Fighter Redesign

Let’s begin by taking a look at how fighters started out, to see how they got to the point of needing a redesign.

The first playable release of the game only had combat missions, and the way fighters worked was heavily influenced by that. My understanding of how the campaign would work was at that point quite fuzzy, and so once the campaign did come about, fighters had to be adjusted to fit in. This led to some awkward mechanical interactions and obscure rules.

fighters_mora

For example, if you have any ships with flight decks in your fleet, then you can’t lose fighters permanently. However, you can still have fighters in your fleet if you don’t have any carriers, they just don’t get any replacements in combat, and if you lose all of them, you permanently lose the wing. And if you do have carriers deployed, and lose all the fighters in a wing in combat, they may get replacements or be lost for the duration of the battle, depending on whether any flight decks were available at the exact moment the last fighter was destroyed.

Very much a “good enough for now” state of affairs, and something that’s been gnawing at me for a while. It’s too much of a mess to continue ignoring indefinitely, but why clean it up now, seemingly when there’s exploration, salvage, and everything related to work on?

The answer is, of course, that fighters tie into those things. Can you recover fighters through salvage? Can automated defenders use fighters? What about the eventual/upcoming skill revamp? That certainly needs to include fighters. Despite being a relatively small part of combat, fighters are still a part of that foundation, and it’ll help moving forward to finally have it be solid.
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Spotlight: Fighters, pt.2, and More!

I was going to talk about fighters in part 2 of this series, but thought better of it. Oh, you’ll still find out more about fighters – it just won’t be from me talking, but through the magic of video. And Fraps. Which is totally killing my desktop, I might add, forcing Starfarer to run at less than the silky-smooth 60 fps. Using Windows Movie Maker isn’t helping much, either – I had to scrounge up some plugins to export the project in HD – by default, you can’t even do that. Ahem.

This video has me setting up some combat scenarios in a sandbox.  It lets me spawn ships and fighter wings at the touch of a button, and then they fight it out.  In the actual game, you’re controlling a ship – but in this sandbox, we’re just watching the AI fight it out.

As our crack Eastern European video production crew was not involved in the making of this video, please pardon any rough edges.

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Spotlight: Fighters, Part 1

A wing of fighters moving into attack formation is quite possibly the most evocative visual in sci-fi. Examples proving this thesis abound – two of the Star Wars movies end with battles that have fighters playing a central role. Or, consider Battlestar Galactica – on the surface, it’s about what it means to be human, and isn’t a great example – but if you dig deeper, it becomes obvious that it’s really all about how cool the human-cylon dogfights are. Star Trek, on the other hand, does not use fighters often, but just imagine how much cooler it would be if it did! Well, we’re not going to make that mistake with Starfarer – rest assured that fighters will be featured prominently. Some lore on the subject:

In the years after the great war, fighters became commonly used throughout the sector. With the decline in industrial capacity, producing a capable military ship was a significant undertaking. Fighters, on the other hand, could be produced cheaply using a coded blueprint at an automated factory.

Now, some basics. Fighter wings are first-class citizens – they’re members of your fleet, like all your other ships. Early in development, fighters were launched from carriers (being weapons, in a sense), but it became clear this limited fighters to being used only in battles that directly involved carriers, and that just wouldn’t do.  We’d miss out on all this:

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