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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Ship Lore, Variants

In a previous post, we took a look at some brewing weapon descriptions. Now, it’s time to do the same for ships!

Counting them now, we’ve got just a bit over 40 ships (including fighters, of which there are ~10) – it’s hard to believe it’s that many already, and there are still quite a few more to come. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Onslaught-class Battleship
Mass: 200 Mega tonnes
Propulsion: 245.5 Mega Newtons
FTL Drive: In-Hull
Crew Complement: 1800

A venerable design, the Onslaught-class battleships were first created to serve the Domain of Man eons ago, before the development of advanced modern strike weapons, fighter craft, energy weapons and shield systems. When first launched from orbital dock, they must have surely dwarfed any other ship in existence and intimidated entire systems. Some even say that they were built to combat non-humans in a long forgotten war, in which the Domain was triumphant. Much later, Domain engineers made modifications to the blueprints to include a shield system, upgrade the FTL drives and reduce the neccesary crew complement.

Even with other battleship blueprints available to the Sector, the Onslaught remains the easiest to manufacture due to the brutal simplicity of its systems. A ship designed without shields in mind, built to be able to withstand a heavy barrage of enemy fire and strike back while protecting its crew is much loved by its officers and men. And strike back it can. The Onslaught’s unmatched ballistic potential can devastate entire fleets in minutes, its only drawback a logistical dependency on ammunition.

Building an Onslaught-class hull and preparing it for combat is thought to be economically impossible for all but the Hegemony. The Onslaught proudly serves as the backbone of the Hegemony Defense Fleet.
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Modern Ship Designs

There’s more to space combat in Starfarer than nearly-obsolete front-line sluggers like the Onslaught. Meet the Astral class capital-ship carrier: a modern, refined platform for supporting squadrons of small fighters and bombers such as the Dagger torpedo-bomber you can see below. Escorting the Astral is a nimble Wolf class frigate.

This Astral carrier has some top-of-the-line point defense systems on its starboard side while the port has some nasty repeating torpedo launchers. Once you get past the escorts and fighter-bomber cover, you’ll have to be sure to choose your approach carefully — and that’s before dealing with the full-coverage shield. Astral-class carriers should not be taken lightly.

What follows is a bit about how I went about designing the modern ship classes of Starfarer along with some concept sketches for the Astral and Wolf.

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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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