets disabled).

    It comes down to what you’ve said in the beginning – ” The reasoning is to have a true support or “force multiplier” type roles that opens up more complex and interesting tactics/strategies.”

    Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that – but I think these types of tactics/strategies are more naturally suited to emerging in multiplayer coop game. I don’t think it’s something the AI could pull off – at best, it’d know a few canned strategies, and the player would be frustrated in not being able to get the AI to cooperate with them how they want, when they come up with something new they want to try. A potential answer would be allowing more explicit control of allied ships, but that’s not a direction I want to go (makes the game too much of an RTS and takes away from piloting your ship).

    That said, some of these could work – say, a tractor beam version of the inertial dampener. But the more purely-dependent-on-effective-cooperation a system would be, the more likely it is to run into trouble. This is exactly one of those design issues that come up if you try to design a game to have both multi and single player in it. For a co-op multiplayer game, systems that allow/force the players interact with each other are a must. For a single-player game, I don’t think it’s such a good idea – again, can be done to an extent, but shouldn’t be the focus.

    by Alex
  49. You know, once an “x” amount of time passes, Starfarer will be a done deal. Once that happens, you’ll either start another game, or you could just be a consultant :)

    by Dimitar
  50. Fast Missile Racks: Shut down all other weapons for a few seconds so you can’t pew-pew at the same time? Maybe even maneuvering, prompting a similar prediction game to the Burn Drive? “All hands on loading racks”?

    by Hypocee
  51. Cloaking System: turn the ship invisible, but uncloak immediately when it fires any weapon. good for recon.
    Scanner hull mod: detect cloaked ship but take up space.

    by Edward
  52. The clocking system + torpedo bombers = very deadly cloaked torpedo bombers.

    by Edward
  53. Good stuff here.
    May i ask what the planned size of the playable Universe would be?
    Would be nice seeing about ~20 minimum Star Systems per faction and all of it accordingly distributed with all factions having their Sector of influence while waring at the borders and grey lines. That would also bring potential for lots of potential space scenery and varying colorful representations based on Stars, nebulae, etc.

    There’s too much potential in this game and i almost wish the Beta would hold on for at least 3 or so more years to really add some depth to it, similar to Dwarf Fortress but not so prolonged.

    In any case great jobs guys.

    by Brickface
  54. Cloaking, or some other concoction to the same effect is , i believe, planned to eventually be in the game Edward. Welcome btw ! :)

    by Dimitar
  55. Could there be a system to make it easier to salvage or board an enemy ship, but makes the affected ship stronger (more durable shields, faster thrusters, etc)?

    by Shaggy
  56. I like the idea of increasing the odds of boarding or salvaging a ship through an ability. The most obvious choice for that would be the troop transport ship (dunno the name). What if when the ability was activated when close to another ship it would send off say a boarding party to intercept with the enemy ship. The enemy ship would firstly be able to shoot it down. If the party gets through then the enemy ship suffers a penalty to some of its systems for a short time, at the end of which it regains full functionality as it has fought off the boarding party. And in the case you were able to land a certain number of soldiers the ship becomes “contested”, which takes it out of the battle. The number of boarding parties required to contest a ship would change depending on the size of the ship and the number of marines stationed in the boarded ships fleet. So it may only take a single boarding party to contest a figrate but a capitol ship would require insane amounts of boarding parties to contest. Once a ship is contested it would basically go to the winner of the battle. But if its destroyed it wont. Which would make it a big incentive to protect and ships your contesting. This way would make it really difficult to just spam boarding parties and capture enemy ships, balancing out the issues that would come if a player could field a fleet of mostly troop transports and capture entire enemy fleets.

    by N1ghteyes
  57. NIce idea, but insed of sending lots of boarding partys it would be better in my option if it automaticly ttok a certain amount out relevent to the size of the ship depending on the amount of troops you have. and also insted of conesting them, the idea of a disabled systems seems good butpahhaps you have worse over all stats for the rest off the battle with rthe selected ship, and also have like a 15% extra chance for them to surrender and a 30% chance extra for the to be boardable.

    by Farlarzia
  58. i know everyone want a bigger chance 2 board an enemy ship , but its good as it is (10% or something) it will be 2 easy & u will be earning money 2 uickly
    only 1 thing is bothers me , why when i disable enemy transport fleet i get stuff only from the equipment’s ships not from the stuff they carrying?

    by theSONY
  59. I dont want the ability to board ships cause i want to capture more ships actually. I think the system is good how it is. What i was proposing was a massively high risk way of capturing that one expensive cruiser that you encounter. having the ability to send out boarding parties from the troop transport (valkarie i think, dont quote me) makes it almost impossible to actually get any transports through due to how slow and lightly defended it is. And cause the boarding parties are likely also slow and undefended shooting one down would be a matter of aiming the nearest point defence weapon you got in its general direction. The transports dont last long in batlle themselves. So to have enough to capture a larger ship in your fleet would put a serious dent in your ability to defend yourself.

    Why is every post i make an essay?

    by N1ghteyes
  60. 60th

    by Farlarzia
  61. There are some many problems for adding a boarding system. if you want a way to make money, then what about a mining system for mining minerals from the asteroids on the battle field? it will be less problematic. btw, thanks Dimitar for pointing out my spelling. I was talking about cloaking instead of clocking. (I changed my name to xyz, because I don’t bother to make a new name)

    by xyz
  62. I believe mining was mentioned as being implemented later for the game.

    by Troll
  63. It was. But dont know about it being implemented in battles. mining a battles dont really mix. look forward to the next update? anyone got anything to add

    by Farlarzia
  64. Ah sorry I read a word on 2 of your post.
    I doubt it would be smart of military commanders to have ships with mining equipement right on the battlefiels when he could simply have more guns. It alos wouldb’t make sense as they have much more important matters to direct their attention too, like survival.

    by Troll
  65. well i think the whole mining thing will be separate from the fighting, remember that U can target asteroids from the map so in my opinion it will look like: find asteroid, open battle mode, get close to the asteroid mining & maybe even some enemy will appear if U mine 2 long, ofcourse mining turrets must be equpied… we will see what Alex has come up with when he KINDLY relase an update ::)

    by theSONY
  66. Updates are released when ready.It’s just the way things work and i’m fine with that, no point rushing things.
    Blog posts on the other hand… Alex ? ;)

    by Dimitar
  67. Hah! I’ve got a fair idea what I want to write about, actually – just need to wrap up a few things dev-wise first.

    by Alex
  68. Someone might strongly dislike me for saying this, but – Are you the only one that can write a blog post ?

    Community interaction is essential, and satisfying to no end, but the more things you do dev-wise the less we have to wait for an update!

    Just a thought, take it with a grain of salt ;)

    by Dimitar
  69. Now I hate you Dimitar, only Alex can be our blog messiah.

    by Troll
  70. I want my Low tech Super-Carrier… =I

    by ValkyriaL
  71. I’d rather have a high-tech light fast carrier. Just a destroyer with one flight deck, pitiful armor and weaponry, and enough speed that it doesn’t slow my fleet to a crawl when I use it.

    by Minno
  72. You already have the Astral, its reasonably fast, well armed and has powerful shields, besides, you have the Odyssey as well, Battle cruiser with one flight deck and it is pretty much immune to missile fire.
    Unlike the hegemony that only have their condor light carrier.

    by ValkyriaL
  73. WHEN is the next patc coming out ?! :D im folowing this site every single day for past 20 days or more … and trying to see ability to DL :D i have patience but … comon allready :D !!!

    by L33tGuilty
  74. STOO FUU BRO! You want a shit update or a good one? Just e paintient. Ifd you tried to make it you woundnt complain so much. Enjoy what you have and dont look forward to what your getting, just enjoy it when you get it. Otherwise youll just be dissapointed if you keeep thinking about. Its always great but think about it to much and youll disapaoint your self

    by Farlarzia
  75. YAY for all my typos. Saw them all but to lazy to correct sorry

    by Farlarzia