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Shields

#1
Josh, I saw your daily summary regarding your work on shields today. You said that the shields were loosely fitted to the ship. Will that mean that if we have a small ship and attack a very large ship we could get so close that when we fire we don't hit the shields at all and just directly hit the ship? *EDIT* [I just realized that the other alternative is that shields will not only block weapons but they will block ships themselves so if we fly in a small fighter directly into a large capital ship we would collide with the shields before hitting the ship.] I realize this isn't really a suggestion but I just wanted to know if you had already considered this and decided that it would be a cool game play feature or if you might in the future change the shields to a more tight fitting shape in order to not let this situation arise. I personally think this might be a fun feature (being able to fly through the shields on larger ships) although I'm not sold one way or the other and it'll definitely be a drawback to owning and maintaining a capital ship (or whatever size ship would be affected by this). Anyone else have thoughts about this?

Also, if this is a possibility then will AI understand this weakness and work to get in very close and bypass the shields when attacking very large ships?

I also just wanted to say thank you for the daily summaries. Getting to follow along daily on your journey is incredibly fun and immerses us in the process in a way I've never experienced. I really enjoy hearing the breakthroughs but I find that I also like hearing about your not-to-great days as well since that makes it feel real (and credible) and that you're not some guy just telling us what we want to hear.
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Re: Shields

#2
Hey Choke,

I can't believe I forgot to mention that in my log! Yes, I intend for that to be a gameplay feature. Furthermore, I would like to toy with the idea of the "form factor" being a shield attribute and a trade-off. I.e., you can get a looser-fitting shield with a higher dissipation capacity and a tighter-fitting shield with a lower dissipation capacity for the same price and with the same energy usage. The idea being that you are taking a larger risk with the loose-fitting shield, since enemy fighters will have an easier time getting below and bombing you.

So yes, it is true that shields only repel weaponry, not ships or anything else. And yes, I intend to make the AI aware of this feature, although that's a bit far off probably :)

And thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying the logs :D
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: Shields

#3
Interesting. What is the reason in "game lore" for the loose shield being more efficient?
Larger shield surface being able to dissipate more energy?
Larger distance to hull being somehow an advantage ?

I guess with everything being done by procedural generation, you either already have an answer or need to come up with one... ;)
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Re: Shields

#4
Rabiator wrote:Interesting. What is the reason in "game lore" for the loose shield being more efficient?
My guess is: because it creates more interesting opportunities to balance ships / combat. =)

The technobabble will simply be adjusted to fit.
There is no "I" in Tea. That would be gross.
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Re: Shields

#5
Gazz wrote:The technobabble will simply be adjusted to fit.
Sure - in a conventional game you would have some technobabble and the developers would probably tweak the stats manually.
But if I understand Josh correctly, NPC ships will be procedurally generated. That requires a formula for calculating shield strength that applies to a wide variety of ship designs. One could call that a pseudo-law-of-nature, like the square-cube law in real life that dictates larger animals have to be built more compact than small ones (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square-cub ... omechanics). I'm curious what that formula is for shields.

TL:DR:
Procedural generation requires actual rules, not just technobabble. Those rules translate to "game lore", what is it for shields?
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Re: Shields

#6
Ooooh, maths! How about?

Shield strength = square root of the distance of the shield layer from the hull surface multiplied by the strength of the generator.

That way, Yes!, you can have a nice strong shield that'll take a battering from capital ships, but fighters will be able to flit under it and pound you to dust.

Here's a picture.
Image http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c369/ ... 01254c.jpg

And picture linkee because the forum's chopped a bit off. Boo. I'm not bored at work, noooo..... :twisted:
Last edited by HowSerendipitous on Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image
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Re: Shields

#7
Thanks, for the response Josh!

I think the idea of different types of shields (loose and tight-fitting) is a great way to add a little depth to the game and make the game play more nuanced.
Rabiator implied it doesn't make sense that a loose fitting shield should be able to absorb more damage due to larger surface area and larger distance to hull most likely requiring more energy (therefore less energy for damage absorption). I understand the logic but I don't think it's difficult to imagine that having your shield generator "mold" the shield into the shape of your ship and be less spherical would actually require more energy and therefore, less energy available for absorption of damage. This would theoretically be due to the energy required to "bend" the typical spherical shape into a shape that conforms more to the shape of your ship.

Also, I think it will enhance the overall game play (I realize this is just my opinion) so if it's difficult to imagine this happening in real life, just remember this is a game and meant to be fun and not necessarily to follow all physical laws as we understand them.

I'm thinking loose-fitting shields for my small ships (no question) and tighter-fitting shields for my capital ships (probably). On my capital ship could I have two shield generators (one loose and one tight) so that when at rest (also known as sitting duck) I can transfer most engine power to shields and start-up the second generator to avoid the down-side of the tight-fitting shield. Just a thought!

Lastly, can someone name these two different kinds of shields so I don't have to keep saying loose-fitting and tight-fitting??
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Re: Shields

#8
JoshParnell wrote: I would like to toy with the idea of the "form factor" being a shield attribute and a trade-off. I.e., you can get a looser-fitting shield with a higher dissipation capacity and a tighter-fitting shield with a lower dissipation capacity for the same price and with the same energy usage. The idea being that you are taking a larger risk with the loose-fitting shield, since enemy fighters will have an easier time getting below and bombing you.
The "loose" shields are interesting in theory but how exactly would those shields do their shielding?

Assuming "solid" shields that do stop bullets / missiles
  • Once a fighter gets below the shield and parks where the defensive turrets cannot bear, your battleship is SOL.
    Even if you assigned 3 corvettes as escorts, their light guns couldn't reach the fighter because it's protected by a battleship's shields.
  • If missiles detonate on hitting the shield then no missile would ever reach the hull and whatever AOE it had would have to be enormous to even touch a big ship.
Assuming that shields never completely stop a projectile but only reduce it's damage by 50% or whatever
  • you will be repairing your ship's armour. Like all the time.
    Flying a fighter without a lot of armour plating would seem like very little fun.
  • A bullet that barely misses the capital ship would hit the shields twice, once on the near side, once on the far side.
  • Do Missiles pass through the shields without detonation, having their damage reduced?
    How would that work? A missile can only go boom or not go boom.
    If they do not go boom, shields would have to be nonexistent against missiles.
If anti-fighter weapons can pass through shields fully or partially, fighters will always take a severe beating. Long missions would be nearly impossible because your hull gets shredded with every hit.

What's your plan? I'm drawing a blank.


EDIT: Okay, so it's not a total blank. Maybe a bit yellowed around the edges...

Assume that you can adjust the "fit" of the shield bubble. Either skin-tight or far.
If you increase the shield surface, the shield gets softer, no longer stopping projectiles completely but reducing their damage potential by X %.
Explodey things still detonate on shield contact.

The reason?
There are AOE weapons. Missiles and (ammo-based) shells that have a sizable AOE on contact.

If you stop such projectiles early by extending your shield bubble, they damage your shield... which regenerates, but the AOE does not reach any juicy bits.

If you pull the bubble down to the ship's hull, the shield would still stop penetrator slugs or energy weapons but AOE weapons would now be able to damage subsystems.
It's a bit illogical (as in like hell) because a shield that full-stops heavy penetrators would let an AOE pass but it's the only "playable" mechanic I could come up with.


It's not a very good system because if you mix explosive and solid shot, you win. Always.
It's MEH but all I can think of...


EDITEDIT:
If I go with your initial concept of "loose shield strong, spandex shield weak" it could be a difference in damage mitigation. The loose shields is basically immune to small arms/Flak/whatever and somewhat resistant to ship shattering kabooms.

If you go spandex, you loose a good deal of mitigation so fighter weapons can actually damage the shield. Shield regen may still cover that but it's a major qualitative difference.
On the flip side, your subsystems get the benefit of a shield when fighters close in.

That still doesn't sound like a very exciting reason to ever go with the large shield bubble...
but if you combine that with my "ship shattering kaboom interception system" from a bit above, it starts looking a lot more appealing.
Maybe only "big" weapons like (bomber's) torpedoes or capital ship artillery can produce the penetrating AOE.


If fighter weapons can flat out penetrate the spandex shield then the advantage is entirely with fighters.
All you need is to park a fighter on the cap ship's hull and nibble it to death. You win. Yawn.
That's why I'd rather go with shield damage mitigation where x points are substracted from the incoming damage before it is taken from the shield strength.
That way the shield is still weakened a lot but you need a lot of fighters and a lot of time to actually destroy a battleship with "small arms fire". Torpedoes or HEAT Rockets or something like that is a different matter. Ammo is more limited but the base damage is higher so a flat mitigation would affect those warheads less.


I guess it was more of an almost nearly blank after all.
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Re: Shields

#9
Shields could work by attenuating the incoming ordnance, and would likely work differently on different types of weaponry.

Projectiles could be slowed, missile blasts could be partially absorbed, energy beams could be dispersed, etc.

Every time a shield does its job it loses part of its strength, counteracted by recharging. That way you could knock down an enemies shields by continually hitting him. The specific values would depend on the various factors in the equation. I don't think shields should completely absorb damage as long as it's below a threshold - that should be the job of armour.

That also means that if you're hitting a capital ship, you'll still damage the armour and possibly systems to some extent.
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Re: Shields

#10
HowSerendipitous wrote:Ooooh, maths! How about?

Shield strength = square root of the distance of the shield layer from the hull surface multiplied by the strength of the generator.

That way, Yes!, you can have a nice strong shield that'll take a battering from capital ships, but fighters will be able to flit under it and pound you to dust.
Well, you probably want an upper limit for the size. Else we might see shields with kilometer radius on small fighters, because it is an advantage in some scenarios.

What about something like
Shield strength = (distance shield - hull, given in hull radii) * (generator strength)/(square of shield radius, given in hull radii) ?

That gives a maximum at shield radius = 2* hull radius and a decline for larger radii.

Also, Gazz had some interesting concerns.
Gazz wrote: Assuming "solid" shields that do stop bullets / missiles

Once a fighter gets below the shield and parks where the defensive turrets cannot bear, your battleship is SOL. Even if you assigned 3 corvettes as escorts, their light guns couldn't reach the fighter because it's protected by a battleship's shields.
What about a "synchronization handwave" for friendly fire, where your escort ships may shoot through the shields? That would also explain how you can shoot from inside the shield.
Gazz wrote: If missiles detonate on hitting the shield then no missile would ever reach the hull and whatever AOE it had would have to be enormous to even touch a big ship.
The missile could still deplete the shields. If shields become less solid with depletion, subsequent misssiles could hit the hull. This way you could have perfect protection with 100% shields, but increasingly less protection as your shields get battered down.
EDIT: Jabberwock already posted something similar :oops:
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Re: Shields

#11
In my mind weapon types, shields, and even stealth are all linked concepts for a game.
Example:
Shields block non-powered projectiles, radiation, heat (how close you get to a star before taking damage is a factor of shield strenth), and energy weapons.
Shields cancel locally (i.e. a shielded craft can fly through a shield, this allows fighters to fly in/out of carriers if their shields are up but rail gun/gravity gun slugs do not) For a fighter with his shield knocked out to fly through his carriers shield though the carrier would have to lower it's shield.
Cloaking devices cannot operate when a shield is up.

Powered projectiles (rockets, missiles, torpedoes), having their own power source could have shield generators to enable them to fly through shields. This is one of the factors that makes them still viable in the age of energy weapons with their limited ammo and slow speed. They also don't require energy to fire. Obviously torpedoes with shield generators would be significantly more expensive then those without. Indirect fire would be another advantage of powered projectiles... i.e. park a torpedo carrying ship behind an asteroid, fly a small craft with target designator hardware around the asteroid toward enemy, small craft locks on target, large torpedo ship fires volley of torpedoes that fly around asteroid toward target with the launch ship never having been exposed to direct fire.

You might as what good are non-powered projectiles though (rail guns, gravity guns, etc.) if they can't penetrate shields, have limited ammo, and are slower. Generally speaking they ARE the cheap weapons but rail/gravity guns can theoretically approach near light speed and larger ships at least shouldn't have to worry about limited ammo (too much micro-managing to count bullets on a capital ship) so there potentially isn't a HUGE difference but their damage/energy ratio should be higher and they're good for things like large ships throwing up walls of flak in front of small fighters/torpedoes/missiles/etc. and maybe even doing thinks like having gravity effect them for curved shots around a planets atmosphere and such.
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Re: Shields

#12
Another question related to shields is does one craft just have one or zero shield generators that create the entire bubble?
On smaller craft this makes since but as the craft get larger then one could see two generators making the front and back part of the bubble respectively with the ability to deplete one before the other (and the ship generating them able to shift power from one to the other)
This could go all the way up to like six generators on some of the largest ships offering top/bottom/right/left/front/back shields.
For larger ships on a budget perhaps complete coverage isn't even necessary so maybe several smaller shield generators used to produce shield bubbles over key parts of the ship while others are completely exposed. Like a freighter that has a front shield bubble over the bridge area in the front as well as an rear shield generator shielding the engines but in between the cargo hold is not shielded as it is deemed unnecessary and if the cargo needs shielding from radiation and such then the containers themselves must be hardened. These two smaller shield generators would be cheaper than trying to shield the entire ship.
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Re: Shields

#13
I've been wondering about localised shields, too.

Even if it's not graphical, even if it's still always 100% coverage of the entire ship, the distribution of shield generators on the hull could affect the "strength" of the shield at any given point.

If it scaled 100-25%, a single generator would have 100% around it, 25% at the opposite end of the ship.
Install 2 generators on opposite ends and you get 100% on each end, 62% in the middle.
Then maneuvers and flanking as well as weakening areas of the shield with fighter strikes would allow for more than simply pounding the enemy until it goes boom.

Would need a graphical representation in the ship designer, though. Colour coded or something like that.
In an actual fight it's even more difficult to visualise without an always-on shield. Hmm.
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Re: Shields

#14
Since shield regeneration was mentioned, what should happen if the shield goes offline?
Should it require a certain percentage of power from the powercore to reactivate it (let's say 50% power to boost your shields back on to 25% or 50% capacity), or should shields just gradually return?

This assumes that each ship's powercore is drained with the use of weapons and other modules, but recharges constantly at a particular rate.

It could be both options, really. If you're in a pinch, you can reroute a portion of your power to your shields to bring them back online, but you're going to have to wait a little while for your power capacity to be ready to handle your weapons again. If your hull can handle some damage, then you can let the shield recharge on its own and focus on fighting back.

I'm mainly thinking in terms of Freelancer's system where you had the Energy, Shield, and Hull meters down at the bottom.
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Re: Shields

#15
I was briefly thinking about requiring a mechanic for "shields down" but decided to slack, hoping someone come up with an elegant solution. =P

Grumblesaur wrote:should shields just gradually return?
They do that in most games but that's a bit lame. It's purely numerical scaling. No condition you can work with. No gameplay element.

Grumblesaur wrote:Should it require a certain percentage of power from the powercore to reactivate it (let's say 50% power to boost your shields back on to 25% or 50% capacity)
Fiddling with the settings every time the meager shields on your fighter drop flat? No, thanks.


What could work:

Lets assume the shield strength is a blue bar.
When your shield fizzles, it stays down. You don't have any shield.
The blue bar regenerates from zero as a red bar, using your current shield / energy setting.
When that red bar hits 10% or so, your shield kickstarts.
Red bar disappears and the blue shield bar zooooms up to 10%, never actually missing a tick of shield regen.


That way you get a mechanic that you can do stuff with but without upsetting overall balance items like shield strength or regen speed because the "shield down" condition works in parallel to regular shield regen.

Also: no micromanagement.
Sure, you can shorten the time to kickstart by increasing your shield energy setting but it will happen either way and frankly, you would have been better off increasing the shield setting before your shields failed...
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