The Evolution of Phase Cloaking

If you’ve been following Starfarer for a while, you’ve probably seen some references and hints about phase cloaking crop up here and there – but there’s been nothing concrete, and with good reason. It’s only about two weeks ago I sat down to definitively answer the question, “what exactly is phase cloaking, and how does it fit into the game?”.

Original Concept
The combat in Starfarer is loosely based on 20th century naval engagements. There are many differences – the goal isn’t to reproduce naval battles in space, but to have a relatable starting point for someone learning the game (and for us, while designing it). If you see something is labeled as a battleship or a carrier, you immediately have a good idea about what you’re going to get. In the naval model, phase ships were originally envisioned as submarines – able to hide in another dimension and pop out for surprise attacks. Anti-phase measures could be modeled on depth charges for attacks and sonar for detection.

That concept sat unchanged (and therefore, untouched – no design survives contact with implementation!) for a long time. But now, finally, David had created some great-looking art for phase ships, and with me already working on ship systems, it was a good time to tackle it.

As envisioned, phase ships would be central to almost any engagement they were in – the threat of a ship coming into being behind your ship and firing a salvo of torpedoes at your engines is enough to make it the focus of your strategy. The problem is, adding this now would be a very disruptive change. Combat has been refined over many iterations – the mechanics, the AI, the balance of weapons – and adding this mechanic into the mix would wreck most of that work. I don’t mind throwing away things when it’s for the good of the game, but throwing away something that already works well – in the name of an unproven concept? Much better to throw away the concept that no longer fits, and start fresh.

This left me trying to figure out just what phase cloaking could be – in a way that fits nicely into the existing game.

Full invisibility is the most disruptive aspect – managing the uncertainty of where a phase ship could be, and making guesses to counter it, is where most of the problems would come from – that has to go. So, conceptually, let’s say the ship is still in an alternate dimension, but it’s got energy anchors in this one, so it can be detected – call them “phase coils” to build on the art, and we’ve got something that looks like this:

New Design
But, what does it actually do? Originally, the other property of being phased out was that a ship could not be hit – it simply passed through projectiles, missiles, asteroids, other ships, you name it. That’s still ok – the AI just has to know not to keep shooting at something it can’t hurt, easy enough. If that’s the main property, then the phase cloak becomes a defensive system, which means shields detract from its usefulness – in some situations, you might use shields instead. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it feels like the phase cloak should be more important – something that really determines how a ship plays, not something situational.

The first thing I tried was removing shields on all the phase ships. That immediately ramped up the importance of cloaking – all of a sudden, it’s your only means of defense – but it felt a bit of a waste to say “hey, right click (the command that activates shields) is now totally useless for a certain type of ship”. That line of thinking led to putting phase cloak itself on right click – making it very explicit that it’s the ship’s main defensive system, and also making it a ship-defining characteristic – something as core to the game as right-clicking to toggle the shields functions completely differently for phase ships. This also means that phase ships can have an active system other than the phase cloak, giving more room to make individual phase ships feel more unique.

At this point, I was happy with phasing as a mechanic, and felt like it was on a good track – but there were still many details to figure out.

First of all, being totally unhittable is pretty good – we need to have something place to make sure phase ships can’t be made invulnerable. Stopping all flux dissipation while phased, along with a slow flux buildup, nicely limits the amount of time a ship can spend phased. The important part here is that no amount of flux dissipation will change this – dissipation is simply set to zero, so there’s no way to create a design that can stay phased indefinitely.

Can ships fire while phased? That could go either way – if the ship isn’t dissipating flux, it actually wouldn’t be able to fire for all that long, so it’s not as big of a deal as it might seem at first. It’s cleaner if we say phased ships can’t fire at all, though – it takes care of having to have a visual transition for shots from a phased ship entering normal space, which could be awkward to manage well.

Is there a cooldown? Some playtesting showed the answer to be an emphatic no. Phasing in and out is something you want to do in response to the changing tactical situation – see some incoming missiles, cloak, see a window of opportunity, uncloak and fire, re-cloak to avoid the counter-fire, etc. A cooldown severely disrupted the flow of that, and led to watching the cooldown instead of the said tactical situation. It’s not a good sign when a mechanic encourages the player to watch a corner of the screen instead of the action! Instead, I added a small flux cost to turning the cloak on – that way, you can phase in and out as the situation demands, but pay a price for phasing too much without thought.

How is coming back into normal space handled? In particular, if you can pass through objects while phased, what happens when you try to come out on top of them? The game engine isn’t meant to resolve collision states that start out with a huge overlap between two objects – it’ll return to a neutral state, sure enough, but it won’t look good doing it. There’s just no way to handle it well in – if you’ve got two ships overlapping that look like they shouldn’t be, and that’s your starting position, there’s not much you can do to make that look good. The physics engine’s job is to avoid this situation in the first place! In fact, that’s what we’ll do here, too.

Let’s say a ship can’t unphase when it’s occupying the same space as another ship or an asteroid (you can unphase into missiles all you like). This could be abused – a faster phase ship could stay right on top of a slower ship and never come out – so, let’s add a bit of force that pushes a phased ship away from space occupied by another object. That way, you can stay phased a little longer by taking advantage of this mechanic, but you can’t keep it up indefinitely.

Where do these changes leave anti-phase weapons, like phase (depth) charges, phase beams, etc? In the original concept, these exist as specific counters to phase ships that don’t have other counters. With the new design, a phase cloak is a defensive system that is, in its way, just as limited as shields are – an opposing ship doesn’t need special weaponry to deal with a phase ship, it just needs to adjust its tactics. Having weapons that are able to hit a phased ship would be akin to having a weapon that can go through shields, and bypassing a ship’s primary defensive mechanic would trivialize those ships. So, these weapons will not do anything special to phase ships, but will remain in the game – possibly renamed and adjusted in other ways to make up for the lack of a special function.

With the new design, phase cloaking remains a system that changes how you play the ships that use it – but it doesn’t change (and break) the whole game.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know in a comment!

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 9th, 2012 at 4:25 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.

113 Comments:

  1. Sounds cool.

    The phase ships seem like they will be highly position-based, where they have to flank a ship or they’ll take a lot of damage.

    How many phase ships will there be? Any phase fighters?

    by MajorTom
  2. I will miss the original concept, but this is completely awesome.

    Can’t wait to try it out.

    by icepick37
  3. Sound good, I like it. And I get to keep my phase beam, maybe with a different name but we’ll see how it turns out.

    You know your gonna make people even more impatient for the next update now that you’ve revealed this.

    by Vandala
  4. This sounds really promising and I am looking forward to taking a look at these new mechanics. When a phased ship is in the same position as an unphased ship then a punishment and incentive to move could be an increase in flux for the phased ship? Just an idea to throw out there.

    by Bulko18
  5. @MajorTom: As of this writing, there is one cruiser and two frigates. And yeah – position-based, or really careful – uncloak and let some ordnance go before counter-fire reaches the ship. Certainly not suited for a slugging match, but perfectly serviceable in a 1-1 fight for all that.

    @icepick37: Thanks! Yeah, I’ll miss it too – but I also like the new one. Doesn’t feel like a “aw, crap, phasing doesn’t work, quick lets put in something else and call it that” – which I was concerned about when it became clear the original concept wasn’t going to fit in.

    @Vandala: :) I don’t think the Phase Beam will even need a name change – after all, the Phase Teleporter and the Phase Skimmer exist w/o interacting with phase cloaking in any way. The Phase Charge Launcher will probably need one, though.

    @Bulko18: Hmm, yeah – actually considered that. Problem is, what happens when the flux is maxed out? The punishment stops being a punishment, and you still can’t phase back in.

    by Alex
  6. Maybe not the Phase Charge Launcher could perhaps have a phase cloak on its ammo as a cool ability, allowing it to bomb through your own ships or something. Or lie in wait for enemy ships and then auto de-phase to hit them. Or perhaps their internal workings are similar in lore to phase cloak technology which they use to deliver their death dealing.

    by Vandala
  7. Sounds good, mostly…
    I fear that it will make burst weapons (AM Blaster) even stronger than they are now, because you can just attack and cloak again.
    Also i’d like to see the cost for staying phased split up, so engaging the phase cloak costs a certain amount of flux and keeping it up only costs a very small amount, because staying invulnerable for a long time isn’t the problem… it’s ships phasing in and out in rapid succesion.

    by Dreyven
  8. Ahh, the intricacies of game development. Change one system and it could have massive affects on another!

    I do agree that being fully invisible and being able to phase-in behind an enemy would be viciously overpowered – turning the system into a mostly defensive one seems like a good idea.

    Questions, though. How fast and maneuverable are phase ships? Are they faster than the Medusa and Tempest? Do they suffer a speed penalty while cloaked?

    Anyways, phase ships, along with other ship systems are looking like great fun and will add even more juicy meat to Starfarer’s already yummy combat. :D

    Totally off-topic: Could you please add an icon to Stafarers webpage so that Chrome doesn’t show the site as the place-holder icon when on the favorites bar? My OCD thanks you if you do! :)

    by Dri
  9. Sounds pretty cool Alex! :-D

    Might we be getting a blog update about the campaign aspect of the game soon? We haven’t heard anything about that in a few months! ;-)

    by Jerry
  10. What about skirmishes between Phase Ships? Can the collide with each other in Phase Space?

    And perhaps Phase Charges could be something akin to Mines. Good pilots or Commanders facing a battle with a Phase ship can work it into a corner with area denial weapons. And they would still be viable in regular combat.

    by Master Glink
  11. @Dri: Phase cloak cuases a slow build up of flux so you won’t get your 0% flux speed boost. Also look at the picture, that ship looks maybe cruiser sized and it has a speed of 75. That is equal to the fastest cruiser we currently know.

    by Vandala
  12. What’s the difference between a phase cloak and shield that is more flux expensive but doesn’t generate flux when hit? Obviously there is aesthetics and a bit of flavor but there isn’t much of a difference?

    by Tinsoldier
  13. Ohh, Phase frigates will be my new ship of choice. Equip them to strike and fly through other ships while they are occupied and STRIKE. MOAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    by Faiter119
  14. @Tinsoldier: As far as I can tell being phased will cause all weapons fired at you to pass through you harmlessly. Also, being able to fly through other ships and asteroids is something you can’t do with shields.

    I’ll also bet that phase cloaking doesn’t generate as much flux per second as being under heavy fire with a shield up will.

    by Dri
  15. A phase cloacked vessel will just wait for positioning and timing before uncloacking to fire. A shielded ship can still fire while shielded. That is quite a huge difference in my opinion.

    I love the way you presented the original concept and it would have been nice to have it, but like you said with a well built game like we have now it would totally break balance and gamestyle.

    Aslo Alex, if your team is interested on getting on Steam when the game is complete, they are building a new feature to help people get / choose game to put on Steam here http://steamcommunity.com/greenlight/.

    by Troll
  16. Very prudent and rational Alex, really appreciate the break down. Looking forward to the next version!

    by Nick
  17. @Dri: That last bit you said was the point I brought up, this is equivalent to a shield that doesn’t generate flux when hit.

    Likewise, @Troll: I’m not being dismissive but exploring the implications. A shield that is invulnerable for the period in which you can keep it up despite not being able to fire while doing this has significant implications. Consider escape missions.

    by Tinsoldier
  18. I imagine these ships will end up being very expensive and hard to manufacture once the campaign gets going.

    As for being able to escape with impunity, well, I guess that’s another perk of rolling with phase ships!

    Look at that hull though 5000, ouch, thats less hull than EVERY other cruiser and equal hull to the Enforcer – a destroyer!

    by Dri
  19. @Dreyven: If you read the blog post a little more carefully, that’s actually how it works – bringing it up costs some flux, and then it has a flux cost per second.

    @Dri: Ahh, the icon. One of those little things that’s hard to find the time for :) I’ll definitely keep that in mind, and hopefully fix that up soon.

    As far as the phase ships: they’re on the high end in terms of maneuverability, though the frigates aren’t as fast as the Tempest. No speed penalty, but, as Vandala said, no zero-flux engine boost either.

    @Jerry: Well, as soon as I do something to the campaign worth writing about! For now, been focused on ship systems and phase cloaking.

    @Tinsoldier: That’s something I found myself thinking about along the way, too. The differences are:
    1) Can’t fire or use the ship’s active system while it’s up.
    2) Turns on instantly and protects the entire ship.
    3) Missiles and such actually fly through your ship instead of being destroyed, as they would by hitting a shield. This matters quite a bit because Pilums, and even Harpoons can come around for another pass. Meanwhile, Swarmers and Salamanders are very hard to avoid – they’re maneuverable enough to hang around so close that you’ll have a hard time unphasing without hitting them, until they run out of fuel. Never mind that if the phase ship is on escort duty, it might phase out just to let the ship it’s escorting absorb the damage.
    4) Immune to collisions with anything.

    That’s enough to play very differently. In the end, it’s still a defensive system – but imo, it’s about as different from shields as you can get.

    @Dri: Being under fire while phased won’t generate any extra flux at all – those shots just fly harmlessly through.

    @Troll: Thanks for the heads up about greenlight! Looks very promising.

    by Alex
  20. I think that you should read “Passage at Arms”, by Glen Cook. It is essentially “Das Boot” in space, but it provides an interesting take on stealth that sounds similar to what you are implementing.

    by Ostsol
  21. This is very neat, I think it’s a smart move to make phasing a defensive mechanism. Just one thing though, isn’t it sorta weird that to have slow invisible cruisers lumbering around at a speed of 75? It’d be fairly difficult to get in a strategic position to fire off a load at an enemy ship, considering you’re very visible, and you’d soak up a ton of damage while you try to hit an enemy. I can see it working for fast frigates and fighters, but for a giant, slow cruiser it would take a lot of awareness and timing to pull of a successful attack (as in you deal more damage then you take).

    by DrZaloski
  22. It probably doesn’t matter due to how the phase cloak is implemented, but does the cloak generate hard flux or soft flux? It looks like hard flux in the picture.

    Also, would you consider adding phase cloak as a ship system in addition to the current implementation? Just for playing around with in mods.

    And as an aside, it would be nice if you would also make a ship system that lets ships go invisible and intangible (and all the AI that goes along with that D= ), sort of like your original intent with phase cloaking. It wouldn’t have to be implemented into the main game. I wouldn’t expect it to be a priority, maybe something for after release, since it would be a ton of work just for a nice extra toy for modders.

    by naufrago
  23. Yeah, this looks fun!

    by Trylobot
  24. How about, if a ship reaches full flux while phased…They start taking damage? Maybe they could lose systems?

    This would be the more realistic view of having too much of a build up of energy. And it would also stop players from abusing a tactic. You WON’T let you ship get stuck on another because it will eventually kill you.

    But it also gives non-phased ships a tactic to fighting phased ships. Hold them in phase and don’t let them out.

    by Kalamain
  25. I think this idea is pretty cool. I like the thought of having a class of ships that are like subs. It will be cool to do some ambush hunting. However there are going to be a lot of balance issues. I’m worried that ship positioning will be thrown all out of whack because of this. The idea of a ship phasing right behind a slow ship with a bunch of engine killing weapons seems kind of cheap. Like one ship with the phase ability could completely change the battle. That seems somewhat over powered to me. Also you can’t really flank a ship that can phase which could possibly make the faster ships really useless against them. Although fighters could be a good counter to the phase ability because they could case the ship down, I’m sure the AI would not be able to track and predict the location of the invisible ship like the player could. Hmmmmm so many new strategies.

    by Ironcode
  26. But can phase ships shoot at each other while they are both phased? Or do weapons while you are phased simply not work?

    by Vandala
  27. But are other ships able to target or ‘see’ a cloaked phase-ship? and will it be possible to disable the phase coils so the ship can’t cloak anymore?

    by spotus
  28. A couple of thoughts popped into my head reading this.
    Hows about energy weapons having a chance to destabilize the phase state, bringing a ship back into normal space. The chance would be low, so focusing your fire at the ship would only be worthwhile when you have no other enemies to engage.
    Also, what about phased ships emitting an energy field affecting all ships within a certain radius (depending on the phased ship’s size), increasing their flux? A sort of ‘passive weapon’. This could be a modification or it could be intrinsic, it would or would not have an on/off switch, and it would effect your own ships as well, so you would have to take great care in using it.

    by Jay
  29. Sounds awesome. But how will it play?

    <edited> This is not the proper venue for discussing forum disciplinary issues. Removing rest of related comments, as well. – Alex

    by upgradecap
  30. I would be interested to see how the AI uses this, would it just use it all the time, or be totally confused by it?

    Also would only certain faction/s have access to this “cloaking” e.g. the Tri-Tachyon, especially as these seem to have the most advanced technology.

    by Pelhamds
  31. maybe phaze torpedos, ship can fire them while phazed and they dissolve into reality and then launch from a small drone that then self destructs. low amunition and high flux for each launch.
    and the “depth charges” could instead of doing damage just cause extreme flux buildup in the target fprcing it to “surface”

    by vaughan
  32. It makes sense that you’d have to re-work subs, because subs have made surface ships obsolete in real life. (That and explosives scale much better than armour.) The only reason this isn’t common knowledge is that large naval battles went out of style when nuclear weapons came into style.

    Also, awesome and stuff. The below means I find the idea inspiring.

    I like the phase beam as medium beam weapon that’s a different colour than the grav beam and HIL.

    That said, I’d like to see EMP damage go through cloak. The EMP blast still has to actually go off and intersect the ship. Perhaps very specialized phase weapons could use the old EMP–>flux conversion on phased ships.

    Without some form of countermeasures, phase ships could indefinitely ambush anything they’re faster than. With two, they could even apply constant pressure to prevent active venting. I’m fine with them being able to roll poorly equipped or highly specialized ships this way.

    Also, waiting is boring for the player, but the best strategy against a phased ship is to put the shield up and wait for it to burn through its own capacity.

    Phase weapons doing pure flux damage would function similarly to the way kinetics do against shields, and thus is likely to be easy to balance. (Make them tickle, otherwise the same.) Doing it the EMP way would further differentiate the two.

    I’d also like to see a ship system that forces ships to stay in cloak, because being mean to the AI is fun. Call it a phase web or dimensional perturber.

    by Alrenous
  33. I was considering Bulko18′ post and the reply to it, and I might have found a way around it: If you reach maximum flux and are unable to unphase, you start taking damage from random explosions around (inside) the ship. Other than damaging the ship the explosions would also disable whatever systems (engines weapons) that happen to be hit by the explosion. While this was happening your flux would continue to rise, so that once you unphased it would take even longer to dissipate your flux. This however raises a new problem concerning how this is even possible. Usually ships simply overload, so why can phase-ships avoid it? One explanation could be that when normal ships overload, it is actually only one of the ships build in ways for it to defend itself against stupid crews who doesn’t know what they are doing. Experienced crews would however be able to override it. Another problem arises: What if your crew is green? Well, phase-ships must be some pretty advanced ships, don’t you think? So wouldn’t it be fair to require an experienced crew for such a ship? You could say that at least 10% of the crew had to be elites, 30% (not counting the 10% elites) veterans or above, and the rest regulars or above. I hope I’ve been helpful.

    by Belguin
  34. Is cloaking something you can mount on all ships? like a weapon or is it for specific ships? also Alex, of topic, i would love to have non combat modules such as added hangars or fire control towers to increase trajectory analysis and accuracy or like added senor arrays for scanning cloaked ships at bigger range, like 1/2/3/4 slots per ship size?

    by ValkyriaL
  35. Very cool idea. Seems you can wrap it up as a limited invulnerability really.

    At first I thought it would be a little bit overpowered to shed damage frequently, but the fact that missiles will still track and circle you helps balance that.

    In addition, I assume the balance here is highly dependent on flux cost to phase, and cost over time.

    It will really affect things to be able to blink in and out say 10 times vs 3 in a short amount of time.

    I think if phasing still feels too powerful, possibly add a 2 sec cooldown after you are hit before you can phase again.

    Another idea is that you can’t phase out if you are in a burn out state, engines down drifting, no hiding!

    My big worry is picturing a bunch of torpedo craft flying gently over an onslaught, with no way for it to turn to keep up, unphasing, then dropping several point blank torpedoes.

    I guess really the thing is phase really defeats many of the mechanics having to do with the ships facing and it being able to offer up sufficient PD a missle or ship has to traverse before it can strike.

    Either way, really interesting post on its evolution and I think like all your ideas, it is a solid addition to the game.

    by Reapy
  36. When a phased ship remains phased with full flux on top of an un-phased ship, make both ships take continuous damage. Also, perhaps make it so when a phased ship is destroyed by this, it’s gone. No scraping after battle end, no destroyed ship left during the battle. This might take care of the problems you mentioned with 2 ships occupying the same area messing with the physics engine.

    On a different note, maybe you could put the cloak in as a hull modification (Like the “Omni Shield Emitter”), but make it very expensive in OP (of course, making the OP cost higher depending on size of the ship)

    by MrNo
  37. In general, when talking about a game mechanic, “make it expensive” means “it’s not actually enjoyable”.

    by Hypocee
  38. Does a hull mod like *Advanced Cooling systems* that would reduce flux generated from weapons by 25% sound possible? =I i would love that as well like the stuff i wrote earlier.

    by ValkyriaL
  39. @Ostlol: Hmm, was looking for a new book to read. Reading it now – writing seems a bit over the top/awkward, but maybe I’ll get into it.

    @DrZaloski: Well, you have to keep in mind that 75 is actually quite fast for a cruiser. But yeah, that ship trades good firepower for being pretty fragile – will just have to see how it plays out. It’s definitely pretty good in AI hands, though, and I suspect in player hands it’ll do even better.

    @naufrago: Hah, would you believe I actually don’t know off the top of my head whether its hard or soft flux? Like you said, it actually makes no difference at all – so it should probably be soft, to avoid confusion.

    You can actually set the phase cloak up as a ship system in a mod, if you’re so inclined – that’s how it’s implemented already.

    As far as an actual invisibility system, that’s not going to happen, for the same reasons why phase cloak became what it is now – way too much game-breaking stuff to make it work well.

    @Vandala: No – ships simply can’t fire weapons at all while phased.

    @spotus: You can see the ship, but all weapons pass through it harmlessly. You can’t disable individual phase coils.

    @Pelhamds: The AI uses it fairly well, I’d say. Will obviously get a few rounds of improvements as needed, but it’s proficient already – enough to hold its own vs regular ships.

    @ValkyriaL: No, it’s something that’s specific to certain ships. It also requries special graphics, so I don’t see it being addable via a hullmod or some such. About an “Advanced Cooling System” – neat idea, I’ll keep it in mind.

    @Reapy: We’ll have to see it in action in player hands for a little while to get a good sense of just how it plays out, but I’m not sure it’s *that* great for delivering missiles while avoiding PD. Shields still work to stop that, and it’s an awful risk for the phase ship to take – if they’re not successful, chances are they’ll run out of flux right next to an enemy ship.

    @Hypocee: Heheh, I agree in spirit, though I’d say “make it expensive” means “it’s overpowered”. Generally making something more expensive, adding a long cooldown, etc, doesn’t address the underlying balance problem.

    @Ironcode: I think you might have missed something in reading the blog post – phase ships are *not* invisible. Both sides can see them, they’re just unhittable.

    @Alrenous: I’m hesitant to make anything simply go through a ship’s primary means of defense – that has the potential to cause severe balance issues.

    As far as waiting: it’s not actually that effective unless you also outpace the ship, which means you’re in a smaller ship (since phase ships tend to be near the top-of-the-class speed-wise), which in turn means it can just phase in and overwhelm you. Against an even-sized ship, once again, waiting isn’t so good – the phase ship can unphase, fire off some ordnance, and likely get away to a safe enough
    spot to vent. Phase ships have a greater capacity to control the engagement due to their relative speed, though it’s not an overwhelming difference. Just enough so that “stalk it and wait it out” isn’t a universally good tactic.

    Interesting idea about phase weapons causing some flux buildup – need to give that a little more thought. Sounds like it could work – but is it necessary? It might end up making phasing mechanics more similar to shield ones, and that doesn’t seem desirable.

    About what happens when flux maxes out with the cloak on: come to think of it, the way it is right now, phase ships simply can’t be overloaded, since that’s a function of shields. It would make sense if reaching maximum flux while phased would trigger a return to normal space and an overload. No need for a new mechanic – just tie it back to one that already exists.

    by Alex
  40. I was thinking of phase ship vs. larger ship. Though yes, speculation is speculation – you’ve played it, I haven’t.

    Phase frigate+destroyer vs. Apogee. (Hopefully about equal FP.)
    The phase ships can uncloak, but they will have to run before the Apogee starts feeling it. While they’re venting phase flux, the Apogee vents shields flux.

    Or they coordinate constant pressure until the Apogee runs out, almost unable to return fire.

    Phase cruiser vs. Dominator.
    The phase ship is trying to manoeuvre around the Dominator’s shield. The Dominator backs up and turns to keep the cruiser centred, but otherwise can’t do anything.

    If the Dominator can exploit zero-flux boost coasting, it will manage to be faster than that cruiser.

    If it can’t, it’s still lowering the effective speed to 45, which means by the time the Doom has traversed the Dominator’s firing arc, it will just be running out of flux.

    It will turn around and leave before it gets an opportunity to hit anything but shield.

    A destroyer won’t be much better off, it will probably be able to get behind, but have to phase and run again almost immediately unless its AI leans toward kamikaze.

    900 for HAG/mark 9s, I assume 45 is 45/sec, which means 20, which is exactly 100% phase flux at present. If that number is above ~60%, they will run before being able to shoot. If it’s significantly lower…

    If the captains play optimally, you have, depending on phase balance, either stalemate or flawless victory for the phase ship.

    In my opinion, ‘make the AI stupid’ should be a last resort. As before I’m fine with these outcomes if the Dominator isn’t packing any specialized anti-phase equipment.

    While this is a fairly unrealistic situation – most fleets are, well, fleets, not duels – the fact it can happen means it will eventually.

    Similarly, it will often sort-of happen in fleets. I don’t think the supporting ships will totally sublimate the factors at work here.

    by Alrenous
  41. First off: this sounds like an exciting mechanism so far. I have some additional thoughts about implementation though:

    To me a phase weapon would not be a counter against phase ships but a weapon that utilizes phase technology. So either it is a weapon you can fire while phased out or it is a waepon that is “cloaked” itself, the prime example being a cloaked torpedo or mines (as in “underwater” torpedo). Anyway it should give you a set of highly situational or specialized weaponry, adding tactical depth to your combat choices.

    I would also like to suggest that facilitating things like radar, sensors and such (as hullmods for example) would give you more freedom about giving ships something like real or partial cloaking with the phasing. Ship systems could then force uncloaking / unphasing or scan the whole map for hidden objects to counter such ships or give you an idea of their whereabouts.

    And obviously i just so much like the idea of some nasty bombers uncloaking behind your shiny baby flagship, unloading their torpedos for maximum displeasure and then wandering off again cackling about their insidiousness.

    by Captain Baer
  42. I can see this changing fleet layouts alot. Aren’t you worried phase ships will replace strike frigates and bomber wings? I personally dont use strikes all that often because of the lag between calling the strike and it arriving on target is difficult to time correctly. But i can really see myself equiping a phase ship with strike weapons and ordering it to harass a bigger ship while i engage with my capital ship. With the high quality of AI i would assume the phase ship would be smart enough to prioritise phasing into attack while the opposing ship is venting flux or otherwise distracted by other things

    by N1ghteyes
  43. Also when you finished reading this did anyone else think a carrier able to phase out would be all sorts of awesome?

    by N1ghteyes
  44. I thought this was the original concept all along… it’s what I guessed from the hints anyway.

    by cp252
  45. so a phased ship with a boarding system will be extremely overpowered if there was any boarding system.

    by xyz
  46. I think that phased ships should be invisible in nebula clouds.

    by Mealiow
  47. I think the phase ships should be invisible and capable of firing, but only missiles, when cloaked. There could be something like a radar to see them. But I only think this because I find the concept of a “space submarine” too awesome to pass.

    by Ryuu
  48. Maybe you still can implement depth charges, like a weapon module that has a cooldown that either lays timed charges or mines. If a phesed ship bumps into one (or finds itself in the area of effect of a charge) it receives alot of extra flux. This could provide a decent counter to a phased ship without being too OP (atleast in my opinion). Plus, fitting a ship or two with this particular module would provide a sizeable detriment to a ships effectiveness at fighting standard ships with shields. Not to mention it would take skill in maneuvering to use such a weapon. Just an idea :)

    by Patrickovitch
  49. @N1ghteyes :
    Maybe, maybe not. Sure it might become invincible for the lenght of the phase out, but that would mean it can’t launch / repair fighters or refit bomber during that time, and most of the time a real carrier ses a lot of traffic between figher repairs and bomber reloads.
    It might be cool as a deep space carrier protected by few or just its fighters, but as a fleet ship it would be best stay behind hte line with a heavy shield and spend its time tending to fighters.

    by Troll
  50. Can the “traditional cloak” still be made available to modders?

    by MileHighGuy
  51. Well, radar or Omni-directional weak long range/powerful short range scan burst equipment ” Got that idea from Bodacious Space pirates anime >.^” would be something that would have to be added, since if a single phase ship is in the other fleet as it is now, your fleet is doomed if you cant find it, since it will destroy your ships one by one and there is nothing you can do about it.

    by ValkyriaL
  52. Hmm. I’m wondering if I perhaps was unclear, as there seems to be a bit of confusion about this point. As things stand now, phase ships are visible to both sides while they’re phased – they just can’t be hit.

    by Alex
  53. If i got my hands on one of those phase ships, my first order of business would be to blow up those pesky Onslaughts patrolling the Hegemony station

    by Bribe Guntails
  54. No, you stated it clearly. People just don’t read everything, see the word ‘cloak’, and assume ‘invisible’. I think there will always be someone confused as long as the word ‘cloak’ remains in ‘phasing cloak’.

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but if you’re really concerned about it you could rename it.

    by naufrago
  55. Just say that enemy phase ships AND your own will look just like they do in that screenie.

    Anyways… RELEASE WITHIN THE MONTH, ALEX?! YES/NO answers only!

    by Dri
  56. @Alex, good point, both shields and phase have a flux cost associated when wading through PD.

    I guess the only difference is phase is independent of what weapons are used on it.

    I imagine some AI fun as you have to make sure it is careful not to waste expensive rounds/missiles at phased ships, balanced with when there are situations that it should saturate the area with weapon fire waiting for the unphasing.

    I don’t envy you ;)

    by Reapy
  57. But will we be able to have a Phase Onslaught?
    (More of a modding/fun thing than an actually serious thing for the game.)

    by Aklyon
  58. I feel that there still needs to be a anti phase weapon but it doesnt damage the ship. Even with shields you can still shoot them and make them deplete.

    It would be called the phase destablizer. it will essently attack the “phase coils” and cause the ships phase engine to use more flux to stay phased. (basicly the weapons does no damage but instead increases the flux produced from being phased.)

    This weapon would come in 2 forms, a short range, medium energy use gun that fits as a medium point defence (anti phased small ships) and a large or XL gun that is medium range with high energy use (anti phased large ships.) both of these will be energy weapons.

    This would help be the anti “phase get point blank, unphase unlease all torpedoes, rephase, retreat” tactics that would make a fight a can u withstand the initial volley? yes? well there already retreating while phased. no? well u lose.

    Also these would make a phased fighter more counterable.

    by worvand
  59. oh and one last note i forgot to say about in my last post. they have no effect on unphased ships

    by worvand
  60. How common will phase ships be eventually do you reckon alex? will they be common enough that most fleets will have one or two on hand, or will they be a rare surprise when facing bigger fleets?

    by N1ghteyes
  61. what about adding bio ships too? a bio ship has no shield but its armor quickly regenerates as long as there are enough supply. adding the ship probably won’t change the game mechanism very much, but modders will have one more stuff to play with.

    by xyz
  62. @Dri: Yes, they’ll both look that way. No answers on release dates, sorry :)

    @Reapy: Heheh, yeah, the AI took a bit of work – but nowhere near as bad as it would be if the ships had actually turned invisible.

    @Akylon: Sure, you can mod up a phase Onslaught. Might have to add some graphics to get it to look good, but if you don’t want the phase coils and just want it to “work”, it’s easy.

    @worvand: It’s not a bad idea – but the question is, do you want to make phase cloaking and shields more similar to each other? My answer to that is no – I think it’s a good thing that they work differently.

    The “phase, unphase, torpedo strike” tactic you describe isn’t nearly as strong as you’d think – shields counter it, and the flux use on the phased ship is very high.

    @N1ghteyes: Hard to say just how common phase ships will be. I’d think not too common, though.

    @xyz: Bio ships are an interesting concept – I’m not sure they’d fit into the fiction as it stands now, though.

    by Alex
  63. I think bio ships would be cool they would be a defensive system that reinforces hit and run tactics.

    They could be taken 2 ways: bio armor that uses supplies to repair the ship in battle.

    And a living ship (like in Farscape) that is like living armor but also doesnt require fuel but instead needs more supplies and if u run out of supplies for too long the ship dies.

    by Worvand
  64. How about super capital ships alex? like a dedicated flagship with a limit of 1 per fleet that has a special super weapon, huge flux pool and tons of turrets/missile mounts.

    by ValkyriaL
  65. Bio ships could look really nice and add many possibilities on the battlefield, but I doubt they’ fit between Hegemony, Tri Tachyon, the Pirates and us.

    by Troll
  66. @Troll – bioships are the alien race in the expansion pack/starfarer 2.
    Call ‘em the Vorlows, or the Shadons… :-p

    by chevbob
  67. Bioships sound really cool :) the machanic more than the actual living part for me though. If it doesnt fit in the lore perfectly why not just have the armor regen be a ship ability? It could be passive with an activated boost that overloads your ship for twice as long as you use the armor regen?

    by N1ghteyes
  68. @chevbob:
    The problem is not how to add them, but how to fit them lorewise in the universe of Starfarer. It’s not like GSB where they can add race DLCs with no problem because pure gratuity is the base of the game (no need for a consistent universe, just a need for ships to shoot on, and weapons to shoot with).

    by Troll
  69. I personally felt the combat part of the game was just fine. I understand this is your game, but from a customer perspective i’d like a great focus on everything other than combat changes. Where are the fleet commanders? massive universe to explore? Outpost building?

    by Salient
  70. @ValkyriaL: Probably not – I mean, that just sounds like a large capital ship – and a restriction of 1-per-fleet seems awfully forced.

    @Salient: Fair enough. I’ll just say that ship systems and phase cloaking are something that was planned from very early on. So in the long run, it’s not going to affect when the game is done (i.e., it’s not “extra” work), and in my estimation, now was a good time to do it.

    by Alex
  71. I personally agree with Worv in some regards to anti phase weaponry because I see one problem with dedicated phase capital ships with anti fighter abilities just nuking fighters and then phasing again to run away.

    This is what I propose and it is similar to Worv’s. Phase weaponry are low power energy based weapons that most of the time (outside the phase launcher) act as point defence weaponry similar to a LR Point defence laser but with some damage loss. Thier PD priority first hits phase ships and then goes to normal priority. This adds a risk to the weapons as phase cant but used to tactically disabled a ships PD if it focueses on anti Phase weaponry. The phase PD weaponry adds flux (the games primary mechanic I dont think its bad to use this when phase allready does use it) but slowly. Reasonaly you would require 4-5 anti phase beams to force a frigate level phaser to dephase from overloading in about 4-7 seconds.

    This setup has several benefits:
    1 – Anti phase is itself sacrificing in normal defencive power. Investing in anti phase would make Mirv’s a very scary things as they will likely always seperate.

    2 – Since anti phase is attracted to phase, phase itself can be used to strategically draw fire.

    3 – Because anti phase (you can make the phase launcher a phase using weapon) is locked to point defence types you will avoid the issue of anti phase making phase like shields and heres why: PD energy weapons are short range skirmish weaponry. Anti phase would require specilised hunter killer pacts, re-embracing the ideal of close range depth charges in anti sumbmarine combat. The slow big hitters will not be able to catch phase ships due to thier speed to force a dephase. This means knife fighting with phase can be dangerous.

    5 and finally and most improtently in my own opinion, it provides a counter to your problem of a phase ship just getting into point blanc range with a torpedo battry, bypassing all of a fleets defences. Phase ships will run deep (Isuggest no radar on phase as a addition) at long ranges but the dangers of the submarine/phase is getting right next to a large ship where if its discovered/overloaded its a fragile gunboat. Sure to die.

    I appreciate where your coming from but this is my opinion. Phase as you describe it atm lacks suitable counters. I think this introduces them. I realise im not entirely origonal but I thought of most of this before even reading any comments.

    Whatever you decide I think its an interesting system you have going. If you consider the option I and others suggest then you might like to make it so a phase ship can phase for quite a good period of time on passive phase buildup so it can manuever well enough.

    by Cryten
  72. @Cryten: Hmm. In my playtesting, fighters actually do very well against phase ships, because they’re able to stay on them and stop them from unphasing without taking some damage. The short-range missiles fighters often carry also present a problem because they’re nearly impossible to avoid by phasing – they just come around too quick. So, it becomes a choice of “stay under and wait it out” vs “come up and take some damage”. Since phase ships also tend to have forward-facing weaponry, they don’t do particularly well vs fighters when they do come back into normal space.

    A likely issue with anti-phase weaponry (aside from the aforementioned “making phasing similar to shields”) is difficulty balancing it. Phase ships are’t going to be nearly as common as shield-using ships, so what do you do? Either an AP weapon is situational (not worth the OP when phase ships aren’t around) – or it’s too good (worth the OP when phase ships aren’t around, /and/ has extra AP capability). “Situational” means you either refit as soon as you see hostile phase ships in your future, or you always have a portion of your ships fitted out with AP weapons “just in case”. Neither seems like a desireable scenario.

    You could probably walk the line there and balance it somewhat – after all, shields and kinetics offer a similar problem – but not nearly as much of one, because shields are so common.

    For all that, I don’t want to discount the idea. I think it, or some variation of it, could likely work – I’d just rather not try to solve a gameplay problem that hasn’t actually shown up yet, and may not show up at all :)

    by Alex
  73. Hehe fair enough, as you say this is all concept at this point. Its true also I didnt really think about fighter speed. Heres a related question then. Do you think a phased ship type would have access to much medium ballistic weaponry or pulse lasers. IE could they jump out of phase and be garenteed to wipe the floor with local fighters?

    by Cryten
  74. I’m actually a bit concerned that a Phase Ship wont be much different than other ships with shields. It is a defensive system like with shields which shares the same cost and has mostly the same advantages and disadvantages.

    Having said that I haven’t tried it so what do I know. Still it’s how I feel reading the blog.

    What I imagined a Phase Ship might be would be a ship that is constantly in a different dimension therefore non-hittable while still being visible. And to fire it would have to ‘surface’ becoming hittable. The result is that it would be a sort of patient hunter kind of thing. Both ships are unable to hit it each other so neither has to worry about the other, until the normal ship gets distracted by something else in which case it might have to start worrying about being out maneuvered.

    Then add the anti-phase weaponry that can hit, or at least disrupt a phased ship and the phase ship is balanced out but not obsolete: it should avoid antiphase ships and ships armed with antiphase weapons would not be able to use them on regular ships. Actually becomes a bit of a rock-paper-scissors thing…

    Anyway just my thoughts, as you have them sounds plenty cool too I’m looking forward to trying them.

    by Munchkin9
  75. I tottaly agree with munchkin9. sounds like an alternative to shields but you cant fire which is worse, no matter how high your disrribtion it stills goes up, there is absolutly no stealth and you cant fire. this is all worse. I dont really see many upsides.

    by Farlarzia
  76. @Munchkin9: You do realize that what you described is *exactly* how it works, right? :) Minus specific anti-phase weaponry, that is.

    by Alex
  77. Hmm I had understood that it could only go under for short-ish periods of time. I’m suggesting that it doesn’t have such limitations.

    by Munchkin9
  78. Ah, I see – that explains why you threw anti-phase weapons in. The trouble I see with that is a ship that can be permanently invulnerable – at will – could lead to some very boring fights. Of course, that’s not the case if you bring some anti-phase weapons along – but that’s another potential issue. I don’t think requiring a certain type of weapon to deal with a certain type of ship is a good idea – at least, not this blatantly. Given where I’d like the game to go, soft counters are fine – but hard counters are something to watch out for.

    by Alex
  79. Good point about anti-phase either being weak or OP. But, there should be one blatant anti-phase weapon. It should pretty much suck. Rather, it is just in case phase ships end up being a huge pain – either due to some luck or due to playstyle.

    For example, what if I build my fleet entirely of phase ships, and then launch coordinated strikes? Again, I don’t think, “make the AI not think of this” is a good solution. Luck: what happens if a fleet by chance gets whittled down to just the phase ships?

    The terrible weapon should probably say it is terrible. Or be a terrible ship with a ship system.

    That said, beam weapons are essentially anti-phase already. You can’t just pop in and pop out to avoid them, because they hit instantly.

    I’m a bit worried about differentiating phase ships. When do they let you kill ships you wouldn’t otherwise be able to kill?

    Or do they let you avoid damage on ships you were going to kill anyway?

    As an admiral, what is my incentive to use my FP on phase ships?

    Because, for example, if they’re primarily good at getting behind shield facings, Tritach fleets will laugh at phase ships.

    Do they help when outnumbered? Or do they take a strategic edge and turn it into an overwhelming superiority?

    by Alrenous
  80. Or you avoid the issue by making the ‘anti-phase’ weapon something that is useful in other circumstances. I don’t know a sort of EMP maybe. Something that would always be nice to have with you and is extremely useful in specific situations.

    I did think about them becoming invulnerable but since I couldn’t think of a good solution at the time I didn’t mention it :)

    Your solution for it is actually the first one I would go for as well. You could even keep anti-phase weapons (or something like those mentioned above) by just making it a fairly slow gain of flux, so they could stay under a long time but not forever. Though I find that might defeat the purpose in some ways.

    Other things you could do is make it so they can’t capture objectives when phased. Meaning that if they just stay phased then the team will probably lose if that is the only thing they have.

    That and I’m thinking phase ships should be weaker than other ships in a straight on fight, so if they find themselves to be the only ships left then they should escape. And it isn’t really a problem that they escape easily, it makes sense, I mean: they are phase ships.

    by Munchkin9
  81. have you consider phase ship vs phase ship battle?
    without ‘anti-phase’ weapons, those battle may takes forever, since one team can pop in while another pop out. none of them can hit each other.

    by xyz
  82. and as Munchkin9 said, phase ships can escape battles easily. how will you stop AI phase ships from running whenever they are outnumbered.

    by xyz
  83. @Munchkin9: You’d still be sort of forced to take those weapons, though. If they’re universally useful – that’s great (though possibly too strong), but still removes some choice.

    @xyz: The flux buildup while phased takes care of it. As far as fleeing: any fast ship can get away easily, and any slow one will have a hard time – regardless of whether they’re using a phase cloak or not.

    by Alex
  84. Will the phasing be able to be disabled by EMP damage or simply extensive damage to the ship? (Like how the engine works now)

    by armoredcookie
  85. No – but just like shields, it’s disabled by the ship being overloaded (which happens if it stays phased too long and flux maxes out).

    by Alex
  86. Another question, will the AI simply ignore phased ships and leave them alone? Or will they stay around them and harass them?

    And will cloaking while an attack order is in place remove the attack order? Or will ships attack anyways?

    by armoredcookie
  87. The AI is aware of phased ships and will try to stay on them if it’s “appropriate” (according to the AI’s evaluation of the situation). It knows not to fire, of course.

    As far as “attack” – you mean an “engage” order, right? Phase cloaking will no more interfere with it than a ship using shields would.

    by Alex
  88. But this makes Phase ships useless.
    Whats the point of it when it is being seen by everything they have a big flux build up and get destroyed and unphased by fighters so easy?

    by Snukey
  89. I think you might have missed the part where they are totally invulnerable while phased. That’s kind of good :)

    by Alex
  90. I think a good anti-phase weapon that would have many other uses could be a sort of flux link that transfers flux from one ship to another (including phased ships) at a cost of flux to pump the flux, so both ships would gain flux, just the targeted ship would gain more. Could be used to force a phased ship out, or to force overloads on ships that aren’t shielding against it, since it needs to go directly into the ship.

    by Jumiri
  91. @Jumiri I believe what you’re talking about is known as a ‘beam weapon,’ like the tactical laser, high intensity laser, etc.

    by naufrago
  92. I mean one the does no damage in exchange for being able to hit phased ships. And, regular beam weapons can increase flux by hitting the shield, this is a transfer of flux, so it needs to hit the ship.

    by Jumiri
  93. We actually had weapons that raised flux when hitting the hull/armor, just like you’re describing, in an earlier build.

    That turned out to be too powerful – even though shields blocked it completely, you could still pretty well lock a ship down, and there wasn’t that much to counter it. All it took was kinetics + threat of flux-raising overload, and the target ship was in a lose/lose situation.

    by Alex
  94. How fast is the flux build up?

    I feel that we (the good and honest community :D ) are seeing it as very high like shields or more. Is this true or a misconception?

    by Munchkin9
  95. It’s generally 5% of the ship’s base flux capacity per second, with an added flux cost for activating it. Since flux dissipation doesn’t happen while phased, an average phase ship can spend ~20 seconds in phase at most, and less if they keep going in and out. Adding flux capacitors can extend this.

    It if was significantly longer – which is what I think you might be getting at – then some way to directly deal with a phased ship would indeed be necessary.

    by Alex
  96. Alex, apart from the advanced cooling system hull mod i told you about earlier, i came up with another one,
    *Overcharged Autoloader* Increases rate of fire for energy and ballistic weapons by 15%, but reduces their durability by the same amount. How does it sound? =D are my ideas any good?

    by ValkyriaL
  97. I still think that phase ships would be Useless .

    In a situation when it phases it builds flux and it can be seen by all. The flux build up is too high to leave any good weapons on so whati mean is . So u are in a phase ship you’re going to attack A cruser perhaps and u are close to an overload . in option A you phase out and attack it but the high flux u have built up will limit you to how much you can fire before he manages to raise his shield and guning you down :D . Option B you stay phased untill u overload giving him the uperhand . in both ways u still get smacked .

    by Snukey
  98. But it was stated that you cannot get overloaded by using the phase cloak.

    by blamatron
  99. You cant, Phase cloak might get you maxed out, but you cant overload. same with shields, you can fire your guns and max your flux out even with shield up, but you wont overload unless the shield is hit.

    by ValkyriaL
  100. BTW. some of the ship variants doesn’t work anymore due to reduced OP. the elite variant of Onslaught requires 360+ OP to equip everything, its total is only 335, could you increase the max OP for these ships or just change their setup? and another thing. why doesn’t the Mercenary fleets use the Conquest-class battle cruiser?
    and why doesn’t the largest version of the pirate armada have like 1 outdated onslaught. it would seem like no fleet except your own uses different ship variants apart from close support or standard variants.

    by ValkyriaL
  101. And another thing, i think it would be reasonable to use fuel even during in system travel. *50% of whats used per day during FTL travel* because a ship would use fuel all the time while its engine are active. because whats its like now, stations have like billions of fuel in their stockpiles that is never used except for hyperspace while supplies are used to such an extent that stations run out of it.

    by ValkyriaL
  102. @Snukey: Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion :) But based on actual in-game testing, they do quite well. It’s true that a flux-heavy weapon loadout is going to require more careful play, though.

    @blamatron: The way it works now is if a phase ship maxes out its flux, it overloads.

    @ValkyriaL: Have you considered joining the forum? I think you’d find a lot of answers there, and discussion of stuff not directly related to the particular blog post would really do better there.

    by Alex
  103. But.. that’s so much text! =( do i have to read all that? i find this forum just as good as the other one.
    ;)

    by ValkyriaL
  104. A nother variant . If The AI can see you can’t it just wait untill you flux maxes out and you overload Witch beats the whole stealth act i mean it can just have its shields up and wait for u to overload can’t it ? I don’t really know how they play out on tests i just find them a waste of time and money the way you describe them :D

    by Snukey
  105. Ok on topic for once, Since the phase ship would act as a submarine, i presume that destroyers will be the only ship class able to equip anti phase weaponry? since that’s a destroyers role in reality. it would also really increase its tactical worth so you wont overlook it to get a cruiser.

    by ValkyriaL
  106. Oh and could you remove the *Half damage* feature? and replace it with Normal/Hard/Very hard/Impossible featuring 100%/125/150%/200% damage taken? half damage is just like *why is this even here? if hes got my gun he should do the same damage as me.* you should have choices to make the game harder. not easier =D

    by ValkyriaL
  107. Don’t forget the Easy 75% damage before the normal one. don’t want to lose players because its to hard now are we? ;)

    by ValkyriaL
  108. Will there be submarine ships (Ships that can only fire one special type of weapon and only when cloaked and are very fragile once uncloaked)?

    Also, I think it would be interesting if you could send some ships on a mission, commanded by your officers. EG: You are on a planet ou orbital station under siege, your communication with your allies has been disrupted and you have to send a message asking for help. Then you send a Wolf or Hound class with speed maxed out, some kind of invisibility device and an Officer commanding it to bypass the siege and get the message to the guys that can help you. Another example would be if you want to get some precious cargo to somewhere safe or just sell it and don’t have the time to go with your entire fleet, you could detach some ships, put an officer to command it and get things done. However, it could be intercepted, drift off or the officer could rebel and instead of doing the mission, just take the cargo and the ships for him. I think it would be awesome.

    Also, I would like to see some long extinct alien crafts that could be found in planets and/or drifting on space, then the founders could scan the ships and start building them.

    by Ryuu
  109. I think that this talk about “overpowered” is a bit troubling.
    Historically, in WWII, submarines WERE overpowered. A torpedo was and still is a very powerful weapon. The Bismark was in practice crippled by single torpedo, launched by a single antiquated WWI biplane.
    However, torpedoplanes, torpedoboats and submarines were small, weak and mostly defenseless.
    In addition subs were slow, only being able to catch convoys when surfaced.
    Heres a few ideas that seem to have been overlooked:
    First, lets see how others have done it: In the Starfleet Battles series, cloaked ships are slow, cant use shields at the same time, but use very powerful weapons. A plasma torpede being up to twice as powerful as a photon, but taking up to three turns to arm, instead of two for photons and one for phasers, creating massive alphastrikes, but actually lowering damage per second.
    This creates an interesting phenomena: when using the cloak, the alpha strike every three or four turns becomes very important to carry out succesfully, often taking a fifth or even sixth turn to wait for the perfect moment which maximises own firepower and minimizes damage received. So, while this “backstab” fighting style seems overpowered the moment a strike is performed, it actually radically lowers the damage caused per second.
    Now, in a -fleet battle- this becomes a whole different question of balance. If one of the ships causes much less DPS, and doesnt draw fire, the others get swarmed instead and are destroyed sooner, leaving the cloaking ship undamaged, but alone and surrounded by enemies.
    Diving/cloaking/sneaking/assassinating/wizardspelling has always been a high risk/high reward tactic. Even with the most skilled person its going to backfire sooner or later. I dont think its a good idea to completely abandon the possibility of adding a whole new playstyle and diminishing it to slightly different glow shields.
    Rock beats scissors which beat paper. A player should be able to take a chance, or choose not to. An anti-phase weapon COULD be very powerful, if it would be next to useless on normal target. I mean, lets say a ship has one of those. In practice it still doesnt pose that serious threat to a phased ship, but it certainly diminishes the normal firepower. This would lead to spontaneous development of anti-phase corvettes, carrying nothing but anti-phase weapons. A corvette is fast enough to chase a phased ship when found, cheap enough to not bankrupt a navy, and carries enough weapons to cause some damage. Then again, a cruiser uncloaking next to it would mean it still requires skilled handling.
    What I am saying is that an “overpowering” system may not actually be overpowering at all, just something that requires the player to adapt to a different circumstance.
    And how about this: depthcharges could force a sub to surface. A system where a phased ship automatically unphases when reaching maximum flux, and anti-phasing weapon which causes, say, half damage and half flux could soon flus-h/x it out of hiding.

    Or, just completely different system: Phase-space would be “slippery”, and phased ships could reach incredible speeds and spin almost uncontrollably, but deployed anti-phase bombs with a timer could violently force the ship back to normal space, causing great damage in the process, and anti-phase beams could push and pull the ships violently.
    Being in phase-space would increase the flux very rapidly, and the ship would have to minimize both speed and rotation speed to normal to avoid damage. This could be very tricky since even in normal control the phased ship would be behaving like slipping on ice.
    @ValkyriaL: Consider this: Either you spread your anti-phase weapons to every ship, or create a specialized vessel. Now, you have a super-powerful anti-phase capital ship, and the enemy has one fast phasing destroyer. Your capital is useless against other ships, and it can never catch the destroyer. Forcing a “class” which is only based on size to be the only one capable of handling a weapon is kinda… silly. Simply increasing the range of anti-phase weapons would direct both the phasing and anti-phasing ships toward the faster end of the scale, because the would need the speed to do their job, and larger ships would become much less cost-effective.

    by Wooria
  110. Thinking about coding AI, maybe something could be done about coding a lot against invisible ships.
    Things like, if a ship is invisible, an AI ship would either A:consider not to exist and concentrate on a visible target closeby, or B: execute some basic saturation pattern with somekind of phasespace bombs which would have a large area of effect and possibly flush out the target, after which invisibility would not be a problem. If an enemy would be invisible for a long time, they would just gather together for protection of added firepower, probably close to an objective point. I dont know what your plans are, but Im hoping these might provide ideas for easier way to create a challenging yet easy to code solution for the AI ships.

    Oh, and it could be fast to unphase, but slow to phase, making a devastating surprise attack possible, but harder to get back in cover.
    Or, how about this: phased ships could fire missiles freely (missiles exiting phase automatically when not held there), but not other weapons. Missiles having a very small amount of reloads, it would be possible to do a few attacks with a possibility for devastating damage, and then, having no missiles, the phase would be more or less useless, except for escaping safely. This might save on amount of necessary coding too, since a lot of the necessary behaviour is already done. Everyone seeing the phased ship would know to prepare for it, but would not know the exact moment of the volley.

    by Wooria
  111. I want the AI to be able to sell ships and buy new ones and refit the ones they capture so they don’t fly around with ship hulls and just get molested whenever you feel like engaging that fleet. Is this possible?

    by ValkyriaL
  112. I love this idea, but I feel that beam weapons are quite anaemic, I mean they are brilliant in combat, but I prefer projectile or non hit-scan energy weapons, simply because they don’t feel anaemic, I’d prefer a light assault gun over a tactical laser any-day because it sounds better, with a laser you hear a whining noise then the crack of their hull, I wish they made more noise.

    by Max
  113. Not wrong, but I wouldn’t want a continuous buzzing soud in my ears, the sound would have to be very well done.
    I do prefer the powerful impact of Hephaestus and Hellbore canons right now, that is sure.

    by Troll