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LawsonThompson

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Whilst in another thread about fighters and how to provide a bit more usability/lifespan, I started wondering how other games have handled this.

One mechanic I've seen from Microsoft Allegiance may be useful here: emergency ripcord. A fighter in duress can activate the ripcord module, which starts a non-blockable countdown. When the countdown expires, the ship teleports to the nearest friendly capital ship. In Allegiance, the fighter's controls are locked during the countdown if I recall correctly. (It's been a while!)

Caveat: to stay canon-compatible, maybe this is restricted to Ximni ships?

How about this: add a teleport beacon feature to permit fighters to "pull the ripcord" and bail out of combat. The Directed (Desperate?) Emergency Retrieval Protocol (DERP) would function as follows:

  • Create a new beacon type, DERP, which can be placed by the cap ship. It has onboard power which is consumed over time. When scanned by science, the DERPs remaining power level lifespan is indicated.
  • Fighters in duress hit a button to trigger DERP. Audio file plays a five second clip at the fighter's console: "Directed Emergency Retrieval Protocol activating... three... two... one... engage!"
  • When the countdown reaches zero, the fighter teleports to the DERP. Due to the power consumed, the fighter could be rendered temporarily immobile, or energy-depleted, blinded, damaged, facing a random heading, etc.
  • If there are multiple DERPs on the game map, sort by distance and take the nearest DERP deployed by your cap ship.
  • If there are no DERPs on the map, fighter explodes with Nuke-level equivalent force. Usable in... extreme situations...
  • The DERP beacon should have some bit of nerfing: could be one-time use, time-limited, or maybe have a substantial amount of its remaining time consumed for each ship that DERPs in.
  • Cap ship DERP might be an interesting extra feature. Maybe the combat jump would lock onto the nearest DERP?

During combat, the fighters and the cap ship can DERP out of the combat. There should be a penalty for this: energy cost for DERP should be substantial. Perhaps it should scale with distance?

How it works (heh!): the DERP beacon emits an energy signature encoded to the cap ship which dropped it and shared with its fighters. When deployed, the DERP maintains a short-term virtual wormhole which can be accessed only by ships with matching signatures. A DERP may be used by capital ships through a massive energy spike from the warp engine, or by fighters through a crystalline capacitor array shorted directly into the shield and engine power grid.

When the DERP is triggered on a ship, the energy pulse created on the ship is directed toward the destination DERP beacon. The pulse causes the DERP beacon field to invert, converting the heat typically created by the energy expended into a subspace micro-wormhole, drawing the ship across subspace to the DERP beacon location. This consumes energy from the ship and the DERP beacon.

The energy expenditure necessary to trigger a DERP is non-trivial, and should only be used in extreme situations. Triggering cap ship onboard DERP when no DERP beacon is active depletes a massive amount of energy at expense of heat damage across all cap ship systems. Triggering DERP on a fighter with no available DERP beacon causes a catastrophic destruction of the fighter.

So... good idea? or derpy?


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e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #2 
I love it. But it should probably include the very important DOH! feature as well. Destruction Obviously Happening, so you have a DOH!DERP

ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #3 
I've developed a non-canon explanation for how pilots return to the ship on fighter destruction based on Jump Drive technology. Basically, Ximni fighters are not launched normally (i.e., through a hangar door) and TSN carriers have the option of using this technology. A dedicated Jump Coil housed in the hangar floor creates an extendable wormhole that "jumps" the fighter out of the hangar, and links the fighter to the hangar bay with a one-way "microspace" connection the entire time it is outside of the ship.

On command, the wormhole can be made to "snap back" and return the fighter to the hangar - at the cost of severe nausea and disorientation to the pilot and any passengers. Cargo is not harmed, however, so the cargo can be loaded onto a shuttle and teleported back to the ship while the shuttle continues on. Note that this is a one-way link; you can't teleport anything to the fighter, and the fighter can't be teleported around the map. It has to physically go somewhere before the "recall" function can be used.

Related to this is my idea that the shields on a fighter or shuttle are "capacitance" shields; they are fully charged on the ship but don't recharge over time. If the shield level ever drops to zero, the shields explode - and the Microspace Jump is automatically activated to send the pilot back to the hangar. The hull of the fighter never actually takes damage. You lose 70 potential points of damage, but the few seconds it takes for the shields to overload gives the pilot time to jettison and escape.

Ximni ships use the same Microspace Jump to return their fighters to the hangar, but TSN fighters land on the deck and return physically. This disperses the wormhole energy with no harmful effect. Ximni consider enduring the nausea and physical effects a sign they have the "Right Stuff", but TSN crews are more cautious, particularly when diplomats are involved.

I like the idea of a "teleport anchor" beacon (and I LOVE the name! 😃) but just jumping back to the ship is good enough for a start. My Fighter Squadrons mod, (which was based on the BSG Mod, which had the same feature, expanded to the whole fleet) allows the fighters to be recalled to the ship at any time, by clicking a keybind. This might be a neat option for Ximni ships, and would solve the problem of fighter players getting themselves stranded because they won't return to the ship and/or the Captain flies off without them.

For the original idea, the idea would be that any time you drop this beacon, you can "jump" back to it in an emergency. Potentially, it is a one-use device; once you activate the emergency jump, the beacon is consumed and you will have to launch another from your stores. It could also have an energy cost, but you don't want to be unable to use it because you're out of energy. Maybe it does damage to the ship, or knocks out some of your stored upgrades. Or maybe (similar to the way I used it) once you activate it you have to dock with a station before you activate it again. (In addition to the beacon, maybe you need a special coil that you can only store one of and can only be replaced at a base)

Of course I'll note that unless you build more Beacons, potentially the average ship will only be able to use it twice. (A Light Cruiser could use it 5 times and a Scout 8)

LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
...

My Fighter Squadrons mod, (which was based on the BSG Mod, which had the same feature, expanded to the whole fleet) allows the fighters to be recalled to the ship at any time, by clicking a keybind. This might be a neat option for Ximni ships, and would solve the problem of fighter players getting themselves stranded because they won't return to the ship and/or the Captain flies off without them.



OH! OK, now I need to take a look at that mod and see if I can implement a lightweight version of it for our convention crews. 

My goal is to reduce the frequency that fighters get stranded, or destroyed during retreat.


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e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #5 
Do you have that mod shared anywhere?

ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #6 
I'm in the process of updating it for 2.7. The 2.3 version is here: https://artemis.forumchitchat.com/post/fighter-mission-mod-based-on-bsg-mod-6912399

Unfortunately I stopped working on it when 2.4 came out, and that's the first version where I wouldn't have had to modify the vesselData file. You still needed keybinds to control the fighters, though. With 2.7 (actually any version past 2.6) I can actually have Comms launch fighters with script buttons, so I'm reworking it as just a script, to be used with the stock game.

EDIT: my 2.4 version has been posted, here: https://artemis.forumchitchat.com/post/fighter-squadrons-mission-now-for-stock-artemis-2-4-9932638 I plan to update it for 2.7 very soon.
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hey, I really like the DERP idea. I will point it out to Thom.
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notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #8 
So, my two cents, for whatever thats worth; I brought this up in another thread, but it got buried pretty quick, but has anyone consider just setting up a double or higher refit time if a fighter gets destroyed?

A fighter is the only station that can effectively be destroyed. Every ship with a fighter bay can also make its own homing missiles, since there is no limit to the number you get through refitting, why not also assume that they can make additional fighters from onboard materials. Basically, remove replacement fighters from the stations and if a fighter is destroyed, have a double or perhaps  triple length refit as a new fighter is being assembled.

I dont think that would be too difficult to program and it wouldn't involve adding a bunch of additional mechanics.

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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by notsabbat
Every ship with a fighter bay can also make its own homing missiles, since there is no limit to the number you get through refitting, why not also assume that they can make additional fighters from onboard materials.


Well, I've stated in the past that I think it's inconsistent (and unrealistic) to have an unlimited number of homing missiles. I've suggested mechanisms to make missiles from energy. I also definitely think that if Thom ever implements bombers, giving them an infinite supply of Nukes would be a problem. (Not that bombers necessarily should be armed with Nukes)

Still, I think there should be a mechanism for replacing destroyed fighters or shuttles. The question is how long should the process take and how complex should it be? You could require going back to the base, or provide resources that let you produce a limited number of replacements onboard. Maybe there could be "Beginner", "Advanced" and "Expert" mods that alter those variables?

I'll also note that torpedoes are not infinite and once the supply runs out, the options for Weapons are severely limited, even though the console can still fire beams. And if the ship runs out of energy, none of the consoles are able to function. So managing resources is an intended part of the game, as is returning to a base for refuel and resupply.
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #10 
It seems there are three issues in this thread:
  1. The original topic, discussing game mechanics by which a desperate fighter pilot can prevent the destruction of their shuttle/fighter.
  2. Evaluating the adequacy of current game mechanics for replacing lost shuttles/fighters. Do we need more than just a storehouse of them available at friendly bases?
  3. Discussing the social problem of fighter pilots having a miserable game because the bridge crew doesn't support them.
I think #3 is the biggest issue for newbie crews at conventions, but it's not getting enough attention in this thread. When a bridge crew abandons their fighters, neglects to dock and pick up new fighters, or even intentionally nukes their own friendly fighters just for LOLs, they cause a paying player to be upset. Most of the suggestions here will not address the problem of unsupportive crews.

A fighter/shuttle is not essential, so newbie captains and bridge crews have only a weak motivation for helping their fighter pilots enjoy playing Artemis. The person who does have a motivation to make sure everyone has a good time is the host of the game. Therefore I believe that the Artemis software most desperately needs a way to somehow help a fighter pilot who is isolated in a boring part of the map or stuck playing Blackjack because there are no fighters to fly. Right now a mission script with a game master can move the isolated pilot closer to the action, but once the capital ship runs out of fighters nothing can be done about an unsupportive crew.

I offer two thoughts on this:
  • The Artemis software should have a setting to allow "Unlimited fighters." While in this mode any fighter that has its lifebar reduced to zero is not destroyed but instead transported back into the fighter bay for refit. This could cost the crew victory points, but it should not cost the ship energy or any other in-game resources, since those lost resources would just encourage newbie crews to hate their fighter pilots.*
  • The Artemis software should have default basic Game Master controls that work in all modes which would allow a game host to move a stranded fighter closer to the action.
I submit that we need both of these things in order to support fighters as payed positions at conventions.

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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Substelny

...

The person who does have a motivation to make sure everyone has a good time is the host of the game. Therefore I believe that the Artemis software most desperately needs a way to somehow help a fighter pilot who is isolated in a boring part of the map or stuck playing Blackjack because there are no fighters to fly. Right now a mission script with a game master can move the isolated pilot closer to the action, but once the capital ship runs out of fighters nothing can be done about an unsupportive crew.

...

I submit that we need both of these things in order to support fighters as payed positions at conventions.


Thanks for this good summary, Mike. You feel my pain! 

We very rarely have unsupportive crews at our conventions, fortunately! The paid fighter seat value really is the main sticking point. 

For our next major convention, we plan to raise the ticket price and extend the mission time, leaving the fighter seats as freebies, reservable after the main bridge seats are sold. This will relieve the "value" issue--but won't change the fact that it's still possible to run out of fighters. 

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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra


...

Still, I think there should be a mechanism for replacing destroyed fighters or shuttles. The question is how long should the process take and how complex should it be? You could require going back to the base, or provide resources that let you produce a limited number of replacements onboard. Maybe there could be "Beginner", "Advanced" and "Expert" mods that alter those variables?



Quote:
Originally Posted by notsabbat
So, my two cents, for whatever thats worth; I brought this up in another thread, but it got buried pretty quick, but has anyone consider just setting up a double or higher refit time if a fighter gets destroyed?

... Basically, remove replacement fighters from the stations and if a fighter is destroyed, have a double or perhaps  triple length refit as a new fighter is being assembled. 

I dont think that would be too difficult to program and it wouldn't involve adding a bunch of additional mechanics.


The more I think about this, the more I like it. How about a "fighter build speed" for the capital ship, much as bases have a build speed? Spending main ship energy could reduce the time, perhaps 1 unit of energy spent = 1 second of build time reduced. 

Basically this would treat fighters like capital ship homing torpedos: manufactured on-board, via energy, or picked up at bases. Weapons could have Ene > Torp, Torp > Ene, and Ene > Bay buttons. Ene > Bay just spends 100 units of power into the Fighter Bay rebuild timer. And fighters should cost 500 IMHO. Makes picking up energy anomalies that much more valuable!

So what happens if you have 3 bays? Does build time scale linearly with the number of bays needing new craft? Does the Fighter get to select which bay to work on next?

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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #13 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LawsonThompson

And fighters should cost 500 IMHO. Makes picking up energy anomalies that much more valuable!

Well, varying the resources would provide more variety and not just encourage the players to seek out HiDens Power Cells and nothing else.

This is part of an economy system, though, and should probably be more complex than just a couple of Upgrades.

LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra

 

Well, varying the resources would provide more variety and not just encourage the players to seek out HiDens Power Cells and nothing else.

This is part of an economy system, though, and should probably be more complex than just a couple of Upgrades.



Good point. I was aiming for a 1-hour "newbie at convention" type experience where there might not be time to gather resources.

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LawsonThompson


Thanks for this good summary, Mike. You feel my pain! 

We very rarely have unsupportive crews at our conventions, fortunately! The paid fighter seat value really is the main sticking point. 

For our next major convention, we plan to raise the ticket price and extend the mission time, leaving the fighter seats as freebies, reservable after the main bridge seats are sold. This will relieve the "value" issue--but won't change the fact that it's still possible to run out of fighters. 


LawsonThompson, do you ever use a mission script at conventions? With a mission script it is possible for the game to never run out of fighters, provided the crew does occasionally dock at a base. A mission script also has the advantage of giving the fighters cool names.

If you like I could whip up a sample of what I'm talking about next week.

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