@ 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.