Gunnery challenges

Actually, could we have 1 gun which doesn’t do this, just as an Easter egg? I’d really like to see how dogfights moving at interplanetary velocities would look if the weapons you were using moved at just a couple km/sec relative to a nearby star or planet.

A lot of jockeying to get ahead of each other, I imagine.

Actually that’s not a bad idea. Make automatic point defence systems clearly superior to missiles, but possible to disable in just a single direct hit from even the weakest projectile weapons (stronger weapons doing damage that takes longer to repair). Oh yeah, and make them automatically retract inside a bomb-proof hatch whenever there are no missiles for them to shoot down.

Suddenly even automatic weapon systems take player skills (and follow your 1 player 1 target rule). First you fire decoy missiles to make the target’s point defence pop out, then you try to knock out all the turrets on your side of the ship, then you fire a real missile and hope it’ll hit before your target realize what you’ve done and flips his ship so a side with functional point defence is facing you, manually launch countermeasures, or manoeuvres to dodge them.

On this point… well, first off, semantics but I believe “torpedo” is more commonly used for referring to manually controlled weapons - and not by remote in all cases.

Other than that I quite like the idea. Dumb rapid-fire rockets to take the role of shotguns*, dumb bombs to take the role of bazookas, an manually guided torpedoes for… well, any multi-crew ship, really. If someone wants to put 2 people in a fighter and latch a torpedo to the outside of it, I’d say let them. For that matter, if someone wants to use torpedoes from a single person ship that’s a valid approach to an ambush, just make it so switching back to ship control leaves the torpedo on either a ballistic trajectory or with engines on full, depending on what you set it to.

Missiles could go with the manually countered automatic counters approach, or be left out entirely.

*) I’m not saying rockets should have significant spread, btw. Some might be expected from exhaust gasses and vibration pushing them around, but even at long range I’d prefer it be less than a small ship’s length in diameter.

I’ve mentioned the game before, but this is how it is for all weapons in Evochron Mercenary. There isn’t a hard speed limit(You are limited by the amount of fuel you can carry, and diminishing returns on acceleration) but projectiles are limited to a certain speed. Because of this, the “meta” of flying revolved around boosting ahead and sliding in front of your oponent letting your projectiles “fall” into him since the fight is moving at several km/s but projectiles capped at 500 or 1000 m/s or something. If you want to test that out, try Evochron.

I personally found it an interesting concept and interesting to learn how to fight, but ultimately limited in my options for strategies. You both could be parallel but if you’re both flying inertially sideways at ~2500 m/s and aim at each other, your projectiles get left way way behind. I didn’t like it one bit.

Speaking as an artist, not a programmer, my assumption is this “Speed Cap” would have to do with collision detection limitations? @INovaeKeith?

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I worked through this for about an hour and decided that I can see an automated point defense system working like long-range armor. It only fires on stuff that is clearly going to damage the ship and which it is sure it can hit. A fighter firing its guns in a slashing attack. An incoming missile. A bomb or torpedo heading right at the ship.

The point defense system can be damaged by anything, but it is most effective in defending against straight-line attacks, not maneuvering missiles and fighters. So if you want to hit a ship that has a point defense system, you want to use missiles that can maneuver hard. That, or you go in with your fighter and, maneuvering hard, try to hit those point defense systems. If you send in a missile and fail, you lose a missile. If you send in your fighter and fail, you get a shot-up fighter.

The challenge would be balancing a fighter’s gunnery accuracy with the point defense’s size and durability. The more vulnerable the point defense weapons are, or the more accurate the fighter’s guns and missiles are, the more easily the point defenses can be damaged. So by balancing things just right, fighters would be in a lethal dance with the point defenses, trying to get shots on them without taking fire themselves. Of course, fighters with guns could just blast away at the ship itself and do damage to the armor without fear of the point defenses doing anything (the fighters stay out of range). The point defenses are worthy targets because they are both more expensive than equivalent armor and prevent more aggressive attacks from striking the armor.

Note that this means that passive point defenses are good against passive attacks; bombs and torpedoes. If missiles must be actively guided (like the AIM-7 Sparrow or any number of laser-guided munitions) and fighters must be actively flown, then any weapons that are effective against them must be actively operated.

Lastly, point defense systems would have a limited lifetime, unlike armor. Once the ammunition is expended, the point defense system is done. Then it’s time to rely on the armor.

That’s the sort of stuff that I’d like to see. Let players get inventive, with the basic rules keeping things balanced.

The original issue was in generating the detailed terrain patches fast enough on the GPU. As the ship moves across a planet surface, new patches of detail have to be generated before the player can tell the difference between the old, low resolution patch and the detailed patch. That generation process takes time and if the player’s camera is moving too fast, the GPU can’t crank out the patches fast enough. The camera starts to show low-detail patches with high-detail patches suddenly popping into view when the GPU finishes them and the suspension of disbelief is damaged or lost.

Note that a speed cap is also essential from a gameplay perspective. I won’t go into the details, but the general idea is that ships need to stay in a range of speeds that allow them to interact with whatever they’re near. Extremely high relative speeds work against interacting with anything. So the closer you get to something, the slower your maximum speed wants to be.

Talking about projectiles, not ship velocity. Considering the speed of projectiles in a “Deep Space” environment. Of course there would be speed limitations near planetary surfaces, although they’re not as slow as they used to be :wink:

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Ah, my mistake.

Edit: After some thought, it seems to me that they did it to avoid the very thing that some folks are worried about - the ship’s movement throwing off the gunner’s aim. They probably figured it was too difficult to both maneuver and fire projectiles accurately, so they put in a system where the projectiles have inherent stability. It broadens the reach of the game for those unable to or uninterested in dealing with so many different moving bits and pieces.

Ultimately, it’s not so much a speed cap as the lack of adding the firing ship’s velocity to the projectiles. Any projectile moves at a certain relative speed to the firing ship, but Evochron Mercenary’s projectiles move at a certain absolute speed.

It would have been relatively simple to do so, I’m going to assume Hutchings is probably on the right track and its due to engine limitations. I don’t find it hard at all to aim at someone who’s relative velocity may be a few hundred m/s or less, but if you’re flying at 2500 around an area, you fire and your projectile gets left behind immediately.

EM gave the pilot an indicator that showed what direction they were flying. It was easy to see how one changed direction by watching the indicator( a square basically) move as you translate. I felt it was very easy to fly inertially. Its something that elite(faoff) doesn’t have that bugs the hell out of me. We have warp drives but have to rely on ‘space dust’ to guesstimate your heading? Come on.

It is such an important element of a game engine and such a simple task that I just can’t imagine it being an engine limitation. If I could implement it in 1990, surely they could do it 20 years later. I seem to recall Flavien testing code a couple years ago that handled tens of thousands of simultaneous newtonian projectiles.

Can Evochron ships collide at speed? If so, then the engine can do the calculations. In any case, I have yet to imagine a technical reason for not implementing proper projectiles.

Perhaps the guys who designed Evochron Mercernary had the same low opinion of their prospective players that the developers of No Man’s Sky seem to have.

To clarify as it looks like there may be some ambiguity regarding my last post weapon velocity is calculated as ship velocity + projectile velocity. That means if you’re going in a straight line at 200km/s and the weapon fires a projectile along the same trajectory at 100km/s its final speed will be 300km/s.

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Perhaps, I don’t know what the design decision was. The Dev is actually very responsive to community feedback I just never bothered to ask. It just adds a unnecessary skillcap on dogfighting strategies in my opinion.

@INovaeKeith its reassuring to hear that. I look forward to the challenges full Newtonian combat brings…I had a blast in the ICP!

Can you comment on locking/tracking mechanisms regarding missiles and/or heat for gimballed weapons etc. Or does it like most everything depend on funding?

Physics tic frequency. For projectile weapons it’s a lot more code to check if a bullet has passed through a target than it is to check if it’s inside a target, and a lot more processing power. So most games use either hitscan or slow moving (relatively speaking) projectiles.

Of course, precisely for the situation of two ships moving at a small relative velocity to each other but a high velocity relative to the coordinate grid, it’s actually easier to check for hits if the projectile speed is based on the ship speed.

Oh… and if someone is trying to kill people by firing at them while going 200km/s relative… really I don’t think anyone will notice if some of his shots clip through them.

Really the only reason I can think of to make projectile speed absolute like that would be laziness. In all engines I know of speeds are absolute, so if you want to make them relative it’ll cost you 3 additions. Several seconds of work - per weapon! - and in many cases it’s really not worth taking the time to do (for example if you can’t shoot your weapon while moving faster than a jog).

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To combat this issue, all retail versions of the ~ Flip desu! :heart: comes with several flip-away dust catchers mounted between the lens system and space. When transparency drops below 80% the outermost dust catcher flips away to be easily cleaned with an ~ Official Flip desu! Microfibre Cloth :heart:.

And how does the ~ Flip desu! :heart: disrupt incoming ordnance? Simple, by directing a powerful burst of focused light at the exposed sensors permitting automated missiles to track your ship, these sensors are destroyed sending the guidance package into fail-safe mode, self-destructing before it can accidentally strike the ship that launched it.

For small unguided ordnance such as rockets, the ~ Flip desu! :heart: can also be used to overheat their fuel storage causing Rapid Unplanned Disassembly Syndrome. This does take a significant amount of time, however, especially if the rockets are propelled by heavily cooled liquid fuels, so 100% effectiveness cannot be guaranteed.

But there’s more! The ~ Flip desu! :heart: comes with a built in Engine Signature Detection and Rangefinding System allowing it to automatically detect and destroy threats to your ship within it’s range! It even ignores engine signatures large enough to belong to ships that are able to operate in close proximity to stars, and any object transmitting proper IFF codes.

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We haven’t started implementing missiles yet so I’ll say it depends on funding =).


Wasn’t going to make a new thread for this, but I just read this article on PCGamer.

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I offer this as a food-for-thought system. That is, it’s different, so it might inspire some new angles on weapons systems.

Suppose a ship had a beam weapon, but had to intersect three such beam weapons to have an effect. More, it’s not just a question of converging the beams on your target to increase the energy on the target, but to trigger an explosion at a location in space. Explosions are good, right?

The gunner would be controlling a point indicator in space, and the three (or more) beam emitters on his ship track that point. When the point is at a location that the gunner wants to hit, he just presses the fire button and the beams fire. The explosion takes place at the focal point.

The restrictions:

  1. All beams must be unimpeded from emitter to target location to have an effect on the explosion
  2. The target location cannot be inside an object or even in contact with an object (which follows from 1)

The tunable parameters:

  1. The delay between hitting the fire button and the explosion taking place
  2. Whether the gunner can move the emitters during the delay or if they’re locked when the fire button is pressed
  3. The diameter of the explosion (and how it might be influenced by gunner actions)
  4. Whether the beams must be visible while tracking (but not firing)
  5. Tying the number of emitters to the above parameters (involving more emitters might reduce the explosion delay, increase the effect of the explosion or alter the ability of the gunner to move the emitters per point 2)
  6. The aiming accuracy of individual emitters, influencing the efficiency of convergence of the beams at range
  7. Whether the beams can bounce off anything.
  8. Whether the beams build up some static field effect at their convergence that has a life of its own (this allows for a lot of different gameplay)

One version would be that the gunner converges the beams at some point, then fires, then waits as the beams pump energy into that location. Everyone can see the beams building, meaning that countermeasures can be put into effect, including dodging the detonation point, destroying the building field, blocking or destroying one of the emitters, etc. Eventually, the location detonates and affects objects around it.

Another version would be that the gunner converges the beams and energy builds at the convergence point. The beams can be steered freely by the gunner, dragging the energy buildup with it. If one of the several beams is blocked, the buildup slows, but doesn’t stop. If all beams are blocked, the buildup slowly fades. The buildup location can have countermeasures applied to it to disrupt/dissipate it. When the buildup is placed where the gunner wants it, he pulls the trigger again and the explosion takes place.

Another version is to create a buildup and throw it. It is intended to be a slow-moving object. Perhaps taking a fixed amount of time before detonating. Grenades in space.

Another version is to allow other ships to affect a buildup. That could mean that all the ships on one side could contribute to an energy buildup - and enemy ships could try to wrest control of the buildup from them.

Combine the previous two and you’ve got enemies throwing these things at each other, catching them and throwing them back. Or trying to slow or stop them. Or dissipating them before they get to their destination. Assume that the bigger they are, the more slowly they move, or accelerate.

Consider that the energy buildups may also be inherently unstable. Create one that’s too big for your emitters and it’ll blow up in your face. That could happen if you’re right at the edge of an energy buildup that your three emitters could handle, and something blocks one of the three emitters. So that would be one way to control how the buildups are triggered - just turn off your emitters.

Are some of these scenarios contradictory? Yes. I’m just playing with the idea in public, without having any idea where it might lead.

What kind of control system were you imagining? On a mouse i was thinking the x-y axis would point the 3 beams and scroll wheel would set the intended convergence distance. Something more manual? Im guessing this is for a dedicated gunner rather than someone also flying a ship.

Also this could work with just 2 beams from a lore perspective (the idea being that the reason the beam doesnt explode before intersecting is the 2nd one) or just one if you really wanted to emphasize gameplay. Not sure how much value to gameplay there is in requiring the intersections unless there is some more manual control method im missing. Also what would the fire rate be on this? Constant with it just being anytime they intersect? Bursts?

I wasn’t, really. We went through some control schemes on the old forums, as I recall. Mouse plus scroll wheel would work. I would hope that 3D indicators would be a standard thing in the game.

I would also divorce the 3D indicator mechanism from the actual traversal of the weapon. So I may want the weapon to hit a certain point, but it may take observable time for the weapon to adjust.

Yup. Two or more would work. I liked the idea of a triplet. Or more.

Having more beams makes for more variables. Beams that are blocked by other ships, rocks or whatever. Beams that are actively countered by other ships. Cooperation among multiple ships. Imagine if multiple frigates could cooperate to make a cruiser-caliber burst

Slow. This is a capital weapon, with rates approaching that of 10- to 18-inch naval weapons of the world wars. The system is supposed to be more than point and shoot. I want gunners to have to deal with the fact that their weapons may take 5 seconds to build up a detonation at the designated point - and be unable to alter that point during that build up. Perhaps it takes even longer. Meanwhile, the target ships can spot the building detonation and try to maneuver to avoid it or use some other countermeasure against it.

There may be a variety of factors that go into one of these detonations, causing gunners to have to think about what sort of a detonation they want against the target. Are they trying to scramble electronics? Ground out a shield? Rip off armor plating? Physically knock back the target? Others?

Then there’s the fact that it gets to be an energy burst, based in advanced technology, so the visual gets to be anything the designers want. Arcing lightning, a green ball of light, flash bulb effect, perhaps even ‘shock waves’ that toss around nearby ships - the same effect I’ve suggested takes place when a ship is destroyed and winks out of existence. Perhaps these things are miniature versions of a warp drive failure. That would make a warp drive failure something particularly lethal and to be avoided.

I’d love to see a capital heeling a bit as a result of lots of these things going off all around it, like depth charges near a submarine.