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    Devblog 2017 - 09 - 21

    Discussion in 'Game News' started by schema, Sep 21, 2017.

    1. schema

      schema Cat God

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      Greetings Citizens,

      One of our recent streams showcased the new Power System we’ve been working on. This is the dev blog that follows up on that. In case you’ve missed it, we’ve made a stream highlights video you can watch here:




      Power
      Most of what we’ve shown works exactly as described here: StarMade Ship Systems 2.0


      The difference now is that we have a fully functional system in-game. What follows is a summarisation of everything that was mentioned in the stream. Keep in mind what was shown is an internal dev-build. This is a Work-in-Progress, everything is subject to change. The user-interface is for development and debugging purposes only, it requires a lot of improvements to be user-friendly.


      We started with showing how to make a simple, functional reactor that provides power.


      [​IMG]
      There are two block types involved, the reactor blocks on the right and their counterparts, the stabilizers on the left. Stabilizers are not required for small reactors, but are necessary for improving the efficiency of larger reactor setups.


      As you can see, the stabilizers are colour coded to visualize their efficiency. Full green (most efficient) > full red (least efficient) and everything inbetween a mixture. In addition to coloring, a numerical value for stabilizer efficiency appears when looking at each block and we’ll make sure to add more context based information where needed. The distance required between these two groups depends on the size of the active reactor, and if you build stabilizers below the optimal range, they’ll lose efficiency, and you need more of them to stabilize the reactor.




      The power reactor blocks can be linked to chamber blocks with conduits. There are a number of chamber types, each one of them offering effects and additional mechanics to enhance your ship/station with.


      [​IMG]

      In the above example, we’ve linked the power reactor to a mobility chamber and can choose a number of effects as the first node of the mobility tree. These chamber effects can also be applied on a sector level, a crucial component for our universe update to add more interesting areas to galaxies, such as nebulae and gas giants.


      [​IMG]

      Some chambers are a prerequisite for others; here we need to get an upgrade to the jump drive charge time before we can add an auto-charge mechanic to it.






      These chambers use “Chamber Capacity”, a point system that is the same amount for anything that has a reactor. Each chamber has its own capacity cost, limiting the amount of active chambers you can have at the same time.


      Minimum chamber size is based on your reactor size. They use a “step” system where the minimum chamber size only increases when your reactor size reaches the next step/threshold. This allows some reactor size adjustments without requiring you to change all of your current chambers. At the top of the reactor menu you can see both current reactor size and number of chamber blocks needed per chamber to function.



      Something we added recently is a chamber upgrade system. Instead of making an entirely new chamber group to get a buffed version of an effect you already have, you can now simply upgrade that chamber to the next stage in the reactor menu. A Level 3 top speed chamber would have been three separate chambers before, but now you can simply upgrade it on the spot. Note that you do not need extra resources to upgrade its level, only additional Chamber Capacity.




      You’re also able to switch reactors on the same ship, allowing you to have multiple chambers and power configurations with added redundancy, at the cost of extra mass and resources.

      Switching reactors does take time and can leave you defenseless when done at the wrong moment.


      For now, we can only switch reactors through the reactor menu, however we’ll add more options for that later in development.



      The next new mechanic we demonstrated, was the power priority system and the power consumption change. Any system that consumes power has two states. A resting state where it’s not being used but can still require some power to keep itself charged; as well as a usage state, where it’s consuming power over time to reload/reset till the resting state is reached again.


      For weapons, this means that you will require some power regen to keep any of them charged and ready to fire. After you’ve fired it, you’ll use more of your power reactor’s regeneration to reload the weapon.


      If a system receives less power than it needs, it will still recharge but at a reduced efficiency. In case it is truly devoid of power, it will stop functioning entirely.



      You can determine which systems get priority over others by simply re-ordering systems in a menu. We’ve also added a power priority option for docked ships and turrets.


      [​IMG]




      Something we’re still working out is the damage system for reactors. Although conduits are required to build a functional tree, losing them in battle will not result in losing the functionality of its connected chambers.
      Instead, we’re opting for a generalized Reactor HP system, similar to Structure HP we have right now. Different reactor block types will offer different HP, and losing HP will result in chambers shutting off at certain thresholds.




      The last feature we demonstrated was the built-in ship systems. Any ship with a reactor now gets access to a mediocre jump-drive and a scanner. The jump-drive’s strength/speed currently scales with its reactor size and the ship’s mass. With chambers, you’re able to add extra functionality to your jump-drive such as auto-charge, power consumption efficiency changes, jump distance and amount of jumps a single charge can hold.


      Jump inhibitors are similar but need a specific chamber first before it is usable. One of their final upgrades would be a jump interdiction field, dropping nearby people out of warp.


      Warp gates get similar chambers, where one of the last upgrades would be the “free target” mechanic. This would allow ships passing through a warpgate to jump to any location in a set distance, even if there is no linked warpgate there. The warp gate will try its best to send you to that destination but would avoid stars and planets, even stations if there is a jump interdiction system.


      Radar jammer and cloak are also built-in now but require a chamber before they’re usable. They’re combined into one functionality called the “stealth drive”, and has a limited usage time unless you upgrade it with another chamber.

      You can still counter the stealth drive with your scanner, although now we use a strength system to determine what happens. Depending on the difference between your scan strength and the stealth drive’s strength, the stealth drive stops functioning completely, or partially, or is not affected at all.


      The scanner, besides anti-stealth and long-range map information, also receives extra functionality for combat information. Depending on its strength and your target’s defensive measures, you gain access to different levels of vital information.

      We’re still working on balance, but an example shown in the stream was system group highlighting.

      [​IMG]


      Additionally, we’ve added a new config editor for chamber effects, and updated the normal block config editor for the chamber blocks, allowing anyone to tweak or add their own chambers.


      [​IMG]









      Repulsors
      While working on the power system, we had the idea to add a new functional block to the game, something that was extremely fast to implement (although not as fast to balance). The new Repulsor block uses your onboard thrust to provide a push force on itself, allowing you to effectively hover your ship in a gravity well. We demonstrated this on a planet. They also work outside of a gravity source as then the repulsors function slightly different to make sure they also push you down when you’re getting further away from a surface.


      Repulsor settings can be changed in the thrust configuration menu, and the repulsors themselves can be toggled on/off on your hotbar. Their strength depends on how much of your thrust you divert to them.

      We’ll most likely add logic control to them too.






      FAQ
      • Does the chamber <-> reactor distance requirement also work in a diagonal direction as well as a straight line?

        • Yes.
      • Why do those chamber blocks have shards?

        • Currently, we use the resource overlay system to show if a chamber is in use or not in our testing phase.
      • How does this work for small fighter sized ships?

        • The same for any ship size, the config is made to make any volume to surface area ratio work.
      • Can’t you make a massive weapon that can fire once?

        • No, each usable system requires a bare minimum of power regeneration even to fire once. There’s also a top-off rate mechanic that makes any ready to use system, consume some power still.
      • Do you need conduits to connect a reactor with stabilizers?

        • No, you only need conduits to connect reactors with chambers. The stabilizers work connection free and only care about the current active reactor.
      • Does this mean ships will become smaller than previously, as in needing less blocks?

        • No, you’ll just need fewer system blocks to build any of these ships.
      • Reactors on docked entities/turrets? Power inherited from parent ship?

        • There can be only 1 active reactor on the entire entity, including its docks. If you dock a turret with its own reactor to a ship that already has one, the turret’s reactor will simply disable and inherit its power instead. It always looks at the root structure, if that has no power reactor, nothing docked to it will have power either.
      • Will chambers only apply their effects when parent reactor is active?

        • As there can only be 1 reactor on the entire entity, its chambers will also apply for the entire entity
      • What about jump inhibitors?

        • Jump Inhibitors are still available, but are now accessed through a chamber tree.
      • How do you switch reactors?

        • Currently, there’s only a user interface option, but we’re planning to add more options there.
      • Do conduits need to be orientated?

        • No, they only require to touch sides to form a connection.
      • What is the motivation to actually make separate reactors when you can just put every chamber on your main reactor and not have to suffer the downtime when switching?

        • Scanning will not show inactive reactor groups; your other reactor may only have minimal damage.

        • Reactor HP is tracked for each group; you can switch if your 1st reactor is heavily damaged and get quite a lot of your original power regeneration back. Depending on the situation, the new chambers may not be initialized fast enough.

        • You can only have a limited amount of chambers active at the same time (determined by chamber capacity), you can have a separate offline reactor with different chambers to fit your need. An FTL specialized reactor for travelling and a Salvage specialized reactor for when you find some asteroids.
      • Will we be able to use the old system still?

        • Yes, there will be a config option to disable/enable the old system. When it’s still enabled, a structure will switch over to the new system as soon as one of the new reactor blocks is used.
          If the old system is disabled, all old power related system blocks will be inert and only serve as decoration.
      • Can priorities be controlled with logic?

        • No, it’s not currently planned.
      • Will we able to use logic with the chambers?

        • We would like to have it in some shape or form, but we’re not sure yet how as it could cause some stability/balance issues.
      • Will there be a designated filling block?

        • At this stage, we don’t see the need for it. Basic hull already serves that purpose quite well but also depends on more user feedback.



      Thanks for playing StarMade,


      ~ The Schine Team
       
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    2. Mr.Steam

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      Will repulsor block still work if upside down? Will they hover higher if they get more thrust?
       
    3. Tunk

      Tunk Who's idea was this?

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      Cant say Im a fan of minimum chamber size based on reactor size tier.
      Would prefer the old system of percent effect as this removes many design decisions.
       
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    4. silverfoe

      Joined:
      Sep 12, 2017
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      [​IMG]
      No but seriously though, sounds awesome.

      I do not see whats stopping people from making stick like ships of reactors and stabilizers in max box dimension for optimal distance. I personally don't care if people make ugly ships apart from thin ships being annoyingly hard to hit. My main concern however, is people would opt for ships with more exposed polygons and performance is a lot worse. I can see filler blocks in a hull will be just a waste, since it would be more wise to instead make more reactors by making the ship longer rather than basic armor.
       
      #4 silverfoe, Sep 21, 2017
      Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
    5. kiddan

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      I might be misunderstanding the question, but aren't shields and thrusters somewhat filler blocks right now? Currently, I don't see why a player would choose (for the most part) decorative blocks or air over shields or thrust.
       
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    6. Crimson-Artist

      Crimson-Artist Wiki Administrator

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      will there be special station only chambers for scanning? for instance could there be a scanner tree that allows stations to periodically scan a system and send any relevant information to the players/factions map? In other words listening outposts so that players have a reason to build more than one space station.
       
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    7. kiddan

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      Plus, this would deter warhead greifing on more advanced stations. A more powerful stealth bomber carrying warheads would be required to withstand the station's scan power. =)
       
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    8. DevajC

      Joined:
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      Love this update but I have a few questions:

      1.Will the repulser blocks now serve as "stop effect" for hovering in gravity wells? Can you determine how high you hover? Can they be used to make "cars" inside space ships or only stations?

      2. This post says under FAQ that we cant make " one shot" weapons, but in the stream highlights someone said we could. Can you clarify? Did you change something?I assume you meant we can make 1 shot weapons BUT just we still need to be able to power them slightly so nothing too over the top.

      3. Will you make another post explaining all the chamber effects in detail? You didnt cover shields.

      4. I think you should let us inherit power from docked ships and turrets. Because you have effecitvly killed multi part "component" ships. Like the transforming mech fighters! How will stuff like that work now?

      And you have also killed "generic turrets" because now we have to make sure our mother structure/ship has to be able to power everything connected to it instead of just serving as a connection point. Lets say I made a huge turret that is self powered and can be used anywhere, I cant use it anywhere anymore unless I slap down enough reactors. Which is unrealistic. The thing is docked to only needs to serve as the pivot point, not the power source.

      Other points:

      Id love to see a designated filling block which doesnt weigh as much as hull. And also id love if we could determine which of the 3 "shades" the current armor blocks would be without having to pick between basic, standard, or advanced. Please! It will open up more customization because the shades are all very different, and I want to be able to pick how my ship looks without making it weaker/heavier. Hull colour shouldnt determine anything.

      Love how chambers have to be connected with conduits, it makes it even more of a "building game" but you need to make it so the connection is lost if they get destroyed in battle, otherwise whats the point of even having conduits?? Players can choose to armour them up or leave them exposed.

      Also upgrading chambers should cost resources. Its too easy otherwise.
       
    9. kiddan

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      In the stream the repulsors only worked if they were facing a block on another entity. As for hover height, the hovering ship in the gif above is floating higher than the example in the stream, which had half as many repulsors. So maybe?
      --- Updated post (merge), Sep 21, 2017, Original Post Date: Sep 21, 2017 ---
      The arms, legs, etc will gain power from the torso (if it's the mothership). Seeing as you won't need to worry much about space for power blocks on small ships, power generation on the arms might not be necessary.

      This is a good point.

      You need a larger reactor to support more upgrades on your chambers, IIRC. So you do have to manufacture, buy, or loot more resources to 'upgrade' your ship with. =)
       
    10. Ryuusei

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      Good update!

      Though, I do have a few questions/concerns/comments after reading it.

      Good to know this. However, it brings up the question: What constitutes a "small reactor"? One block? 10 blocks?
      Additionally, you say it isn't required for a small reactor to have stabilizers. Does that mean small reactors will run at a slightly reduced efficiency w/o the stabilizers, meaning they are not required, but optional, or will they run at 100% efficiency, regardless if stabilizers are present or not?

      I absolutely love this. The color-coding takes out a lot of the guesswork when making your power system. No need to crunch numbers or blindly place stabilizers in areas of a ship with a huge reactor, hoping that they are efficient.

      Brilliant!

      Nebula and gas giants?
      Oh, hell yeah. Will absolutely love seeing those!
      Can't wait!

      I guess the term "Tech Points" was now replaced with "Chamber Capacity"? Good. sounds A LOT better (if that is the case).

      Additionally, love the idea of having the "step" system for the chambers. It would be a complete and total pain and waste of time to have to change all of your chambers whenever you added or subtracted a single reactor block.

      Nice to see this. No need to have multiple chambers dedicated to a single effect. But rather, have one chamber that incorporates the same effect on a tiered/leveled basis.

      Should help save on resources, build time, and reduce overall mass.

      This has me a little on the worried side.
      Does this mean that the relative size of the reactor will affect the base recharge for weapons?
      As someone that is a fan of the railgun setup (cannon-cannon), having that super fast recharge helps with keeping the pressure on an enemy ship/station, mostly to keep the shields at bay. This helps so that I can use missiles to break through the hull/armor to get to the systems I am attempting to take out.

      So, if reactor size is going to affect base weapon recharge, this could present a problem during ship construction, as smaller size ships may face a weapon recharge penalty simply because they are small.

      Of course, this worry can be completely unjustified if a weapon's power regen requirement is based on how many blocks it has, but that was not stated in this dev blog.

      So, does this mean that the corresponding computers and modules are going to be removed, or will they remain in-game as a means to help add to efficiency should the player choose?

      The way that the paragraph is worded, "gets access to a mediocre jump-drive and a scanner" leaves me to believe they will be, but a nice, solid answer would be awesome.

      Oh, I love this idea.

      One question of this, though: Would those Jump Inhibitor fields become static, remaining in the system/sector until it is used somewhere again, or will there be a set duration and the field would need to be re-applied?

      I noticed that term "toggled on/off" in this portion.

      For the sake of single player games, will this mean that you can have your ship hover inside the gravitational field of a planet, and the repulsors will remain active if I leave the ship core, allowing me to disembark without fear that my ship will come crashing down on my head, or will I still have to leave my ship in orbit and use a shuttlecraft to go to the planet surface (or worse, find a spot on the planet to land)?


      Overall, liking a lot of what is happening, but some lingering questions are popping up, and I would love to see some answers.
       
      #10 Ryuusei, Sep 21, 2017
      Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
    11. kiddan

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      In the stream, hovering ships were shown to work without a pilot. You can, essentially, idle your ship on planets. =)
       
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    12. Ryuusei

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      I see.

      Thank you for the clarification. :)
       
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    13. Cluwne

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      I swear, there is a conspiracy of stupid people to keep me permanently mad.
      It's not a "stop effect" - it doesn't neutralize gravity. It only pushes itself off of stuff.
      I fail to see the logic in that. If anything, it adds balance to turret spam by requiring you to actually have a reactor capable of supporting them. I mean really, how the hell does that even make sense?
      In every sci-fi game weapons, and by extension turrets, use ship's power source unless they use some special ammunition like missiles and stuff. Even then they probably use some energy for the reloading machinery.
      Those fucking nerf-happy people... Listen putz, they already have high cost of upgrading - they use the precious chamber capacity which you could have used for some other stuff, like Ion effects or something.
      WRONG Every reactor group has a fixed chamber capacity regardless of size.
      "Small" is under 10 blocks, if memory serves me well. At least that was in the stream.
      It's likely that there really is no "small reactors require no stabilizers"-rule but rather the number of stabilizers required scales with reactor "tier", which just so happens to have zero required stabilizers for reactors under certain tier. It's likely the result of rounding, since you can't place 0.0000000027 blocks.
      No, it only means what systems will get power first.
      The size of the weapon, or likely it's internal capacity divided by time or something, will determine the charge rate aka reload time.
      If a ship is a source of that effect, the effect will travel with the ship, unless the source is a station, then it won't.
       
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    14. kiddan

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      Aye, thanks for the correction. Could I have mistaken chamber size with capacity? Surely there was some form of scaling, not that your coloured font would constructively inform me.
       
    15. Cluwne

      Joined:
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      Every reactor group, regardless of size, gets a fixed capacity. Every chamber or chamber upgrade use certain amount of this capacity, again regardless of size.
      Chamber size doesn't do anything by itself. It's a constraint that simply forces you to make bigger chambers for bigger reactors.
      Now, scaling, you don't scale much with chambers. Effects are either "behavioral" or set multipliers and percentages.
      The only scaling things here are the power output and required number of chamber and stabilizer blocks.
      In it's essence, it's the same thing as with the stabilizers, where it requires a certain number of blocks depending on reactor "size".


      Speaking of power output, I would very much like to hear from Schine whether or not the new reactor power will scale the same way old power does.
      And, if it does, will AUX be removed with the old system or will they continue to function, after necessary changes to be compatible with the new system that is.
       
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    16. LoSboccacc

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      > Although conduits are required to build a functional tree, losing them in battle will not result in losing the functionality of its connected chambers.

      wait, what?? so what's the point of them? just making construction annoying?
       
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    17. Toshiro

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      Thank you for this additional information, however a little suggestion comes to mind:
      Could we attribute the role of chamber ducts to existing non-cubic pipes?
      This would allow you to avoid implementing an additional block in the game but also to join the useful to the enjoyable.
       
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    18. silverfoe

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      ooooh, listening posts, I like the sound of that. I could imagine it being like a sneaky station close to enemy territory (or inside) that does high resolution scans compared to regular ship scans.
       
    19. Cluwne

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      Hell, why only limit ourselves to scans? Why not do radar jamming to boot?
      Hide the whole damn site, or at least the station, docked stuff and players on it.
      Although I wouldn't recommend cloaking. The problem is that while your enemy won't be able to find it, you won't find it either.
      Such hidden stations wouldn't even need homebase protection, since if you don't know it is there - you can only stumble on it by accident.
      Hidden Death Star shipyard anyone?

      And as long as we're talking stealth, how about hiding a planet?
      The RP aspect alone would be exciting enough.
      Something something Star Wars reference.
       
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    20. Lancake

      Lancake Head of Testing

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      They won't work upside down in gravity wells, as they depend on their output direction then.
      For outside gravity, they do work upside down.

      They will hover higher if you get more thrust although there is a limit to its hover/repulsor range which is currently about 5 meters.
      --- Updated post (merge), Sep 21, 2017, Original Post Date: Sep 21, 2017 ---
      A valid concern, and it's hopefully something that will be pointed out by players that try out the upcoming public dev build.

      Both shields and thrusters have a minimum power upkeep, and consume more power when in use. You're simply not able to fill your remaining ship's volume with thrusters or shields or you would run out of power regeneration and end up with a non functional, expensive ship (or station).

      There will be station only chambers but what you suggest does seem to go beyond the scope of this update as that could be quite a complicated mechanic to add. Seems to belong more to the universe update as there a change in universe redistribution also changes the way player and map information would be obtained.

      1. They won't serve as "stop effect". You can determine their hover height a little by adjusting the amount of thrust you divert to it, its maximum hover height can't be changed though, at least for now.
        They can't really be used for "cars" on space ships, as the repulsors only try to maintain a set distance and do not inherit the velocity of the main ship. As soon as the main ship moves, the "car" would be left behind or get bumped around.
        For stations, repulsor cars will work just fine.
      2. Your assumption is correct, you can definitely make oversized one shot weapons, but you won't be able to do over the top stuff with it as you still need some power to keep it charge or even fire it.
      3. Our release update will cover all the chambers and changes we did.
      4. You inherit it from 1 entity, but it's true that some of the current modular ships wouldn't work as well with the new system.
      Correct, self powered turrets which allowed easy swapping before, are not possible anymore. We've had a few discussions about it and some solutions to still allow it, but all of them added quite a bit of complexity to power system and we're not entirely sure if it's a good idea to do that from the start.

      It's entirely possible that the power priority system will be enough to allow turret swapping without being over concerned about their power usage. You'll also have a bit more information to play with so it should be easier to see if the turrets on your ship are going to bring you in a power problem or not.

      Basic hull is quite low in mass, and from the data we've gathered, filling the remaining space of your ship with basic hull would in most cases, not even double your mass. It's not much of a concern to just tweak thrust values here, as the extra basic hull offers quite a lot of extra resistance before people start hitting your systems deep within the ship.

      As for the conduits, they're there to indicate which chambers belong to their reactor and also to prevent people from building chambers way too far as conduits would consume some power. Not enough to be worried about, unless you have 500 meter long conduits.
      It could be a nice thing to have, conduits as weak points but that also means we have to track a lot more reactor information on the fly. Keeping track of total reactor HP and just making sure the conduits add quite a lot of reactor HP themselves in comparison, could be enough to create a similar effect without the extra overhead.
      --- Updated post (merge), Sep 21, 2017 ---
      Power reactors add regeneration in a linear fashion, and you need (currently) the same amount of stabilizers as reactor blocks to make sure it all runs at 100% efficiency, excluding the really small reactors as they get some free stabilization.

      What does not scale linear, is the distance required between the reactor group and its stabilizers to reach 100% efficiency. As the usable volume vs surface area does not scale in a linear fashion, this is the method we use to keep it all in check.

      As a side note, the new power reactors offer less power regen than the old ones did. This does not mean they're worse, as any power consuming block also uses less power and is itself stronger. It was something we pointed out in the stream's chat yet forgot to mention here.

      Power auxiliary will have no function with the new power system, but will still work just fine for the old one. As soon as you use a new reactor block on your structure, it switches over to the new system and any of the power auxiliary ones would stop being relevant. There would be a config option though, to either disable the old power system completely or to still have it work till the new power blocks are put on the entity.

      Auxiliary did introduce an interesting mechanic where its efficiency also increased its vulnerability, and change the way how you would armor that. Although we're not 100% sure how we would apply this on the new reactor system, it's definitely something we would like to re-introduce if possible. It really depends on play-testing, if the new power system is lacking on that part or not.
      --- Updated post (merge), Sep 21, 2017 ---
      We definitely could use the LoD pipes for conduits up-close, then switch over to the current block texture if you get further away from it.
      A new block would still be used though, the current pipes are decorative only and should stay that way.
       
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