Moving Battles: Big Missiles

This thread is about something I mentioned a few times in the past.
@INovaeHutchings posted a render of a big and/or splitting missile 3D Model on the Discord Server, concerning its origin he said: ... that missile design was a personal project of mine from quite a few years back.

There was some discussion how such missiles could be long range weapons (Space to Planet / Planet to Space) and could be intercepted (early) in flight .

This brought this one back for me. The seamless world I-Novae created would allow for some never before seen fight scenarios. Battles that change environment while they are going on:

Yes I know I mentioned it quite a bit over the years but couldn’t find a fitting thread to put the following thoughts.

A massive battle around a station, base or a fleet is fun, the fleet may try to get to a planet to attack a base, the base might try to fend of the attackers … anyway, a huge missile is from one of the sides that could make some side get closer to victory, lets say two missiles would be enough to “win” (destroy the base / destroy the fleets capitals).

The missile has to get to its target and here it has to cross the seamless transition that makes Battlescape so special. People would need to decide who runs after it and tries to stop it and they have to act fast. Some players who were on the team who fired the missile might want to escort it. A mini battle happens arround the missile on route.

Now … I know the netcode has its limitation and travailing the distances that such a missile would need to travel on the maximum velocity that would still allow for a battle may take dozens of minutes.
What came to my mind is that there could be a compromise though.
Have the missile use warp … but have it be forced out of it to “stage / switch power cores / whatever”.
This way the missile would have to make a certain amount of “stops” along the way where it will be vulnerable.
This way the mini battle will transition (move) while working around the limitations of the netcode, allowing participants to have a short, thrilling chase/battle with amazing vistas and changing environments.

On the Discord some Ideas came up what such missile could do additionally. It could split up at a certain stage, forcing people to minimize damage by choosing the right one.

Here’s a scenario:
Red Fleet just captured a space station above Sarake. They are now in range to launch missiles at a green base on the ground. A battle ensues near the station where the green team tries to retake the station and stop the reds advancing.
Seeing as the reds aren’t confident enough to split up their force they pull back two capitals that have previously loaded (expensive) big missiles and fly them 200 km away from the battle. They draw a bunch of smaller ships but nothing dangerous.
They fire a missile at the base. It accelerates to 1km/s and flies towards the planet. A bunch of interceptors try to damage it but they only scratch it. Red interceptors try to defend the missile. 30 seconds after launch it enters warp en route to planet. It’s quite visible on sensors and both sides dispatch forces to atack / escort it. After 30 seconds it has to drop out of warp and be vulnerable for a minute. (The distance it travels get smaller the close it is to a planet (due to how the warp drive works)… emphesizing battles at different altitudes in atmosphere). When it’s under a certain distance it launches 6 smaller missiles. The defendants manage to destroy half of them before they warped out and another one before the impact but they didn’t correctly prioritize and their hangar got destroyed, cutting off reinforcements.


First, please can we replace the ridiculously contrived slow and vulnerable missile with something more believable like a damaged ship limping back to a safe base?

However, getting all the players on a server to bunch up around one objective is something to be avoided because of the technical limitations.

In FPS games this sort of moving objective format works well because the environment is so important for cover and restricting movement etc. But in IB it has less impact.

I’m not anti the idea, I just don’t see it being more fun than the defacto conquest-esq format with surface and orbiting points of interest.

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I like the essence of this as a secondary result of gameplay, but not so much as a primary objective. Battles will likely always move anyway, since if a big battle begins near a base, someone may try to fly around it to get to the target, creating a new battle.

This kind of fluidity is probably key to Battlescape, but I’m not averse to events happening, like a transport convoy or whatever.

I do like the idea of capital ships (or bombers) having torpedoes that split after a certain time. It would give an incentive to try and intercept them!


I don’t know. I don’t see much fun or incentive for the guy being hunted maybe some for the hunters. If there’s a lot to be gained from it that could work. It has to have a simmilar inpact as such a missile would have. Equivalent to a strike force of players attacking a base an taking it. If the ship would cost as much credits/resources that strike force would have earned during a say 5 minute operation …

That’s not the goal. It’s a side mission of sorts. Too many players on the missile and many avenues are opened for other players to attack.

I’m really not certain that would happen. I’m not talking about the relative vicinity around points of interest (radius of 250km) but everything in between. It really, really depends how warp will work.
If there’s no reasonable way to pull people (or that big missile) out of warp I’m of the opinion that there will be virtually nothing happening in between points of interest.

I think the essential point here is the desire for moving battles. Like @Lomsor, I don’t see them happening as a natural course of gameplay. They’ll happen because the gameplay systems are specifically designed for it. If there are stationary points of interest and no means of intercepting between those points of interest, the battles will be stationary.

The original warp system called for ships on different warp frequencies that progressively interfere with each other as they get closer to each other. So if there is a critical ship on its way to one of those stationary destinations, the opposing team should be able to fly out towards it, intercept it and try to destroy it or drive it off.

The difficulty there is the idea that the smallest ship might intercept and stop the largest ship. So it might be that some basic mass of ships is needed to drop a ship out of warp and force an engagement, while lesser masses might only slow the pace of movement a bit - allowing slower, larger ships to complete the intercept.

As @hrobertson points out, fights in the middle of a vacuum don’t have much to offer in the way of variety. As in: none. If INS got serious about such fights, they’d have to introduce some sort of meta-terrain. Magnetic fields, gravity variations, rarefied particle streams and so on. Stuff that would be trivial in any other context, but which could play a big role in how the various futuristic systems on these ships work. Alternately, allow the ships themselves to create this meta-terrain, as I’ve described in the past.

Unfortunately, all these things require additional work. Meta-terrain would involve all sorts of visualization work that wouldn’t be trivial to undertake.

Ultimately, I don’t see moving battles except as warp interception allows it over long distances. And this could be applied to big missiles. If they are warp objects, then other ships could fly out to slow or intercept them. So if a large enough mass of ships arrives, they can intercept the missile and take it out. The missiles could be of almost any size, and the mass of warp needed to knock them out of warp could also be tuned as needed.

I don’t see missiles (or even ships) that periodically drop out of warp for “reasons” being a workable solution. The timing of dropouts should be of the attacker’s choosing. If they are periodic and regular, then the attackers have to wait for one dropout, then start a clock, then wait for the next dropout and hope to be close enough to hit the target. It’s not a particularly good interception mechanic. I suppose missiles or ships could “advertise” the timing of their dropouts in some way, but waiting for that arbitrary timer to expire seems a bit cumbersome.

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I was thinking it would be AI like the haulers.

Ah I misunderstood you. I thought you were suggesting that be the single focus of the match.

I totally agree with @JB47394 that his warp intercept system would enable this sort of thing to occur naturally.
It’s a shame it’s unlikely to happen for technical reasons.

Don’t see that one. In his last post he proposed a way to make it work:

Compared to his warp system the interference wouldn’t allow battle at warp velocities, instead it would only allow for slowdown and eventual dropout to network compatible battle speeds.
I really like this as it circumvents the “use the magical equipable device” thing that I find quite annoying as it is such an important part of the game.
The ship(s) being dropped out would need to either destroy or drive off the attackers in order to continue their jurney. (Maybe outrun them is a third option in some cases)

Good mention of this problem, this is a good throw in. Such meta-terrain would be beneficial in every environment. Not just space.
I think 90% of the time terrain will not play any role in Battlescape as of how it looks like now. With the exception of “Atmosphere” as somewhat a different type of environment … it’s quite homogeneous though. Obstruction of flight path for planets and really close to the ground and space stations are the only situations I see right now … and what I found is that battles naturally move away from said obstacles. I can see “terrain hugging” be a thing if turrets are a real threat and can be avoided that way.
Battlescape won’t magically dodge the usual space game problems here … although its other features might be enough for a fun game by themselves.

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Moving battles:

  • Protecting convoys/significant capital ships
  • Staged retreats - perhaps using wide perimeter defences to slow attackingforces.
  • Chasing something trying to escape
  • Racing to reach a destination first

Isn’t something almost entirely like this already planned with the big cargo/supply ships?

Maybe. We don’t know.
Based on what they said it could be implemented as a range of thing, might as well be a freighter staying close to a factory for 5 minutes, warping invulnerable to the destination and another 5 minites flying towards the destination station/base. ¯\(ツ)

A warp interception mechanic would make that aspect so much more interesting. Other mechanics could build off that, like escort corvettes with modules that increase warp strength.

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I just realized that there’s another fundamental problem with the original warp disruption system that means the target ships can’t do any of those things.

A frigate chases down a destroyer. Let’s say he can’t force him out of warp, but he can cut his speed to some tiny fraction of full warp. After all, if everyone is going to drop out of warp when close enough, then there is a pretty steep ramp in the reduction of speed. This is “many orders of magnitude” stuff. The frigate’s task is to push down the speeds by a couple orders of magnitude. That 1 minute trip just turned into a 100 minute trip. The destroyer is crawling along, unable to reach his destination. He also can’t force both ships out of warp and engage the frigate, because the frigate is both well outside practical engagement distance and also more nimble.

Where this is going is that ships - possibly only capitals - will need some kind of weapon that they can employ at warp speeds and over long distances. The cliche example is the warp missile.

If the destroyer has warp missiles, then he engages the frigate while it’s approaching. If warp missiles are very effective in a disrupted warp field (i.e. at slow speeds), then they are ideal for that situation. The frigate would want to hop on the destroyer as fast as possible because he’s highly vulnerable to warp missiles while making his intercept. The destroyer is also vulnerable because he’s moving at low warp speeds, except that he’s the bigger, badder ship. It’s a conventional matchup of smaller and larger ships, only with warp weapons.

The net result of all this would be that only ships that were sure they could drag another ship out of warp would try to intercept it, and they’d want to do it as fast as possible. Or they’d want to overwhelm the target ship with their own missiles.

Just do this with corvettes and larger so that all the interceptors, fighters and bombers rely on their capitals to force fights. The smaller ships just join in once the Battlescape has been established.

For all I know, the only thing a warp missile does is knock out a warp drive.

That would be one way to work around theses situations.

Another one would be to have a much less pronounced slow down. The drawback would be that the person/fleet being slown couldn’t do anything except give in and drop out of warp.

Jet another way to deal with it would be to not have any slowdown at all. Have “dropout” bar/meter/value one could fill by flying closer and/or with more and/or bigger ships to the target and that would make everyone drop … problem there is how do you make them land close to each other without it being predictable or jarring.

Even though the warp missile idea is cool and even if they were high aoe they would still be a form of combat. The participants would need to have sufficient information to fight this combat and it would be purely fought using instrument. (Not a lot difference to normal fight, except the effects maybe). Still, it’s a kind of “drop out” gadget thing with engines on it … it’s better but you would need to carry one to do this quite important task.

The approach of building another layer of combat that can work with the speeds and limitations is an intersting one though … the slowdown would also help to hide some of the problems that would pop up when trying to get close to ships at high speed.

Say that when the ships are 1,000km apart and the masses are right, they are forced out of warp and are placed 50km apart. Tune the numbers as appropriate. Use some visual effects to suggest that the universe is wigging out because conflicting warp drives are in close proximity. Cheap and easy.

Play up the visual effect so that you see a milder version of the effect at greater distances and lower masses. It could even become a way of sensing the presence of enemy ships. Especially cloaked ships.

The simplest “visual effect” is another bar on the HUD. Bleh. I’d much prefer some post-processing effect on the entire screen. An enemy ship flashes past you at a distance and you get a sudden bending of your screen. A close call. Another time, it’s much closer and the screen really wigs out. Then another ship does a pass close enough and slams you into the full visual effect and suddenly you’re there in normal space wondering what you’re up against.

Then you declare that area a “warp disruption zone”, and any other ships that come too close to it will be pulled in. It’s an instant ICP arena, with people easily jumping into the fray. Getting out should be the same as getting out of any other fight. The mechanism exists to let people get into the fights in the first place.

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I’m thinking that this is an interesting idea as a side-quest and it might lead to the moving battles concept that has been brought up a number of times as a good mechanic.

However I believe that warp shouldn’t be used for these missile battles, it’s introduced because of the time restrictions and not gameplay benefit, it doesn’t really benefit gameplay to have a period of where the center of the moving battle has been removed from the game arena.

I would require the attacking fleet to do some sort of anchor when they want to capture or destroy a ground base, through orbital bombardment or whatever. The anchor would need to happen at some close vicinity orbit above the ground base and would need to be active in order for the attackers to take the base. Once the anchoring has happened at let’s say 200km above the base, the base would fire off a salvo of missiles that would travel in normal space at a velocity where networking still functioned well for ship to ship battles, let’s say 300m/s, this would give the capturing operation about 10-15min to be completed. With this you get a capture operation timer and a moving battle, the missiles are enough to take down the carrier and the pending orbital bombardment is enough to destroy the base.

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Here’s what came to my mind:

This could happen behind the scenes while the effects were going on.

The interdiction conditions are met and all ships are moved gently into a transposed and scaled area from where they just have been in, bringing them closer together automatically while still retaining their relative positioning and without some jarring teleportation.

Now that everyone is out of warp and close together I agree that the usual warp mechanic should handle that situation … new ships joining, ships leaving, etc. That stuff needs to happen on fixed pois too.

Definetly much simpler and straightforward. People would just warp to the missiles while they were on route and a battle would occur there naturally. I like that aspect on it.
The problem I see is that the netcode sets an upper limit on distance and speed of said missiles.
200km is in visual distance of most space stations and even some bigger factories/bases and is a relatively small distance to travel while in warp. It would extend the battle zone a bit. If there would be enough station, bases and factories this could allow for sufficient variation in terrain though. Especially when capitals try some lower altitude.

Some different distances

Missiles coming from such angle would be cool too.

Here’s the distance to a station and its periphery battles going on.