Capital ships, atmosphere, planet surface and landing

Continuing the discussion from I-Novae: Engine Screenshot Thread!:

Let’s continue this discussion here, the subject has strayed enough from the original screenshot for it :smiley:

For sub-light ship drives, I would use vector control. It allows one to have de facto reactionless drives without breaking the entire universe. Also, it gives inertial dampeners.
This would also probably work with any decision for capital ships: airflow may interfere with it, or inversely it may be used to make it flow without airblasting the entire continent. Similarly with the hard surface itself.

Yeah, it would make no sense to have reaction drive.

If capital ships are not allowed to land, they can still be allowed to hit the ground (without spontaneously turning into a fireball) as in crash-land. As long as it doesn’t cut whatever keeps it in one piece despite the absurd forces it is the subject to when manoeuvring, it won’t crumple under its own weight. Which may mean that it can’t totally unpower like a smaller ship would (for example, to hide) and as such don’t even have landing gear.
And there may be no facility built for such ships to land: if it’s rare enough that they may need it, and if it’s way more expansive/impractical (both for the ship or the dock) than a space dock, no-one will build them - though they may be exceptions for whatever reasons.

It would be kind of similar to, say, submarines vs hovercraft: submartines can ‘bottom the boat’ at the ocean’s floor (though they can’t stop life support and such), and if done gently enough, they don’t damage it. But hovercrafts can land anywhere and simply sit there. And hovercrafts can (theoretically) dock at most ports, while submarines need special facilities.

I don’t feel large ships should be able to land. The most efficient place to give them structural support would be around the mounting points for individual thrusters, in line with the force those thrusters are going to be exerting. The ships won’t be resting on those points when landed.

That’s pretty much the axiom I’m running with for Yes Hover - No Landing when dealing with capitals and planets.

That said, do you think we should stop here and look at this a different way?

As near as I can tell, all the options on the table have their own unique gameplay implications. All could end up being interesting (although I still view the pro-atmospheric flight rather than arbitrary limitation option as being more so) if handled well at the design stage.

So I’d like to propose the following, and possibly far more important, question:

What would look coolest in a Kickstarter pitch to get more people to back the project with their money?

1 Like

I deal with aircraft frames/structures all day long in my day job. You’d be amazed how engineers designing aircraft go about weight reduction, and how high of a priority that optimization is.

I can envision starship designers being just as anal about the mass of their ship designs. If a cap ship, whatever flavor it is, spends 99.9% of its time in space, the extra mass required to increase the structural integrity of this ship to be able to handle atmospheric entry/gravitational stresses may not be feasible to implement. If the ships job was to enter/exit atmospheres and experience cycling gravitational loads all day long, then sure, that would be the design intent. Also, it’s unlikely the RCS thrusters on our theoretical cap ship that spends 99.9% of its time in space would be suitable for atmo entry/landing.

The way I would do it, is have an exoskeleton of sorts, that mounts to the ship at critical points whereby increasing the integrity of the hull, making it capable of sustaining the loads and subsequent stresses of atmospheric flight. On that exoskeleton would be the thrusters and other equipment required to safely land the craft. This could be a service you might pay for if you really felt the need to land your cap ship on a planet, or I suppose have a tag along hauler carrying the components required to assemble the exoskeleton in space when you want to land at a planet that does not have this service locally.

Or ofc a magic gravity cancelling bubble etc :wink:


It would seem that a ship should be able to land on any planet or body where the acceleration due to gravity is less than the maximum inertial acceleration it’s capable of in space. If a ship can accelerate at 1G with thrusters, it should at least be able to sit on the Earth’s surface on its tail.
But if capital ships rely primarily on inertialess propulsion and lightweight defenses like PD or magic forcefields, they might not be very physically tough at all, like zeppelins. The square/cube law would favor smaller ships when it comes to landing then.

So I guess it would depend on the math behind the magic reactionless drives. I don’t think setting a ship size limit on landing is feasible though, because you have to consider planets with greater or lesser mass than Earth. Should a capital ship not be able to land on (or “dock with”) a large asteroid just because it’s considered a cruiser and not a destroyer?

If the idea of power ratio between weapons, shields and engines still stands. Then a capital ship hovering over the ground of a planet surface would need to have most if not all of the power ratio put into engines, while having lowered or even disabled shields due to entry. That is my take.


Literally stole the whole point of the post I wanted to make. You don’t make a battleship to fly. And you don’t make a plane to dive underwater. So if the cap ship was designed to breach orbit and be a monster of death fortress in the sky, the sure let it go in the atmos. If not, it’s going to be a risky move type thing.

I love the idea of allowing landing with special supporting equipment. I think gameplay wise it would open up a whole new way of using it for surprise ambushes and game goals.

“Why is that single hauler flying towards that capital ship? Oh no, it might be landing equipment – go get 'em!”

I’d prefer to see large ships stay in space, with only small ships entering atmospheres or even going near any significant massive body. If a large ship wants to interact with a planet or settlement, it can either use small ships as shuttles or it can dock to an orbiting space station as a cargo or passenger terminal.

For combat, I prefer to see ground installations captured rather than besieged. If the attackers want to blow it up or dismantle it after they’ve captured it, that’s their business. But capture can be accomplished by bringing in capitals laden with assault gear that arrives at the surface via small ships. The capitals themselves still need to defend themselves, so capital to capital combat stays on the table.

I haven’t seen a reason for landing a cap ship yet.
“But it’s so cool Bent!!!”
Ya, so is a penguin’s butt yet I don’t want to see that ether!

There is another factor we have to think about: scale.
The biggest station has so far been said to be 30km long. That’s the distance to the horizon with pretty great vistas. I honestly doubt the mind can really represent such gigantic structure without actually seeing it. And with a station that big, we may have the biggest capships almost as big. Even one or two dozen km long would dwarf any single feature on the planet.
The question is, do we want it because it’s awesome, or do we not because it’s making the planet look flat and it’s simply too big to be interesting on the ground? (Genuine question)

I want it because it’s in the spirit of the game to allow it. No arbitrary restrictions.


I’ll give you four off the top of my head:

1 - Hiding it
2 - Providing close-range heavy fire support for besieged ground installations
3 - Offloading or loading equipment too large or heavy for other, smaller ships
4 - It allows for the possibility of emergent behavior and tactics

  1. If it is small enough to land and be HIDDEN then I’m not impressed with cap ships. Anything I can think of saying is just insulting.
  2. If EM then not necessary. If missiles not very necessary.
  3. Offloading? We can do that now with out landing. If unlimited energy then just make new ones. No transports? Use jet packs to elevate cargo to low orbit.
  4. Maneuverability allows for the possibility of emergent behavior and tactics, not being on the ground.

Unless of word of god says that we’re getting leviathans to rival EVE’s titans, I’m going by the previously established 5 kilometer colossus being the limit on how big ships get. And even if such monster ships do appear in-game, how are you going to pick them up if they’re buried in the upper atmosphere atmosphere of a gas giant?

Titans are big, planets are so much bigger that it’s hilarious.

What does this even mean? Are you talking about weapon ranges? Weapon types? What relevance does this even have?

Simplicity of logistics. You do it for the same reason container ships scoot right up to the dock instead of having a bunch of boats zip back and forth between it and the dock while it hangs out in the middle of the harbor.

Now who’s the one thinking two-dimensionally?

Opening up new environments allows for novel tactics to be developed. To reference point one, hiding a fleet within the atmosphere of a gas giant or near the surface of a rocky planet lets a commander set up ambushes. Like bottoming a submarine and waiting for your opponent to pass overhead.

Think of it this way. Give people more places to maneuver, and they’ll surprise themselves with what they come up with to take advantage of it.


i prefer the idea of no cap ships in atmo for gameplay reasons, but a combat role capital ship that’s reinforced for the rigors of battle could probably enter atmosphere, additional stress from gravity being within normal operating limits in combat, they’d just have to accelerate slower.

The only use case I cam imagine for landing a cap ship is if it’s a huge cargo ship with a dedicated landing platform that it has to use for landing, specifically designed for that ship.

And then a bunch of trains load stuff onto it like a space ferry.

For once, I tend to agree with @Bentware.

  1. If we’re talking about landing on hard ground (and not just descending into the layers of a giant gas planet), you do know that there are plenty of future high-tech scans and sensors? Well ok, maybe there are some effective cloack technology… but I tend to think cloacks on capital ships are not very effective :slight_smile:
  2. EM = Electro-magnetic. I guess he forgot the P for Pulse :stuck_out_tongue: Nonetheless, you only need geo-stationary orbit to bring fire support. Again, my opinion, can be balanced for lore / gameplay reasons.
  3. I can imagine cargo ships making slow but steady atmosphere entry, for delivery purpose. But capital ship? Not their purpose.
  4. Yes, hiding on the “far side of the moon”, and being invisible to the incoming fleet, is quite a valid tactic. You don’t need though to be so close to the ground.

In short way, I don’t see capital ships entering atmosphere because it’s not their purpose. Perhaps they could, but at what cost? (Huge time loss / slow moving / …)

“Because it’s cool” is the only reason that matters in my opinion.

Imagine the movie “Independence Day” with the alien space ships staying safely in orbit because the writers thought the structural integrity of the ships was something that viewers cared about.

Imagine Star Wars without light sabres because they make no sense whatsoever from a technological point of view.

Imagine District 9 with the alien space ship landed because keeping it floating there must consume mind numbing amounts of energy.

Unfortunately the population of these forums are a bad sample data set for what the general public will be happy to believe when it comes to science fiction.


This is correct!


Lock the thread quickly and start banning @INovaeGene. :smile:

1 Like

Well I think even after the “destroyers” fell to the ground, everyone was still interested in them. Sadly the sequel’s plot seems to assume that all aliens died when they crashed. Ugh, talk about missed potential.

However you bring up a good point that general public would be fine with them hovering. Whenever in Sci-Fi/Fantasy a floating battleship exists, it tends to stay away from the ground, otherwise get shot by ground troops(like Marvel’s Electro destroying S.H.I.E.L.D., only because it got too close).