Drones! I love it!

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Drones! I love it!

Postby Robincnp1 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:16 pm

I was thinking attack/defense drones...thoughts?
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby BlackWolve202 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:27 pm

Maybe drones that could take up formation around a designated ship.

-Defense drones: Provide small shield pockets to minimize damage from directional fire.
-Attack drones: Provide short range fire, with rechargeable energy to give you the advantage in combat.
-Supply drones: If you would lose energy or suffer a shortage of missiles, these drones could hold a small amount of supplies you can call for when short.

These drones could guard ships or stations, unable to travel far, without upgrades.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby Katorone » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:34 pm

I'm a big fan of getting a few bigger drones and use them through carriers. For me it doesn't really make sense to send hundreds of NPC in battle when they could be safe on board the carrier, operating drones through some kind of VR interface.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby Banko » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:16 pm

What about drones that...
- repair friendly ship's hulls, modules and drones
- attack hostile ship's hulls, modules and drones (remember those little bug droids from Star Wars Episode III? http://bit.ly/1feJbte)
- collect ship debris and materials from space
- serve as antimissile defense (maybe shooting the missiles with lasers)
- serve as some sort of booby trap
- disrupt / mislead sensors

Of course, a drone type could serve more than one purpose.
Also, why not generalize drones into simple hulls with construction hardpoints? That way drones could just be using the same general mechanics as a normal ship. Furthermore, one could customize the drone and its purpose depending on its hardpoint configuration.
And what about different drone hulls with different mass, speed, toughness etc.?

At last, what about drone A.I actually existing as computer programs a player would have to acquire like any other item? The smarter the A.I. the higher the cost?

Anyways, I'm just throwing random ideas at the community, thrilled to see what you guys can come up with...
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Last edited by Banko on Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby McDuff » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:42 pm

What's the difference between an "attack drone" and a "ship you own and can give commands to"? Aside from the "production" vs "construction" method of obtaining one?

This is the sort of thing for which the need or obsolescence of a given idea depends very much on the way the kinds of problems talked about in the "NPCs vs Redshirts" thread play out in the final design.

If every ship needs an NPC pilot there'll definitely be a need for "attack drones". If it doesn't (or if the NPC pilots are stripped down for the purposes of making them less erratic and more predictable) then there'll basically be no fundamental difference between an "attack drone" and a "ship I own that can attack."
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby ThymineC » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:21 pm

McDuff wrote:What's the difference between an "attack drone" and a "ship you own and can give commands to"? Aside from the "production" vs "construction" method of obtaining one?

This is the sort of thing for which the need or obsolescence of a given idea depends very much on the way the kinds of problems talked about in the "NPCs vs Redshirts" thread play out in the final design.

If every ship needs an NPC pilot there'll definitely be a need for "attack drones". If it doesn't (or if the NPC pilots are stripped down for the purposes of making them less erratic and more predictable) then there'll basically be no fundamental difference between an "attack drone" and a "ship I own that can attack."

I imagine a ship as an entity always crewed by at least one NPC (at least if its functional), and a drone as an entity that is never crewed with an NPC. So yeah, I see attack drones as being necessary, but I want to split "attack drones" into several specialised offensive drones instead of just a generic offensive drone.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby Robincnp1 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:31 pm

What Banko said and Blackwolve202 said. Basically:
A non NPC controlled entity, as an assisting entity that can be acquired earlier on than other ships. Also as an expendable attack/defense/repair type deal. Possibly with different AI options: aggressive, hit and run, flank; point defense, repair, sacrifice to stop missile, suicide run.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby McDuff » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:12 pm

ThymineC wrote:
McDuff wrote:What's the difference between an "attack drone" and a "ship you own and can give commands to"? Aside from the "production" vs "construction" method of obtaining one?

This is the sort of thing for which the need or obsolescence of a given idea depends very much on the way the kinds of problems talked about in the "NPCs vs Redshirts" thread play out in the final design.

If every ship needs an NPC pilot there'll definitely be a need for "attack drones". If it doesn't (or if the NPC pilots are stripped down for the purposes of making them less erratic and more predictable) then there'll basically be no fundamental difference between an "attack drone" and a "ship I own that can attack."

I imagine a ship as an entity always crewed by at least one NPC (at least if its functional), and a drone as an entity that is never crewed with an NPC. So yeah, I see attack drones as being necessary, but I want to split "attack drones" into several specialised offensive drones instead of just a generic offensive drone.

Which is one way of doing it, but which could lead to duplication of effort.

If I research far enough down the "transport drone" or "attack drone" path what I'm discovering how to make is... a ship with an AI in it.

Or I could just put an AI in a ship :D
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby Behemoth » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:12 pm

You need to stop thinking NPCs as A.Is, but think them as individuals, with their own plans and goals, and who may be cowards, traitors or spies.

Drones however are disposable, maximally efficient, and follow to your orders, even if you tell order them to hit a brick wall.

Never underestimate the A.I.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby Banko » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:27 pm

So what exactly is the problem of seeing drones just as tiny, cheap ships with a slightly different behavior? One could get dozens, maybe even hundreds of drones available for the same price as a "normal" ship. (To clarify, when I'm talking about drones, I'm imagining them as sphere-ish structures with a diameter of maximal 1m, not those huge, plain-like predator drones the US government uses.)

Also, in which way would they pose double effort?
Since they are essentially the same as a ship, I can't imagine implementing them would be a big deal as far as development is concerned, since they wouldn't need any new mechanics.
Research like weapon and thruster tech could be shared between drones and ships. So even for the player I do not see any extra effort in having drones.
And if you don't want to micromanage them, just don't. Drones should be intelligent enough to be able to be left alone by the player, so one would never have to interact with them if one does not want to.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby AbhChallenger » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:47 pm

Personally I am against the idea of attack drones. It leads to drone spam (Want to down that big ship? Drop a brazillion drones on it) And lessens the need to rely of NPC members of the fleet.

I don't want the carrier to be nothing more than a drone transport. It needs to carry fighters with NPC pilots.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby Flatfingers » Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:03 am

Can drones, given enough resources, construct other drones?

Can drones use enemy-designated ships as construction resources?

If so, I shall seed space around my station with drone-making drones, programmed to make more drone-making drones, who are in turn programmed to make more drone-making drones, all of which will be told to use the nearest enemy ships for raw materials.

There's probably some sort of bad karma for me at the end of that process, but as a confirmed rogue scientist I can only see the mad beauty of my scheme.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby Behemoth » Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:02 am

Like here, exept with drones? Awesome.

If drones are ships controlled by a weak AI, could you have a capital drone?
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby McDuff » Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:38 am

Grey goo is, of course, the maximally efficient space weapon.
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Re: Drones! I love it!

Postby McDuff » Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:42 am

Behemoth wrote:You need to stop thinking NPCs as A.Is, but think them as individuals, with their own plans and goals, and who may be cowards, traitors or spies.

I do think of them like that. Which is why I'm pointing out that whether or not ships you own are piloted by them makes a difference.
So what exactly is the problem of seeing drones just as tiny, cheap ships with a slightly different behavior?

None whatsoever, that's what they are.
If drones are ships controlled by a weak AI, could you have a capital drone?

Entirely feasible. Why not?
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