Update: After converting more weapons and testing them against later game threats (Sung stations and Xenophobe ships), I noticed few more things.
* Attacking ships can miss, especially if they have 20 facings, and can be dodged with a sufficiently small and/or fast ship. Stations are very accurate and very hard or impossible to dodge (if the weapon is a basic pulse weapon and not a lancer).
* Power difference matters more: If you, the defender, are weak or underleveled, relativistic beam weapons will destroy you quickly. Lower DPS matters less if your ship's defenses are too weak. If you have powerful defenses or are overleveled, those same weapons are easier to shrug off despite their accuracy. Relativistic weapons will be unforgiving those who dive systems unprepared, which will likely include newbies, speedrunners, divers, or anyone who failed to upgrade enough for whatever reason.
* Lancers or repeating weapons do not update aim within successive shots of the same burst. While this applies to all repeating weapons, it is especially noticeable on otherwise extremely accurate hitscan weapons. The first hit may likely hit, but a fast or small enough moving target can dodge the rest of the burst because it does not track.
Replacing all energy weapons with relativistic beams will require weeks or months of playtesting to rebalance. Probably too much change and time spent for not enough benefit (and some added problems few or none want to deal with). It may be okay to replace the few lancers with relativistic beams, though. The only problem with that is the damage cut such lancers would inevitably get to make them balanced might make them underpowered for the player to use as long as we have mostly easy-to-hit NPC targets to aim and shoot at.
Some experiences against NPCs with my experiment:
* Attacking a Sung Fortress was not too bad with only Wind Slavers shooting me (because they missed at times). Once the station walls started shooting, my ship was dead fast.
* Xenophobe fighters are kind of fun. With bad aim combined with AIs imperfect handling of repeating weapons, relativistic lancers could be dodged relatively easily. Yes, my ship took hits here and there, but they missed frequently.
* Lancers from larger Xenophobe ships usually scored some hits, but if I kept moving roughly perpendicular to their aim, I often take insignificant chip damage. Only one, maybe two hits, out of several. Of course, if my ship takes several full bursts, it dies kind of fast.
george moromisato wrote:* For enemies, we could add a mechanic in which it takes a set number of ticks between the time the enemy aims and fires, and the time the beam is emitted (think of it as charging time). Thus the enemy would have to aim at where the player is *going to be* in order to hit them. This would once again allow the player to dodge beams by altering their velocity sufficiently.
I would like this supported for weapons themselves. Implementing a firing delay for a weapon is not trivial, and it messes up some of the weapon's stats (because it replaces attacks with custom effects and/or delay in an OnFireWeapon event).
Xephyr wrote:For ion weapons like the lightning turret, it wouod be really cool if they actually behave and look like lightning, with branching/erratic paths.
This could be fun, especially if there was a variant that did chain lightning.