Author Topic: [Answered] Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)  (Read 13802 times)

Niwantaw

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2014, 05:27:18 pm »

If very powerful but slow dumb-fire-only weapons are made available, fighters could be very viable. Especially when you consider that not dozens, but hundreds of fighters or drones could be produced for the cost of one moderately-sized capital ship. PD isn't necessarily an instagib weapon either, it depends entirely on how the mechanics shake out.

If those hundreds of fighters are the same block-count as my one cruiser, and the blocks are all additive, I have hundreds of times the shield capacity as any one fighter. Now, we've got the same DPS, possibly relative acceleration, and armor, but my shots are more likely to punch through - any one of my volleys is hundreds of times more than any one fighter's volley. If I can't insta-gib any one fighter, hundreds of fighters would need to fire hundreds of times each to hope to damage me.

Now, it's also reasonable to assume that I can not only mount equivalent weapons, but also larger and more powerful ones, in addition to having a larger, more powerful reactor, giving me more DPS than any equivalent number of fighters.

You appear to have missed the "slow dumb fire" part of this.

If there is a "torpedo" which like in real life is fireable both from large ships and smaller bombers yes on paper the large ship has superior DPS it's still got to actually hit, which at the ranges you'd be comfortable at may be somewhat difficult in your large, heavy object moving at a fair pace. On the flip side, fighters and bombers mounting these could get fairly close without worrying about the fun thing known as momentum driving them into the thing they're trying to shoot at.

And while a capital ship can mount an equivalent number of thrusters to a fighter to be able to move like one I suspect there will be some severe compromises in order to maintain structural integrity. Else you may find your BB in pieces due to the extreme stresses you attempted to put the hull through.

While a BB is pretty damn good at sinking a billion frigates, the small scale and high agility factors of fighters and bombers are going to make a gazillion of them somewhat problematic.

As while PD is wonderful... I think snowdragon is overestimating the numbers that'll be actually maintainable on a single ship and on top of that the targeting AI is  most likely going to be fairly simplistic. Meaning it won't be infallible.

Simple torpedos that are slow and sluggish would make bombers dangerous. Alternatively making certain weapon types be incredibly effective against hull but ineffective against shields and making shields "bubble" so if you get close enough you can get under said shields would also add reason to use them.

Just don't make them tanky. Small tanky always loses to big tanky.

Either way, gief options and people will try them. If they are worthwhile then they will be here to stay. No reason to go "X will be pointless" or "Y will beat all GG".
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Me2005

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2014, 06:55:34 pm »
You appear to have missed the "slow dumb fire" part of this.

If there is a "torpedo" which like in real life is fireable both from large ships and smaller bombers yes on paper the large ship has superior DPS it's still got to actually hit, which at the ranges you'd be comfortable at may be somewhat difficult in your large, heavy object moving at a fair pace. On the flip side, fighters and bombers mounting these could get fairly close without worrying about the fun thing known as momentum driving them into the thing they're trying to shoot at.

The small ships would be facing a wave of fire approximately equivalent to the wave they're delivering. Even if they're all slow-dumb torpedoes, the sheer volume should hit/eliminate several of the fighters at ranges similar to what the fighters fire from. I've seen this in Battleship Craft (sadly discontinued, so you can't try it yourself) - smaller, faster ships firing off one torpedo each that might do some damage to and still won't necessarily hit the larger ship, while the larger ship just concentrates fire and out of the wave of torpedoes, only one or two actually need to hit to be effective.

And while a capital ship can mount an equivalent number of thrusters to a fighter to be able to move like one I suspect there will be some severe compromises in order to maintain structural integrity. Else you may find your BB in pieces due to the extreme stresses you attempted to put the hull through.

Now we're backing out of the game world again; in game structure probably won't matter, out of game you're likely correct, depending on scale.

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While a BB is pretty damn good at sinking a billion frigates, the small scale and high agility factors of fighters and bombers are going to make a gazillion of them somewhat problematic.

Everyone keeps bringing up 'agility' of fighters - the only reason earth-bound fighters are considered 'agile' is that they're traveling up to hundreds of times faster than any other unit on the field. In space, everything is traveling at more or less the same speed, and while they could have higher acceleration, it wouldn't be hundreds of times higher. Maybe in the low tens of times higher, but that's about it.

Quote
Simple torpedos that are slow and sluggish would make bombers dangerous. Alternatively making certain weapon types be incredibly effective against hull but ineffective against shields and making shields "bubble" so if you get close enough you can get under said shields would also add reason to use them.

Getting under shields could give fighters a use, if they can close to that distance. Slow torpedoes are the same thing; you'd need to set it up so that bombers can get close enough to reliably hit with them.

Quote
Either way, gief options and people will try them. If they are worthwhile then they will be here to stay. No reason to go "X will be pointless" or "Y will beat all GG".

I'd rather see more options for viable ship design; but I've seen this discussion pop up in both Battleship Craft and Starmade - larger ships win against smaller ones when they're made with the same parts. If you did something like present pre-assembled parts of ships of various classes (I can't remember the game that was on steam doing that), you could arbitrarily have different classes that are varied in effectiveness. If you somehow gimp large ships (as Starmade was trying to do and as I've suggested here), you can make smaller ships more viable to a point. After a certain point, everyone will start using smaller ships and stop using the big ones because they become easy targets.
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VengantMjolnir

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2014, 07:34:16 pm »
One thing that did occur to me is to create different 'spaces' and allow different sized ships (or ships expending different amounts of energy) to enter them. You'd maybe be turning sci-fantasy, but what if you had the following:

Real-space: ...

Sub-space: ...

Super-space (Hyper-space): ...

I really like this idea. Just saying.

Automatic Post Merge: January 08, 2014, 08:12:54 pm
A couple of notes( and yes I know I never got back on to flesh out my previous post with more detail ):

Mirrors for Lasers: I agree that using mirrors to aim a laser at a distant target would drastically reduce the amount of mass that needs to be finely aimed in order to hit. There are problems with this though. First, the laser is only 'mostly' coherent and will degrade in its intensity over large distances. This can happen because of the mirrored surface not being completely flat and perturbing some of the rays, the excitation process might not produce 100% coherent rays or even small particles in space might deflect them slightly. Bottom line, the effective range still exists. ( see http://what-if.xkcd.com/13/ for some actual science(!) ) More powerful lasers should have a longer effective range but this means they will be larger and impart more head. This brings me to my next point, mirrors are not 100% reflective. Of course that means they will absorb a portion of the emitted beam. This could require some form of cooling mechanics to keep the mirror from being damaged or possibly the use of a rotating mirror assembly. If this requires bulkier mechanics to aim the laser or even a heftier mirror to absorb the heat... well then that would affect the aiming mechanics.

Fighters being 'agile': In space its all about delta-v. Simply put a larger mass will requires more thrust to changes it velocity. This also means more fuel for the engines and means devoting more of the percentage of available mass for fuel. Also the material properties of the craft will dictate how much stress it can withstand under acceleration and that can affect total delta-v. A fighter would/should be designed to have many more times delta-v than a capital ship. If it is capable of changing its velocity that significantly then weapons aiming at it will have to take this into account and that is were weapon traversal speed will be just as important as its precision.

I'm thinking of fighters as being a better ROI than many large ships. Just keeping a large ship in active condition will be expensive and if it requires 'filling space with weapons fire' to hit one/a dozen to destory them is that a great return? The amount of power expended would be huge.

It occurs to me after writing all of this that I'm arguing a futuristic science fiction idea using pseudo science from today... and that is just bonkers! Lol. In any case I was just trying to make an argument that Fighters exist to exploit a weakness in a design... namely speed and ability to project power over distance. I don't see this going away as completely as some others do.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 08:12:54 pm by VengantMjolnir »

Strait Raider

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #33 on: January 08, 2014, 10:07:26 pm »
I swore I wouldn't get drawn into another one of these but what the hey, I could use a good arguin'.

PS: Mjolnir, don't feel bad about arguing sci-fi, that's pretty much all we do around here.

Aircraft launching torpedoes against warships =/= Starships launching torpedoes against other Starships. Sea combat has transitional craft - submarines under the water, warships on the surface of it, and aircraft above it. Aircraft take advantage of not having to deal with ocean-drag and are incredibly fast, but small and light because they must expend fuel to stay airborne. Submarines take advantage of being very hard to see or hit, but also have a hard time seeing and hitting things and are slower. Vessels on the surface don't combine those two, they do something else and have heavier armor and armament, meant to deal with all threats as there is little to keep them from doing so - floating is free and more mass doesn't really translate to slower ships.

A better comparison of fighter craft to space combat is that of a PT boat or motor boat engaging a super-battleship in the open ocean. Good luck with that, especially when there is nothing stopping that battleship launching PT boats/motor boats back at you if they're so effective.

The principal remains the same. A small ship is more maneuverable. A large ship can't turn quickly - even if it theoretically has enough maneuvering power, something that large can't turn quickly without breaking in half from the massive stresses and/or turning the crew into goopy smears on the wall. The fighter is much faster at changing its vector as it can quickly reorient its main engines. It doesn't matter if you're at a standstill or at 200 m/s, I can hit you with a torpedo as long as you can't change your vector.

Add to this the fact that the larger ship is simply an easier target (I can hit the wall from further away than I can hit the dartboard), and the result is that for weapons that have non-negligible travel times, a smaller craft will be able to hit the larger craft from a greater distance away than the larger craft can effectively return fire, forcing it to use other (less efficient) weapons to combat them. This is why little canvas planes (or wooden Torpedo boats) sink 40,000 ton steel monstrosities.

I'm sure I don't need to remind you of how fantastically effective PT boats can be. During WWII the German Kriegsmarine fielded a total of about 250 S-Boats, for a total displacement of 20,000 tons, roughly half that of the Battleship Bismarck. These boats sank a total of 101 merchant ships, 12 destroyers, 11 minesweepers, and a plethora of smaller ships in addition to damaging two cruisers and five destroyers (and many merchants and smaller ships). Good luck finding a WWII capital ship with that sort of record. About 20 S-boats were lost to enemy surface ships due to combined gunfire and ramming.

If those hundreds of fighters are the same block-count as my one cruiser, and the blocks are all additive, I have hundreds of times the shield capacity as any one fighter. Now, we've got the same DPS, possibly relative acceleration, and armor, but my shots are more likely to punch through - any one of my volleys is hundreds of times more than any one fighter's volley. If I can't insta-gib any one fighter, hundreds of fighters would need to fire hundreds of times each to hope to damage me.

Now, it's also reasonable to assume that I can not only mount equivalent weapons, but also larger and more powerful ones, in addition to having a larger, more powerful reactor, giving me more DPS than any equivalent number of fighters.

As we've established, we can't use equivalent weapons. You can't sink a PT boat with torpedo (well, not reliably). It's entirely possible that an equivalent swarm of fighters would have a MUCH higher DPS than a capital ship. Plus you're assuming that every weapon on the ship is point defence, which I suppose is possible, but then you're talking about a one-trick pony built directly to counter fighter swarms.

I doubt you could do much to allow fighters to 'sneak up' and hit a weak spot if you're using anything like a space environment. I can roll faster than you can cover 10,000 kilometers; shoot, I can probably roll faster than you can cover 100 kilometers.

It's been established a fair few times that we're not going to be pixel-shooting. "Visual range" is the most commonly stated goal. I think you'd be surprised just how tiny a battleship would look from 10 kilometers away, let alone 100.

Fixing weapons' engagement ranges to some distance that fighter weapons can hit and making them slow might help the fighters' case. I'm a big target and dodging all those shots is going to be hard. The fighters could spread their attack out over a sphere, forcing me to fire in all directions and not concentrate in any one area, but then I can always rush one side of the sphere and punch through since their firepower isn't concentrated either and the fighters on one end of the sphere would not be able to catch me.

The result is that I escape having done more blocks of damage than any similar number of fighters.

Adding to the previous point, if all the fighters attack from one direction (probably the most common case) you're only going to be able to turn a certain percentage of your potential PD firepower against them, further increasing the odds of bombers getting through to land hits with high-yield ordnance.

Even if they're inefficient, if they're anything like reality range-wise, they'd be killer. I'd consider using physical-based weapons if lasers were too inefficient, but engagement range for those is still higher than fighters could be comfortable at - consider the OP and beyond-horizon weapons we have today.

What we have IRL is not what we'll have in-game. Pushing a button and watching something disappear on a radar screen just isn't very accessible gameplay.

I'm for better gameplay; but I don't see how you can make fighters viable without doing something to make larger ships unviable. Fixing power generation per player, creating limited hyperspace/FTL capabilities for ship-systems, reducing efficiency as you get larger, etc. And I don't know that fighters have to be viable to make for good gameplay.

More variety and ways to play are usually good things. Fighters play into both the Rule of Cool and the Rule of Fun. There are plenty of ways to make small craft viable without establishing artificial limits. Take Battlestations Pacific as an excellent example of how real-life rules are bent and changed in order to make a game balanced (from PT boats to Battleships and everything in between) and fun by modifying a few factors.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 10:11:24 pm by Strait Raider »

SnowDragon

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2014, 07:02:58 am »
I have only one thing to say in regards to the PT boat thing, and the rest of your post can go unmolested (because bias :P). PT boats worked because you put holes below the waterline and the ship goes to the bottom. Don't work so well in space :3

Czorio

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2014, 08:52:57 am »
I have only one thing to say in regards to the PT boat thing, and the rest of your post can go unmolested (because bias :P). PT boats worked because you put holes below the waterline and the ship goes to the bottom. Don't work so well in space :3

Put holes in spaceships and sections decompress. Not a lot of fun if your route to the helm is now a death sentence to go through.
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Holy Thunder

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2014, 10:02:24 am »
@Czorio--easily enough mitigated with survival suits.

@ PT boats--the argument of fighters vs capitals centered on direct combat. While a swarm of smaller (easier to maintain) vessels will indubitably be more effective against "soft" targets over a wide range of terrain, what was the effectiveness of PT boats vs. battleships?  Probably not nearly as high.

@Me2005--your argument of large ships mounting as many effective weapons as several incoming fighters is flawed--that's certainly almost never been the case. Weapons tend to swing in favor of single large targets or many small targets, but not both. That's true in both real life (howitzers vs. machine guns, cruise missiles vs. cluster bombs, rapier vs. axe, crossbow vs. regular bow, and the list goes on) and video games ranging from WoW to Call of Duty to even Battleship Craft.

You could certainly design a capital-sized ship specifically to counter fighters, but that ship will fare very poorly against a similar-sized craft designed to slug it out with other capitals. If you make a more balanced design, you will inevitably find yourself vulnerable to smaller ships dedicated to destroying larger ones. Those ships in turn will be vulnerable to small (and medium/large) ships designed to take out smaller craft.

Separately, a large part of your argument hinges on the effective wielding of all of your ship's weapons against the smaller craft. For the forseeable future we're looking at fairly simple targeting, which means you would need to personally, actively engage each of those dozen or so fighters. Not likely to be effective. Even auto-turrets, when they show up, aren't likely to be as effective as manual targeting.

@The whole argument--I hate to keep sounding like a broken record, but the point everyone seems to be missing is the (s) in fighters vs. battleships. The key is that a handful of fighters can probably take down a large battleship, but a single fighter should not be able to easily squash a much larger capital ship unless it's poorly designed. The key difference is the human factor, not the number of resources or weapons any given ship carries. Two minds versus one mind will carry the advantage. One on one, the more powerful ship will carry the advantage. Because if it doesn't, the game finds itself actually discouraging large creative designs.

If the game can allow for many, say more than 3 or 4, optimal designs, then it will have achieved a rare and spectacular feat.   Otherwise, there will inevitably be a single or couple optimal designs, those ships will dominate, and successful pvp players will imitate and improve on that design. The sandbox will still be alive, and beautiful ships will be dangerous, but the optimal designs will rule pvp combat. And that's probably just how it's going to go. Expect me to have at least one of those ships.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 10:14:30 am by Holy Thunder »
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SnowDragon

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2014, 10:54:09 am »
Basically, it's like this. The size doesn't matter so much, but the definition of a 'fair fight' would be leveled to displacement (tonnage) and/or moolah. To a point, this works, if you're throwing enough small fighter craft at my destroyer that A) The fighters are equal to it's tonnage and B) Equal to it's cost, then I'd expect a somewhat even fight. But no carrier (Short of the Shedim Nist) could even hope to carry that many. Besides which, if you're spending a Destroyer budget on lots of little fighters, you'd be far better off buying, you know, a destroyer, and getting something actually useful and reusable after it's first attack run, capable of tanking a few hits and capable of actually putting out some damage of actual note.

This doesn't work when you get to the larger capitals though. If I've got a BB and you've got about a million fighters/bombers, that BB is still going to win, no matter what. The fighters have a maximum armament load, and their firepower only gets them so far against a ship built to take hits from another BB scale weapon (like the Hazy Evening's 3m triple barreled turret piece). The armour is simply too thick to hurt. To note it off, that ship likely has so much armament in CIWS and PD as to render half the enemy fleet of fighters neutered before they even get close enough to effectively fire their armaments. To top it off, even if that firepower penetrates, it's still got to hit something worth while. SH is 1.2 kilometres tall, ~300 wide and ~300 thick, with five reactors and hundreds of subsystem points. Those fighters might very well survive long enough to mass their firepower to dent or damage the armour plate, only to blow up quarters or a mess hall. The outer hull is only the first problem, the whole ship is ablative, the corridors and rooms and structure itself is extra armour that's in the way of the critical systems, including on my ships you've got a bastion wall, an extra layer of inner armour protecting the important stuff. Fighters don't get to fire again, they're out of ammo and even if they did, the CIWS that missed them the first time round isn't going to on their way out. You've still got to get them out once they're done with their attack run. Good luck.

But the other important thing to remember (Since we're a little off topic in talking about how in a fair fight this and game dynamics this) Is that the game isn't supposed to be fair. If I'm in a bigger ship, I'm going to win that engagement. That's all there is too it. But, I digress. Any ship at risk of getting fighter swarmed (Like a cruiser, or BB, or dreadnought) is going to have it's own corvette/frigate escort, smaller ships down the line designed for neutralizing smaller ships including fighters and bombers. To even get to the BB, those fighters would need to get past the escorts first. And to get there they would have to get past the destroyers and their escorts. And to get past them, they'd have to get through the frigates. If a pair or a small group (less than say, about fifty) fighters can so much as damage, say, a light cruiser in any significant fashion without being seriously hurt themselves (squadron health more than 50% at time of attack) then no one will pilot anything but carriers or tiny fighter craft.

You have to take a nerf bat to almost every aspect of large ship systems to make them viable. And even then, you don't get around the single biggest issue they face, they simply can't carry enough firepower to even be a danger to me. Any nerf to armour makes the game unplayable and any arbitrary buff to fighter damage makes people not play, and capital ships need to layer up the armour anyway to resist damage from ships of their class. Capital ships of destroyer class or higher simply have too much armour to be phased.

 And don't get me wrong, you could make them work. But you'd be better of just buying a capital ship instead and save yourself the trouble. And the dead pilots. And the wasted, exploded metal. In a fair tonnaged fleet fight, if you're bringing a carrier and fighters, you've brought dead weight, as that tonnage you've wasted not buying cruisers or destroyers means my cruisers and destroyers have one less thing to be shot at by and one less target to primary down.

---

While I'm here, just to respond to something I notice Holy wrote, it;s not that the capital ship is Alphaing the fighters. The Capital has three main weapon groups if you'd like, Primary, Secondary, and CIWS.

Primary weapon systems are the guns of that vessel's class (or larger, if the ship is a gun carrier or pocket battleship/battlecruiser). These are the ship's heaviest hitters, and come in all shapes (missiles, lasers, doesn't matter, it's the firepower and damage output in this case)

Secondary weapon systems are less than the ship's class, designed for picking off smaller vessels or for augmenting a broadside or other angle attack. These get used to cover blind spots and otherwise 'warn off' or sink enemy vessels that get too bold and too close. All size relative, for a cruiser's secondary armament would likely include guns that would be considered Primary on a destroyer.

CIWS weapons are Close in Weapons Systems, or point defence. These are the anti-aerospace weapons or extremely close range secondary armaments (Such as the American phalanx). These weapons are designed to be very quick in tracking, and to engage and destroy incoming firepower and enemy fighters. These might also include super long range deadly AA missiles but as these weapons are only useful against fighters/incoming fire, they're classified as CIWS.

Each weapon system has it's own crew, it's own power and it's own ammo (if required). A ship can always fire all of it's guns and always at different targets. On a cruiser, it's primary weapons are shooting at another cruiser, while it's secondaries are picking a frigate to bits while it's CIWS hoses down a carrier's launch bay, shooting down enemy small craft. This is not always the case, as a frigate may want to direct it's entire firepower of primary and secondary weapons (or CIWS even) to an enemy ship at once. In short, a ship can do anything, at any time. While a capital ship may be wholly designed for sinking other capitals of it's class, it's also wholly able to engage other targets at will, be they another capital or a corvette

A fighter doesn't have this luxury. If they're lucky and it's a two man bomber/fighter, they have one man on the missiles 360 and one man flying the damn thing. And that fighter does not have multiple emplacements and they have to mass their firepower to work. They cannot simply break off and engage a Capital ship, a corvette squadron and an enemy interceptor flight at once. Attempting to do so results in failure of the mission (targets remain alive) or the fighters being wiped out (the result). A frigate (or anything else for that matter) won't even blink as it sails between a fighter squadron and an enemy frigate.

In the same sort of scenario, a squadron of fighters who have to mass their firepower to be effective has to chose between two frigates. The two frigates don't have to and can mass their firepower. Now, this is an unfair call you might say, but, bear with me. In this situation, the fighters weigh as much combined as two frigates, a destroyer's weight if you would.  (Fuck money) While the fighters have to pick one ship and engage, the frigates can merrily use their CIWS and secondary's to wipe out the squadron until it's not scary anymore (It wasn't to start with). If that person buys a destroyer instead, those two frigates are all of a sudden, actually outgunned. Should they flank the enemy ship from either side like they would the fighters, they're effectively not massing fire, that destroyer has two armour plates, both ships trying to pen it from different sides, as if the destroyer were only getting engaged by one ship.

Some food for thought into the line of thinking... I'm not sure if I'm explaining it clearly enough but should give you some insight into my mind.

Holy Thunder

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #38 on: January 09, 2014, 11:40:23 am »
Quick thought--I've already done my ramble for the day.


The above argument centers on the assumption that a single fighter cannot wield enough armament to bring pain to a large ship. Bunker busters are proof otherwise, nevermind the present-day existence of tactical nukes.

The point is, that imbalance can be easily corrected by simply adding a weapon that does tremendous damage to armor at decent range. Such a weapon can also be given severely limited tracking ability to prevent it from becoming an "uber" weapon used willy-nilly on smaller ships. They could even require external launching, which limits the spamming ability of larger ships unless they have a specialized design.
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Commander Jackson

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #39 on: January 09, 2014, 12:10:55 pm »
Question about Beam weaponry


If lasers are going to be weakened...then does that mean that the awesome beam (yes, I know it wasn't actually in the game) from the destruction demonstration video will not be in the game?
Gabe has a wraith? That explains so much.

Me2005

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #40 on: January 09, 2014, 12:38:34 pm »
@ Everyone: Ah, this whole thing harkens back to the good old days, when releases were frequent and we were arguing about individual systems. So as a note here and now, I'm in this mostly for sport and no hard feelings meant in any direction. Also a note, I may change rapidly between the game world and the real world (or plausibly-real world). Apologies for the confusion in advance.


I really like this idea. Just saying.

That idea might warrant a separate thread. I had another thought last night that would further aid the class-setup. The inspiration behind all this is the Rebel fighters vs. the Death Star. The reason that worked was (1) plot and (2) a critical-failure mode for all parties involved. IIRC, in the battle where Yamato was destroyed, the fighters' bombs shouldn't have done critical damage by themselves, but their ignition of the magazine/fuel stores destroyed the ship. While fighters critical-failing basically doesn't mean much (they're dead if they take too many hits anyway), a huge ship having a critical failure means smaller ships have a chance to kill it.

So I (again, I'm 90% sure I've said it before) propose this: To make smaller ships viable, create some kind of critical-failure mode that is basically mandatory for large ships, and must be somehow exposed to void. Doesn't need to be an insta-kill, but should be a low-health insta-cripple. Starmade has the core, which can be hit to start a countdown to ship destruction, but it's clunky and not ideal.


Mirrors for Lasers: ...This brings me to my next point, mirrors are not 100% reflective.

Understood; I'm working with 'semi-near future' or 'plausible future' ideas. I also know that a common practice is to fire the incoherant/unfocused beam through your main optics, and then only focus it at the exit port (which is aimed at the target), hopefully reducing waste heat. An acceptable solution could also be to not try to focus a beam on a pinprick on the target, and instead plan for a 10-100 meter spotlight of doom, with associated power requirements in the ludicrous. A going assumption of mine; if you're moving between planets willy-nilly, you have ludicrous power already anyway.

Fighters being 'agile':
A small ship is more maneuverable. A large ship can't turn quickly - even if it theoretically has enough maneuvering power, something that large can't turn quickly without breaking in half from the massive stresses and/or turning the crew into goopy smears on the wall.

Also understood. In theory, any ship could have the same mass-ratio and have the same DV, but fighters would be able to accelerate more quickly because material properties favor being smaller. At the ranges we're talking about, even if they're tens or hundreds of kilometers instead of hundreds of thousands, I'm not sure the difference amounts to that much though. And in-game, you'd need to put a mechanic in place to limit large ship's speeds or break large ships at too high accelerations, or else everything can be basically the same.

It doesn't matter if you're at a standstill or at 200 m/s, I can hit you with a torpedo as long as you can't change your vector.

Vector changing at range is easy. All it takes is a 1m/s change in a random direction and you've missed by kilometers. I'm working on the assumption that everyone involved is 'random-walking' like this. Closer in, it's not so easy; but the trouble fighters will have is getting close.

Add to this the fact that the larger ship is simply an easier target (I can hit the wall from further away than I can hit the dartboard), and the result is that for weapons that have non-negligible travel times, a smaller craft will be able to hit the larger craft from a greater distance away than the larger craft can effectively return fire, forcing it to use other (less efficient) weapons to combat them

This is the flaw in my plan, but I *think* that the chance to hit is only marginally increased at range.

I'm sure I don't need to remind you of how fantastically effective PT boats can be.

HT does a good job with this:

@ PT boats--the argument of fighters vs capitals centered on direct combat. While a swarm of smaller (easier to maintain) vessels will indubitably be more effective against "soft" targets over a wide range of terrain, what was the effectiveness of PT boats vs. battleships?  Probably not nearly as high.

I'd add that my understanding was for their use to be alongside other vessels or in shallower (sheltered) waters, where they could get close enough to fire and then flee before the target could return fire. Without some kind of mechanism allowing them to get close in the first place, how would a swarm of PT boats approaching a battleship on the open ocean fare?

As we've established, we can't use equivalent weapons. You can't sink a PT boat with torpedo (well, not reliably). It's entirely possible that an equivalent swarm of fighters would have a MUCH higher DPS than a capital ship. Plus you're assuming that every weapon on the ship is point defence, which I suppose is possible, but then you're talking about a one-trick pony built directly to counter fighter swarms.

Why can't I use equivalent weapons? If we're talking blocks, I should be able to mount everything the fighters mount, block-for-block. Even in reality, I should have at least equivalent power generation available for weapons, and probably some extra mass to throw into PD systems without sacrificing anything.

The bigger point I was getting at, however, was that I have hundreds of times the shield capacity of any one fighter. If shields regenerate, that means that, even if I'm firing the exact same weapons as the fighters, I can do damage and they can't. If all ships are basically dead when the shields drop: I'm made up of the same stuff as 100 fighters and each fighter takes 5 hits to destroy. At 1% total remaining shield regeneration, if I'm delivering a 60% hit rate and the fighters are delivering 100%, I'll win with just over 10% of my shield remaining.

It's been established a fair few times that we're not going to be pixel-shooting. "Visual range" is the most commonly stated goal. I think you'd be surprised just how tiny a battleship would look from 10 kilometers away, let alone 100.

But never how that will be accomplished. Will planets, asteroids, debris, and etc. be extremely close together, providing sufficient cover to allow such engagements? Will there be loaded sectors, ala starmade, where fighting can happen and it can't spill over into other sectors?

Battleship craft allows combat at 10-30 kilometers, and huge ships are rendered tiny and/or invisible without zoom. In the open ocean though, a large ship with longer range, more powerful weapons, should sink a small "fighter" ship regardless of how maneuverable it is; likely before it even gets into it's own range. In the few settings with islands/etc., smaller ships can approach larger ships, but it's still rare to win and it'd usually be because the smaller ship is actually using higher-quality blocks. A large number of smaller ships that aren't higher quality might win in such a setting, but I've conceded that.

Adding to the previous point, if all the fighters attack from one direction (probably the most common case) you're only going to be able to turn a certain percentage of your potential PD firepower against them, further increasing the odds of bombers getting through to land hits with high-yield ordnance.

But that allows me to focus all of my main weapons in one direction, hitting them with my highest-yeild ordinance at my full range; likely well beyond theirs. And if I can expect attacks to come mostly from one direction, I'm likely to mount fewer weapons all over and prepare more for single-plane attacks.

What we have IRL is not what we'll have in-game. Pushing a button and watching something disappear on a radar screen just isn't very accessible gameplay.

Agreed. Which is why we need to have this discussion to figure out how to make other classes viable and figure out how combat could look; and address the issues upfront before they become persistent problems. Battleship craft dealt with it by creating levels of matchmaking for which ships can engage each other based on ship cost. Starmade, an open setting, is struggling to deal with it at all.


More variety and ways to play are usually good things. Fighters play into both the Rule of Cool and the Rule of Fun. There are plenty of ways to make small craft viable without establishing artificial limits. Take Battlestations Pacific as an excellent example of how real-life rules are bent and changed in order to make a game balanced (from PT boats to Battleships and everything in between) and fun by modifying a few factors.

I tried to look into that and couldn't find the examples you're talking about, mind expanding? It sounds like it's also using a matchmaking deal, which isn't what I had understood to be the case in BR.

@Me2005--your argument of large ships mounting as many effective weapons as several incoming fighters is flawed--that's certainly almost never been the case. Weapons tend to swing in favor of single large targets or many small targets, but not both. That's true in both real life (howitzers vs. machine guns, cruise missiles vs. cluster bombs, rapier vs. axe, crossbow vs. regular bow, and the list goes on) and video games ranging from WoW to Call of Duty to even Battleship Craft.

That is because the weapons we're using are pretty universally capable of damage, there is no cover to hide behind, and the weapons need to be exceedingly accurate at the ranges they hit. So maybe my main guns are rated to wreck cruisers at range, but can't hit fighters until they're somewhat closer. Oh well, I wait for them to close distance a bit more. Battleship craft is the best example you listed, and it shows nearly exactly this - unless some weapons are simply unable to fire on some targets, all weapons will do damage equally well to all targets, provided they hit. Even so, I routinely hit enemy aircraft in BSC with my big guns (usually to my dismay; those are better suited to sinking carriers and the shots get 'used up' when they hit an aircraft, even though they do way more damage than the aircraft has health).

Separately, a large part of your argument hinges on the effective wielding of all of your ship's weapons against the smaller craft. For the forseeable future we're looking at fairly simple targeting, which means you would need to personally, actively engage each of those dozen or so fighters. Not likely to be effective. Even auto-turrets, when they show up, aren't likely to be as effective as manual targeting.

That is true, it's possible that I won't be able to effectively man my ship. That seems to me like it'd be a tech limitation, and if it's the case, it's one that would push all ships toward the smaller end.

@The whole argument--I hate to keep sounding like a broken record, but the point everyone seems to be missing is the (s) in fighters vs. battleships. The key is that a handful of fighters can probably take down a large battleship, but a single fighter should not be able to easily squash a much larger capital ship unless it's poorly designed. The key difference is the human factor, not the number of resources or weapons any given ship carries. Two minds versus one mind will carry the advantage. One on one, the more powerful ship will carry the advantage. Because if it doesn't, the game finds itself actually discouraging large creative designs.

Automated fighters are a possibility, and two guys in fighters shouldn't be able to take down a warship hundreds of times their mass. But otherwise yes, the design goal should be for several fighters should be able to take a ship larger than themselves.

If the game can allow for many, say more than 3 or 4, optimal designs, then it will have achieved a rare and spectacular feat.   Otherwise, there will inevitably be a single or couple optimal designs, those ships will dominate, and successful pvp players will imitate and improve on that design. The sandbox will still be alive, and beautiful ships will be dangerous, but the optimal designs will rule pvp combat. And that's probably just how it's going to go. Expect me to have at least one of those ships.

And I'd like to push it toward having more optimal designs than less.



Blast these writing-sessions being interrupted by your postings! I'm not responding to all of them.

The above argument centers on the assumption that a single fighter cannot wield enough armament to bring pain to a large ship. Bunker busters are proof otherwise, nevermind the present-day existence of tactical nukes.

The point is, that imbalance can be easily corrected by simply adding a weapon that does tremendous damage to armor at decent range. Such a weapon can also be given severely limited tracking ability to prevent it from becoming an "uber" weapon used willy-nilly on smaller ships. They could even require external launching, which limits the spamming ability of larger ships unless they have a specialized design.

These are "One-hit Capital-kill" types of weapons, and their existence basically ended the real-world capital ship-era and transitioned us over to mobile airbases. No sane player would build a combat capital ship if it's going to be one-hit by a fighter.
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Strait Raider

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #41 on: January 09, 2014, 01:31:39 pm »
Gotta say, I don't understand the desire of some people to stack the game mechanics such that fighters become useless. The trend as weapons technology evolves has always been towards smaller, more mobile weapon platforms. Line infantry broke up into individual squads, heavy tanks were made obsolete by medium tanks, battleships and cruisers gave way to aircraft carriers and frigates.

Now, I love battleships. I think they're the greatest thing ever. I have no desire to fly a carrier or a fighter, I want to slug it out on a destroyer, or a cruiser, or a battleship. So what I'd ask is how can we make capital ships viable, when history has taught us that they're just a big waste of money? You can approach this issue from either angle. For a certain set of game mechanics, fighters would be the only viable unit. For another set of rules, the biggest possible capital ship would always be the best option. Making assumptions that it's definitely going to be one way or the other are absurd. I have a little more faith than that. We can find a middle ground.

If you want a good example of how different ship classes using the same weapons can be balanced, you should really check out Battlestations Pacific. Ignoring aircraft and submarines and focusing on surface ships, the game shakes out something like this for surface ships: Destroyers beat PT boats, Cruisers beat destroyers, Battleships beat Cruisers. PT boats beat unescorted Battleships, PT boats are evenly matched vs Cruisers, Destroyers are evenly matched against Battleships. This is all relative to costs, so for example you'd have 6 PT boats vs one Battleship, and 2 Cruisers vs one Battleship. (Even though these costs are still grossly skewed in favor of the larger ships)

All this comes about due to the nature of the gun/torpedo combat. A cruiser's guns won't be very effective against Battleship armor. A Destroyer's guns won't leave a scratch. Three Destroyers will usually have a better chance against a battleship than 2 cruisers though, because their small size and high turn speed allows them to get within effective torpedo range.

That's just one example. They made it work in BSP. There's no reason that it can't be made to work here.

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #42 on: January 09, 2014, 02:09:28 pm »
Gotta say, I don't understand the desire of some people to stack the game mechanics such that fighters become useless. The trend as weapons technology evolves has always been towards smaller, more mobile weapon platforms. Line infantry broke up into individual squads, heavy tanks were made obsolete by medium tanks, battleships and cruisers gave way to aircraft carriers and frigates.

Now, I love battleships. I think they're the greatest thing ever. I have no desire to fly a carrier or a fighter, I want to slug it out on a destroyer, or a cruiser, or a battleship. So what I'd ask is how can we make capital ships viable, when history has taught us that they're just a big waste of money? You can approach this issue from either angle. For a certain set of game mechanics, fighters would be the only viable unit. For another set of rules, the biggest possible capital ship would always be the best option. Making assumptions that it's definitely going to be one way or the other are absurd. I have a little more faith than that. We can find a middle ground.

If you want a good example of how different ship classes using the same weapons can be balanced, you should really check out Battlestations Pacific. Ignoring aircraft and submarines and focusing on surface ships, the game shakes out something like this for surface ships: Destroyers beat PT boats, Cruisers beat destroyers, Battleships beat Cruisers. PT boats beat unescorted Battleships, PT boats are evenly matched vs Cruisers, Destroyers are evenly matched against Battleships. This is all relative to costs, so for example you'd have 6 PT boats vs one Battleship, and 2 Cruisers vs one Battleship. (Even though these costs are still grossly skewed in favor of the larger ships)

All this comes about due to the nature of the gun/torpedo combat. A cruiser's guns won't be very effective against Battleship armor. A Destroyer's guns won't leave a scratch. Three Destroyers will usually have a better chance against a battleship than 2 cruisers though, because their small size and high turn speed allows them to get within effective torpedo range.

That's just one example. They made it work in BSP. There's no reason that it can't be made to work here.


A distinction between this game and BSP is that there will not actually be preset classes, because it's Minecraft-style build it yourself. To force a class system, you'd have to actually change the per-block armor/power/weight behavior when a ship crosses a tonnage threshold. 

Side note on battleships, they're still crazy formiddable. 600m of floating steel armor shrugs off today's puny naval artillery rounds, and even most non-specialiized aircraft don't carry enough ordnance to hurt it. Nine 16-inch guns can generate an anti-missile airburst more than sufficient to bring down incoming hypersonic missiles.  They also create a world of hurt that no modern armor can withstand, and current GPS-guided rounds would give them well over a hundred miles effective range. For the US at least, there has never been a battleship sunk in combat outside of Pearl Harbor, and it's a true and crying shame they're not actively used any longer.


Moving on. Me2005 made a great point here, combined with a previous statement I'd made:
Quote
That is because the weapons we're using are pretty universally capable of damage, there is no cover to hide behind, and the weapons need to be exceedingly accurate at the ranges they hit. So maybe my main guns are rated to wreck cruisers at range, but can't hit fighters until they're somewhat closer. Oh well, I wait for them to close distance a bit more. Battleship craft is the best example you listed, and it shows nearly exactly this - unless some weapons are simply unable to fire on some targets, all weapons will do damage equally well to all targets, provided they hit. Even so, I routinely hit enemy aircraft in BSC with my big guns (usually to my dismay; those are better suited to sinking carriers and the shots get 'used up' when they hit an aircraft, even though they do way more damage than the aircraft has health).

For there to be variety in effective ship sizes, there will need to be a variety of weapons with meaningful differences. BR doesn't currently have that, but I've no doubt they will. I've no doubt they've put a lot of thought into it.
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Strait Raider

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #43 on: January 09, 2014, 04:08:12 pm »
Also understood. In theory, any ship could have the same mass-ratio and have the same DV, but fighters would be able to accelerate more quickly because material properties favor being smaller. At the ranges we're talking about, even if they're tens or hundreds of kilometers instead of hundreds of thousands, I'm not sure the difference amounts to that much though. And in-game, you'd need to put a mechanic in place to limit large ship's speeds or break large ships at too high accelerations, or else everything can be basically the same.

At the very least rotation has to be capped such that no part of a ship exceeds 300 m/s (or whatever speed won't break the collision detection), but we can establish whatever rotation limit delivers the best gameplay under the legitimate in-lore excuse of preventing ships from pulling themselves apart. (or killing the crew)

Vector changing at range is easy. All it takes is a 1m/s change in a random direction and you've missed by kilometers. I'm working on the assumption that everyone involved is 'random-walking' like this. Closer in, it's not so easy; but the trouble fighters will have is getting close.

Why would fighters have any problem getting close if all they have to do is make tiny vector changes to evade fire? The critical point remains, the smaller ship can engage effectively from a longer range than the big ship using the same weapons. (assuming non-negligible weapon travel times)

This is the flaw in my plan, but I *think* that the chance to hit is only marginally increased at range.

It works at any range, because these things remain proportional. If a 10m long fighter needs to make a 1 m/s vector change in order to evade fire, a 100m warship needs to make a 10 m/s vector change to evade the same weapon. Therefore it would have to change vector much faster than the fighter in order to evade, but we know the larger ship is usually at a disadvantage when changing vector, except perhaps in increasing vector directly forward.

HT does a good job with this:

@ PT boats--the argument of fighters vs capitals centered on direct combat. While a swarm of smaller (easier to maintain) vessels will indubitably be more effective against "soft" targets over a wide range of terrain, what was the effectiveness of PT boats vs. battleships?  Probably not nearly as high.

I'd add that my understanding was for their use to be alongside other vessels or in shallower (sheltered) waters, where they could get close enough to fire and then flee before the target could return fire. Without some kind of mechanism allowing them to get close in the first place, how would a swarm of PT boats approaching a battleship on the open ocean fare?

The thing about PT boats that makes them difficult to compare operationally is that the majority weren't true ocean-going vessels, and therefore were rarely able to engage large ships. Even so, the German S-Boats, considered the least un-seaworthy of the WWII E-Boats sank 23 warships and damaged 7 more compared to 21 S-boats lost to surface warships by either gunfire or ramming. Those boats were punching well above their weight class. It's hard to estimate the exact cost of incredibly varied classes of vessel, but when you consider that tonnage-wise you could get 650 S-boats for the displacement of one Iowa-Class Battleship, it's not hard to imagine who got the most bang for their buck.

It took only two Italian S-Boats to sink the HMS Manchester, a ship that outmassed them by a factor of 75. Both boats survived the encounter.

Why can't I use equivalent weapons? If we're talking blocks, I should be able to mount everything the fighters mount, block-for-block. Even in reality, I should have at least equivalent power generation available for weapons, and probably some extra mass to throw into PD systems without sacrificing anything.

Perhaps I phrased that wrong. You could use equivalent weapons, but it would be useless to do so. Because fighters could engage with those weapons at a greater effective range than you could, they would simply sit outside your effective range, lazily dodging shots while hammering your ship with shots you're just to big and clumsy to avoid.

They'll tear you to pieces with no losses unless you employ some other sort of weapon. I'm thinking probably laser weaponry. Gameplay wise we can tweak the efficiency of lasers (or whatever) to make the fighters viable (and so that lasers aren't the be-all end-all weapon). The result would be the fighters having higher DPS than a large ship of equivalent mass, but the ship still carries the advantage of being able to take out fighters one by one.

The bigger point I was getting at, however, was that I have hundreds of times the shield capacity of any one fighter. If shields regenerate, that means that, even if I'm firing the exact same weapons as the fighters, I can do damage and they can't. If all ships are basically dead when the shields drop: I'm made up of the same stuff as 100 fighters and each fighter takes 5 hits to destroy. At 1% total remaining shield regeneration, if I'm delivering a 60% hit rate and the fighters are delivering 100%, I'll win with just over 10% of my shield remaining.

I don't know where the "all ships are basically dead when the shields drop" assumption comes from. That seems like a pretty lame gameplay mechanic. If you take the exact same example with 50% of total health being hull integrity (and upping your shield regen to 2% per volley), the ship starts taking damage while 2/3 of the fighters are still up, and 30% of the fighters escape after total destruction of the ship.

It all depends on how you lay out the rules.

It's been established a fair few times that we're not going to be pixel-shooting. "Visual range" is the most commonly stated goal. I think you'd be surprised just how tiny a battleship would look from 10 kilometers away, let alone 100.
But never how that will be accomplished. Will planets, asteroids, debris, and etc. be extremely close together, providing sufficient cover to allow such engagements? Will there be loaded sectors, ala starmade, where fighting can happen and it can't spill over into other sectors?

Battleship craft allows combat at 10-30 kilometers, and huge ships are rendered tiny and/or invisible without zoom. In the open ocean though, a large ship with longer range, more powerful weapons, should sink a small "fighter" ship regardless of how maneuverable it is; likely before it even gets into it's own range. In the few settings with islands/etc., smaller ships can approach larger ships, but it's still rare to win and it'd usually be because the smaller ship is actually using higher-quality blocks. A large number of smaller ships that aren't higher quality might win in such a setting, but I've conceded that.

It's simple - less accurate weapons. After all, when's the last time you took a rifle and hit a moving target from a kilometer away? Even in a video game, it's very difficult. If you're talking AI-controlled aiming (a little boring, but probably needed for PD) all that's needed is to program a moderate dispersion for them. Jump into one of the old BR builds and see how easy it is to hit a target from even a couple of kilometers away! It just ain't happening without an aimbot.

But that allows me to focus all of my main weapons in one direction, hitting them with my highest-yeild ordinance at my full range; likely well beyond theirs. And if I can expect attacks to come mostly from one direction, I'm likely to mount fewer weapons all over and prepare more for single-plane attacks.

I'm confused. Are you designing ships with PD on only one side? If that's the case we may as well bum-rush the ship (preferably from multiple angles). If even a small number of ships get inside your dead zones, they'd be able to strike with impunity. A formation of fighters can change its organization on a whim, a ship is kind of stuck with the way it was built.

Me2005

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Re: Aerospace Craft (Fighters, bombers etc)
« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2014, 05:12:44 pm »
Only going to answer some of this now:

It's simple - less accurate weapons.

That should favor the massed fire from a larger ship to the single few shots from smaller ones. Look again at old builds - everyone stacked huge cannon batteries to hit anything. A fighter up against that would get one-shotted.

Elsewhere you mentioned fighters dodging - while it's true that they present a smaller target profile, I wield a larger weapon profile, so they have more stuff to actually dodge, and failing do do so is more dangerous. It'd be like an old-build 1-gun fighter against one of those old giant-cannon-ships - if the fighter got into range, it'd get snuffed (or rather, if range was greater than the length of most ships at the time).

I'm confused. Are you designing ships with PD on only one side? If that's the case we may as well bum-rush the ship (preferably from multiple angles). If even a small number of ships get inside your dead zones, they'd be able to strike with impunity. A formation of fighters can change its organization on a whim, a ship is kind of stuck with the way it was built.

Yes and no, you'd said most attacks would likely come from one direction. If most attacks come from one direction, ships will be built to fight in mostly one direction. I'd probably have a few outlying turrets covering all vectors, but most of my fire would be focused forward in that case. In the case where it is easy to overwhelm and come in from oblique angles, most ships will have omni-coverage and I would too.



Keep in mind, I'd like for multiple classes to be viable, but I don't see how they automagically will be without some smart designing at the forefront. I'd like to work out that designing here.
But you were dead a thousand times. Hopeless encounters successfully won. A man long dead, grafted to machines your builders did not understand. You follow the path, fitting into an infinite pattern. Yours to manipulate, to create and rebuild.

I know who you are.

You are destiny.