Patch 0.2.5.0 - Weapons systems

#1

Patch 0.2.5.0 introduced new weapons systems and features, and some of it might require some functional explanations, so here we go.

Until then, we had one weapon ( the old “gun” effect ) which damaged shields then armor / hull. The amounts of damage on shields and armor was identical; shields were basically just a secondary health bar, slowly recharging over time. This weapon consumed energy and that’s it.

For the full patch notes, see this post:


Damage model

The first major difference with the old version was the introduction of a more advanced damage model. Weapons damage fall in two categories:

  • Kinetic damage
  • Energetic damage

Energetic damage is more efficient on shields, while kinetic damage is more efficient on armor. In other words, attacking shields with kinetic weapons does minimal damage to the shield, and attacking armor with an energetic weapon does minimal damage to the armor.

At the moment, that efficiency reduction is set ( for both types ) to 25%. If a machine gun shot does 60 points of kinetic damage, but hits a shield, it’ll reduce shield points by 15.


Bullets in orange/yellow and plasma shots in blue/purple


Weapons and hardpoints

We currently have 3 types of weapons, some of which have different variations based on the size/type of hardpoint it is mounted on. Hardpoints start at LMK1 and double in size. “LMKs” are for small ships ( up to corvette ) and “MKs” are typically for capital ships ( destroyer and above ).

  • Machine guns ( kinetic ): Mg-f LMK1, Mg-g LMK1, Mg LMK2, Mg MK1, Mg MK2
  • Blasters ( energetic ): Blaster LMK1, Blaster LMK2, Blaster MK1
  • Missiles and torpedoes ( kinetic ): LMK1

We’re testing various hardpoints size / locations on all the ships, which is why they look pretty goofy at the moment. Once we reach beta, we’ll finalize the geometry and hardpoint locations and move on to the texturing phase. So until beta, hardpoint locations can be tweaked.

Small machine guns come in two variants: Mg-f and Mg-g. The first one denotes a “fixed” forward gun which can only fire in the fixed direction it is pointed at ( the front axis of the ship ). The second one denotes a gimbal weapon wtih a few degrees of freedom. It still requires to point the ship into the correct direction though. LMK2 and above are all automatically aiming turrets ( corvette and above ).


Available weapon groups on a cruiser

Also note that we’ve introduced random spread to all weapons; the rule of thumb is that the smaller a weapon is, the lower spread it has ( very high accuracy ). The worst being for large capital ship weapons which have a higher spread and make it hard to hit small targets that are far away.


Ammo

Energetic weapons all consume a certain amount of points from the energy pool. We’re unsure yet if we should split the energy into two pools, one for weapons and one for turbo boost. Feedback welcome.

Kinetic weapons consume different types of ammo; we currently have 4:

  • 56mm ammo ( LMK1, LMK2, MK1 )
  • 96mm ammo ( MK2 )
  • light missiles
  • torpedoes

The amount of ammo consumed per shot is a variable depending on the weapon type.

In terms of design, we realize it’s a bit goofy that machine guns of different sizes / power consume the same type of ammo, yet yield a different amount of damage / different parameters. Ideally we’d probably have different ammo types per weapon type AND size, but this would lead to a high number of ammo types. Need feedback: does that sound like a problem to you, or is reusing ammo types for weapons of the same type but different size a non-issue ?


Weapon groups

Another major change is the introduction of weapon groups, mostly as a mean of control for the player ( instead of managing every single individual weapon ).

Small anecdote: in an earlier version, when we didn’t have weapon groups yet, the HUD was showing every single individual weapon. Needless to say, for a cruiser, the entire screen was covered with weapons :slight_smile:

Weapons of the same type ( and location, especially for capital ships ) get assigned to a weapon group. That group also belongs to a category: primary, secondary or special - which is in turn bound to player input.

By default, on all ships, guns are bound to the primary weapon groups ( left mouse button ) and blasters to the secondary weapon groups ( right mouse button ). Missiles can be launched with the special weapon key ( right-control ). There will be a key for counter-measures in a future patch too.

It is possible to assign multiple groups to the same category; for example, on a destroyer, small machine guns and large machine guns are both assigned to the primary group. Of course, depending on your target, you might not want to fire your small guns at all ( waste of ammo, too little damage against another capital ship ), or vice-versa, not fire your large guns ( if the target is a nimble interceptor, the chance to hit is too small, waste of ammo too ). This is the reason why weapon groups can be toggled on / off.

On small ships, some weapon groups are mutually exclusive. For example, on a bomber, you can switch between the missile and torpedo weapon groups, but you can’t fire both at the same time.

Here’s an example of weapons and groups on the interceptor:

  • primary group: left machine gun and right machine gun
  • secondary group: left blaster and right blaster
  • special group: missile launcher

Locking

Some weapons require a target lock before they can be activated. At the moment, this feature is only used for missiles, but in the future it might be extended to new weapon types.

Should gimbal weapons ( such as the bomber’s machine guns ) require a lock before they can shoot ?

Missiles locking is done automatically by keeping the selected target at the screen center for 5 seconds. There’s currently no visual hint that a lock is happening, but there is a sound clue ( you can’t miss it, it gets annoying pretty quickly ). It probably shouldn’t try to acquire a lock when the weapon is out of ammo, too :slight_smile:

Of course, it is possible to disable the missile group to avoid locking at all.

Question: should the locking be manual, ie. require to hit the special fire key ( currently right-control ) to start locking, then a second time to fire the missile ? There’s one issue with this: the bomber has 6 missile launchers, which means that it can launch a volley of 6 missiles at a time. The cooldown on the missile launchers is set to 10 seconds. The bomber has 18 missiles total, 3 per missile launcher. If locking is manual, the bomber would no longer be able to launch volleys of missiles at a target, making it less threatening…

There is also a safety-lock mechanism which can be toggled off in the weapons radial menu. It allows to fire missiles even if a target isn’t locked. In this case, the missile travels in a straight line until it hits something. While it’s not especially useful on moving targets, it might be occasionally useful on static targets.


Missiles and torpedos

Missiles have a lifetime of 60 seconds, and can do damage on a direct hit ( maximum damage ) or detonate on proximity ( for splash damage - in average case it’ll be around half damage ).

It switches from direct hit mode to proximity mode after 75% of the lifetime ( so, 45 seconds ) for some more reliable damage.

If the missile exceeds its life time, it explodes, doing no damage to anybody.


Incoming missile: the AI can fire missiles at you too

Missiles damage is currently balanced so that they heavily damage an interceptor in 1 direct hit, leaving it an easy target to finish off.

Missiles can be shot down, however due to their physical size ( 2 meters ), they’re almost impossible to hit, unless accidentely. I’ve occasionally seen a missile die when crossing a barrage of fire from a capital ship, so I know it’s possible, but I don’t really think this can be done on purpose by a player.

Torpedoes deal a lot of damage, but currently fly in a straight line and have no acceleration. They currently feel a bit useless due to their low speed ( 200 m/s relatively to the parent ship ), so you need to be super close ( < 1 Km ) to an enemy capital ship in order to hit it.

Both missiles and torpedoes deal kinetic damage - meaning they’re good against armor and bad against shields. There’s currently no missile good against shields, but we might add other missile types later on ( an EMP missile ? ).


HUD concerns

The introduction of multiple weapon types / groups has lead to a problem: multiple aim-at reticles.

Since multiple weapon groups can be enabled at a time ( at least primary and secondary, like guns and blasters on an interceptor ), and since weapon shots physically travel at different speeds, it means you can’t have a single lead reticle on the HUD; you need one per weapon group, since they’ll anticipate a different location on screen.

This is why in the current implementation you’ll see two reticles: white for the primary group and yellow for the secondary group. They currently share the same icon, but we’ll iterate on the HUD in another patch.

We need feedback on this multiple reticles system, and whether that makes the game too messy ( especially during action ). Unfortunately, the natural alternative is to only allow one weapon group at a time ( which would only need one reticle ), meaning that you’d need to actively switch between weapons all the time. Considering the damage model requires you to shoot either energetic or kinetic shots, being forced to switch all the time might be more than a bother.

If you have any ideas that would allow multiple weapon groups at once, but no need for multiple reticles, please let us know. I know Star Citizen utilizes a similar system, but unfortunately I only have a basic Aurora on my account, which doesn’t have multiple types of weapons, so I can’t see how they implemented it :slight_smile: If anybody is more knowledgable about SC, please let me know if they have multiple reticles too, or an active weapon systems switch.

Weapon groups are displayed on the top-left side of the screen. For each weapon group, from left to right, you can find:

  • an icon representing the category ( P = primary, S = secondary, M = missile or torpedo )
  • two numbers: A / B, where A is the number of weapons in the group having a lock, and B being the total number of weapons in that group
  • an icon representing the weapon type
  • an icon and a number representing the ammo type and count


Weapon groups (top-left) for the interceptor and radial menu

Weapon groups are also displayed in the weapons menu ( default: X ). Groups can be switched or toggled, depending on their exclusivity state.

Note that on some ships, not all weapon groups are enabled by default. So you might want to toggle weapon groups to adapt on your target ( ex.: if you’re flying a destroyer, targetting another destroyer, no need to use these LMK1 guns… ).


Not implemented yet

As this is the first iteration over the weapon systems, there is currently no way to repair armor ( although shields do repair automatically after 30 seconds if unhit ) and there is no way to resupply ammo to a ship.

In the next patch, we’ll probably add support to resupplying by coming to a certain range of an allied corvette. It’ll have its own internal resupply ammo pool to provide to allies. Undecided yet is whether the corvette will automatically resupply from its own internal ammo pool if it runs out of weapons ammo, or if it’ll be a manual option, or if it’ll be available at all ( feedback welcome ).

Counter-measures / chaffs are not implemented yet. We’ replanning on having chaffs for small ships, lasers as a mean of destroying incoming missiles on capital ships, and nuclear warheads as space-to-ground orbital bombardment.

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Patch and Updates Notes
#2

The tracking system in SC shows pips based on the projectile velocity of the type of weapon equipped. https://youtu.be/Fmf9hOpiooA?t=1m46s (video from older version 2.4)

Currently there are two weapons groups and you equip weapon types for each group - typically choosing the same velocity type to minimize wasted shots.

I don’t mind the multi-pip system so long as they don’t visually overpower your ship’s reticle. The current style in I:B is too large and opaque and the reticle gets lost in the two circles (especially when trying to hit a target only a few pixels wide).

On the topic of reticles this is also a reminder to bring back my baby! :sob:
IBhud

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#3

Oh, very interesting. So it does have multiple reticles, in fact, but they’re more subtle than what we have. Yeah, gotta work on the HUD :slight_smile:

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#4

That sounds good to me, would make it a bit more interesting.

#5

I’d agree with this as well. The timing of the current missile lock feels a bit long atm, but perhaps sensor upgrades could be used as a way of handling “Lock on” time adjustment.

Edit: Also, having a lock on indicator could help conserve ammunition on the Capital ship weapons, by only firing when a weapon has confirmed target lock. (they already do this to a degree, but adjusting the behavior a bit may be valuable)

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#6

The multiple reticles in SC are a big sticking point of annoyance for players, i would suggest finding a way to work around that issue. In SC most people pick their ship loadouts so their weapon’s velocities all match so they’re usually only dealing with one target reticle. If your intention is that only one weapon type should be used at a time and the rest of the game design supports that, two is fine, but if firing both at once is too effective then it becomes annoying to try to find an angle to hit both, right now we’re already somewhat in that direction with the two damage types but that may not be enough. The general principle im basing this off is that the “optimal” or “encouraged” way should have a good supporting UI, so you could change either the UI or the “optimal” to make things feel consistent.

Following from above, using both might be too effective right now for the reason that ballistic weapons only cost ammo. Ammo is a “long term” resource to be managed and wont be managed on the scale of a single dogfight, if you’re in a 1v1 with another player and its close, you lose nothing by just having those ballistics firing continuously even against shields. It may be worth it to have ballistics use 25%-50% energy cost to match or exceed their 25% effectiveness, in order to make them a less efficient anti-shield option not just over multiple engagements, but inside one engagement as well. This would also help with the “i can fire my ballistics and still warp immedietly” thing, but i think warp might need a separate pass of changes as it’s super strong in combat right now.

Note that the above also partially applies to missiles, but because you need to lock missiles and there are other concerns there like chaff that could be handled differently.

On gimbals: Not convinced on the function of the one on the bomber, aiming vaguely at the enemy and having the small degree of auto tracking feels unrewarding. I feel like we might as well stick to fixed weapons and turrets, or have the gimbals be manually controlled with the mouse. Some locking/ewar mechanics if they continue to be tracking is definetly a good idea though. One note: the target reticle for the gimbal weapon doesnt seem to be shown independently at the moment, but it would be nice if it was for knowing where to turn to.

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#7

I haven’t had a chance to dive into this patch yet, but War Thunder has all guns focused on a particular convergence point ahead of the plane. This allows pilots to at least compensate for different calibers because everything is locked to that point, and also keeps the targeting reticule simple.

#8

Based on my first impressions of the patch:

Why is the MK1 a 56mm Gun and not a 96mm one?

It’s just semantics. If you think of a clever name for these ammo “things” most of them can make sense. Ships may have ammo assemblers on board and just require basic materials or they might all just be called “General Purpose Kinetic Ammunition” and fit in every gun. Change the name and you can do everything.

I would suggest that the special key also acts as an “arm” button. The weapon(s) will be armed (if that weapon type needs arming) for a fixed ammount of seconds. The pilot has time to lock the target in that timeframe and fire. After that timeframe the weapons are disarmed. Timeframe may be extended when a weapon is fired with a second press on the special key.

I like it and after I knew which one coresponds to which group I don’t think it makes the view messy. It allowed me to line up a “double shot” where both reticules aligned nicely … and such. I agree with Matts pros/cons to this.

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#9

In War Thunder planes with guns of different calibres are all focused to converge at a certain point. That’s actually how it was in history. Offensive guns were all mounted in the wings and nose. As such, War Thunder has no “weapon groups” except for rear gunner mode. However, guns in I:B face in all directions so multiple weapon groups and reticles makes sense.

#10

War Thunder has shortcuts for firing large and small calibre weapons separately, though I don’t know if they are used much.
The reticle is using the large calibre guns, and can visibly jump when cannon rounds run out and it switches to machine gun. Though it seems that at the range where you are generally shooting at, the difference is small enough to not be a problem.

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#11

I can only speak for myself, but on the matter of weapon groups, I am certain that, regardless if mouse or joystick, I will always using my index finger as my “trigger finger” and will never bother with a secondary weapon group / right mouse button for continuous weapon fire (guns or blasters). Decades of muscle memory just make it too awkward for me to aim and keep another finger “pressed” at the same time.

Because of that, I would expect it to be fairly easy to switch between groups as needed (I would never see that as a bother, is there any shooter out there who does not feature constant switching between your weapons?) and so multiple reticles become an insignificant concern.

Of course, damage model efficiency plays a big role in all of this, and at 25% I see why other players might be inclined to want to fire all weapons at once. Personally I’m a fan of the “use the right weapon for the job” gameplay style.

On ammo types, I’d love more ammo sizes, even different ammo types within the same caliber, but I understand this might be interpreted as a nuisance by other players. I feel this is something which could be tested during alpha/beta by a larger number of players.

I don’t understand this part. If locking would be manual, would this mean that the lock is lost after each fire button press, as opposed to keeping the lock active with automatic locking? Why wouldn’t a player be able to manually lock, then hit fire three times in a row (at whatever interval)? In any case, if manual locking will happen, it should be possible for the fire button for that group to trigger the locking.

Regarding the corvette resupply, are there any plans for the release version to have some sort of animation when the resupply happens (some form of docking or flying boom, or drones carrying the payload to the target ship etc.)?

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#12

Good stuff here, so i got a few points to reply to (i guess most of this you already have in mind):

Different types of guns, all using the same ammo:

  • Railguns - high damage, low spread, low RoF, high energy required, no gimbal.
  • Machine gun - your default option.
  • Triple-barrel gun - shorter barrel, higher RoF, higher spread, can overheat.
  • Scatter gun - fires all stored rounds (up to 6), stores 1 round per reload cycle, higher spread the more rounds fired at once, hold trigger to fire like a machine fun or wait to fire more rounds at once.
  • Charge gun - auto: charges up every round, lower RoF, higher damage; semi-auto: higher RoF, less damage.

Basically have the guns themselves behave differently while using the same ammo type.

On the missile Locking:

Ideally have different weapons that behave differently, otherwise my deal setup would be:

  • LMB - fire gun.
  • RMB - fire missile/torpedo.
  • Hold RMB to lock, once locked click LMB to launch a missile, click LMB repeatedly to fire more missiles with each click.
  • Release RMB so you fire the gun with LMB, target remains locked.
  • To launch another missile simply hold RMB again and click LMB.
  • To release the lock: hold RMB longer than 1.5sec without firing a missile. The lock will never be released after firing a missile: you need to release RMB and start holding it again.
  • Lock is also released if target is no longer on sights longer than 1.5sec.
  • If a target is not locked you can still dumbfire a missile by quickly holding RMB and clicking LMB as usual.

Different missiles could have different tracking behaviours - some may require a constant lock, others only need a lock when launched, others are true FoF and don’t require a lock at all (but will track on their own, for better or worse).

Onto the targetting reticules:

I HIGHLY recommend checking out how Starsector does this: http://fractalsoftworks.com, you can basically copypaste their system (into 3D). But to give you a rundown:

  • Weapons can be grouped (i see you’re already doing that), then simply using 12345 to switch between each group.
  • Groups can be set to Linked - fires all rounds simultaneously.
  • If a group is set to Alternating it fires one at a time, equally staggered.
    I highly suggest your try it for yourself to see how it plays and feels.

While the radial menu is active clicking 12345 on each weapon to quickly add or remove that weapon from that group. Mousewheel is also used for weapon group switching.

As for repairs and rearm - would it be possible to have player ships berth externally with the resupply ships? Similar to how Homeworld 2 mining ships dock with a refinery - when a player is close enough to a berthing slot the ship will autopilot into the slot and automatically refill ammo, shields and batteries while docked. Just like this:

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