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    More Interesting Sensors (and some related things)

    Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by dwwojcik, Jun 22, 2018.

    1. dwwojcik

      Jun 22, 2013
      Disclaimer: This suggestion assumes that all the game mechanics it relies on work a lot better than they probably actually do. I like to think I don't have to compensate for AI and sector boundaries being shit when I imagine what I want the finished game to be like. The main thing that I hope will be added (that isn't confirmed or partially implemented already) that makes this suggestion better and/or possible:
      • Less dense galaxy- I think star systems should be at least twice as far apart than they are wide, and separated by mostly empty interstellar space.

      Disclaimer 2: My suggestions never survive contact with the enemy aren't as well thought out as they could be, so please discuss and help me refine my post. There are always a lot of things I don't think to consider.

      This thread got me thinking about ways ships could hide. (in general, not just from hostile NPCs) Right now there are two main ways to do that, either keep enough distance between the hider and the seeker, or use a stealth drive. It occurred to me that a cool third way would be to "go dark", as in power down your reactor and all your energy intensive systems so as to make yourself undetectable.

      Unfortunately with the way things work in the game right now, that's not really practical. Existing sensor range isn't long enough for that to make much of a difference, and it would make stealth drives less useful. So one thing led to another and now I'm proposing a change to the way sensors work, to give the mechanic more depth as well as immersion. I feel this is important because, in Science Fiction, finding the person you want to fight is often as important as actually fighting them, and a frequent theme is lack of sufficient intelligence. Starmade's mechanics could and, imo, should reflect that. My idea is to introduce two types of sensors, each with different capabilities and weaknesses.

      • Detects ships via "radiated waste heat from power generation" from very far away- defeated by simply not producing power, as well as with active countermeasures.
      • Long range as in star system spanning.
      • Transponder built into all ships informs anyone listening of basic information about the ship to make up for the long range sensor only providing position data. The transponder could be turned off if you wish to keep your identity hidden, although that will not hide your existence or your position, so it may appear suspicious and prompt investigation.
      • Passive sensor can be used without alerting target that they have been detected.

      • Scans ships by "shining electromagnetic radiation at the target and reading data from what bounces back", defeated only by active countermeasures.
      • Short range as in similar to current sensor range, a few kilometers. (by default at least)
      • Can only be defeated by active countermeasures- i.e. stealth drives
      • Also like existing sensors, and not unlike real world radar, sufficiently upgraded active sensors could be used to take a peek inside things to see where their systems are.
      • Immediately alerts target that they have been detected.

      In the real world, infrared sensors can be very detailed up close, and radar and lidar can show where something is at long distance. Despite that I think it would be for the best for gameplay/design purposes to keep things simple and just say you have long range and short range sensors, with their properties merely inspired by real world technology. Rule of cool.

      • Going dark forces you to shut down most of your systems.
        • Things you can use:
          • Communications receivers, basically just to receive sensor data from other ships, and to receive orders to power back up.
          • Passive sensors
          • Lights
          • Maybe logic?
        • Things you can't use:
          • Shields
          • Weapons
          • Thrusters or Jump Drives
          • Reactor chambers
          • Active Sensors
          • Communications transmitters (no sending scanner data, potentially causing blind spots for the rest of your team, and no sending orders)
          • Basically anything else I can't think of off the top of my head.
      • Sensors should require line of sight to see things.
        • Most of space is empty so you should be able to see most things most of the time, so this won't be too annoying.
        • Anything with a sensor in your faction should automatically share sensor data to make it even less annoying.
        • Being able to hide behind celestial bodies to at least briefly hide your actions in places where your opponent doesn't have full sensor vision could make tactical combat more interesting.
        • I don't imagine line of sight calculations individually are too bad, but I would keep it to just celestial bodies like stars and planets. The thought of the game having to check whether each individual drone in a huge swarm is blocking any view of any sensor to any other drone in the swarm makes me dizzy. Yeah it's safer if we just do only natural things that don't move.
      • I think sensors should cover a whole star system because a map view like this ATC radar monitor would be a fun and interesting way to view and control ships and fleets (military and otherwise) in a star system.
        • This is mainly where the whole 'less dense galaxy' idea comes in. If there's a decent space between neighboring star systems, the star systems themselves will become more important, or at least noticeable. In this case, a map that exclusively centers on a star system would make sense. As it is now, the galaxy is too homogeneous and star systems run together.
        • If fleet orders were given from star system map view, context menus could be used to streamline the UI. It's got to be better than a grid of boring buttons and text right?
          • If each star system (or section of interstellar space) had its own map, sector view could be removed from the galaxy map, reducing clutter.
          • The star system map could just work like the sector view in the galaxy map does, just dressed up to look not ugly, and with a view that defaults to perpendicular to the stellar plane.
        • A map view like that one would go a long way towards making the GUI actually feel like it's in a space game, which is an area where it is currently very lacking.
      • In strategic warfare, the ability to hide ships not using power would greatly benefit the defender.
        • The attacker needs to use power to move into an enemy system but the defender doesn't* need to use power to lie in wait in their own territory, therefore the latter has the option of keeping their forces invisible to long range sensors until the right moment.
          • *Stations supposedly suck ass, so defenders deserve this advantage. For this reason I don't think ships should be allowed to coast in dark mode.
        • These mechanics are primarily intended to improve immersion so a player controlled ship/fleet is always going to be making the best use of them. However I believe there are options for rudimentary commands that even dumbass AI-controlled ships/fleets can understand. For example:
          • Wait in dark mode until pinged by hostile active sensor, then power up and engage or retreat.
          • Wait in dark mode until hostile ships appear on passive sensor, then power up and engage or retreat.
          • Wait in dark mode until designated friendly fleet gives the signal, then power up and assist with their task.
          • Now what the heck NPC empires are going to do with this stuff… I don't know. But why shouldn't the players have fun toys even if the AI never gets smart enough to use them?

      Disclaimer 3: I've largely ignored the existing scanner/stealth system because I'm sick of writing this post, it's already way too long. I know it exists, it's just not very interesting.
      • Like Like x 3
    2. OfficialCoding

      OfficialCoding Professional Quickfire Hater

      Nov 8, 2017
      This is good.
    3. pigghoti

      Feb 8, 2014
      I would like to see this, maybe merged with the chat system? Jamming affecting chat?