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how to mount equipment

#1
there has been a fair bit of talk about hardpoints, weapons, engines etc.
in short everything that gets mounted into and onto ships.

but theres one thing missing:
how do we actually get this stuff into hardpoints?

in freelancer it was easy, all ships could dock everywhere and you had to be in a hangar to switch equipment, so it was a given that you could switch equipment when you were docked.

the x-series made another approach: tjey didnt care, weapons switching was instantly and everywhere, even in deep space and combat.

freelancers approach cant really be used as we can build ships "in the free", that means out of any stations. potentially leading to ships that are too big to dock anywhere, and for stations its a pretty clear case that they cant dock anywhere, so how would they switch equipment?

the x series approach always seemed just lame and of the game design category "no design at all".
its just the laziest implementation which also seems cheaty to me.

so how do we actually switch equipment?
i made a few thoughts on that:

first: i'd like the process to be somewhat "real", meaning that you cant just instantly switch out your battleships main reactor without needing any prequisites, or short:
you should need a shipyard/drydock/hangar for doing this.

for outlining ideas to design this we first need to discern between the (in my mind) 4 usecases.
  • in hangar
    • external hardpoints (weapons, sensors, drives, etc)
    • internal hardpoints (generators, shields, production modules, etc)
  • in space
    • external hardpoints
    • internal hardpoints
lets shine some light on the single points
  • in hangar
    means everything that causes a docked ship to be out of view (fighter in his carrier for example).
    this case doesnt have any graphical/representation issues (or does it? we have been able to see our ships in hangars in the LTP... :think:) if the ships are visible there should be some graphical magic going on, similar to "in space")

    but it should have some (gameplay) requirements, namely it should take (some) equipment and whats more important: time.
    by equipment switching times zero, pre-battle preparations and scouting become less important, as you can just switch out your loadout("oh, they bought their slow long range cannons, lets switch to our short range rippers and hit them on short range where they cant hit us").

    for equipmend needs im thinking of an hangar "add on" component like a light mashine shop or even just a hangar.
    i'd personally prefer the mashine shop approach, as it gives you a choice to make.
    either you have faster re-equip and loose a hardpoint or dont use the hardpoint but can equip more other equipment.
    a combination of both would also worth considering.
    with a mashine shop its fast and easy, without it you can still do it but it takes much longer
    • external hardpoints
      are everything that you bolt on the outside of your ship and is thus visible all the time.
      i consider this kind of equipment to be pretty easy to switch out, needing only shorts amount of time and it doesnt take much infrastructure to do it.
      something like a "light mashine shop" or something
    • internal hardpoints
      are everything you cant see on a ships model, shield generators and production modules for example.
      these should take much longer to swap out than external equipment, as you have to deconstruct significant parts of your ship to make such changes.
      this may takes bigger equipment such as a "heavy mashine shop"
  • in space
    this is where things get hairy.
    everything you do happens in sight of the player so equipment plopping in and out of existence is a no-go.
    so we have to consider graphical aspects in addition to the gameplay aspects
    • external hardpoints
      i think the gameplay and graphical requirements could be served by the same mechanism: drones.
      they could physically carry the new equipment out of their carriers hangar bay and haul it over to its mount point.
      all nice, believable, visible and pretty.
    • internal hardpoints
      im a bit torn on internal hardpoints, as how do we display equipment that has no actual form in the game?
      well, a solution would be to generate a form for the different kinds of internal equipment and handle it like external equipment.
      having it carried around by drones and lowered into the ship through some opaque "force field" that gets established around the construction site (think of hangar bays in homeworld 2)
      having internal equipment having physical forms would have another advantage in prettiness: if you drop the equipment into space, for example for a cargo transfer, it would have a unique shape that identifies the object and not just be a random cargo container.

      another method, being graphically less challanging, comes without the need for creating object shapes for the equipment.
      instead of having drones drag the equipment have a ship dock at the location where the equipment is due to be changed and attach.
      this could be accompanied by some "auxilliary" stuff being extended to cover any areas that might be left open by the hulls f the docked ships
    drones could and should be limited in the size of equipment they can transport.
    for bigger equipment multiple smaller drones could attach to the same eqipment and drag it collectively
thats my few thoughts on this and would like to hear some opinions on that :D
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Re: how to mount equipment

#2
Can't I just use some duct tape?

Realistically speaking though, I'd like to be able to switch out via Freelancer's model with some additions. If you can dock to it, you can switch things out once docked (with minor exceptions such as you're docked to a cargo container about to ferry it through space). If you're a big enough ship (maybe over a specific size) then you can switch it out whenever, but it takes time to do so. Maybe some things shouldn't be changeable unless you're docked (such as your main power plant in ships less than a certain size or if it's your only one).
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Re: how to mount equipment

#4
I suspect that distinguishing between internal and external hardpoints won't actually deliver much gameplay value. Plus it will just offend the people who think realism is crucial for a space game. ;)

The real question would seem to be whether it's OK to prevent players from installing newly-acquired systems while out in space. If I discover a cool bit of alien kit, do I have to wait to play with it until I can fly back to a friendly space station or planet to install it, and then I have to wait for the game to to finish what it obviously just an arbitrary timer? How would that restriction make LT more fun for more kinds of players?

I'm not saying it wouldn't. I'm saying I'd like to understand that better.
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Re: how to mount equipment

#6
For big things, like stations or capital ships you would need engineers and time. For smaller ships you should be docked for everything that isn't easily interchangeable. I would say that weapon racks could be switched on the fly investing money in a proper system. So you have fixed hardpoints for everything or a mix of fixed hp and non-fixed hp. I think using this sort of system should be costly because bring some advantages in combat. Maybe a new fixed weapon-hp cost x and an non-fixed weapon-hp cost 3x or something like that. There should be limits of course. If a type of weapon is of a bigger scale, mounting it on a non-fixed hp practically makes it fixed, since you can't rotate the mechanism.

It's again a little late, I'm sorry if I can't explain myself clearly enough :lol: :oops:
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Re: how to mount equipment

#8
I don't see why we can't have shipyard drydocks like freelancer had, those would be perfect for large ships.
Also I was thinking that carier hangers would count as drydocks for anything that would fit into the hold.
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Re: how to mount equipment

#10
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
N810 wrote:I don't see why we can't have shipyard drydocks like freelancer had, those would be perfect for large ships.
Also I was thinking that carier hangers would count as drydocks for anything that would fit into the hold.
well, how about the things that dont fit into any bay, such as battleships and stations?
battle ships would fit in the massive drydocks (think STAR TREK), Stations would have to be outfited with construction drones or something like that.
Last edited by N810 on Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
- Arthur C. Clarke
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Re: how to mount equipment

#11
N810 wrote: battle ships would fit in the massive drydocks, Stations would have to be outfited with drones or something like that.
And then why not use the same drones for battleships too? :roll:

The "drydock" would just be a frame that holds the ship in place and the rest gets done by the drones, because its in space and visible

Edit:
N810 wrote: THINK STAR TREK
Well, they also use small ships in their shipyards, which we could approximate by drones :roll:
Last edited by Cornflakes_91 on Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: how to mount equipment

#12
My thinking was that you could do either, but docking with something (Drydock/carier/station hanger/plannet) would be faster and you would probaly be able to buy parts there too, If you do an improv swap with drones, it might take quite a while, and you would be vunerable while your ship was being worked on.
"A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
- Arthur C. Clarke
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Re: how to mount equipment

#13
N810 wrote:My thinking was that you could do either, but docking with something (Drydock/carier/station hanger/plannet) would be faster and you would probaly be able to buy parts there too, If you do an improv swap with drones, it might take quite a while, and you would be vunerable while your ship was being worked on.
that would create another special case which adds imo nothing to gameplay and would require another set of animations/graphics stuff because its in space too.

A drydock would have the advantage of having many more drones and storage space to serve fast many ships

Being docked doesnt prevent using drones, as big ships would still be in space.
Get docked, buy equipment and have it either transferred into your hold or mounted by drones

When x:rebirth esque cargo drones get implemented (for circumventing the size issues i already mentioned) docking and using drones would actually be the same
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Re: how to mount equipment

#14
Hmm, My initial thoughts, subject to future revision.

If you are going to change any hardpoints, the object you are going to be attaching must be with you and not just owned by you. So if you want to switch from an ion cannon to a laser, you must either carry the laser with you, or it must be stored at the docked object. (also, you can just take stuff that other people own that is at a docked point, with consequences if they find out, if you have the biggest guns around, why not steal their lunch money too)

I think that external mounts and internal mounts should be capable everywhere, but you will simply have to pay in time to get it done.
External mounts in a hangar should be the fastest, then external mounts out in space, then internal mounts inside a hangar, and then internal mounts out in space.

External mount changes should take 0-60 seconds in a hangar(dependant on hangar speed/addons), 30-infinity outside(dependant on labor capacity)
Internal mounts should take 2-5 minues in a hangar, and 10-infinity minutes outside.
This would of course be massively enhanced by pretty visuals, and in fact I would say that at least some visuals, if even a simple light show would be mandatory for forcing the player to wait for in reality no good reason beyond "realism"

As to any changes you are undergoing, your ship loses that functionality until the change is complete. If you are changing out your power core in deep space and get ambushed, well isn't that sad for you, same goes for you changing your power core at a sketchy station. To be a bit smarter about it though, I would think that some hardpoints those which have dependencies, such as a power core would be better to have their functionality slowly decrease in increments, as dependent systems are disconnected, and this can be paused or reversed if needed. That way, you can change your power core, and slowly your other hardpoints go offline, but if you suddenly get ambushed with only your thrusters still active, you can at least try to run away, and reverse the change, slowly gaining access to your systems again.
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Re: how to mount equipment

#15
Flatfingers wrote:I suspect that distinguishing between internal and external hardpoints won't actually deliver much gameplay value. Plus it will just offend the people who think realism is crucial for a space game. ;)

The real question would seem to be whether it's OK to prevent players from installing newly-acquired systems while out in space. If I discover a cool bit of alien kit, do I have to wait to play with it until I can fly back to a friendly space station or planet to install it, and then I have to wait for the game to to finish what it obviously just an arbitrary timer? How would that restriction make LT more fun for more kinds of players?

I'm not saying it wouldn't. I'm saying I'd like to understand that better.
This is what I was trying to say.

Regardless of how it's displayed graphically, it's just a matter of when we allow the player to 'equip' things. The 'how' is pointless.

When I said docked, I didn't mean internally. You can pull up alongside something via a mooring or similar.

I think the better question is the 'when' rather than the 'how'.
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Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.

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