This record describes a few ideas for improving weapon mechanics. The goal is to give the player more interesting choices both during combat and when upgrading.

Hit Points & Interaction

Currently it is too easy for weapons to block other weapons. For example, if you're firing a howitzer at a target, the target can fire a high rate-of-fire weapon and knock out the howitzer shells. I propose changing this so that many weapons do not block other weapons.

There are two parameters that govern weapon-on-weapon hits. The first is interaction, which is a value from 0 to 100. When two shots hit each other, we check their interaction parameter and take the highest value of the two. The result is the probability that the shots will hit each other. Beams all have interaction of 0, while most matter shots have an interaction of 100. Thus a beam hitting another beam does not interact, but a beam hitting a blast shot (or two blast shots hitting each other) results in a 100% interaction.

The other parameter is hit points. A shot can have hit points just like a ship and when it is hit, we subtract from its hit points. If it has more than 0 hit points after the collision, the shot continues. Unfortunately, most weapons do not have hit points set.

I propose setting default values for both interaction and hit points so that most weapons will have reasonable values. We compute the defaults as follows:

  • Energy weapons (laser, particle, ion, etc.) should have an interaction of 0. The exception might be energy blob shots like the Nandao bolt cannon.
  • Ammo-less matter weapons should have very low interaction values (<10).
  • Weapons with WMD should have high interaction.
  • Ammo weapons should default to interaction 100.
  • In general, ammo weapons should have hit points. Hit points should be proportional to ammo mass and level.

Notes on Point-Defense

Obviously we want to make these changes without nerfing point-defense:

  • The engine should consider targeting when computing interaction. If a shot is targeted at another shot, then we should ignore interaction (treat it as 100). But we still need to consider hit points.
  • In general we should create custom weapons for point-defense that default to interaction = 100.

Range

A while ago @NMS experimented with decreasing weapon range. Inspired by that, I propose adding trade-offs to make both short-range and long-range weapons equally viable. The core trade-off is that long-range weapons are easier to avoid or suppress. Some ideas:

  • We can use the above proposal on interaction to accomplish our trade-off. Short-range weapons should have 0 interaction so they cannot be blocked. In contrast, long-range weapons should have high interaction so they can be intercepted either by short-range weapons or by point-defense.
  • We should rely more on point-defense, particularly for capital ships and stations. But point-defense should be mostly effective against long-range weapons (and might not even engage at short range).
  • Today's standard range is 60 light-seconds. Below that, weapons get a balance bonus (can do more damage); above that, they take a penalty. I propose leaving the balance equations alone but alter weapons so that most are clustered around either 30 ls range or 90.
  • We should consider adjusting damage at extreme range. For example, perhaps weapons do full damage out to 80% of their range and then decrease sharply, doing no damage at the edge of their range.
derakon 27 days ago:

My kneejerk feeling is that random interaction is going to feel weird -- there should either be no interaction, or 100%, depending on the weapons involved. I might be wrong though. I feel like most of the current interaction oddity boils down to the example you gave: slow-firing, high-power weapons can easily be knocked out by weak, fast-firing weapons. That should be fixable by just giving the former weapons higher HP.

Weapon damage over range should depend on the type of the weapon. In particular, laser/particle/positron/other "coherent energy beam" weapons should decohere with distance, getting larger but weaker. Weapons that are physical objects *in principle* should remain deadly indefinitely, though of course they need to time out eventually to avoid killing our computers. :)

megas 27 days ago:

Most of the kinetic weapons already have 50 or 80 interaction, and I can buy that, especially if they only touch for a single tick. Makes stopping them with current anti-missile beams like ICX a bit of a pain.

As for matter weapons, what separates those that use ammo from those that do not? Kinetic can be anything with mass, so no problem. Blast, I guess the weapon can McGuyver a cheap concoction on the fly to make things blow up. Thermo, I cannot see how any of them can get by without ammo unless the weapon has an integrated nanofac to produce thermonuclear weapons out of nothing like the thermo shell nanofac in Corporate Command. Plasma can probably be handwaved as an energy weapon (since they are treated as energy weapons in some other games) despite being typed as matter in Transcendence.