12. Power Distribution
(engines, shields, weapons)
Possible ways of how systems could interact with varying energy levels.
Delayed Energy Settings
As outlined here
, each energy bar should have 2 values.
The bar "filling" for the currently active power level and a marker for "desired value".
The desired value can be adjusted anytime.
Then you get to watch as power is being distributed until the current values reach the desired levels.
The bigger the ship / generator, the slower this process.
This also serves to make capital ships feel more capital. =)
I foresee some seriously interesting tactical problems when coupled with the shield mechanics below in this post.
The required space for a ship's reactor should have a fixed component, making reactors generally more effective on larger ships.
Fighters would generally be "underpowered".
Working with the internal magazines of their lasers (and slow reloading thereof) would add an obvious advantage to using "extended magazine" versions of standard lasers, further differentiating the concept of
fighters from capital ships.
Fighters would be all about burst damage and maneuvering while their magazines reload.
Agile and aggressive. Fun stuff. Not
sustained damage and slugging matches.
Also, ammo-based weapons look a lot more attractive if you cannot
feed a large amount of lasers easily.
Chalk one up for the carrier / fighter combo!
With few exceptions, most systems do not "become better" by assigning more power to them.
They do become less effective by having too little power.
That makes power management and ship design easy to grasp and represent and keeps the game balanceable because systems have a clearly defined max capacity instead of scaling up the wazoo.
Turning systems on / off
I strongly disagree with that part
for two reasons.
- It is too fiddly to deal with multiple systems on many ships on a regular base.
- It promotes the Monty Haul ship design, devaluing choices that would otherwise be made in the ship designer.
There is no point in building specialised ship designs when you can "bring everything" and then only enable the bits that turn your ship into the optimal solution to the current tactical problem.
Instead I suggest...
Priority Energy Settings
Basically the same UI as for turning systems on/off but the choices you made in ship design really matter
You can assign systems / modules a priority.
For instance, you want your point defense lasers running at peak efficiency. They would require 30 power for that.
Based on your current energy settings, all weapons get 100 power total and the PD lasers get a fair share of 20.
Now you set a priority check mark for them.
The PD lasers now get 30 energy out of those 100. The remaining 70 are shared between all non-priority weapons.
That way you can make trade-offs but you don't have to constantly fiddle
with the settings to keep the "important" systems supplied.
You can still use the general E/S/W power distribution without un-setting your previous choice,
If there is an afterburner in the game:
- Energy setting > nominal consumption:
Speed increase of up to 30% at 200% power.
- Afterburner "energy pool" reloading at 160% at 200% power.
If there is no
afterburner in the game:
"Internal" Ship Systems
- Energy setting > nominal consumption:
Speed increase of up to 60% at 200% power.
Sensors come to mind, but this would also cover anything like countermeasures if such a thing exists.
I would roll all of those into engines... or make them an "always on" permanent withdrawal from the power generator.
If sensors are part of the "engines" setting, you create the perfect opening for a scout class.
to keep their engine energy setting at max because it increases their sensor range.
On the backswing, if you put power towards your weapons and shields instead, your sensor range drops, making you dependent
on dedicated scouts.
That's an interesting mechanic right there.
Ideal point to attach the loose / tight fitting shields feature.
High power to shields: you get wide shields and high recharge speed. The max value for shield points may increase a bit but not by more than 20-30%.
Ideal setting when you have lots of damage incoming. Maybe for missiles that you're not going to evade anyway... but that you want detonating as far from your hull as possible.
Low power to shields: you get tight fitting shields, protecting the ship's soft bits from fighters.
Recharge speed is low .
This way the energy distribution settings are meaningful. There would be a point
to lowering the shield power. A decision that you would have to weigh.
On fighters, the shield bubble could extend "considerably" so by assigning lots of shield energy, you are making yourself (your shield...) an easier target, catching more bullets.
You would have to find the sweet spot depending on what kind of damage is incoming. Every ship ship could go "tank mode" but become much easier to hit... or make itself a smaller target instead. Both ways could be useful so there would be no "always best" setting.
Without that interaction there would be no situation where I'd be thinking "Hey, it sounds like a good idea to assign less shield power!"
While it would be cool to be able to see one's shields in all their glory, it would make ships look blurry and generally ugly if shields were always visible. Not so cool.
With this concept you could display shields in full while they are changing size
. Fixed / animated texture, random sparks playing over the surface...? I'm not the graphics guy. =)
This would perfectly visualise the shield energy setting and what happens when you drag that slider.
Energy Weapons : Normal
Your everyday pew pew laser, known from a dozen space games.
Every such laser has an internal magazine (say 50 shots). These can always be fired with the lasers refire rate.
If the magazine is not full, it starts reloading. It has a built-in max speed for that, slower than the refire rate. (in some cases much slower but that's getting too detailed here)
If the laser has an energy consumption of 40 and it only "gets" a share of 20 energy based on the energy settings, it reloads at half speed.
Assigning extra energy would speed up reloading... with diminishing returns.
Energy setting does not directly affect damage, only the reload speed of the magazine. That keeps the weapon damage balance-able.
Energy Weapons : Continuous Beam (basically capital ship lasers)
Unlike other energy weapons, these do not have an internal magazine. They do not reload.
While such a laser fires, it's energy consumption increases... but so does it's energy efficiency. So the longer it fires, the better bang you get for the used energy.
These lasers can only fire if there is "free", unallocated weapons energy.
Since their energy consumption ramps up while they fire, they eventually cover all unallocated energy. Then they all shut down and enter cooldown. (for a regular laser that would be the reload speed)
While firing, all "regular" lasers do not get the benefit of additional reload speed. The energy is all eaten up by the beam lasers.
If you want to add more coolness to these lasers, make all regular lasers reload at half speed while they are firing, possibly leading to a visible reduction of secondary weapon fire while the ship's "main guns" are firing.
And / or automatically reduce the "shield" energy level.
Makes them look
100% more awesome... while freeing up some much needed energy. =)
Effect: These lasers work best on ships with monstrous energy generators. Built to crack the massive shields and hulls of other capital ships.
You can stick one on a generic trader hull but it wouldn't do much good without a battleship-sized reactor.
Energy setting does
directly affect damage.
The more energy available, the higher damage the laser can ramp up to. Again, with diminishing returns to make it useful to install more than one laser. =)
Ammo-Based Weapons, slug throwers, rockets, missiles, thrown rocks
Their energy consumption - reloading or otherwise - would be so low as to be insignificant. So it's zero for all practical purposes.
Ammo-based weapons are limited by well... ammo.
They are unaffected by the energy settings.
While there are Military Supplies on board (and an Internal Loading System), they just keep reloading at their designed rate.
That is great on the tactical scale because you can assign zero energy to weapons.
It sucks on the strategic scale because if you don't secure your supply lines, your ships won't be doing any shooting.
It's also an issue with ship construction (need space for ammo and loading system) and you'll need to organize carriers to supply fighters...
something to be said for energy weapons. =)
The Gist Of It
By using different weapon concepts
, you create a great variety of ship designs because different weapons have different requirements to a ship's infrastructure.
Ammo-based weapons require (ideally) a loading system and cargo space tied up with supplies plus a supply network.
"Small" energy weapons require some energy for their sustained rate of fire.
They temporarily do well in low-energy situations but their damage output is capped by their weapon design.
Capital ship energy weapons can never ever have too much energy. Give them that and they cut thine enemies to tiny bits.
If you can keep enough energy to maintain point defense to defend against missiles and fighters. Or keep enough extra space for ammo based point defense guns for that.
And keep up shield energy. And aaaargh!
It would simply be impossible to design a ship that is "best" at all 3 weapon types. The requirements are in direct conflict.
Limitations like that are what game balance is all about.
PS: New record. A thread that starts
halfway down page 2. =)