The ultimate drone R&D thread

    Keptick

    Building masochist
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages
    4,035
    Reaction score
    1,787
    This post provides some insight on drone warfare and answers some fundamental questions on whether they should be used or not, as well as give some info on my personal experience with them.

    Drone swarms are incredibly effective when you take their mass into account. They also have the advantages of rendering high alpha damage long reload weapons useless and drawing turret fire from your main ship.

    For empirical evidence I tested out a ~2.5k total mass drone rack (more on that latter) against two different 6k mass ships (separately) and won both times with minor losses. Both ships were equipped with turrets, which quickly got shredded.


    However, due to the lack of proper AI drone control mechanics (I believe that it's currently being worked on), it's impossible to recall or otherwise control the drones after they launched, and redocking them all takes time.

    A solution to this problem is to use drone racks: I developed a disposable drone rack (to be docked on the main ship) that can be easily swapped out after a drone launch. This rack is also equipped with a system that ejects the drones in quick succession by using "beam-amc-push" weapons and logic by individually undocking and pushing the drones out. I admit that this last part was mostly to have a cool effect but also to keep the drones from causing mass collisions once they undock. For those wondering why I included that system into the rack instead of the main ship it's because there's currently no way of controlling the logic of a docked entity with ship board logic. One would have to undock them all and then eject them, which would cause more collisions and not look nearly as cool (and add some complication to the person actually launching them).

    Here's an example of such a drone rack without the ejection system in place:



    Here it is docked onto a ship equipped with an ejection system:

    Now, the downside of this system is that it adds the additional cost of the actual rack (although it's easy to salvage it, so it's really no that much of a downside) and that one doesn't recuperate/salvage the drones (because that would defeat the entire purpose of having a rack in the first place). The cost of a single rack of 22 drones featured above is currently around 15 million. Noot so bad considering that both ships killed during testing must have been around 60 million each. There's also the fact that there has to be a different left and right rack in order to properly launch them (this issue could be solved with a slightly more complicated ship mounted ejection system, but would require more then one button to be pressed by the player). Edit: I forgot to mention that a player needs to manually activate the activator located on the rack. However, @NeonSturm made an excellent suggestion that may solve this problem (third reply in this post).

    An other general downside of using drones, which will also be present once the AI control system is implemented is that drone swarms generally suffer small/big losses during combat. So there's a certain additional monetary cost required to maintain a fleet of drones when compared to a larger "single piece" ship.

    TL;DR If you have the moneys (or the motivation to salvage/recuperate) all the drones use drones (in a rack or not) as it will prove much more combat effective since swarms have a high effectiveness/combined_mass ratio. If you don't have the moneys (or time/motivation) stick to normal ships.

    Assault drones: The main attack force of carriers, these little monsters are a very real menace when in numbers.
    • Favored weapon: missiles
    • Strengths: Destroying enemy defences and ships
    • Weakness: Rapid fire turrets or drones (mostly drones.
    Support drones: Smaller than the assault drones, these are meant to provide support to the main ship by shooting down enemy assault drones and turrets.
    • Favored weapon: rapid fire cannons.
    • Strengths: Killing enemy assault drones, the rapid fire cannons ensure that most missiles get shot down before reaching the destination while damaging the enemy at the same time. Taking out small enemy turrets
    • Weakness: Enemy turrets, defence drones.
    Defense drones: These drones excel at shooting down enemy drones of any kind. They utilize long range weaponry to stay out of enemy drone range.
    • Favored weapons: Long range (usually cannons) with punch-through.
    • Strengths: Killing enemy enemy drones (especially support drones).
    • Weakness: Assault drones if they get too close (since they can't effectively shoot the missiles down).
    Speciality drones: This includes utility drones, hybrids or drones that don't damage the enemy directly.
    • Favored weapon: diverse
    • Strengths: Generaly mindf***ing the enemy
    • Weakness: Case by case.
    I originally made that drone rack for my work in progress titan (and have yet to install it) but also plan on using it on other vessels. I can release it if people are interested.


    EDIT: here's a link for the drone rack: http://starmadedock.net/content/drone-rack.1376/
     
    Last edited:

    Thadius Faran

    #1 Top Forum Poster & Raiben Jackpot Winner
    Joined
    Oct 13, 2013
    Messages
    5,104
    Reaction score
    1,306
    Wants drone rack for reverse engineering.
     

    NeonSturm

    StormMaker
    Joined
    Dec 31, 2013
    Messages
    5,111
    Reaction score
    617
    I made a dis-integrator launcher.

    Dock --next-> actModule --links-> Not --links-> TriggerButton & PushWeapon

    The trigger resets to false once something docks.
    The trigger cause undock. Undock cause push. (else the push may fire before the undock completed)

    You can link every second or every third to the same trigger.
    You can link every second+1 or third+1 to a delayed trigger (trigger1 -> 0.5 to 2 seconds delay -> trigger2)
    You can link every third+2 to another delayed trigger.

    ---
    @keptick

    Is it not possible to undock/eject the rack, causing it's area trigger to hit a part of your ship or another docked entity and eject the drones?

    I imagine a hex-drone rack like this:
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD 1
    ---+---+---+---+---+---+---
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD 2
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD

    ---+---+---+---+---+---+---
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD 3
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD

    ---+---+---+---+---+---+---
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD opposite of 1


    Getting ejected and cause the front drone ring launched in 0.5 second delays to the rear ones to not collide drones with your ship while it's ejecting the rack.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Arkudo

    Keptick

    Building masochist
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages
    4,035
    Reaction score
    1,787
    I made a dis-integrator launcher.

    Dock --next-> actModule --links-> Not --links-> TriggerButton & PushWeapon

    The trigger resets to false once something docks.
    The trigger cause undock. Undock cause push. (else the push may fire before the undock completed)

    You can link every second or every third to the same trigger.
    You can link every second+1 or third+1 to a delayed trigger (trigger1 -> 0.5 to 2 seconds delay -> trigger2)
    You can link every third+2 to another delayed trigger.

    ---
    @keptick

    Is it not possible to undock/eject the rack, causing it's area trigger to hit a part of your ship or another docked entity and eject the drones?

    I imagine a hex-drone rack like this:
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD 1
    ---+---+---+---+---+---+---
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD 2
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD

    ---+---+---+---+---+---+---
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD 3
    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD

    ---+---+---+---+---+---+---

    DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD|DDD opposite of 1


    Getting ejected and cause the front drone ring launched in 0.5 second delays to the rear ones to not collide drones with your ship while it's ejecting the rack.
    Ejecting the rack and having the drones automatically eject from it would be totally doable (and awesome), but the drone rack would have a high chance of getting damaged by the enemy in the process, which could potentially compromise the entire launch if logic gets hit...

    I do have the majority of the stuff needed for that system in place, though. As I already equipped the racks with a half adder that launches the drones in 0.5 second intervals. However, I believe that linking logic to docked entities is planned, so I'll just wait and see. Besides, I was planning to simply fire the empty racks at the enemy like harpoons (with collision damage on, of course) :p. Note that I'm really interested in your idea, I'll have to try it out :D

    On topic of the viability of drones, what do you people think?
     
    Last edited:
    • Like
    Reactions: Lecic
    Joined
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages
    569
    Reaction score
    220
    This post provides some insight on drone warfare and answers some fundamental questions on whether they should be used or not, as well as give some info on my personal experience with them.

    Drone swarms are incredibly effective when you take their mass into account. They also have the advantages of rendering high alpha damage long reload weapons useless and drawing turret fire from your main ship.

    For empirical evidence I tested out a ~2.5k total mass drone rack (more on that latter) against two different 6k mass ships (separately) and won both times with minor losses. Both ships were equipped with turrets, which quickly got shredded.


    However, due to the lack of proper AI drone control mechanics (I believe that it's currently being worked on), it's impossible to recall or otherwise control the drones after they launched, and redocking them all takes time.

    A solution to this problem is to use drone racks: I developed a disposable drone rack (to be docked on the main ship) that can be easily swapped out after a drone launch. This rack is also equipped with a system that ejects the drones in quick succession by using "beam-amc-push" weapons and logic by individually undocking and pushing the drones out. I admit that this last part was mostly to have a cool effect but also to keep the drones from causing mass collisions once they undock. For those wondering why I included that system into the rack instead of the main ship it's because there's currently no way of controlling the logic of a docked entity with ship board logic. One would have to undock them all and then eject them, which would cause more collisions and not look nearly as cool (and add some complication to the person actually launching them).

    Here's an example of such a drone rack without the ejection system in place:




    Now, the downside of this system is that it adds the additional cost of the actual rack (although it's easy to salvage it, so it's really no that much of a downside) and that one doesn't recuperate/salvage the drones (because that would defeat the entire purpose of having a rack in the first place). The cost of a single rack of 22 drones featured above is currently around 15 million. Noot so bad considering that both ships killed during testing must have been around 60 million each. There's also the fact that there has to be a different left and right rack in order to properly launch them (this issue could be solved with a slightly more complicated ship mounted ejection system, but would require more then one button to be pressed by the player).

    An other general downside of using drones, which will also be present once the AI control system is implemented is that drone swarms generally suffer small/big losses during combat. So there's a certain additional monetary cost required to maintain a fleet of drones when compared to a larger "single piece" ship.

    TL;DR If you have the moneys (or the motivation to salvage/recuperate) all the drones use drones (in a rack or not) as it will prove much more combat effective since swarms have a high effectiveness/combined_mass ratio. If you don't have the moneys (or time/motivation) stick to normal ships.

    I originally made that drone rack for my work in progress titan (and have yet to install it) but also plan on using it on other vessels. I can release it if people are interested.
    consider me interested in that drone rack. Also when you cannot link the logic from the ship to docked entitys. Do I have to go to the drone rack to launch the drones manually?
     

    Keptick

    Building masochist
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages
    4,035
    Reaction score
    1,787
    consider me interested in that drone rack. Also when you cannot link the logic from the ship to docked entitys. Do I have to go to the drone rack to launch the drones manually?
    Yes, that the main inconvenient (I'll add it to the main post). It can be somewhat mitigated by placing the activator closest to the core or using a second client (or friend) to do it. Neonsturn had an excellent idea which may make that unnecessary and would only require you to press a single activator on the ship (by simply switching to build mode I guess).

    @Megacrafter127 I accidently pressed post reply (I'm on my phone :P)
     
    Joined
    Sep 14, 2014
    Messages
    36
    Reaction score
    5
    So, generally the thought would be to have fighter sized drones, because then they take up very little space per drone and are very cheap, therefore you can have massive amounts of them, but what about sizing drones up a tiny bit and lowering the number? What if instead of a fighter you used corvette class drones, slightly less of them, but a higher vitality and effectiveness per drone, even the possibility to have a small turret or two on the drones so they have multi-directional fire. Do you think it would be more or less effective than smaller drones?
     

    Keptick

    Building masochist
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages
    4,035
    Reaction score
    1,787
    So, generally the thought would be to have fighter sized drones, because then they take up very little space per drone and are very cheap, therefore you can have massive amounts of them, but what about sizing drones up a tiny bit and lowering the number? What if instead of a fighter you used corvette class drones, slightly less of them, but a higher vitality and effectiveness per drone, even the possibility to have a small turret or two on the drones so they have multi-directional fire. Do you think it would be more or less effective than smaller drones?
    The thing that makes the drones effective is their small target profile, numbers and usage of the low block count bonuses. Increasing their size would significantly lower their effectiveness I believe. As for the turrets I actually have an other drone that would fit in the same space that's equipped with turrets:


    That's an extremely old version since I don't have a pic of the new one with the turrets firing.

    I'd have the perfect carrier for them (2200+ docks)
    Holy crap XD

    I think that I'm going to make a modular rack that can easily be modified with copy-paste. Might even make that a template actually!
     
    Last edited:
    • Like
    Reactions: marcus87
    Joined
    Jul 21, 2013
    Messages
    2,934
    Reaction score
    460
    Holy crap XD

    I think that I'm going to make a modular rack that can easily be modified with copy-paste. Might even make that a template actually!
    Aperture is going big and effective. ALWAYS. Except when @CaveeJohnson decides to leave forever, without giving the rights back to the builders of stuff:mad:.[DOUBLEPOST=1411255284,1411254650][/DOUBLEPOST]I shall link the thread: http://oldsite.star-made.org/content/aperture-laboratories-multiversal-exploration
    I literrally made 2/3rds of the ships in the OP and even a huge secret army for him. then he leaves forever without undoing the contract for future uses…
     

    Keptick

    Building masochist
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages
    4,035
    Reaction score
    1,787
    Aperture is going big and effective. ALWAYS. Except when @CaveeJohnson decides to leave forever, without giving the rights back to the builders of stuff:mad:.[DOUBLEPOST=1411255284,1411254650][/DOUBLEPOST]I shall link the thread: http://oldsite.star-made.org/content/aperture-laboratories-multiversal-exploration
    I literrally made 2/3rds of the ships in the OP and even a huge secret army for him. then he leaves forever without undoing the contract for future uses…
    Pffff, "contract". If you still have the blueprints use them!
     

    Thadius Faran

    #1 Top Forum Poster & Raiben Jackpot Winner
    Joined
    Oct 13, 2013
    Messages
    5,104
    Reaction score
    1,306
    If he is gone then the contract is void. If you don't believe that please visit a contractor and hand in your license. (You should always have loopholes in your favor otherwise it's not a modern contract :p)
     
    Joined
    Jul 21, 2013
    Messages
    2,934
    Reaction score
    460
    If he is gone then the contract is void. If you don't believe that please visit a contractor and hand in your license. (You should always have loopholes in your favor otherwise it's not a modern contract :p)
    I generally don't accept "modern" contracts.
    The contract with my ISP is old enough, that I could sue him if he ever throttles or (partially) blocks traffic. The contract theoretically also states, that if it expires, they have to offer me the very same contract again(maybe at another price, but all conditions have to be the same). Old contracts are awesome :3
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Lecic and Ithirahad

    NeonSturm

    StormMaker
    Joined
    Dec 31, 2013
    Messages
    5,111
    Reaction score
    617
    Ejecting the rack and having the drones automatically eject from it would be totally doable (and awesome), but the drone rack would have a high chance of getting damaged by the enemy in the process, which could potentially compromise the entire launch if logic gets hit...

    That is why you link your logic through an OR->NOT and put a few dis-integrators around it.
    If logic gets killed the OR turns inactive, not active and emergency-launchs (including collisions?) all your drones before the not is killed.

    Probably you can even just dis-integrate 8 docks with a dis-integrator between them and use a push-pulse. You don't have to spend hull on a simple rack-(dock line)

    Also turrets fire at closest entities first. Release a few decoys! but a little hard armour around your logic or make redundant logic.
     
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2014
    Messages
    1,293
    Reaction score
    229
    How well do your drones work against a ship with large swarm missile arrays?
     
    Joined
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages
    569
    Reaction score
    220

    It works like a charm and I found that rather than using one big array to push the drones out. Using many small ones fireing in sync works better.

    Also I found something different. Look at this picture and think about what happened here.


    That happens when you confuse you logic and jump when the ships are not docked when you engage the jumpdrive. So for a dedicated carrier you do not even need to eject the drones. Just undock them and then jump away :D
     
    Last edited:
    • Like
    Reactions: Keptick