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Author Topic: Shield subsystem idea  (Read 5724 times)

senor

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Shield subsystem idea
« on: February 05, 2015, 04:05:34 AM »

I've got an idea for Starsector!

I'd like to propose a shield generator/projector subsystem on ships, almost exactly like engines and weapon hardpoints.  The shield generator would be disruptable just the same as engines and hardpoints are when taking damage/EMP.  Maybe it's possible with direct damage from weapons fire as engines and hardpoints are, but maybe the shield generator is only disruptable with EMP damage, EMP arcs, and/or large radius, heavy damage explosions (the idea being that it is tucked away safely inside/away from the edges of the ship).  Perhaps beam and kinetic weapons are not able to penetrate through the armor/hull to hit the shield generator at all, or maybe most or all weapons can disable once there is no armor left between the point/angle of weapon impact and the shield generator within the hull.  I'm not sure how vanilla does it for turret hardpoints, in terms of being disabled by weapons fire as it eats through the hull.  Maybe this is all set in the combat/damage system perfectly already and the shield generator can work the same way, though perhaps less or more fragile.

Next, and perhaps separately, I propose flux overload from shield damage only deactivate the shield and ship special (high energy focus, burn drive, etc).  While flux overload is in effect weapons can be used, however they have a chance of malfunctioning in a similar fashion to low CR malfunctions.  In this case malfunction chance would depend on the flux generation of the firing weapon and/or the total flux of the ship.  Higher flux-per-shot weapons (gauss cannon, plasma cannon, antimatter blaster, etc) will have a higher chance of malfunctioning as they fire, the idea being that it is a larger strain on the flux system of the ship.  Weapons with lower and more steady flux generation (beam weapons, for instance) will have a lower chance and/or take longer to malfunction.  This weapon malfunction might be calculated as if the weapon was causing "flux damage" to itself.  For example, a ballistic weapon that generates 500 flux for each shot might cause 250 "flux damage" to  itself for each shot (damage number not shown in game).  For simplicity this "flux damage" might simply be calculated as if it were actual EMP damage for the purposes of causing the weapon malfunction.  The total flux of the ship may function as a threshold or multiplier of sorts when determining if a weapon will malfunction due to "flux damage".  Or, simply taking the flux generation of a weapon as a percentage of the total flux cap of the ship would be a good route for determining weapon malfunction chances.  As for beams, I'm thinking a build of "flux damage" will accumulate as long as the weapon is firing, eventually malfunctioning for certain.  Probably faster/easier with higher current flux, just as non-beam weapons.

Like weapons, during a flux overload engines may be used almost as normal.  Risks could be an automatic percentage(?) decrease in thrust, a chance for part or all of the engine to malfunction when thrust is activated (similar to current vanilla behavior when engines are partially damaged but not fully disabled), and/or being more sensitive to damage/disablement from weapons fire.

Hull mods like Resistant Flux Conduits and Insulated Engine Assembly (or new ones, like "Surge Protectors") could increase the resistance of weapons and engines against these malfunctions.

Other than the details regarding weapons and engines talked about above, flux overloads caused by shields receiving too much damage would function just as in vanilla, eventually dissipating and returning to normal.  A shield generator disabled by EMP arc/damage or weapons fire would eventually be repaired just as engines and weapon hardpoints are disabled and then repaired in vanilla.

The flux overload animation could be changed so that the light purple electricity crawl originates from the shield generator/projector, in a simialar fashion to how EMP arcs originate from the EMP weapon impact spot when jumping across to other parts of the affected ship.  The purpose of this is mostly to highlight the location of the shield generator, both for fun and combat tactics, like highlighting a weak spot.  It would also be pretty cool if, when a weapon or the engines malfunction due to use during flux overload, a larger purple arc shot off from the shield generator and into malfunctioining weapon/engine.  The same as EMP arcs really, but not coming from an EMP weapon impact and a different color so it is distinguisable to the player.

I think this would add some fun depth to both the gameplay and the immersion in combat.  I already see where the shield generators (yes, sometimes multiple!) could be on the Paragon.  Those two semi-circle blue doo-dads down by the engines, nestled up next to the turret hardpoints.  Though, maybe they'd need to be moved up just a bit to be easier to hit through the armor on their respective sides.  Also, probably for simplicity, disabling one would disbale both.

YAY STARSECTOR, YAY SPACESHIPS!!!

TL;DR - Shield subsystem that can be damaged (like engines/weapon hardpoints).  Flux overload doesnt disable weapons, but risk of malfunction when firing during flux overload.  Hull mods could reduce malfunction chance.  Don't be lazy, read the whole thing.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 04:07:29 AM by senor »
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SafariJohn

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2015, 04:32:27 AM »

Interesting, I hadn't thought of having the shield generator be similar to the engines before.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 03:45:35 PM by HartLord »
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Aeson

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2015, 07:21:03 AM »

I would be very leery of making EMP damage capable of disabling shields. Shields are the only real counter currently in the game for massed EMP damage, and massed EMP damage is already capable of locking down enemy ships' weapons and engines, effectively preventing the targets from making more than sporadic maneuvers or attacks as long as their shields are down and the EMP damage has had time to build up. Allowing EMP damage to also disable the target's shields turns massed EMP damage from something which is dangerous but which can be countered by the ship taking the EMP damage into something which is dangerous and cannot be countered except by other ships in the fleet intervening. For an example of just why this is so concerning to me, try a simulation battle with an Odyssey and a Dominator, and arm the Odyssey with 5 Ion Cannons in the small mounts that can fire in the same broadside as two of the large energy mounts. If the Odyssey has enough firepower in its missiles and large energy mounts to knock out the Dominator's shields, the Dominator's guns and engines will go out in short order and for the most part will stay offline as long as the Dominator is unable to bring its shields up. Going up against an Onslaught will have a similar effect if you can bring down its shields without the Odyssey being crippled in the initial exchange, though it probably won't be quite as effective as on the Dominator. I would also suggest that allowing shields to be taken out by EMP damage could make Salamanders significantly more dangerous, especially to early-game frigates like the Wolf and Lasher, and I don't really think that Salamanders really need a power boost at the moment.

The 'hull damage can disable the shields' thing is much less concerning to me, especially if the shields are somewhere close to the center of the ship. It'd probably make ships die a bit faster, but a ship with its armor ripped open all the way to its center probably didn't have much time to live anyways, unless it's something like an Onslaught or a Dominator.
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Ashe Leclair

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2015, 08:43:08 AM »

I approve of this idea with the stipulation that it is hull damage.

I think that this would be a good idea because it might open up new possibility's in combat. However I believe the shield system should have considerably more hit-points then other systems since i imagine it would be surrounded by some emergency internal armor of its own just to ensure it didn't go down when the ship needed it the most. This could become another determining factor in ship strength as some ships would be made with stronger protection around there shield then others making the shield more reliable in combat.
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SafariJohn

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 10:56:44 AM »

"EMP damage to shields = bad" is something I can agree with, but what about EMP damage to the shield generator itself? Hmm, I would make it immune to EMP damage with the justification that the shield generator is either able to constantly maintain a very tiny shield around itself or the principles it works on just makes it outright immune to EMP. Or just say, "It's immune to EMP. No, we don't have any clue how it does it, it's Domain tech." :P

It would be nice interesting to have multiple shield generator components that can be knocked out to get side effects like how you can make a Hound spin out by knocking out only one of its thrusters. But I think that is too far for now.

Heavily armoring the shield generator sounds reasonable. Especially on high-tech ships; an all-or-nothing armoring scheme would provide some explanation for their low overall armor.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 12:42:37 PM by HartLord »
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Ashe Leclair

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 11:13:19 AM »

Yes multiple shield generators on ships that are larger or have wide arc shields would be nice. Mabey have them being disabled lower the arc of the shield, slow how fast it can be raised, cause them to flicker, or mabey increasing weapon dmg/flux ratio untill they are repaired.
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Aeson

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2015, 12:24:37 PM »

"EMP damage to shields = bad" is something I can agree with, but what about EMP damage to the shield generator itself? Hmm, I would make it immune to EMP damage with the justification that the shield generator is either able to constantly maintain a very tiny shield around itself or the principles it works on just makes it outright immune to EMP. Or just say, "It's immune to EMP. No, we don't have any clue how it does it, it's Domain tech." :P
Sorry if I wasn't clear earlier, but it's EMP damage to the shield generator that I'm against. The example I gave with an Odyssey armed with 5 Ion Cannons and enough real weaponry to take down a Dominator's shields? Those 5 Ion Cannons are more than sufficient to stun-lock the Dominator except when it can get its shields back up; if EMP damage also knocked out the shield generators while the shields were down, the Dominator would never even have a chance to fight back. (Granted, Battlecruiser versus Heavy Cruiser isn't a remotely fair match to begin with, but it demonstrates the idea.)

EMP damage acting through shields (even if only against the shield generator) is something I'm very much against as shields are the only real counter found within the game to EMP damage at present. If all EMP-type weapons needed to be boosted, then EMP damage acting as some kind of flux damage against shields would be something I could possibly get behind, but at present I don't see that the category of weapons defined as those weapons with EMP damage has any significant need of being boosted across the entire category; certainly Ion Cannons and Salamanders do their jobs reasonably effectively, even if some of the other weapons in the category might be lackluster.

As far as justifying the lack of EMP damage to shields goes? We already have a couple weapons whose descriptions basically say "it's all magic to us." Adding something else which says the same won't hurt anything. I will say that the justification of the generator maintaining a very small shield bubble around itself constantly would tend to run counter to the idea that the shield generator can be knocked offline by normal damage, as if the shield generator can be knocked offline by normal damage it suggests that the small bubble protecting the generator itself can be taken offline at least temporarily, at which point EMP damage should begin to affect it.

As far as multiple shield generators go, that I am less certain of. The current shield graphic suggests that the entire arc of the shield is projected from a common point at the approximate center of the ship (the shield originates at a single point along the perimeter of the hull and extends in an arc in both directions, which is suggestive of an aperture opening or of a fountain forming from a single source, rather than originating at several points along the perimeter of the hull and extending from those points), and most of the references to shield emitters or generators in ship and module descriptions only reference a single shield generator or emitter; those references that are not singular do not clearly indicate that the reference is to multiple generators/emitters on a single ship rather than being in reference to the shield generators mounted on all the ships.

One further comment: the current shield mechanics, where the shield generator can operate regardless of the state of the ship except if the vessel is overloaded, indicate that the shield generator is in very close proximity to the ship's main reactor, and so never experiences a power interruption except when the ship's cooling systems are too overloaded for it to be safe to operate the reactor at the levels required to run the shields and fire the guns. This suggests that any hits which endanger the shield generator at least come dangerously close to the ship's reactors, and possibly that any hit that manages to damage the shield generator will also have damaged the ship's reactors. Thus, we never see shield generators go offline because any hit capable of taking them offline is also a hit which causes a catastrophic reactor failure. It might be more reasonable to ask that Alex add points around the ships where you can hit to cause (temporary?) damage to a ship's flux venting and possibly flux capacity, as flux vents by their nature must be on or very close to the surface of the ship (though they are likely protected by armor in some fashion) and flux capacitors might not all be buried as deep within the ship as the reactors and shield generator appear to be (heck, depending on what a flux capacitor is made out of, it might even be placed in such a way as to provide an extra layer of protection for something deeper within the ship - better to lose an unnecessary but useful coolant tank than the CIC, right?).
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SafariJohn

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2015, 01:02:17 PM »

Dat essay. ;)
We're all guilty of it sometimes. :P


I use quite a few Thunders, so I've seen plenty of EMP lock-downs.

I never supported EMP damage to shields or through shields. Nor do I support EMP damage to the shield generator after the shields are down. It would be bad gameplay design for Starsector; we both see that.

On a side note, shields are clearly some sort of hollow sphere/semisphere that never actually passes through the inside of the ship, because otherwise they would rip the ship apart or splat the crew every time they were activated. They also must be one-sided; if they had an internal surface they would prevent the ship from firing through them. It's magic, I say!
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senor

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 01:55:30 PM »

Interesting, I hadn't thought of having the shield generator be similar to the engines before.

Edit: woops

You can "Remove" your comments if you double post or something. It gets rid of them entirely.

ahh, thanks.  i hadnt thought of that haha, the forum i post on the most has zero post editing or removal.  <3 you shacknews.
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senor

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 02:25:21 PM »

I would be very leery of making EMP damage capable of disabling shields. Shields are the only real counter currently in the game for massed EMP damage, and massed EMP damage is already capable of locking down enemy ships' weapons and engines, effectively preventing the targets from making more than sporadic maneuvers or attacks as long as their shields are down and the EMP damage has had time to build up. Allowing EMP damage to also disable the target's shields turns massed EMP damage from something which is dangerous but which can be countered by the ship taking the EMP damage into something which is dangerous and cannot be countered except by other ships in the fleet intervening. For an example of just why this is so concerning to me, try a simulation battle with an Odyssey and a Dominator, and arm the Odyssey with 5 Ion Cannons in the small mounts that can fire in the same broadside as two of the large energy mounts. If the Odyssey has enough firepower in its missiles and large energy mounts to knock out the Dominator's shields, the Dominator's guns and engines will go out in short order and for the most part will stay offline as long as the Dominator is unable to bring its shields up. Going up against an Onslaught will have a similar effect if you can bring down its shields without the Odyssey being crippled in the initial exchange, though it probably won't be quite as effective as on the Dominator.

True, it is something to be wary of, but it shouldn't be too difficult to implement fairly.  Lowered effectiveness of EMP itself (either raw strength, or more difficult for it to spread across a ship) and addition of more skill passives and hull mods to deal with EMP (reduced raw strength/spread, etc), or something else new entirely new, could easily make up for the advantage of EMP disabling shield generators.

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I would also suggest that allowing shields to be taken out by EMP damage could make Salamanders significantly more dangerous, especially to early-game frigates like the Wolf and Lasher, and I don't really think that Salamanders really need a power boost at the moment.

I havent tested out salamander spam (i could probably wound a buffalo II to get him to spam it) but ive never noticed salamander EMP spreading across a ship much.  usually it takes out my engines and that's about it.  I'll see if I can try that out myself.

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The 'hull damage can disable the shields' thing is much less concerning to me, especially if the shields are somewhere close to the center of the ship. It'd probably make ships die a bit faster, but a ship with its armor ripped open all the way to its center probably didn't have much time to live anyways, unless it's something like an Onslaught or a Dominator.

agreed, last moments of life would average out a bit shorter.  I think it would add a bit of variety to the deaths, for another pinch of immersion.  I'd bet every ship with a shield that i've ever fought used it's full shield strength up to the moment of it's death.  makes sense, as that's the AI balancing it's remaining hull, flux and anticipated incoming damage.  But maybe now id see more ships on their last legs throwing everything it's got at the opponent.
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senor

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2015, 02:28:02 PM »

I approve of this idea with the stipulation that it is hull damage.

I think that this would be a good idea because it might open up new possibility's in combat. However I believe the shield system should have considerably more hit-points then other systems since i imagine it would be surrounded by some emergency internal armor of its own just to ensure it didn't go down when the ship needed it the most. This could become another determining factor in ship strength as some ships would be made with stronger protection around there shield then others making the shield more reliable in combat.

a bit of extra armor around the shield generator sounds cool.  perhaps depending on ship model, maybe a janky thrown-together pirate ship took off the armor for MORE SPEED! or it lost the armor in whatever wreck they salvaged it from.  Perhaps Tri-Tach has a bit more because they seem to value their shields more.
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senor

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2015, 02:34:40 PM »

"EMP damage to shields = bad" is something I can agree with, but what about EMP damage to the shield generator itself? Hmm, I would make it immune to EMP damage with the justification that the shield generator is either able to constantly maintain a very tiny shield around itself or the principles it works on just makes it outright immune to EMP. Or just say, "It's immune to EMP. No, we don't have any clue how it does it, it's Domain tech." :P

The generator being immune to EMP damage all together seems a bit janky.  Maybe necessary for balance, in which case that'd be fine.  I'd rather see it resistant or vulnerable or neutral, as required, rather than immune.  For istance, if the generator is claimed to be "grounded" in a way similar to a real life electrical system, then why couldnt the engines and weapons be grounded too?

Ooo, maybe make the shield generator "grounded" and immune, but hitting the shield gen with direct EMP would more easily cause EMP arcs to other nearby components causing them to malfunction instead?  As if it's conducting the EMP energy away from itself into whatever is closest.  that could be a cool idea.

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It would be nice interesting to have multiple shield generator components that can be knocked out to get side effects like how you can make a Hound spin out by knocking out only one of its thrusters. But I think that is too far for now.

That could be cool as well, though i don't know how easy that extra step would be to add in the game.  I feel like having multiple shield generator hard points, but linking them all together to function as one might be fine as is.  Meaning, disabling one of the multiple disables the shield entirely, just as disabling the sole generator on a ship does.  I'd be more than happy to have it as you described too, though, little extra bits of depth are good.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 02:38:50 PM by senor »
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senor

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2015, 02:39:43 PM »

Yes multiple shield generators on ships that are larger or have wide arc shields would be nice. Mabey have them being disabled lower the arc of the shield, slow how fast it can be raised, cause them to flicker, or mabey increasing weapon dmg/flux ratio untill they are repaired.

agreed, something like that might be cool.  I'd be happy enough with just having them linked to work as one, though.
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senor

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2015, 03:11:19 PM »

EMP damage acting through shields (even if only against the shield generator) is something I'm very much against as shields are the only real counter found within the game to EMP damage at present. If all EMP-type weapons needed to be boosted, then EMP damage acting as some kind of flux damage against shields would be something I could possibly get behind, but at present I don't see that the category of weapons defined as those weapons with EMP damage has any significant need of being boosted across the entire category; certainly Ion Cannons and Salamanders do their jobs reasonably effectively, even if some of the other weapons in the category might be lackluster.

Agreed, i dont think EMP needs pierce shields.  I'd also be ok with dealing a little flux damage to shields if needed, but im fine with them behaving as they do currently.

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As far as justifying the lack of EMP damage to shields goes? We already have a couple weapons whose descriptions basically say "it's all magic to us." Adding something else which says the same won't hurt anything. I will say that the justification of the generator maintaining a very small shield bubble around itself constantly would tend to run counter to the idea that the shield generator can be knocked offline by normal damage, as if the shield generator can be knocked offline by normal damage it suggests that the small bubble protecting the generator itself can be taken offline at least temporarily, at which point EMP damage should begin to affect it.

I feel like the "this is so advanced we don't really understand it" stuff goes mostly on high-tech, powerful, large weapons as if they are newly invented, which is great.  But it seems that they've been building shield generators and basic EMP weapons long enough to get a better grasp.  It could easily be explained as "EMP damage is easily dissipated by a shield, because of how shield fields are generated, etc."  in either case, i not concerned about it.

Just as an idea, im not too fond of having a separate shield bubble around the generator itself.  How would it be shown on the ship?  just a ilttle shield bubble around a chunk of the ship all the time?  Seems like it would have to cut through the ship, unless it was designed with an empty area around it on purpose or something... i dunno, just use armor.

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As far as multiple shield generators go, that I am less certain of. The current shield graphic suggests that the entire arc of the shield is projected from a common point at the approximate center of the ship (the shield originates at a single point along the perimeter of the hull and extends in an arc in both directions, which is suggestive of an aperture opening or of a fountain forming from a single source, rather than originating at several points along the perimeter of the hull and extending from those points), and most of the references to shield emitters or generators in ship and module descriptions only reference a single shield generator or emitter; those references that are not singular do not clearly indicate that the reference is to multiple generators/emitters on a single ship rather than being in reference to the shield generators mounted on all the ships.

The distinction for me is there might be multiple shield generators, but one projector.  The projector obviously being at the center, just as you described.  Descriptions could be altered to keep the generator/projector distinction straight as necessary.  For instance, the Front Shield Generator mod's description is "Installs a makeshift, inefficient shield generator on the ship. The shield emitter is locked in a forward - facing position and has a 90 degree arc." could be altered to say "inefficient shield generator system on the ship" to make it more ambiguous.  A generator system could easily have one or more individual generators without breaking the language of the description.   This way it won't sound wrong when applied to a larger ship that uses more than one generator hardpoint in combat.

I suppose there could be a shield emitter/projector on ships at some point, but for combat purposes that might be sort of redundant.  In any case i think we can tackle that idea at another thread and time.

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One further comment: the current shield mechanics, where the shield generator can operate regardless of the state of the ship except if the vessel is overloaded, indicate that the shield generator is in very close proximity to the ship's main reactor, and so never experiences a power interruption except when the ship's cooling systems are too overloaded for it to be safe to operate the reactor at the levels required to run the shields and fire the guns. This suggests that any hits which endanger the shield generator at least come dangerously close to the ship's reactors, and possibly that any hit that manages to damage the shield generator will also have damaged the ship's reactors. Thus, we never see shield generators go offline because any hit capable of taking them offline is also a hit which causes a catastrophic reactor failure. It might be more reasonable to ask that Alex add points around the ships where you can hit to cause (temporary?) damage to a ship's flux venting and possibly flux capacity, as flux vents by their nature must be on or very close to the surface of the ship (though they are likely protected by armor in some fashion) and flux capacitors might not all be buried as deep within the ship as the reactors and shield generator appear to be (heck, depending on what a flux capacitor is made out of, it might even be placed in such a way as to provide an extra layer of protection for something deeper within the ship - better to lose an unnecessary but useful coolant tank than the CIC, right?).

It can be inferred, from current shield mechanics, that the shield generator is very close to the reactor, sure but I'd feel skeptical that a shot couldnt impact the shield generator without impacting the reactor as well.  at that point it may be easier to just say that the ship reactor and shield generator are one and the same.

I feel like having weak points for flux vents and such visible around the edges of ships might look a little strange, or be too small to really be noticeable by the player.  Making them tiny or not shown would be almost the same as having random extra damage/status effects regardless of where something is hit.  If it happened repeatedly to an unlucky player they'd be confused and discouraged.

Flux capacitors though, could maybe be said to be located near weapon hardpoints, or spread out around the ship out of necessity.  then damaging a nearby weapon, or just punching into some hull near the capacitors could lower total flux capacity.  I suppose they'd be repairable in combat, but man... between already repairing engines and weapon mounts (rather magically honestly), and maybe the shield generator, the crew really earn their keep i'd say.
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senor

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Re: Shield subsystem idea
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2015, 03:14:20 PM »

Dat essay. ;)
We're all guilty of it sometimes. :P

Not me, clearly.   :P

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I use quite a few Thunders, so I've seen plenty of EMP lock-downs.

I never supported EMP damage to shields or through shields. Nor do I support EMP damage to the shield generator after the shields are down. It would be bad gameplay design for Starsector; we both see that.

EMP can be powerful, yes.  Adding a shield generator hard point that is vulnerable to EMP could be risky, yes.  But it's only bad gameplay if implemented carelessly.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 03:16:46 PM by senor »
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