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Beams for lasers


brazouck
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I realy love the way lasers are depicted in Elite 2 frontier, but I think that the "red ball" of pioneer don't look good, are there any plan to change it for beam weapon ?


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fluffyfreak
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This has come up a couple of times recently.

There are no plans for anything, if enough people want it and a developer decides too make it then it could happen, alternatively if someone wants to add it then we'd be happy to review it and put it into the game.

 

You can change the art assets yourself (pioneerdatatextures | projectile_l.png & projectile_w.png) and you can change the colour of the current weapons by editing the values eg: "rgba_r = 255, rgba_g = 51, rgba_b = 51, rgba_a = 255" within the file: "pioneerdatalibsEquipment.lua".

 

Actual beam weapons used to be in Pioneer so the code is in the GitHub repository history but it might take some time to find.


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brazouck
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thanks, there are two projectiles image, what are they used for please ?


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fluffyfreak
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Well if you see another ship firing, or your own ship from an external view, you will notice that the shots are not actually circular.

 

They look circular because they are heading away from you when you fire them inside the ship looking forwards. The "projectile_l.png" is for the length-wise section and the "projectile_w.png" is across the projectile, so it's what you see from within the ship.

 

This is actually tough to describe in words so your best bet might be to try editing them and you'll see what I mean pretty quickly.


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brazouck
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ok will try, thanks


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DraQ
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I think the main problem with true beam weapons is that there is no real way of dodging them (you could only dodge them in FE2 and FFE because the AI was quite bad at hitting you), they deal guaranteed damage and with nowhere to hide they reduce combat victory to having bigger gun or more shields, so I'd rather have Pioneer weapons turned into proper projectile guns, complete with finite ammo and such.

 

Any beam weapons would require some more involved mechanics than just placing crosshair over target and holding fire to deal damage.


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 Anonymous
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Any beam weapons would require some more involved mechanics than just placing crosshair over target and holding fire to deal damage.

 

It would be easier, but not trivial. After all, they are moving targets, and NPCs could be programmed to be more or less good at diversionary maneuvers.


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DraQ
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It would be easier, but not trivial. After all, they are moving targets, and NPCs could be programmed to be more or less good at diversionary maneuvers.

It would still amount to duking it out in the open with a hitscan weapon.
And spacecraft are less twitchy and more predictable (due to inertia) than an oldschool FPS characters.
 
As much as I loved FE2 and FFE they didn't really offer much gameplay variety as far as combat was concerned (which is something Pioneer could and should do better) and I did play them mostly with 5MW pulse or 30MW mining lasers so I can vouch for this kind of gameplay just not being very involving on player's side.
 
Earlier versions of Pioneer that featured much faster projectiles in addition to an AI that could actually shoot to hit player were also nigh unplayable unless you had a bigger ship, with more shields and bigger gun, because you got vaporized in seconds with no opportunity to dodge incoming fire - it would get even worse with hitscans.


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Marcel
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Perhaps they could be used with the proper penalties. They could require a lot of mass to be effective. A beam weapon that could fit in a ship would only be able to inflict a minimal amount of damage, unless the ship was very large. I'm thinking beam turrets on transports and really deadly ones defending the stations.


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DraQ
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Perhaps they could be used with the proper penalties. They could require a lot of mass to be effective. A beam weapon that could fit in a ship would only be able to inflict a minimal amount of damage, unless the ship was very large. I'm thinking beam turrets on transports and really deadly ones defending the stations.

They would still be inflicting inevitable damage vs the avoidable damage of projectiles, so in combat against projectile armed ship you'd just have to stand back and keep dodging to win.

Low damage would merely mean that winning would be tedious.

Now, I do have an idea for workable beams.

The first step is making the damage avoidable again. A combat laser would basically work by drilling through the hull with repeated rapid pulses.

Sadly, this doesn't translate terribly well into a hull bar mechanics, but having to keep the beam focused on a single spot on target is something that can be made to work:

  1. Upon hitting ship's hull laser paints a heated, glowing spot on it - this, in itself, doesn't inflict damage.
  2. The spot is an object attached to the ship hit, complete with it's own hitbox, internally it has a counter and a timer.
  3. As the timer depletes the spot quickly fades and it's destroyed when it runs out.
  4. If a laser hits the spot, its timer (and visual intensity) is reset, the counter is incremented and damage is dealt as a function of counter (sub-linear, with upper bound).
  5. (after subsystem damage is implemented) before the counter reaches certain threshold the laser doesn't damage internal subsystems, it needs to burn through the hull first.
  6.  The size of spot's hitbox is chosen so that defending ship has decent chance at avoiding damage by maneuvering.
  7.  Laser is invisible unless one of beam's ends is in the atmosphere. 😛

I'd also include a particle beam weapon - big, heavy, very short range, dealing low damage but really good at destroying subsystems right through the hull.

 

Edit:

 

In any case I'd like Pioneer to have a full assortment of weaponry - lasers, particle beams, autocannons (around 1000-1500m/s projectile velocity, replacing current "pulse cannons"), proximity fused frag shells and multi-projectile spread ones as option for larger cannons, railguns (several km/s, slow rate of fire), drones and MRLS (unguided rockets fired in salvos) in addition to missiles, all on multiple selectable hardpoints. Also rocket and missile launchers that can be put on turrets.

 

That aspect was poor in original FE2 and FFE, there is no reason to stick with their approach.

 

Hell, even engines should cause significant damage (and physics impact) when fired directly at a nearby ship.


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fluffyfreak
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I agree with everything else you've said DraQ, except I'd keep the lasers simpler and make it a trade off of cost (more expensive), heat buildup (gets too hot to fire quickly), and tonnage (heavy, takes up lots of space).

 

This would be a good area to join in with the coding, scripting etc.


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Geraldine
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Since this isn't a multiplayer game I think it should be upto the player to decide how easy a time at combat they want. I too agree with DraQ but feel at present the difficulty of combat may be putting some people off the game. Of all the enquires I've had about Pioneer, its the weapons most ask about. I also agree with Andy, make em more expensive than pulse weapons or even raise the shield strength across the board for the ships to compensate for their use and raise the weapon damage for pulse weapons to compensate for that. This would increase the length of battles (if using beams) but it would also give new players more time to find their feet in the game and master the flight model.


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DraQ
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I agree with everything else you've said DraQ, except I'd keep the lasers simpler and make it a trade off of cost (more expensive), heat buildup (gets too hot to fire quickly), and tonnage (heavy, takes up lots of space).

 

This would be a good area to join in with the coding, scripting etc.

 

Making them simpler would retain the main problem with them - they are no-brainer damage dealers.

A practical laser should at the very least be useful against the smallest vessels there are.

The longer the distance, the slower ship has to turn to keep track of incoming attacker.

This means that ship big enough to mount laser will be able to melt attacking fighters without them being able to close in.

This means bigger is better which was bad in Frontier and which is something Pioneer should try to distance itself from because it kills gameplay variety.

 

Making them work the way I described would give pilots (both players and AI) way to avoid laser damage, that would be skill dependent and would make use of underutilized rolling.

 

I will join coding as soon as I can, recently I've had a lot of RL stuff just popping out of thin air whenever I wanted to get started.

 

Since this isn't a multiplayer game I think it should be upto the player to decide how easy a time at combat they want. I too agree with DraQ but feel at present the difficulty of combat may be putting some people off the game. Of all the enquires I've had about Pioneer, its the weapons most ask about. I also agree with Andy, make em more expensive than pulse weapons or even raise the shield strength across the board for the ships to compensate for their use and raise the weapon damage for pulse weapons to compensate for that. This would increase the length of battles (if using beams) but it would also give new players more time to find their feet in the game and master the flight model.

 

I think that misses the point. It may not be a multiplayer game, but it's a symmetrical one - whatever player can use against an NPC an NPC can use against the player and the rules are the same for everyone.

This means that if the player can cheese small ships with lasers without giving them any chance to avoid getting fried, an NPC in a larger ship will be able to fry player in similar manner without giving them any option other than reloading a save, possibly even not their latest one.

 

It would be worse than in Frontier, because the AI in Frontier was really bad at beam combat and I don't think Pioneer should have purposefully nerfed AI beyond trying to simulate human inaccuracy and reaction times.

 

In any case, Pioneer combat is bad because it's just not very interesting ATM. You won't fix that by stretching it out.

 

More nuance to weaponry and defences would help, switching focus from whittling away hull to subsystem damage would help, combat scenarios where the nearest piece of solid matter isn't at least a light hour away would help, changing those dumb pulse pewpews to conventional cannons with limited ammo would help, if only because it would make long distance projectile spam a bad idea (it's not like it would change much mechanically or visually beyond forcing combatants to close in in order to not waste all their ammo without hitting anything, and being able to close in without being continuously hosed by enemy "pulses" is likely to make combat less frustrating).


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Geraldine
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Yes I get your point DraQ and I am thrilled your going to start coding for the game, so well done you!

 

However (and you are preaching to the converted here as I would like to see different weapons also with their pros and cons ), I still get requests from folk who find the combat difficult as things remain at the moment. My thinking was if they could have more time on target it may help them develop their accuracy and tactics. In addition to the proposals you outlined there do you think perhaps the game could do with more assistance in targeting other ships?

 

I am not talking auto tracking gimbaling turrets as such (although that might be fun to watch and an extra challenge for those taking on larger ships with multiple hardpoints), but rather better indicators of when you have a target in your sights and stand a better chance of making a hit.

 

This was one of the reasons I liked the targeting tunnels in FE2, they gave you clues to where and how fast a ship was moving. These helped me no end in the original game. Of course things have moved on a lot since then. I am sure there are other options out there now that could do an even better job.


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DraQ
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Yes I get your point DraQ and I am thrilled your going to start coding for the game, so well done you!

 

However (and you are preaching to the converted here as I would like to see different weapons also with their pros and cons ), I still get requests from folk who find the combat difficult as things remain at the moment. My thinking was if they could have more time on target it may help them develop their accuracy and tactics. In addition to the proposals you outlined there do you think perhaps the game could do with more assistance in targeting other ships?

 

I am not talking auto tracking gimbaling turrets as such (although that might be fun to watch and an extra challenge for those taking on larger ships with multiple hardpoints), but rather better indicators of when you have a target in your sights and stand a better chance of making a hit.

 

This was one of the reasons I liked the targeting tunnels in FE2, they gave you clues to where and how fast a ship was moving. These helped me no end in the original game. Of course things have moved on a lot since then. I am sure there are other options out there now that could do an even better job.

Well, I already did some coding for Pioneer, but it was mostly a rather ugly hack for unmaintainable system generation code. I would be happy to rewrite the entire thing, but it would definitely need some time especially given that I may have insufficient astronomy nerd levels under my belt.

 

The problem with requests is that people often don't know what they are actually asking for.

They may think "if only I could actually hit the enemy ship with a beam like in Frontier", but what they would actually be saying should their wish be granted would be "AAARGH MY FACE IS BEING FRIED BY INESCAPABLE BEAM OF BURNING DEATH OH THE PAIN MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT END!!".

 

We've been through all this in earlier builds even though it was mercifully not lasers but merely faster projectiles.

 

As for autotracking, gimbaling turrets, I don't mind. In a game like this perfect aim doesn't guarantee hits and turrets should be a given at that tech level. I'd make all or most weapons available in turreted and fixed versions, turreted being much more bulky. Very large ships should even get multi-tubed missile/rocket turrets as option (each turret on ship should also allow manual control option).

I also don't mind having more and better HUD indicators of all sorts (but please, no "space dust") - flying a ship should feel like flying a ship so the more, the merrier.

 

Finally, regarding much of the combat mechanics I think I-War series would be a good role model - also Newtonian, much better combat than Frontier, mostly large-ish ships and most of the weapons were not only on autotracking gimbals but allowed subtargetting as well.

 

I really loved the shield mechanics BTW (basically shield generators were not cover-all but had to lock onto threat to block incoming fire actually covering only a very small area and not having ability to cover main thrusters), something like this could really come in handy in Pioneer, especially if we get things like deployable drones: basically - would you like a really mass inefficient gun (because of its own thrusters, fuel, avionics and sensor packs) that could attack from a different angle than your ship?


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