Okay so personally, I like playing support and that it pretty lacking in I:B, especially with the current targeting issues
I’ve been enjoying the Corvette even when I’m sitting on thousands of credits. Especially sitting on a Cruiser or Carrier and shooting my missiles and guns at incoming torpedos and mines… though the Corvette runs out of missiles fast so that only works if there’s two of us.
I want an ECM version of the Corvette.
To preface, there are two important things I think are needed to work for this:
An “RTS-style” view. Besides for controlling ECM, I think this is needed anyway to replace the current map in the game to make viewing and navigating the system easier, as the flat 2D view is confusing and less representative. I also think this is needed for capital ships to begin with.
Greater need for ECM. Powering off should be stronger, unless I’m missing something and it already is, afaik it mostly just makes you lose overheat quicker. Enemy ships ought to not be target-able unless they’ve done something to increase their signature (just exited warp within some distance like 15km, have fired weapons the past 1.5 minutes or so with powering off reducing this, etc). Upcoming point-defenses can’t be too strong when AI-controlled.
So with those two assumptions made, how I’d like to see an ECM Corvette work:
4 decoy torpedo launchers; essentially super-chaff.
1 probe launcher.
1 rear PD laser.
The standard Corvette guns and repair/rearm capabilities. It’s just the missiles which are replaced.
I’ll start with the simple thing: Probes
Shoot these out, and they enhance the scanning resolution for allies in a large area. Detects ships which aren’t “hot” already. Not something that’d play a part in most fights, but will matter when you want to avoid bombers sitting back, powering up and down between torpedo launches from a distance, or to stop ships from drifting into range cold.
In my view, even a Cruiser should be untargetable and off the HUD if powered off for long enough, but you can obviously still visually see them and aim at them manually.
These probes are obviously destructible like any ordinance and would have a long reload time.
I believe there should be multiple levels of target signature, as well. Say one faded level where a ship can be seen in the area, but not targetable unless probed out and/or someone gets closer to them, then the solid signatures we have now, in addition to the completely cold ones where a ship may be visually viewable but there isn’t even a faint indicator.
The decoy torpedoes would function a bit like chaff, but at a much wider radius and be controllable.
1 torpedo would be capable of breaking lock off the small icon sized ships.
2 for breaking lock off medium sized.
4 for breaking lock off large sized.
I also don’t see any reason why decoy torpedoes couldn’t be used to intercept other decoy torpedoes, but it might be best to leave that to interceptors.
The guided ordinance would reacquire onto the decoy torpedo, and obviously the decoy torpedo can be destroyed just like a regular torpedo so aiming it poorly can leave it destroyed before it catches as much ordinance as you had hoped.
In the past my idea for ECM on ordinance was more varied whether you jam a missile/torpedo’s guidance, disable the warhead, blow it up and potentially taking out nearby ordinance, or reprogram it (with each stronger effect taking longer than the last), but I’m trying to simplify it.
On the old forums, I remember making a mockup for how an ECM overlay would look and be controlled, but I can’t find it now. Image host is probably down anyway. I remember that being one of the rare times Flavien replied to say that really helped him understand and visualize the idea, but RIP.
I’ll try and describe it, as I just can’t make a mockup like that now.
Enemy ordinance would show what they are targeting, estimated time of impact (based on the current velocity and vector of their target), and an estimated trajectory.
While you should of course be able to fire your decoy torpedoes at a target, or dumbfire them, that would be extremely difficult unless your prograde intersects the enemy which launched them.
The most reliable way to use them would be in this RTS-style view, where you can select where you want the torpedo to move similar to how you move units in Homeworld. It would show the radius of effect for the “catch”, and if the radius intersects with the projected path of enemy torpedoes/missiles then it would ping on the intersection where it would grab them if the path doesn’t change. From there you might adjust it a bit for where you think their target might move which would in turn make them change course off from the projection.
These shouldn’t be limited to fire-and-forget, either. You should be able to shift+queue up a path, or select the decoy torpedoes and probes after launching them in order to redirect them. So you could scoop up a lot of ordinance, then redirect the decoy at a station or another ship. I do feel the same way about regular torpedoes, that they should be re-directable as long as they aren’t caught by a decoy, which would enhance having multiple players using one ship since you could have one person firing guns and another micromanaging torpedoes.
Cecoy torpedoes should also appear on enemy HUD as a ship. Two together would appear as a Corvette, and 4 together should appear as a Cruiser. Obviously, there would be no visual ship in space for anyone paying attention, only the ship icon and a name.
I’m sure this all sounds strong, but of course there would be counters:
- You can simply mitigate decoy torpedo effectiveness by staggering launches of missiles and torpedoes so it’s less likely to catch a whole group that way.
- As mentioned there is the fact that you can blow them up with an interceptor, and they ought to make for high priority targets.
- There will also be limited angles the decoys can be launched at. If they are launched head first into missiles/torps, they are more likely to be blown up by what they’re attempting to catch. And these angles may rarely play nicely with a corvette wanting to sit near an ally to repair and rearm them.
This has been long and detailed, but I think it’s a fairly simple idea outside of the needing some extra HUD elements to show projected torpedo/missile paths and intersections. Simple idea with lots of depth, sort of thing, and also a skill cap to it which fits the current I:B gameplay.