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Headlights / Searchlights

While lights (with any kind of gameplay purpose) have been mentioned once or twice, there hasn't been a topic specifically about them.

Monday, December 9, 2013
JoshParnell wrote:I'll also probably experiment with "headlights" at some point this month, since people have asked several times about that feature and it would be easy with the new rendering pipeline :clap:
Fixed headlights are shiny but I can't see much of a purpose for them beyond being shiny.

They could be useful on small ships with great turning rates where the entire ship becomes the searchlight.

Now a Searchlight... that's where things get more interesting.
Spoiler:      SHOW
Searchlights search for hard-to-find stuff
(Bet you didn't expect that!)
  • Stealthed ships (mostly fighters I'd guess) are hard to get a lock on with "sensors".
    If they get caught in a searchlight, all their fancy stealth evaporates.

    That can also be used for missiles.
    A cheap missile might actually lose sight of a stealthed ship... unless you paint the target with your fighter's headlights.

    I could image "extreme stealth" missions like getting sensor info on a defended base where you have to "evade the beams" to sneak in close enough.
    (I played the bits off of Microprose's Night Hawk: F-117A Stealth Fighter)
  • Mines (the explodey kind)
    If they are very hard to find without a special scanner that ships don't carry casually, search lights would have another role.
  • Small pockets of precious metal that rarely pop up when working an asteroid with a mining laser.
    Hard to detect but if you have a good working light...
  • Different colours of light highlight different ore areas on an asteroid, letting you target distinct ores while accepting more loss on others.

    The red light shows you X, the green light Y.
    Fire up both and you get yellow light, which shows you Z.

    This way you can use "weapons" (searchlights mounted in hardpoints) to enhance the mining mini game... without an additional interface.
  • Targeting things becomes harder when someone shines a MW-ranged searchlicht in your face.
    Damn you, lens flare!
  • Optically tracking missile may be "stunned" when illuminated from the front.
Repairs / Salvage
  • Any kind of construction work is done faster if the ship / wreck is being illuminated by 1 or 2 external lights.
    Yeh, that's pretty gamey but who knows...
Weapon system interactions
  • Painting targets / terminally guided munitions.
    Your behind-the-lines missile frigate launches a swarm of FF missiles, aimed "to whom it may concern".

    Once the missiles get close enough to "see", you in your small and agile fighter highlight interesting targets for them without having to do a lot of target switching and button punching.
  • Lighting up a target confers an aiming bonus, reducing the spread of a long range gun below it's normal value.
    That's an abstract implementation of having a forward observer.

    As a result, lights may start to play a role in the energy distribution because you'd need a pretty bright light for a distant observer to get the maximum benefit.
    (I'm talking about gameplay here - too much actual light is bad for the visuals =)
  • The "detecting stealthed ships" from above could also work like...
    a stealthy ship increases the spread of weapons that shoot at it.
    Illuminating it takes away this advantage.
There is no "I" in Tea. That would be gross.

Re: Headlights / Searchlights

Lum wrote:It's cool because it will look cool on asteroids and abandoned ships/structures while exploring them, so... :thumbup:
Actually, if you mount two fixed headlights, you do get a sense of proximity by watching how the two cones of light separate.
A single light always looks the same from your perspective so it's not much help.

As proximity sensors go it's pretty cheesy but it's great for immersion because it looks real. =)
There is no "I" in Tea. That would be gross.

Re: Headlights / Searchlights

I like spotlights for mining and such, but I wonder if they'd actually help as an anti-stealth mechanism?

Why not have a radar, or some other EM scanner? You could tie it in with the command map, and that way you get this nice graphical effect of a spinning scanner-cone and bright "blips" of returning signals.... ooooohh... and THEN you'd have to interperet the shapes of the blips to know what kind of ship you're looking at!

Just like WWII RADAR operators had to figure out what they were looking at by looking at the shapes of the blips on the screen. It would be some odd shape -- didn't look like a plane at all -- but then they'd say, "Yep, that's a Luftwaffa BF-109 G, mayyybe an E model but... no, it's a G, looking at that engine shape, there." and all he's looking at is this little weird green blob that looks like someone spilled some ink or something.

But anyway -- spotlights, cool, fine. But I want a command-interface scanner-widget :D
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LT Dev Logs Project

Re: Headlights / Searchlights

I'm not sure searchlight should have a place in combat.

For combat we got enough visual fancyness in explosions, shield effects, weapon effects and so on. Adding searchlights on top of that would only be a bad thing IMHO :roll:

And not only visually but also for the player that has to manage them and probably have their hands full with all other systems that should be managed at the same time.

But I would love to see searchlights having a role when it comes to exploration, survey, mining, construction and salvaging. They could really make these "boring" operations come to life.

Traditionally these operations are "boring" both visually and only having repetetive stuff to do.

Imaging mysterious music, slowly gliding through a debris/asteroid field filled with thick dust along a straight path and directly controlling a combined scanner / searchlight tied to your camera sweeping around over the objects searching for something interesting.

It could even be useful for escorting to manually scan / search for lurking pirates with searchlights. If you have it aimed at the right direction just as the pirates emerges from behind a big asteroid you can perhaps gain those extra 10 crucial seconds to call in reinforcements or make your way towards that gate.

In this case I think gameplay > realism, a cool manually controlled combined scanner / searchlight would be much more fun for gameplay even if it makes less sense from a realism standpoint.

Re: Headlights / Searchlights

DWMagus wrote:Considering this is more than just a combat game; if I go to a system without a star, it may make sense since I have to do surveys or the like.
Also an interesting idea, I'm not sure there should be systems without any star at all, but I sure hope to see systems with a very feint one or where you can go so far away from it that it becomes pretty dark.

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