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Author Topic: An Alternative Missile Concept  (Read 7489 times)

Archduke Astro

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An Alternative Missile Concept
« on: April 03, 2012, 12:39:17 AM »

I originally had this idea in response to a new missile project on the Modding forum. Upon reflection, I doubt this can be player-modded into existence at present so I'm posting it here in expanded form.

The Concept:
A missile-type weapon that, in place of an explosive payload of any kind, instead mounts a low-ammo, limited-duration version of a starship weapon.

Said missile would wait until it reaches a certain (fixed) distance from the enemy, then starts firing the weapon at the target unit at that instant, and continues for a certain (again, fixed) number of shots until the missile is hit by enemy PD systems or it exhausts its onboard miniature power reactor / ammo magazine and it is then removed from play. The distance at which it opens fire is not player-alterable; it's a hardwired property of the missile itself and is not changeable.

The Background:
Lore-wise, I propose that these alternative missile techs serve as a partial means for "fighting by proxy" in a certain sense. What with the somewhat short-term unpredictable but generally downward trend for the Sector's tech base, this could be explained as a means to help insure the longevity & survival of starships & skilled personnel which are far more expensive & difficult to replace in the wake of losing a hotly-contested battle than secondary fire-delivery systems such as fighter wings or conventional missiles themselves. I don't intend these new missiles to totally overturn the nature of Starfarer combat. But I do believe that the existing publicly-accessible lore would be well served by introducing additional means of protecting the significant investment that even a single flight-ready frigate can represent in absolute terms.

The Tactical Workflow:
Player selects a suitable target, fires the special missile, it flies until it reaches its factory-set trigger boundary, and the embarked weapon in its nosecone mount fires at the same exact rate as its shipboard version would. If the missile gets smoked by enemy PD before the supply of shots / energy beam duration is safely away, too bad; that's part of the whole dynamic of this system. But once the missile uses up its warshots, it basically self-destructs and has no further effect on the battle. It cannot be recovered and serviced for a second use.

"Under The Hood":
No new weapons are required to be added to the existing game system. Even this sneaky new missile itself technically isn't a weapon per se; rather, it's a new delivery method for existing weapons. It's likely that the majority of the coding required for this proposal would concern the unusual new targeting dynamic, since this is a two-stage device that's a distant parallel to the MIRV missiles.

I also picture the embarked weapon as no more accurate than the same weapon mounted aboard a ship, but (in some cases) possibly slightly less accurate for balance purposes.

The embarked weapon aboard such a missile will depend on its size. A small version might include (for example) a Railgun or an IR Pulse Laser, both with a limited duration of fire once they reach the triggering distance to target. At the other end of the scale the large version of this missile might offer different models, each of which could fire (roughly) 4 to 8 Hellbore Cannon rounds, or two Plasma Torpedoes, or 12 seconds' worth of Storm Needler flechettes in a continuous stream before running dry.

I'm of the mind that some of the more unusual weapons in Starfarer would be better candidates for such use than those which are just straightforward, max DPS with no frills. The Ion Cannon immediately came to mind -- its indirect way of hurting the enemy would be cool to see employed in this way. Same for Graviton Beam! Several of the various burst-damage / area-of-effect weapons could also be of use here. Feel free to suggest some others!

Of course there should also be a few variants in each size class which really are all about just delivering a curb-side beatdown for a few seconds. How about a "Tachyon Pulse" large version? [-runs for cover from brick-throwing mob-] That might not be as far-fetched as it may sound at first.

Meshing With Starfarer:
The resulting family of missiles is quite distinct from an indefinitely reloadable / repairable fighter wing. This beast delivers much more hurt in a brief span of time, but it's a single-use deal and then it's inert. It seems most effective when trying to generate enough firepower momentum to steamroller an enemy when you're timing the start of your decisive charge into close-in knife-fighting range. It's also obviously something that is likely too hard to handle or too expensive in a single-ship fight, but is a force multiplier once you have several combat-capable ships under your direction. As with the remainder of combat in this game, it's up to the player to decide when to unleash this brief but dazzling wave of tactical surprise. I like the way that this builds upon the already existing battle dynamics which have already distinguished Starfarer from other games out there.

Keeping The Genie In The Bottle:
The balance mechanism I concentrated on the most is keeping the so-called triggering distance for the missile not much farther from the target than a modest distance beyond typical PD systems' range. This gives it a chance to fire at least a partial volley before enemy PD aboard the targeted unit has a chance to burn it down. It's important not to allow the missile to fire with impunity from very long ranges, but also not from such short ranges that this missile system is almost always destroyed by a much cheaper PD gun before it can ever deploy its unique "cargo". The range in question will depend on exactly what internal weapon that missile is built to accept.

Any given version of such a missile would only have a single weapon as its payload. The bigger the missile, the larger the embarked weapon. Naturally multiple different versions would be desirable, all with the appropriate price-tag and missiles-per-launcher limits.

Since each missile is a highly temporary buff to the launching ship's peak output of pain, and it has a nontrivial chance of indeed getting that job done, various deployment-control checks and balances will be required. I foresee this proposed new weapon being most useful for fleets that are commanded by missile-loving admirals who want to stack the deck a bit in their favor, or for risk-averse commodores in charge of expensive hard-to-replace ships. This radical new method of temporarily projecting starship-grade weapons fire at a distance from the firing ship itself adds an interesting & unpredictable new set of tactical options to the game. It brings a new layer to combat which can help insure a blazing win for your attack strategy, or allow you to survive retreat from a System Defense Fleet in order to fight another day.

In Closing:
I find it likely that such an unusual ordnance system will help distinguish Starfarer from other games competing for people's minds and dollars. It's an added dimension of tactical space combat that I've never seen executed before in a game. The willingness that Alex & Co. have shown in giving Starfarer such a varied & unexpected feature-set is what encouraged me to flesh out my modding idea into a request for an official version of my concept -- "missile chess" !  ;)
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 02:53:11 AM by Archduke Astro »
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Upgradecap

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 03:33:41 AM »

This would require an extremly high-tech ai, just to pilot such a missile, but nevertheless, it's an great idea, i really like it ;D
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Archduke Astro

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 03:55:52 AM »

Thanks; I'm glad you like it. As for the allegedly high-tech AI needed for such a weapon, well, please note that i intended this new class of missile as tracking its target unit in exactly the same fashion as any other existing missile. Nothing new about that; it's still homing in on the most direct possible course, etc, as usual. I shouldn't think it would require anything truly special in that regard; it's not as if my proposed missiles could be steered around at will via remote-control, after all. They just run until they reach the factory-set trigger distance, the onboard weapon fires, and then the missile is removed from play.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 04:03:04 AM by Archduke Astro »
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keptin

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 03:56:16 AM »

Love it.  No idea how it'll be done, but it sounds awesome.  Fire one into a crowd of fighters and zippy zap!  I want to write this big reply, but I've got to pack up and sleep.  Hash out some neat sprites or sketch ideas.

Archduke Astro

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 04:00:55 AM »

Thanks for the kudos! Yes, I think a large autopulse-laser missile would wreck a tight furball of enemy fighters in a hurry. Of course, that's an expensive way of dealing with fighters, but it has a certain twisted grandeur to it.  8) Don't waste it on Talons, I suppose; go for the Thunders!
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Upgradecap

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 04:02:54 AM »

Aha. Good thing you explained that missile system, because i thought they would take the "gunship" approach, which means they would hover around the target and pound it. :D
« Last Edit: July 29, 2012, 03:24:47 PM by Upgradecap »
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Archduke Astro

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2012, 04:05:44 AM »

Haha! That would indeed be godlike, but OMG! the game imbalance!  :o Mine is a much less disruptive presence in the battlezone than that. I want my concept to be strong and capable, but not to such an extent as what you feared.
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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 04:21:11 AM »

Ehm, how do you make a missile come out of the barrel? (I mean the coordinates, where do you set them so the missile comes out of the barrel?, mine comes always at the side of the barrel)
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Archduke Astro

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 04:22:59 AM »

Ehm, how do you make a missile come out of the barrel? (I mean the coordinates, where do you set them so the missile comes out of the barrel?, mine comes always at the side of the barrel)

I wouldn't know; sorry. Try asking back at the Modding forum. :)
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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2012, 04:25:07 AM »

Have asked. No ones responded so far, but we'll see :D
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Iscariot

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2012, 04:27:57 AM »

Relevant: http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=881.0

You'll note that my idea for a bomb pumped beam missile is very similar to your concept-- and apparently the sprites exist for it 8D
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The idea is that the various tech levels represent different - not "better" - ways to do things.

WarStalkeR

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2012, 05:09:35 AM »

Archduke Astro, great idea, liked it, will be very usable for advanced tactical game-play :)

P.S. How so, that all your ideas are so good? :)
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Alex

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2012, 05:08:53 PM »

Just wanted to say that I'm of a similar mind - adding some new missile types has been on my plate for a while.

One in particular is a missile that fires a beam at the target, while employing an AI similar to the Salamander - and a MIRV version thereof. I really like the idea of using missiles to open up different attack angles in ship-to-ship combat, and the Salamander was a first step in that direction. I'm happy with how that turned out - I think it adds a nice extra layer of tactical considerations to the gameplay - and would love to add a couple more missiles that more fully explore the idea - just as soon as I can make a bit of time for it :)
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Durendal5150

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2012, 10:52:04 PM »

Just wanted to say that I'm of a similar mind - adding some new missile types has been on my plate for a while.

One in particular is a missile that fires a beam at the target, while employing an AI similar to the Salamander - and a MIRV version thereof. I really like the idea of using missiles to open up different attack angles in ship-to-ship combat, and the Salamander was a first step in that direction. I'm happy with how that turned out - I think it adds a nice extra layer of tactical considerations to the gameplay - and would love to add a couple more missiles that more fully explore the idea - just as soon as I can make a bit of time for it :)

Saw this so didn't want to make a new thread for my one little suggestion: Two things I'd been considering of late.

A: Multiple Warhead types for MIRVs. In example, a Missile that sheds a cloud of decoys as it closes to the target, or one that is simply launched with Decoys alongside it.

B: Deadfall missiles. Missiles that are railgun-launched towards distant targets without the engines lit. The lack of emissions would make them undetectable until they light off for their terminal maneuvers.

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cp252

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Re: An Alternative Missile Concept
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2012, 03:14:57 AM »

Just wanted to say that I'm of a similar mind - adding some new missile types has been on my plate for a while.

One in particular is a missile that fires a beam at the target, while employing an AI similar to the Salamander - and a MIRV version thereof. I really like the idea of using missiles to open up different attack angles in ship-to-ship combat, and the Salamander was a first step in that direction. I'm happy with how that turned out - I think it adds a nice extra layer of tactical considerations to the gameplay - and would love to add a couple more missiles that more fully explore the idea - just as soon as I can make a bit of time for it :)
Sorry for the necro but it just occurred to me. Wouldn't this mean you wouldn't have to risk precious crew, and spend on Talons and hangar space and supplies, in the early game? It'd be a lovely alternative to fighter spam.
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