On the Subject of Planetary Facilities

#1

First, I would like to say I love the game. I like being able to fight across a solar system and interact with worlds, and have had a good time thus far. But as I play, I realize that I would like to consider expanding what we do with planets. As such, I had some suggestions, including 2 new ship types which are modifications of the same chassis, A system suggestion tied to one of them, and gameplay effects that I feel would complement the worlds themselves.

Given what I have in mind, I wish to start with a general overview of the worlds involved. Currently, Planets boast two kinds of facilities, bases and Factories. Factories supply transports which fly to orbital stations and this provides credits to the team. Bases are a bit strange as I have not really found their general purpose as of yet. Missions to attack these places can result in some interesting day night battles and more, with cruisers floating to bombard the world best they can, while fighters dogfight around.

As I have seen this a few times now, It occurs to me that planets could be used in much more interesting ways. Its entirely possible this will extend game time, but I don’t see that as a bad thing really as there are other ways to collapse a near end-game match.

  1. Anti Orbital Planetary Defenses. A Multi-layered Defense!
    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/13/c6/04/13c604ebca04ed307b259544423b7db7.jpg

Frankly, Factories and Worlds are far, far too vulnerable, a Sentiment I have seen shared. Given what some have suggested though, I feel just making a few guns that shoot capital ships isn’t going to get very far. Every scifi to date that pits the world against a invader shows that defenses are layered on layers of guns and defenses for all kinds of targets. Hardened positions from bombardment, to guns that shoot the big guy in the sky, to dozens of Autoguns and flak guns that shoot down fighters, planetary shields, and bunkers to fend off enemy armies. In this, we get the sense of a vicious defense that would to me, be quite fun to attack time and time again, slowly chipping it away through subsequent battles.

What I would like to propose is that every planetary base and factory be armed for this purpose. The First defense line will be a large shield tower that can project a Dome style shield across the facility, effectively protecting it from bombardment and tight enough that flying too close is dangerous as best, though not impossible. The Shield tower should be impenetrable to damage from outside the shield, torpedo and missile included. And under the shield, the Tower should be able to absorb significant amounts of damage even from a wing of bombers dumbfiring torpedoes into it. currently its too easy for a single bomber to decimate a area.

Now while it sounds like the shield is meant to be hit by small craft, It shouldn’t be easy. the tower itself, or the area around it, should boast 1-3 rings of anti air bunkers with decent range that are armed with a number of anti-air guns that can shoot down these bombers and so on, while a hanger nearby allows defending players to spawn and fight as well. Given this applies a casualty count, this would incentivize a carrier in low orbit to act as a spawn for it’s team so that the assault may continue, and make cruisers and destroyers act to protect the carrier. The AA ring should be dangerous so that one jockey can’t fly in now and then and just destroy the shield with impunity, so the AA ring should also maintain some high altitude targetting as a result, at least to the level of the shield’s surface.

To make things more uncomfortable for attackers though, the next layer of defense should be added. Long range Railguns or torpedo launchers, nuke tipped perhaps. These guns could have a altitude height of perhaps around 50 km from the installation’s position, shooting targets well in the air and attempting entry. However given what they are, these are purely for anti-capital ship attacks. While they should possess some flak ability, these are mostly to fend off cocky capitals trying to raid a unprotected base. If the AI attacks this kind of layered defense, it should have more ships dedicated to this sort of battle as a result, and rely more on a swarm of small bombers that would target the ground defenses as much as the larger targets that come to protect the base.

The result of this kind of defense would require a more complex strategy then what is currently available, forcing a team’s players to coordinate their assault in stages to make use of new openings. If the shield could be shut down, cruisers would be able to jump close to the target and duel with the now unshielded large defense guns, and take them out with their own torpedoes and later on, Nukes. This then would leave the installation exposed to bombardment by cruiser main weaponry, which would hopefully be hardened.

  1. A Tale of Two Ships

Jokes aside, this is fairly straight forward. If a player wishes to support his team economically, he could potentially invest in a larger then average bulk transport. Using this transport, he could fly loads of supplies larger then those of the ai transports between the factories and stations. He could receive a larger cut of credits this way as a result, and provide a way to self fund in a sense. If this idea is hampered though, we could adapt the idea towards the ship being a large planetary exit and entry capable factory vessel. Flown down to a planet surface to locate a resource deposit, the player could harvest raw materials to ‘manufacture’ goods and fly that to the stations, to provide team credits to his team. How this will work economically is worthy of debate, but it would be a way to fill the gap for when factories are destroyed and give a chance for a losing team to still turn the tide.

A adaptation of this idea is it’s sister ship, the Troop transport. The system I mentioned before would be a Invasion mechanic, where upon you spawn a small ‘army’ of tanks and low detail infantry platoons, or just tanks really, that you could fly down to a planetary system blockade runner style. Upon landing, you could deploy the tanks and have them march on the nearest base to attack it below the defenses of the base. While the defenses may shoot caps down, these tanks are a sort of way to bypass that concept. While the base should be able to fight back somehow, perhaps making a few tanks of its own thus necessitating a tank factory for the base, it would make for players to either form their own invasion forces to mass land a army, or potentially protect a fleet of ai transports that attempt to land on a planet during a assault. This last option would give the AI commanders a new way to attack planets that it could use to cycle between a traditional destroyer/fighter assault or a landing assault.

I feel the troop transport would be a new way to play personally. How many tanks it should deploy is debatable, of course, but I feel that it could use a mechanic similar to the AI wing for carriers that is being mentioned here and there to make it work personally.

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#2

I agree that fleshing out the role of planetary facilities would be a dramatic improvement to the game. The improved defenses you describe would make planetary assault much more dangerous, which is a good thing. I do worry that it would make those facilities too difficult to assault in low pop games (a concern which I raised with you on Discord).

I like your idea and think you definitely have the kernel of something great here, but there are a few specific points I’d like to iterate on:

  1. A planetary shield that encompasses the entire base feels like it would cause bad feelings among players. From a story/lore/setting perspective, it’s absolutely what any sensible defensive force would do, but at the end of the day we’re playing internet spaceships. If a player goes downwell and finds that they are completely ineffective (not just mostly ineffective, which can still be fun to play with), they may feel that they wasted their time by exploring. Speaking from a design perspective, that damages player engagement. Shielding critical facilities though, is an idea I could definitely get behind. Shield the spawn pads and some central defenses to keep players from just squatting on a base and pooping mines and torps on top of it.

  2. New types of buildings. This is something that I feel touches on a larger section of the game, which you bring up in another part of your post. Currently, we can sort of guess what a building is for based on its appearance (big spheres are probably storing some liquid or gas, for instance), but mechanically the only ones that do things (as far as I’m aware) are the spawners. New types of buildings that influence the economy would be fantastic, and new defenses to guard them would feel good as a player and make sense in the setting. I am behind this idea, as long as a solution to the player count issue is given consideration.

  3. As I mentioned in Discord, I think troop transports are a fun idea. Hijacking haulers with marines, or suppressing base defenses by dropping troops in drop pods, those are very cool scenes that come to mind. However, again from a design perspective, that’s a lot to render. Instead of tanks and troops on the ground, maybe create a static object (a drop pod or something) that enemy players need to destroy to stop the base from being interfered with. Anything to save system resources - consumers limit scale. But, maybe this engine wouldn’t have any trouble with it. I don’t know.

  4. Haulers. YES. I always play support/econ/engineering roles. I don’t know how to properly implement it in IB without further inflating the economy as the game goes on, but I would absolutely love to see this type of gameplay implemented. I maintain that repairing stations and facilities would unnecessarily drag the game on, but if there are other credit sinks added to the game that might change. I would love to explore that type of gameplay though. The rest of this game has really captured me, and that would just make it even better.

So, tl;dr- I think you have some great ideas. I think some of them would require tweaking, or tweaks to already implemented mechanics, but I do like them and think they represent a good direction for the game to move in.

#3

This has been talked about and is a testimony that there is fun there that can be honed to make the piece fit where it is.

It’s nice to read the suggestions and many of them make sense. It’s also interesting to see that some of the stuff wished for actually is in the game but buried by the meta that dominates now due to other things missing.

I think I have a wiff for what Ground Bases are for. They are the only installations with the “BIG GUN”. I think this “BIG GUN” could have ranges in the future as such that it may protect several factories in its sphere of influence. Currently the “BIG GUN” is not implemented though.

You may want to take a look at this Kickstarter Storyboard!
As you can see the devs have thought about that.


I kind of think bubble shields would solve quite a bit of issues … but they kind of don’t fit the game with its seamless nature and warping right into the mid of it.

I think the individual buidings should have shields that are surface comforming but blown up about 50 to 250 meters. Then there could be weakpoints that bombers could attack.

The defenses need to be beefed up majorly yes. I agree with what you said there. Short range weapons like they have now. Then add Flacks. Then add Medium Range Mk5s. Then Add Mk7s. Then add the 50mk thing or Torpedo launchers.
And finally some special Installations with the “BIG GUN” that should be visible from hundreds and hundreds of kilometers, shredding enemy ships as they try to come in.

Base shields … or as an alternative repairing … would help to defend against small fleets or squads.
Not everything has to be shielded the same though. The spawn, the “BIG GUN”, the Hauler Dock, the central factory or base building and the reactor could all have very strong shields. Yet everything around it does not have to be. Resource tanks, the antenna, the turrets and connecting components still could be taken out by bombers.

Brute force with a giant fleet should be possible. It opens up more optens. The drawbacks are obvious. It is slow and may not even be able to project much damage with even thicker atmospheres that forces them to stay up high and to divert much power to their flight systems.


As for your idea. Both could be realised with the current Hauler. It could get some other modular cargo “SKYSCRAPER” Containers but otherwise stay similar.

I wonder though, especially for the hauler idea. What is the fun in that? NPC haulers are currently severely handicaped by flying a set route and only flying a set maximum warp speed. A player wouldn’t have any of these restrictions … not much of a defence could be made to stop those just warping right wherever they want.

Also don’t forget the carrier that currently also is a bit low on “stuff to do”. I rather have roles assigned to it then open another route that needs to be fleshed out.

I would like to hear what some plausible fun things could be for the suggestion you made.

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#4

Having given some thought about planetary invasions, people in discord did raise up problems that could be caused by ground collision simulations and so on, but it did prompt a new version of sorts of the concept.

Anyone here familiar with Sins of a Solar Empire? The halo Mod specifically.

The UNSC faction when it goes to bomb a covenant world is equiped with a fairly cool and unique graphical effect. Where all other mods see nukes and such being launched, the UNSC faction instead fires out transport pelicans as it’s ‘bomb’. On landing, these pelicans cause a graphical damage effect on the target planet which looks like a massive major war is taking place. Under continuous bombardment, these effects grow to look like a war is ongoing.

So, I want to adapt this idea a bit in place of a troop transport. Lets take our Carrier, as you mention Lomsor.

Carrier comes into high orbit, say 60 KM above the Base/Factory. Upon switching to bombardment, since the shields are too tough atm and flak is being a nuisance for the bombers, you fire out Drop pods in a visual swarm of pods, and these would drop down warhammer 40k style onto the battlements. The idea here is a orbital insertion of a army onto the surface. On landing, this creates a damaging and supressing aura that, while not dangerous to the factory or so on, is dangerous to the lower health flak guns and such in the area. graphically, what you would see here is a represented Battle occuring in the area for a time. Little explosions left and right and what looks like bullets going from one side to the next in the zone, as if the local army is fighting your hotdrop force. This long range attack would damage flak guns and suppress them in a decently large zone, creating a opening in the thick AA for your bombers to get through. The AOE would need to last a while, 20 seconds a drop perhaps, with the carrier only having a few of these army drops available. But in doing so, the Carrier fills at least part of the role of being a large fat transport and a orbital assault ship as well.

It’s nice and simple, doesn’t require AI troops on the ground, and can be counted as Ammo of sorts for the carriers involved and has little more then a particularly face graphic of a battle occuring during it’s duration on the ground.

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#5

Give player controlled haulers similar limitations. Make gravity/atmosphere/space magic have a stronger impact on their warp acceleration, give them a lower max warp speed, give them huuuuuge emissions so people can pick them up from anywhere in orbit. There are ways to make it interesting to both sides of the conflict.

There are also other possibilities. I’m still picking up the mechanics here, but as I understand it carriers can only spawn a certain number of ships before they’re spent. If that’s true, maybe a hauler can resupply that? Let’s say the player picks a hauler in the spawn menu. When they spawn, they have some special ammo resource akin to mines, torps, chaff, etc. If they get within range of a carrier, that resource is spent to reload the carrier similar to the way rearming works for Corvettes.

The danger then of course becomes enemy players tracking your haulers back to the carrier.

This is my first time hearing about the Big Gun, but it sounds like it’d address a lot of these issues single-handedly (single-barreledly?)

#6

@Satur9

There are also other possibilities. I’m still picking up the mechanics here, but as I understand it carriers can only spawn a certain number of ships before they’re spent. If that’s true, maybe a hauler can resupply that? Let’s say the player picks a hauler in the spawn menu. When they spawn, they have some special ammo resource akin to mines, torps, chaff, etc. If they get within range of a carrier, that resource is spent to reload the carrier similar to the way rearming works for Corvettes.

A much simpler solution that fits in more with the current game.

A transport/ support module for a cruiser or carrier that gives it the repair/resupply functionality of a corvette but for capital ships. So within a bubble of 1km a friendly cruiser or destroyer can be repaired resupplied.

This repair/resupply would be tied to a support pool that can be resupplied at stations/facility .

No need to create a new class or ship and players can still play the support/transport role but in a more fitting role.

This can even be extend to repairing damaged stations or bases.

#7

Unless it changed recently, carriers have no spawn limits.

#8

“Resources / Ammo / Pool” could be a type of ammo like we currently have in the game. Already certain weapons share ammo types.

These things already get resupplied at a dock.

Spawning could take from the same or different pool.
Different pool is easier to balance but more complicated for the player.

If it is done that way there either has to be a strict “top down” hierarchy or very much care put in balancing, because else there could be situations where a couple of ships could boost their supplies just by handing them in circles.