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Author Topic: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector  (Read 2886 times)

senor

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This is partially related to and inspired by this thread by Mystic: http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=9057.0

I had an idea recently about sensor detection in the navigation/"over-world" mode that I think could be a good addition to the game.  Basically it has to do with a balance of "Ship Signature" (how easy a ship is to detect in space), "Environmental Effects" (navigation map objects like asteroid belts, the local star, planets, wormholes, etc), and "Sensor Strength" (power of and skill at using your long range sensors).  The end result would not simply be "you see them completely or "you dont see anything", but instead be a range of different amounts and types of information, but more on this farther down.

Your base Ship Signature would primarily have to do with the physical size class of the ship (frigate through capital) and the equipment of the ship like a phase system, shield system, or lack there-of.  Ideally Ship Signature would be increased and decreased by character skills / hull mods that you have learned / equipped.  Skills might be advanced jamming techniques or fleet formations that help hide your fleet.  Hull mods could increase Ship Signature by increasing engine power or adding a shield generator, and decrease Ship Signature with sensor jamming and stealth/low-observable systems (or removing a shield generator).

Environmental Effects could also factor in by blocking line of sight between ships either completely or partially.  Your distance from another ship/fleet is certainly a factor, but also being very close to a planet or within an asteroid belt should provide some amount of coverage from sensors.  A planet or local star that blocks line of sight between two ships might completely block detection between them, or might just very heavily obscure it, because in reality communication and detection signals are often used without line of sight by signals bouncing off things like the atmosphere, or light bending around stars and planets.  Being inside a nebula could also affect sensors, perhaps having a larger effect on Sensor Strength, than it does on Ship Signature, or maybe making ships inside a nebula easier to detect.  There could be different types of nebulas that each hinder or enhance Signal Strength or Ship Signature.  I'd rather have entire star systems be either in or out of a nebula, because in reality they are extremely large.

As Ship Signature may be determined by several things, Sensor Strength is determined by several as well.  Obviously, first is the power of your equipped sensors as different ship hulls could have different sensor strength stats (ie the Apogee might have strong sensors).  Next would be modifications to those sensors via hullmods and character skills, described as increased power or special sensor types (would be cool to have a mod/skill that increased "range" of your sensors but necessarily the strength, to see how that would factor into the math mechanics of all this).  Finally, your skill at using those sensors would be affected by character skills and crew experience (just as other ship stats are increased by crew level).

Sensor/detection results as mentioned eariier would ideally be given as different amounts of different kinds of information, probably given as mouse-over tool-tip text and icons.  If you're able to detect the target fairly well, you could see some of the ship hull icons just as in vanilla with text like "We are detecting one capital ship, two cruisers, several frigates and multiple fighter or bomber wings".  For simplicity this could be boiled down a bit, showing the hull icons for whatever size classes of ships that are detected well enough, with a list of the number or approximation.  For instance the icons for the Onslaught capital ship and Dominator cruiser would show, with a fuzzy static icon with "Cr." on it for the second cruiser, a wide blob of fuzzy static with "Frigates" for the frigates, and another blob with "Wing" or "W." or "F/B" or something for the fighters.  The list next to the icons could read like "Capitals: 1, Cruisers: 2, Destroyers: None, Frigates: Several, Fighter Wings: Multiple" to help clarify and organize.  When you can barely detect something no ship icons are shown and the text gives a description like "One or more unidentified ships (if your sensors officer didn't think they were ships he probably wouldn't point it out).  As you get closer/better detection of the target the tooltip would still have no icons, but the text would read something like "Several large ships, approximately of cruiser class size, and many smaller size ships".  Finally when you're able to completely detect the target you can see every ship and fighter wing icon with text like "We are detecting one capital ship, two cruisers, two destroyers, four frigates and six fighter or bomber wings" (in this example, the destroyers were hardest to detect, and were not seen earlier) or, again, the text description may simply be a list of each number of size class.

In a nut shell detecting a ship through these mechanics is done like so: your ship's Sensor Strength value (modified by skills, hull mods, and crew) is influenced by Environmental Effects (distance and if you're in a nebula), and then compared to the target's Ship Signature value (as modified by skills and hull mods) which is also modified by Evironmental Effects (amongst asteroids, near or behind a planet or star).

A relatively more complicated issue is detecting fleets. A simple and practical way to determine a fleet's Sensor Strength is just to use the best you have, and if you have two that are good, but one is better in nebulas (and you're in one) then the game just uses that ship's Sensor Strength.  Ship Signature for fleets should be on a per-ship basis, to work with the detection results described previously.  This might be complicated by a possible character skill relating to fleet formations allowing small ships to hide amongst larger ships in your fleet, thus lowering the smaller ships' Ship Signature stats, but that's more of a complication with having a skill like that.

Congrats if you made it through all that, what do you think?

TL;DR Ship detection in the overworld / navigation mode based on Sensor Strength versus Ship Signature stats affected by base ship hull size and Sensor Strength stat, hull mods, character skills and environment.
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TrashMan

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Re: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2015, 04:47:18 AM »

I like it
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senor

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Re: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2015, 10:01:50 PM »

I like it

heh, short and sweet.

More on topic, i forgot to suggest that the camera be unlocked from the player's fleet.  May seem like a small thing, but I think it would be a very nice addition to the navigation/overworld gameplay, even in Starsector as it is now.
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xenoargh

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Re: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2015, 10:44:03 PM »

This has been brought up many times, and I think that we're all in agreement that a system like this would be a great thing.  Hopefully, as the rest of the core game gets done, Alex can find the time to get this into the game :)
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nomadic_leader

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Re: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2015, 05:34:28 AM »

Woops, I also just posted a detailed reply in the other thread you mentioned; with a breakdown of a bunch of ideas of how this could be implemented.

It probably should have been posted here.

http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=9057.msg153835#msg153835
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celestis

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Re: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 03:01:53 AM »

Great ideas about stealthing and sensors, I hope this will be released eventually!
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senor

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Re: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2015, 12:57:03 PM »

Great ideas about stealthing and sensors, I hope this will be released eventually!

thanks!  yea, i certainly think the ideas are good, at least as food for thought.
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Morrokain

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Re: Sensors and Signatures: A long idea about detecting things in Starsector
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2015, 12:25:20 PM »

+1
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