Continuous beam weapons

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george moromisato
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Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:26 pm

I'd like to add continuous beam weapons (essentially hit-scan weapons) to Part I, but I'm not sure exactly how to go about it. Here are a few ideas and I'd love your feedback:

1. Convert all lancers to continuous beam: Lancers were originally meant to simulate long beams, so this might be a natural evolution. We may or may not want to add more lancers to the game if we do this (particularly at lower levels).

2. Convert some beam weapons to continuous beam. For example, we could split laser weapons in two: some could stay as they are while others would be converted to continuous beam. We would split laser, particle, and ion weapons.

3. Introduce a new class of continuous beam weapons.

In all cases, we would adjust DPS for continuous beam weapons to compensate for their speed.

Let me know what you think.

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Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:58 pm

Personally, I agree that we should have continous beam weapon. But I suggest we just 'add' rather than 'replace', except lancer type cannon.

Continous beam deal more damage (as it repeating-like configuration) than normal beam. If we want convert laser cannon (2.5 hp) without firerate compensation, then we need reduce its damage to 0.5 hp (if repeating fire 5 times) for balance. But if we want its firepower still same as common beam weapon, then we should reduce their fire rate significally.

I ever try myself to use that weapon, and it is not quite effective for offensive combat (for my style). But good for base buster or defensive states. If hit-scan weapon implemented for NPC ship, I think it much better for a freighter rather than for a gunship.
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Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:44 am

I am fundamentally opposed to continuous beam weapons as a replacement for existing weapons, and mostly opposed to them appearing in part I except for special purposes. They're hard to balance and make the weapons using them incredibly powerful. This is especially the case with lasers, which already mostly have the best weapon handling anyway. And if you reduce the damage, you then run into the problem of armor shrugging off attacks. From a suspension of disbelief side of things I also greatly dislike having weapons exceed lightspeed at all, but I can more or less be ok with it in Part II.


However, one area I do see them being of great use is in certain niches. In particular, I feel they would be excellently suited to use as point-defense weaponry. Exotic and/or alien weaponry (eg. Chimeric) weapons might also justify use of continuous beams.
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Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:41 pm

george moromisato wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:26 pm
1. Convert all lancers to continuous beam: Lancers were originally meant to simulate long beams, so this might be a natural evolution. We may or may not want to add more lancers to the game if we do this (particularly at lower levels).
I've always disliked lancers as a player weapon due to the way they break up if fired while rotating. So switching them to a continuous beam would be a subtantial improvement in my opinion.

Shrike wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:44 am
From a suspension of disbelief side of things I also greatly dislike having weapons exceed lightspeed at all, but I can more or less be ok with it in Part II.
An even greater problem with weapon believability is the fact you can see lightspeed projectiles approaching the ship at all. Adding appropriate time-lag to the display would be rather complex and probably be very frustrating to play once the initial novelty has worn off. However, I think George's relativisitic scaling proposal in Beam physics is plausible enough for continuous beam lasers etc.

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Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:42 pm

Unlike Shrike, I fully embrace hitscan continuous beam weapons and would not mind seeing them replace most if not all current energy weapons, which are just bullet weapons that do energy instead of matter damage.

However, they are a pain to balance, (damage must certainly be lower) and they probably should be repeating so the beam stays visible long enough. Having a level 1 hitscan laser that is balanced may be too underpowered in some way. Another problem with repeating weapons is Omni use. Repeating shots after the first do not update aiming solution; in other words, enemy that dodges the first hit probably dodges the whole beam. Makings Omni repeating hitscan weapons impractical unless the modder adds custom targeting code (in an event). Also, current energy weapons have been the way they are for so long that changing them would depart from years of tradition (one which I would not mind slaughtering).

Lancers should probably be hitscan. Basic stuff like <energy type> cannon can go either way, although I would like them go hitscan too. Stuff like Nandao or Archura or other ball lightning shooters should stay as they are.
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Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:09 am

 Generally speaking, I’m against turning energy weapons into continuousBeam weapons wholesale. Sure, I agree that there could be some exceptions — in particular I like the thought of a few oddball weapons like the chimeric laser cannon, as suggested by Shrike — but lancers, the most frequently mentioned weapon class on this list, might need handled with caution. For example, do we really want to set Xenophobe Worldships up where it is practically impossible for them to miss from even outside of LRS range?
 One of the things George frequently says is that gameplay trumps realism. No, technically you shouldn’t be able to see an incoming laser. Technically you shouldn’t see a laser at all, though (and I can just imagine the number of players who would be howling for someone’s head if they suddenly couldn’t see the shots that are hitting their ship — me included). I’d rather not have every early-game fight with a Charon frigate wind up with me having to beg Domina to save my hide because I’m no longer able to avoid incoming shots. I really don’t want to have to start worrying about getting anywhere within spitting distance of a Ventari destroyer or risk having everything I own ionized before I can get back out of range because, again, I wouldn’t be able to dodge. And I usually play agile ships; I shudder to think what an EI500 or, worse, a Manticore would have to endure.
 I have no problem with energy weapons staying as they currently are, with the general advantages of speed and rate-of-fire over most matter weapons.
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Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:15 am

As for gameplay vs. realism. I think continuous beams are better for gameplay, as long as they look good, because they are different and distinct from matter weapons. Many energy weapons feel too similar to matter weapons, despite faster (energy) bullets and no interaction to block other shots.

That said, continousBeams do not look very nice as repeating shots if they last more than a frame, such as the positron continuousBeams in VotG. Also, useful effects for continuousBeams are very limited. Vespids' beams look kind of ugly. If lancers will end up looking like vespid beams, then maybe lancers should stay the way they are just so they look better. Much as I prefer a pretty long-range hitscan beam, a Contra-style laser as done by current lancers is not too bad.

As for Xenophobes, if they had continousBeams like the vespids in VotG, they probably would be much harder to dodge, though probably would do less damage per hit.
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Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:15 pm

I support the proposed changes. Having everything be a projectile for the entirety of part I can get a bit grating. We're ignoring enough physics already that any additional handwaving would not do any harm, and lancers really do need the aesthetic and mechanical improvment.

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Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:34 pm

I remember the days when Xenophobes wiped you out from 150ls away. That was down to reduced scanner range giving you less time to dodge. These days, they're dangerous but you can avoid the fire. That's a gameplay trait that makes the game more fun and accessible. We really do not need a change that makes projectiles impossible to dodge, interfere with, or shoot down. The only way to balance that would be to nerf them into oblivion, at which point they'd still be incredibly annoying and un-fun. Unless you specifically want weapons that cannot be dodged (And before anyone says "tracking missiles" yes, they're a thing, no, they shouldn't be like that and no they're not equivalent. Outside of mods you don't get enemies that spam them like beam weapons) you should not be putting relativistic beams on turrets or swivels. At all. Even fixed mounts are an issue there because the AI will quite happily snipe you.


The very reason we have beams be visible is that it's not fun to be hit by things you can't do anything about. This change would, if applied wholesale or even to a significant subset, cause this problem to occur on every significant capital ship in the early to mid game, and most significant lategame capships as well. And even if it's just lancers: How nice is is to get nailed by four perfectly-aimed lancer beams at once because a worldship is somewhere offscreen? Then you have to close the gap while taking damage you physically can't avoid. Engagement range becomes everything, even more so than it is today. And if the immediate answer that's given is "Well reduce the range then", then that homogenises the weapons. We need long range weapons. We need short range weapons. We need special weapons that have special traits, like continuous beam. We do not need to frankly destroy balance and put off new players by implementing a wholesale change that penalises everyone and continues to make matter weapons second-rate in usability beyond any level that is rational. There aren't enough ships using matter weapons en masse in the early game to make dodging even remotely matter against them. All the ships with massed turrets and high rate of fire are using energy weapons. In the early game this is especially true. Wholesale change would see these ships able to perfectly snipe any target out to their maximum range with no counter at all except the solon shield (which only works because it's absurdly overpowered and then gets you killed because most ships with massed lasers also fire missiles). No dodging, no chance to get between that last beam and the freighter that's about to die out of desperation. Nothing. If you're a new player, and you're getting hammered with unavoidable damage that kills you right at the start of the game, or forces you to fail missions, or just annoys the hell out of you, and there is nothing you can do, you're not gonna keep playing. Frankly I'm not sure I would, and I'll have been around here for 8 years from tomorrow. There's really nothing more I can say: this is a bad idea.
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Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:18 pm

If the beams are like vespids', they are not truly hitscan, but they are hard to dodge (about as hard as dodging railgun blasts in some FPS games, where AI aims, delays for 0.5 sec. and shoots), maybe too hard for slower-than-average ships. Continuous beam weapons that are balanced according to algorithm do significantly less damage (though they are significantly more accurate).

I would not mind trying out a game where enemies shoot continuous beams.

Change to continuous beams is a major change, but not necessarily bad.

That the primary enemies use energy weapons can be problematic for bullets turned beamers. Charon use lasers, Sung use particles, and Ares use ions. (And in VotG, Grome and others use positrons.)

As for game being (in)accessible. Players get spoiled these days and want the win handed to them, even if they do not want to admit it. If player is not trying to honor permadeath, he already has a gigantic advantage - infinite resurrection. (If I do not care about permadeath, I just let my ship run out of fuel and get more for free when resurrected.) The greatest obstacle to winning is losing a plot item (like throwing it into a Teraton fabricator or a white dwarf) that makes the game unwinnable, and immortality will not fix that.

In any case, consistency is important. Will lasers and other lightspeed weapons be bullets/fireballs or near hitscan beams or mixed and varies by weapon?

George may have mentioned lasers getting converted to continuousBeams eventually. Is this still the case? (I changed my weapons expecting energy weapons getting converted to continuousBeams. If that idea will be aborted and weapons rolled back, I should do the same.)

One thing I do not like about continuousBeam weapons is if they do not repeat, the beams flash and disappear too quickly. Beam that appears then disappears after a single tick does not look good. Player does not have enough time to admire a beam that flashes too fast.
Shirke wrote: Outside of mods you don't get enemies that spam them like beam weapons) you should not be putting relativistic beams on turrets or swivels.
If they are repeating, that actually hurts the weapon because aim does not get updated after the first shot. (I had to write custom targeting code in an OnFireWeapon event to make my repeating Omni beamers update their aim for each successive shot.) If the target dodges the first hit, it will likely dodge the entire beam.

It hurts normal lancers too, but balanced continuousBeam weapons have much less DPS. If the whole repeating beam misses, it makes the weapon seem underpowered. Player that uses hitscan weapons needs to hit as much as possible to make them worth using.

EDIT: One thing I can try soon is play a modded game where most standard energy weapons are converted to continuousBeams (with lower DPS and maybe slower fireRate to keep weapons balanced according to algorithm) and try to win as the Sapphire.
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Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:27 am

As for game being (in)accessible. Players get spoiled these days and want the win handed to them, even if they do not want to admit it. If player is not trying to honor permadeath, he already has a gigantic advantage - infinite resurrection. (If I do not care about permadeath, I just let my ship run out of fuel and get more for free when resurrected.) The greatest obstacle to winning is losing a plot item (like throwing it into a Teraton fabricator or a white dwarf) that makes the game unwinnable, and immortality will not fix that.
Look, if you think the game should be hard that's fine. I like hard, personally. Hell, I've made some enemies specifically to be hard as nails for more advanced players while not technically being OP. But if you're advocating a crushing penalty to new players, in the way that impossible-to-dodge super-weapons do, that actively hurts the game overall. We need new players. We need to make the game easy to pick up, and add challenge through interesting quests and storylines...not by making things absurd. If we want to grow the community, have the game make money for george, make more paid expansions viable..we cannot make it so that new players quit for bullshit reasons that could be easily avoided. And I honestly fear that destroying weapon and enemy balance with relativistic beams will do exactly that. It has taken literal years to get balance as good as it currently is. We'd need to redo about 3-4 times as much stuff as has been done in the last two major balance passes...in a shorter timeframe..to a higher standard..and still run into the insurmountable problems of making weapons impossible to dodge in some ships, or with newer players who don't have the gameplay nailed. The time and effort required would be better spent on adding new content, not replacing a perfectly functional basic mechanic with one with no clear benefit over the original, worse graphics, massive amounts of rework elsewhere requirted to make workable, and a trainload of possible detrimental effects on the game.
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Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:41 am

As I understand it, continuousbeam isn't any harder to dodge than a projectile - they move forwards at the same rate. It's a more interesting, prettier mechanic, so I support it, especially considering it diversifies the array of available weapons.

I would say that I'd rather limit it to lancers, at least to begin with, simply because early laser weapons ought to be extremely simple - the lasers in Endless Sky were somewhat hard to grasp when I started out with them.

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Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:47 am

JohnBWatson wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:41 am
As I understand it, continuousbeam isn't any harder to dodge than a projectile - they move forwards at the same rate. It's a more interesting, prettier mechanic, so I support it, especially considering it diversifies the array of available weapons.

I would say that I'd rather limit it to lancers, at least to begin with, simply because early laser weapons ought to be extremely simple - the lasers in Endless Sky were somewhat hard to grasp when I started out with them.

Um.

george moromisato wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:26 pm
I'd like to add continuous beam weapons (essentially hit-scan weapons) to Part I,

UM.
essentially hit-scan weapons
Yeah..um....not much more I can say except "No they really are different".
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Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:25 am

JohnBWatson wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:41 am
As I understand it, continuousbeam isn't any harder to dodge than a projectile - they move forwards at the same rate. It's a more interesting, prettier mechanic, so I support it, especially considering it diversifies the array of available weapons.

I would say that I'd rather limit it to lancers, at least to begin with, simply because early laser weapons ought to be extremely simple - the lasers in Endless Sky were somewhat hard to grasp when I started out with them.
You're confusing the simple replacement of "beam" with "continuousBeam" and George's proposal of overhauling energy weapons.

I must say that hitscan weapons are incredibly unrealistic even considering that this game is already very unrealistic, and adding them to Part 1 would cross the line.

EDIT: Furthermore, hitscan weapons are also at the very extreme end of the projectile speed scale, given that they move at near-instantaneous speed. It seems difficult to prevent them from frequently being either overpowered (i.e. too long) or underpowered (i.e. too weak) in various situations.

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Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:48 am

Shrike wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:34 pm
There's really nothing more I can say: this is a bad idea.
0xABCDEF wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:25 am
I must say that hitscan weapons are incredibly unrealistic even considering that this game is already very unrealistic, and adding them to Part 1 would cross the line.

EDIT: Furthermore, hitscan weapons are also at the very extreme end of the projectile speed scale, given that they move at near-instantaneous speed. It seems difficult to prevent them from frequently being either overpowered (i.e. too long) or underpowered (i.e. too weak) in various situations.
I totally agree. Every other aspect of the game, including where objects appear to be at any given time, ignores special relativity. Making beams near instantaneous would be inconsistent. And while it's unrealistic to be able to see a specific lightspeed beam approaching and dodge it, it's actually pretty hard already. And it's equally unrealistic for random dodging not to work; the shooter would have to be able to see where the target will be in the future. I don't have much of a problem with the current beam effects, either (aside from their size scaling). We're used to thinking about continuous lasers, but pulsed lasers are equally plausible as sci-fi weapons.

On the other hand, if you redefine the spacial scale to make distances 1/10th as far, then the typical engagement range is 3 light seconds, typical top speed is 2% c, and typical kinetic projectile speed is 5% c. Doing this, and making lightspeed beams 10 times as fast, while leaving other things unchanged, actually makes the game more realistic. (In most ways; system sizes would be even more out of scale.) However, this would still be a huge balance change, requiring beam weapons to be dramatically nerfed in other ways. And I suspect it would be less fun.

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